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LI caddies benefit by having it on their resume

Jim Landers attended Siena College in the '90s

Jim Landers attended Siena College in the '90s on a Long Island Caddie Scholarship. Credit: Handout

When Jim Landers went to Siena College in the 1990s, the Long Island Caddie Scholarship that he brought with him helped pay some bills. It has never stopped helping him in other ways.

Once he was at school, he said, it helped him win another golf-related scholarship, named for Gene Sarazen. Once he got out and interviewed to be an applications engineer at Forbes Magazine, having the Long Island scholarship on his resume helped him get the job (as did a recommendation from a Forbes executive for whom Landers caddied at Garden City Country Club).

And just this year, when he was looking for a job in his favorite industry, he believes it didn't hurt his chances of becoming communications technology manager for the Metropolitan Golf Association that he had been honored by the Long Island fund.

He is proud to tell that story, and he will do so Thursday night at Bethpage State Park, at the 50th anniversary dinner for the Long Island Caddie Scholarship Fund, which has distributed more than $3 million to help young people go from reading greens to reading the classics -- and then reading their own names on corporate directories.

Dan White, a municipal credit analyst for J.P. Morgan, said, "It is definitely an underrated not-for-profit on Long Island. I had won a couple of scholarships for academics, but the Long Island Caddie Scholarship was by far the most substantial. It went a long way toward reducing my -- and my parents' -- costs at Georgetown."

White will be at the dinner, too. Only three years out of college, he is proud to be doing well enough to donate to the fund.

Considering the cost of higher education these days, the $2,000 per year that the Long Island scholarship supplies does not come close to covering a lot of expenses. But, as Michael O'Reilly said, thinking back to his days as a business and criminal justice major at Post, "Every bit helps."

What helps more is knowing that someone is behind you. O'Reilly has not forgotten that feeling now that he is vice president of Protective Lining Corp., a plastics firm headed by Morty Howard, for whom O'Reilly used to caddie at Fresh Meadow Country Club. O'Reilly is a member now at Cherry Valley, and he likes to eschew a golf cart so he can give someone a loop. He is a single-digit handicap, but on the rare times when he does hit a shot offline, he takes an extra club and looks for the ball himself, sparing his caddie a few steps.

"I've been there," he said. Plus, he takes part whenever Cherry Valley has a fundraiser for college-bound Long Island caddies. "Most of the guys I talk to, when they donate at their clubs, feel like it's more of a personal contribution."

The feeling is that once you've been a caddie, it stays in your blood. "I paid for a good portion of my college with caddying, but that additional scholarship helped me out a lot," said Scott Gerbereux, who was a junior high kid in Southampton when he started carrying bags at National Golf Links of America in the late 1990s.

It was a challenging job that taught him a lot about physical effort, diplomacy and golf. Just this month, he was hired by the Carolinas Golf Association to establish a handicapping system for all of the clubs in North and South Carolina. Being a caddie shaped his life. He said, "It's the best summer education you can have."

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