Jack Hanskat can hold his own out on the links.
The Park City High senior was a co-captain on the Miners golf team this school year, and Hanskat helped lead his team to its 10th straight state championship. But the 18-year-old Hanskat will have his college paid for because he can hold someone else’s golf bag, too.
For the past three years, whenever Hanskat has received a message from the Park Meadows Country Club, the teenager has dropped whatever he was doing, put on his khaki shorts, white shirt and caddie bib and headed to work. This year, that part-time gig earned Hanskat a full-ride scholarship to the University of Washington.
“I always wanted to be a caddie,” Hanskat said. “I figured that would be a really cool summer job. I’ve always loved golf and just being out on the course. I never thought it would bring me an opportunity like this.”
The Western Golf Association’s scholarship program has existed since the 1930s and currently supports 965 caddies across the nation. But it wasn’t available in Utah until a local WGA director, Buffy Mayerstein, started the caddying program at Park Meadows three years ago.
“Jack was one of our first caddies in the program,” Mayerstein said. “Although he played golf, it took some training the first couple years on how to actually be a caddie. It’s different than playing.”
Hanskat is bright (a 4.0 student) and outgoing, and he enjoyed the chance to meet new people on the golf course. But it took him some time to learn to read his golfers as well as he could read the greens.
“Part of the adjustment was knowing how much people wanted me to help or how much they didn’t want me to help,” Hanskat said. “Some people wanted me to tell them what club they should hit and help them read their putts. Other people only hired me to carry the bag.”
It also can be difficult for a good golfer to sit back and watch others hack their way through a tough situation.
“It was hard not being able to have control over everything on the course,” he said. “I can tell someone how I might play the situation, but they’re going to look at it totally differently. Their swing is totally different.”
But there is a reward in helping another golfer succeed. Hanskat still remembers caddying for an 82-year-old woman during a tournament at the country club.
“She had probably a 90-foot putt. I said, ‘Hit it right to this spot,’” Hanskat recalled. “… She drained it dead center. The pure joy and pure excitement on her face was unreal.”
Hanskat’s experience as a caddie has helped improve his own game. He credits his work on the course with helping cut strokes off his game — in turn helping make sure he wasn’t responsible for ending Park City High’s decade-long state title streak.
“You don’t want to be the senior class that breaks the streak,” he said. “That would have been a bummer.”
Hanskat called that tournament the “most nerve-wracking moment of his life” — aside from the final interview for his scholarship. As it turned out, the Park City teenager took care of business there, too.
Hanskat is undecided on what he’ll study in college. He’s interested in both physical therapy and environmental science. But he plans to spend some of his free time playing — and working — on the golf course.
“The courses up there are gorgeous,” he said.