COVID-19 has taken away much from many in 2020. For Edward Wiernicki, it took away his chance to caddie.
Putting his family’s safety first, Wiernicki wasn’t able to loop at Cedarbrook Country Club – a job he’s held since 2015 – in order to protect his mother who is battling pancreatic cancer. It was a sacrifice he knew he needed to make, no matter how bad he’d miss being involved in the game of golf.
It ultimately was a selfless sacrifice that didn’t go unnoticed.
Wiernicki, a senior at Penn State University, was selected as the 2020 Francis C. Poore Caddie of the Year.
“This season, it was tough not being out there working at Cedarbrook. It’s what I love to do. But it’s been a tough year for everyone,” said Wiernicki, 21, of East Norriton, Pa. “Then, when I found out that I was going to be named the Caddie of the Year, it just blew my mind. I never thought I’d be in this position five seasons ago when I first started looping. I’m forever grateful to the Platt for all of the help they’ve given me.”
Golf has had a lasting impact on Wiernicki ever since he initially received the Platt Scholarship in 2017. But the game itself – reading greens, course courtesies, etc. – didn’t come natural to Wiernicki growing up as a lacrosse and soccer player. Instead, it came to him one day while sitting in his high school calculus class at Germantown Academy.
“My friend leaned over to me one day and mentioned that I should check out caddying over at Cedarbrook. I figured, ‘Why not?’ and decided to give it a chance,” said Wiernicki. “For the first two weeks or so, I didn’t even get a loop. They had me out front shaking members hands. I came home one day and told my mom that I was thinking about quitting.”
He didn’t quit. Instead, he committed. That dedication paid off in a big way – none bigger than the financial help he’d go on to receive from the Platt.
“I put my time in and once I started getting loops, I was loving it. I learned so much,” said Wiernicki. “At the beginning, I was nervous to make mistakes. But with experience, I started to believe in myself with reading greens and stuff like that.”
When word was going around the club about the Platt Scholarship program, Wiernicki knew he needed to throw his hat in the ring. He had heard that Platt caddies were among “the best of the best” on the course, and he wanted to reach that level of expertise. Plus, academics and his passion for engineering have always been an instrumental part of his life, as evidenced by Wiernicki receiving the 2020 J. Wood Platt President’s Scholarship, which is reserved for the senior caddie scholar with the highest GPA.
“I just love creating things with my hands. I also love aircraft” said the Aerospace Engineering major, who will graduate in Spring 2021. “I applied for the Platt Scholarship immediately, and when I found out I was [a recipient], it was huge for me. I was absolutely thrilled. Now, I’m just so thankful that I can be a part of this program, and I hope that I can repay everything the Platt’s given me one day.”
Last December, the day after Wiernicki returned home from school for winter break, his family received some life-altering news. Kristl, Edward’s mother, was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.
“For the first couple of weeks, we were just kind of in limbo, wondering what was going to happen. Everything that mattered up to me up to that point, it all changed overnight,” said Wiernicki.
In order to protect his family from COVID-19 complications, there really was no other choice. Wiernicki decided it would be best to curb caddying for the 2020 season. Instead, he applied and accepted a Mechanical Engineering Design internship with Lockheed Martin.
“I was definitely disappointed I couldn’t caddie this season. It was tough not being out here with the guys,” said Wiernicki. “But luckily, the Platt Scholarship allows caddies to take time off if they get an internship. For me, it was a great experience all around and will help me with my career goals.”
Wiernicki will be awarded his Caddie of the Year honor during the Platt’s Virtual Caddie Brunch on Dec. 22. It’s a moment Wiernicki never thought would come to fruition, especially during his earliest caddie days of waiting around the yard for a loop.
“When my mom found out, she was in tears. She’s always been very involved with everything I do, so for me to accomplish this and distract her from her treatment, it was a great moment for all of us,” said Wiernicki. “This Award is a confirmation for me that all the hard work I’ve put in has been worth it.”
Hard work. Perseverance. Strength. Family.
That’s Edward Wiernicki, the 2020 Caddie of the Year.
Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 288 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust
The J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust was created in 1958 by the Golf Association of Philadelphia through the efforts of then President Walter A. Schmidt; Leo Fraser, President of the local section of Professional Golfers Association of America; and Albert Keeping, Golf Professional at Gulph Mills Golf Club. It was named in honor of Philadelphia’s premier golfer of the era, J. Wood Platt. Not only was Mr. Platt an accomplished player, but he was also the Trust’s co-founder and first contributor. To date, more than 3,800 young men and women have received $23 million in aid from the Trust.