PGA pro's hole-in-one pays off in big way for Penn State student

Justin McDaniel
October 30, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Pro golfer Jason Day made the shot of the day during the second round of the 2017 BMW Championship, recording a hole-in-one on the 17th hole at Conway Farms Golf Club near Chicago. For one Penn State student, it turned out to be the shot of a lifetime.

Day’s ace unlocked BMW’s donation of a four-year, full tuition and housing scholarship worth $100,000 to the Western Golf Association’s Evans Scholars Foundation, which in turn awarded the scholarship to Brooklyn Gabriel, a first-year Penn State undergraduate from Philadelphia. Gabriel is the fifth student nationwide to be named a BMW Hole-in-One Scholar since 2010; BMW last donated a hole-in-one scholarship in 2015.

Gabriel applied for and earned the scholarship following three successful summers working as a caddie at Glen View Club, aptly located in Golf, Illinois, through the Western Golf Association Caddie Academy. Without a background in golf but with a willingness to step out of her comfort zone, she joined the academy and began caddying following her freshman year at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School.

“I thought it was interesting that I would be able to do something brand new, which was caddying, and be able to stay in Chicago for seven weeks and work toward a scholarship,” said Gabriel. “So, I decided to sign up.”

In three years as a caddie, Gabriel learned quite a lot about the game of golf, but she also learned life skills that transcend the game – like how to communicate with different personalities and the value of patience. When she found out this past summer that she had been named a BMW/Evans Scholar, she learned another key life lesson: hard work, in this case in the classroom and on the course, pays off.

“I was honored and excited when I found out I had been selected,” Gabriel said. “Without this scholarship, my future probably would have looked different, attending college-wise. The scholarship has helped me achieve my goal of going to college and attending Penn State, so it’s definitely a tremendous help for my mom and me.”


Brooklyn Gabriel meets Jason Day at 2018 BMW Championship

On the second day of play at the 2017 BMW Championship, Jason Day recorded a hole-in-one, resulting in the donation of a BMW Hole-in-One Scholarship, a full, four-year scholarship worth $100,000 to the Evans Scholars Foundation. The winner of that scholarship, Penn State’s Brooklyn Gabriel, had an opportunity to meet Day at the 2018 BMW Championship, held in September at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

Evans Scholars Foundation

Gabriel, a biobehavioral health major, is focused on a future career in the health sciences that will allow her to give back and help others, motivated in part by her own diagnosis with scoliosis, a condition that causes curvature of the spine.

“I’m always interested in trying to help other people and improve their lives,” she said. “I specifically became interested in orthopedics because of my own journey with it. I had scoliosis, and I had to have surgery for that, so just being aware of my condition and that of others piqued my interest. Recently, being a biobehavioral health major, I became interested in speech pathology as well. I just really want to help other people.”

The intention of the scholarship program isn’t necessarily to produce future golfers, but rather to serve as a springboard for deserving young people to achieve academic and personal success.

“Brooklyn is a wonderful young woman with a bright future ahead of her,” said Stefan Richmann, executive vice president for finance at BMW of North America. “We at BMW sincerely wish Brooklyn all the best at Penn State. Through the BMW Championship, we are proud to support the Evans Scholars Foundation in their mission to provide hardworking caddies like Brooklyn the opportunity to go to college and pursue their dreams.”

In September, Gabriel had an opportunity to meet and thank Day, the man who impacted her life so profoundly with a single golf swing, at the 2018 BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, posing for pictures and getting autographs from the 2015 PGA champion.

Gabriel wasn’t the only Penn State Evans Scholar in attendance at the tournament, however. She was joined at the championship by several Penn State students who earned full tuition and housing Platt Evans Scholarships, the result of a partnership between the Evans Scholars Foundation and the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust. Considered both Evans Scholars and Platt Scholars, recipients are selected based on academic merit, outstanding character, financial need, and a strong caddie record at Golf Association of Philadelphia member clubs.

In total, Penn State has nine Platt Evans Scholars, and proceeds from this year’s BMW Championship will be used to fund future Platt Evans Scholarships to Penn State, as well as to help establish an Evans Scholarship House at the University, where Platt Evans Scholars will be able to live and learn together. The house, expected to open in 2019, will be the first in the East, joining Evans Scholarship houses at 16 colleges and universities across the country, including at nine fellow Big Ten institutions.

The Evans Scholars Foundation has sent more than 11,000 caddies to college since 1930. This fall, 985 scholars are attending 18 universities nationwide, including Penn State.

Last Updated November 01, 2018