#9: Giving Back ("No Bare Feet and Other Lessons From the Caddie Yard")

Sep 30, 2023 by Mike Magluilo
"No Bare Feet and Other Lessons From the Caddie Yard"
Lesson #9: Giving Back

My first lessons in gratitude came from family. 

Like every time crazy Aunt Tootsie sent two dollars in a birthday card—Mom would pull out the crayons so I could thank her for the gift and for letting us know she washed the bills. 

My gratitude as a child was transactional: receive a gift, respond with a thank you. 

The members of the club where I caddied as a teenager had these plastic tags tied to their bags with the silhouette of a caddie and the words “Par Club” underneath. The Par Club is the annual fundraising campaign for the Evans Scholarship, a four-year full tuition and housing scholarship for high-achieving, financially needy caddies. (You read that correctly…a full-ride to college for qualified golf caddies.)

A good caddie knows how to make him/herself invisible on the course, yet the bag tags were a sign the members noticed us. Later in life, I realized many of the members weren’t born into their success. Someone helped them along the way, and their generosity was a way to give someone else a break in life. 

Caddying taught me gratitude is more than transactional—it’s reciprocal.

Upon earning one of those coveted Evans Scholarships, the generosity of Par Club members across the country changed my life—and to-date have changed the lives of some 13,000 other active and alumni Evans Scholars. 

We all have people in our lives who helped us out along the way. Maybe it was an organization that trusted you with its reputation and charity, an individual who provided your first big break, an inspiring teacher, or a mentor who showed you the way. If you’re fortunate, you have one or more parents to thank.

Caddying taught me gratitude can be more than reciprocal—giving back to those who changed the course of our lives provides a sense of purpose unmatched by any recognition, T-shirt or naming rights you get in return for a donation. 

At every step of my life beyond the caddie yard, I’ve found gracious and grounded people who remember where they came from and give their time, experience and money to enable the success of others. Giving helps them notice the positive in the world and appreciate how good they’ve got it. By giving back, they create a legacy bigger than their careers, lives, and the money they leave behind. 

The strongest organizations in the world—the ones that survive decades and market cycles and transfers of leadership—are built on giving back. They incentivize collaboration over eating what you kill, celebrate players not personalities, and develop the next generation of their organizations to one day take over. 

I’ve been fortunate to attend college as the beneficiary of one such organization, spent more than half my career working for another, and currently live in a community that embodies all these qualities.

Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

The most secure people I’ve met are givers. Givers live in a world of significance in which they feel needed and unique. 

They can’t change the world, but they can leave their small part better than they found it by giving back to the work, academic, personal and family communities that helped them along the way.

What sort of community would you like to build?