Born and raised an hour north of Columbus, in Waldo, Ohio, freshman golfer Caden Orewiler’s journey to golfing for Ohio State is a story of family, overcoming unforeseen circumstances, and using tragedy to turn lifelong ambitions into realized realities.
The par-four fifth hole at Kings Mill Golf Club in Waldo is overrun by rows of pine trees running down the left of the fairway. Orewiler stepped to the tee box as the evening sun peered overhead, providing his favorite scenery before teeing off. This, he said, has been his favorite hole at his local course for as long as he can remember.
Golf has been an integral part of his life before he was old enough to play. Orewiler has worked tirelessly to get to this point – playing major Division I collegiate golf. The steps he took to get there and the people who stood by his side make Orewiler’s journey to OSU all the more notable.
Orewiler’s introduction to the world of golf was headed by his father, Chuck Orewiler, an avid golfer who took it upon himself to preach the game that he loved to Caden and his older brother, Alec. Their mother, Amy, dutifully supported the boys along the way. She was there after tough finishes or when Chuck would become disappointed in the way the boys were carrying themselves on the course. She even swings the clubs too.
Before the final round of the 1994 U.S. Amateur Open, Earl Woods pulled his young son Tiger Woods aside and said to him, “Let the legend grow.” That day, Tiger Woods came from five strokes back to become the youngest golfer to win the U.S. Amateur Open, at the age of 18.
Caden said that bond between Earl and Tiger Woods is the type of relationship that his own father wanted to have with him. After Caden won his first Heart of Ohio Junior Golf Association tournament as a 9-year-old, Caden’s father – like Earl Woods to Tiger – said, “Let the legend grow.”
Caden used that momentum and got progressively better through the years. As he grew older, playing college golf became a reality to both of them. Caden’s father, an avid OSU fan and alumnus, wanted his son to golf for the hometown Buckeyes. On the other hand, Caden entertained the idea of golfing for college golf powerhouse, Oklahoma State University.
However, Caden did not get to complete the recruiting process with the person who had been there through the entire journey.
In Nov. 2013, after Caden had completed his sophomore golf season at River Valley High School, Chuck Orewiler died in a single-automobile accident.
He was 50 years old.
The wretchedness of losing a parent is one of the hardest times to go through, but through golf, Caden had something to remember his father by.
“The relationship we had was definitely centered around the golf course. We talked about life on the golf course, how I was doing in school. We talked about family – everything. We even talked about dying,” he said. “It’s a crazy thing and God works in weird ways in that we would talk about what he wanted to have happen when he passed away.”
Those conversations and that bond allowed Caden to be able to speak up when the family was discussing how they were going to lay its patriarch to rest. Chuck was cremated, and his ashes were spread in the section of the Olentangy River that runs through the backyard of the Orewiler household, flowing south to Columbus, past Ohio Stadium and the campus that has meant so much to the both of them.
After losing his father, Caden never gave up, but instead became more focused. His mother stepped up right where Caden’s father left, more heavily involving herself in his tournaments and overall game.
“She has really been able to play both roles,” Caden said. “She picked up a huge responsibility and role and has just blown it out of the water. Without her support, it would be hard to keep going when things do get tough.”
Before his death that fall, Caden’s father said something to him that he said stays with him to this day.
During the district tournament practice round in the fall of 2013 at River Greens Golf Course in West Lafayette, Ohio, his father handed Caden a golf ball at the seventh tee-box and simply said, “Let’s finish what we started.” At that point in time, Chuck meant winning a state championship.
While his son did not end up accomplishing that goal after finishing tied for fourth in 2014 and losing in a playoff to finish second at districts in 2015, he was able to accomplish the ultimate goal they had set. Caden committed to golf for the Buckeyes.
“I still hear him talking to me sometimes on the course,” he said. “Telling me to never give up and to keep fighting.”
In the early collegiate golf season that stretches from the beginning of fall semester until, potentially, the end of May, Orewiler has contributed in one event thus far for OSU. He finished tied for 27th at the Carmel Cup, which was played Sept. 2-4 at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, CA.
OSU’s next scheduled match is at the Quail Valley Intercollegiate, Oct. 24 and 25, in Vero Beach, Florida.