Excerpt from the Summer 2022 issue of the GAP Magazine
By John T. Iswalt
It takes a village to raise a child. Fourteen years ago, Joseph Daye joined the village of Philadelphia Country Club to serve its members as a caddie. Since then, that village, and its inhabitants, have raised Daye to become a J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholar.
“It wasn’t only me that got me here. There was a lot of help that came along the way,” he said.
The humble 28-year-old is referring to members, experienced caddies, and other mentors at the club who helped shape Daye into the veteran caddie that he is today. That level of support paved the way for a level of financial support.
Daye graduated in May from West Chester University with a masters in education with a secondary education teaching certificate. He completed his undergraduate studies in 2017, also at West Chester, with an English writing major and a minor in business and technical writing. Daye is preparing to take the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) certification in late June. He hopes to become an English teacher.
The J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust made Daye’s degrees possible.
“It really exceeded everything that I hoped for. I literally didn’t expect to receive this award let alone be talking to the Platt, let alone being a foundation for my family,” Daye, of Douglasville, Pa., said. “This not only pays bills, but this can help me with my future.”
His career aspirations were sparked by his time at Chester County Futures, an educational non-profit organization committed to helping under-represented youth prepare for higher education. Daye served as a student service coordinator from September 2017 to June 2021.
“My goal is to hopefully still stay in this area. Gratefully, I already had two interviews,” Daye said. “I represent two percent of African American teachers and the thing is, I’m just about representation.”
Education is at the forefront for Daye. His Platt initiation came from Chuck Coppedge, a friend and fellow Philadelphia Country Club caddie who introduced Daye to the Trust.
“I thought that it was a great opportunity for Joe to do it, and make him feel good about himself.” Coppedge, 66, of Phoenixville, Pa. said. “His work is not finished, but I am very happy with the work that he has done so far. I am just so proud of him for making it this far. There have certainly been some ups and downs. I know that he can do a lot more too.”
Coppedge met Daye through Grimes AME Church in Pottstown, Pa. The former is an assistant pastor there. He took a special interest in Daye, who attends services regularly.
“I noticed his intelligence and thought that it would be a great opportunity for him to caddie and apply for the scholarship,” Coppedge said. “I considered him a representative of not only Philadelphia Country Club, but also of myself since I brought him in. I just want him to be successful in whatever he chooses to do. I know that he can do whatever he wants to as long as he puts his mind to it.”
“It all started in the church. He saw potential in me. He saw something in me that not a lot of other people saw,” Daye said.
To further convince Daye of his caddie potential, Coppedge presented a pamphlet titled “The Caddie 10 Commandments.” Daye spent that winter reviewing the pamphlet and learning the responsibilities involved in caddying. In spring of 2009, Daye caddied for Coppedge during a nine-hole round to further develop his skills. Daye officially shouldered his first loop that summer.
Caddying at Philadelphia Country Club has taught Joe many lessons. Building trust, virtue and discipline are some of the best attributes that he has learned while strolling the club’s historic fairways. Caddying has also taught him money management. These learned skills are something that he will use for the rest of his life.
“This was like a safe haven. This was something that allowed me to not be so immersed in my own struggles and inhibitions or just being angry at myself,” Daye said. “[Caddying] helped me a lot with navigating, persevering, networking and just building confidence.”
Residential instability caused strife for Daye during his adolescence. In the span of 18 years (1999-2017) he and his family changed homes on seven occasions. During his undergraduate study at West Chester, Daye received some devastating news.
“In 2016, I found out that my parents’ house got foreclosed,” Daye said.
That closure didn’t stop Daye. He and his family were forced to move but eventually times improved.
Daye instead drew strength from the Philadelphia Country Club village, particularly Coppedge. It’s a resolve that he hopes will inspire the next Caddie Scholar.
“Mr. Chuck [Coppedge] has been at Philadelphia Country Club as a caddie for over 30 years, and if he can give that opportunity to me, I definitely have to pay that forward,” Daye, who graduated from Pottsgrove High School in 2012, said.
“I would like to see him pay it forward and help another kid in his same circumstances,” Coppedge said.
As villages continue to grow, so do its children.
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.