Mark Herrmann Newsday columnist Mark Herrmann

Herrmann has covered the Mets and Yankees since 1988, and has been Newsday’s national golf writer since 2002.

At first, it was beyond nerve wracking for Olivia Rhein, a high school senior, to have a potentially life changing interview before 50 people in a Park Avenue boardroom. They asked all sorts of questions, which turned out not to be a problem. After all, it is a caddie's job to have the answers.

In this case, the Glen Cove resident was not asked how much a putt would break or if the shot demanded a 7-iron or 8-iron. The inquisitors wanted to know how her younger brother will handle having her being away at college and what it is like attending Sacred Heart Academy, an all-girls Catholic school.

Most profoundly, they asked what advice she would give to other young women who might like to caddie, which she has done for the past three years at North Shore Country Club in Glen Cove.

"I said that, yes, golf is a male dominated sport and caddying is a male dominated occupation, but there is nothing you can't do and there's nothing that you should be afraid of," she said.

The group apparently admired her poise and responses. It chose her as one of this year's winners of the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship, a prestigious national award inspired by one of America's first golf champions, and administered since 1930 by the Chicago-based Western Golf Association. She will not have to pay a penny for tuition or housing for four years at Miami University (Ohio).

By winning, she also made history as Long Island's first female Evans Scholar.

"It's cool to think about," she said at the course after school on Tuesday. "It's kind of a spearhead. There will be more girls to follow. Hopefully, it will start a trend."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

For now, it is a blessing for her parents, Sandra, a pharmacist, and John, who works for the Glen Cove School District. She will live in a brand new house on campus with other Evans Scholars as she studies international business.

"I love to travel and I love learning new things," said the student who takes advanced placement classes in literature, music theory and biology and an honors course in Spanish.

Actually, the Evans honor -- named for the man who won the U.S. Amateur at Engineers in Roslyn Harbor and who helped win the inaugural Walker Cup at National Golf Links in Southampton -- is not new for North Shore. Rhein is the club's third winner in the past four years, following brothers Connor and Sean Donovan, who live on her street. Their parents came over to hug her when they heard the news. "It was a Saturday night; I was in my pajamas," she said.

Nor is it novel for her family. Her uncle Peter Brown, an Illinois native who lives in Oyster Bay, is an Evans alumnus. He introduced her to caddying, having brought her to a seminar at Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove. She learned all about the game's etiquette and met North Shore caddie master Mike Butler, who jokes that he scared her with how demanding he would be.

She has shown she can carry a bag and take the heat. "She's a teenager, surrounded by men, and to be comfortable and confident with that is a characteristic that stands out on its own," Butler said. "She does a phenomenal job out there. She's got that tough skin that we all need. She lets it roll right off."

@Newsday

Rhein insists she was honored, before she won. "I personally feel that caddying is the best job that somebody my age could have," she said, "because I get to spend hours outdoors, I get to meet some of the most inspirational and incredible people and I get to work with incredible people as well."