Xavier Smith dreams of being on stage, performing music in front of a crowd full of screaming fans. However, it’s the sights and silence of the golf course that help fuel his aspirations.
For Smith, music and caddying are traditions that have brought his family together. Xavier’s dad Andre, patriarch of the Smith family and a music conductor, spent time reviewing instruments and vocals with his children as they grew up. He watched the kids perform songs for the family during holiday parties.
It is at these gatherings where Xavier realized he had a passion for performing music.
Although his brothers Christian, 26, and Jared, 23, were talented musicians, they decided to pursue different career choices. Christian graduated from Miami University (Ohio) and works for a private equity firm in Utah and Jared recently graduated from Penn State University and lives in Philadelphia, Pa. While Christian was a student at Haverford High School, he joined Llanerch Country Club’s caddie yard in his family’s hometown of Havertown, Pa. Jared and Xavier followed in their older brother’s footsteps.
And all three have Platt Scholar ties. Christian and Jared were Platt-Evans Scholars after graduating high school. As Xavier’s senior year approached, he hoped to join his brothers.
“Since my brothers both already went through the process, I knew what was expected out of J. Wood Platt Scholars, and it was up to me to meet those expectations,” Smith, 19, said. “I worked extremely hard in the classroom and out on the golf course in hopes that I could join my brothers as caddie-scholars.”
Smith submitted his application in a timely matter and anxiously awaited a decision. After a couple of months, he received his Platt Scholar acceptance letter and let out an “ecstatic yell.” His grant is slightly different than his brothers, but he’s still part of Philadelphia’s golf charity.
Smith is a sophomore at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., where he is majoring in vocal performance. Studying music from a young age, Smith calls Berklee “his dream college” and credits the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust for his attendance.
“The financial support from the Platt is so helpful to me because it’s making it possible for me to pursue my dream. The Platt is allowing me to go to this prestigious college that focuses on music,” he said.
One may assume that the acts of caddying and performing music don’t correlate. Smith, on the other hand, disagrees and credits his employment at Llanerch as inspiration toward his music.
“My job has allowed me to buy equipment such as microphones, pianos, audio boxes, and other hardware that benefits my music career,” Smith said. “But creatively, working as a caddie inspires me and my music. In nature you hear different sounds such as birds singing and frogs humming, so as I hear them, they bring me new musical ideas. When I give a good read on a putt, the sound of a golf ball hitting the pin is percussive and the rhythmic subtleties contribute to my producing.”
Caddying has helped Smith polish his interpersonal skills. Interacting with golfers and members can be a difficult task, but he embraces the challenge.
“Insert any high school freshman as a caddie, and there’s a good chance they act shy or nervous around golfers and members,” Smith said. “But as an aspiring performer, I needed to be confident, and working loops around Llanerch has helped me acquire so many interpersonal skills necessary for excellent stage presence.”
Those around Smith admire his creativity and communication skills while on duty.
“Xavier is a brilliant musician, and I think that helps his work as a caddie,” Llanerch’s Caddiemaster Chris Wright said. “He has a knack for communicating with human beings and a unique mindset that makes him great for the job.”
Through his passion for music and hard work as a caddie, the roots of elder Smith family members can be seen within Xavier every day.
“Following in the footsteps of my brothers has been a great honor for me. Sometimes we compete against each other but at the end of the day, it’s always love because we help each other grow,” Smith said. “We always give credit to our parents whenever we reflect on our successes. They have done a magnificent job of raising us.”
“Xavier continues to make me proud as he follows in the footsteps of Christian and Jared,” Wright, 45, of Havertown, Pa., said. “He is the definition of a caddie-scholar, and we love working with him and his family at Llanerch Country Club.”
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.