Golfers follow through to swing funding for students
by Patty Unruh
“Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.” Winston Churchill
Yes, golf is a challenge, but scores of people enjoy the game. Playing golf can even benefit others, as golfers discovered at the 2018 Gilpin County Education Foundation (GCEF) golf classic, held on Friday, August 24 at Evergreen Golf Course. A record 80 people competed on 20 teams and raised $20,000 for scholarships and other projects to benefit the students of Gilpin County.
Those joining in the good cause included GCEF members, teachers, school administrators, community members, and current and former students. The players began signing in at 7:00 a.m. on a cool, sunny morning. GCEF members invited participants to take goodie bags filled with snacks and golf tees. Golfers were also encouraged to buy Mulligans – a chance to replay an unfavorable shot without taking a penalty – at two for $5 or ten for $20. Raffle items were on display, and a silent auction was in progress for the benefit of the Gilpin County School football program.
GCEF President Craig Holmes welcomed golfers, new and experienced alike, with the news that this year’s tourney had the most sponsorship money ever and the largest field of players ever. He announced that in 2017, Gilpin County School District RE-1 was accredited with distinction by the Colorado Department of Education, was named a John Irwin School of Excellence by the CDE, and received a Governor’s Distinguished Improvement award by the CDE. It was ranked eighth in Colorado by School Digger rating service.
“We’ve also sent a kid to the Colorado School of Mines every year for the past nine years,” Holmes said. “Kenny Larson is here playing with us today. He received a GCEF scholarship and graduated from the Mines. I’m going to ask him for a loan when we’re done!”
Holmes explained the silent auction, a “fundraiser within a fundraiser” for the football program. Prizes for the auction were pizza and beer donated by Dostal Alley Brewpub and Casino, a one-night stay and two dinner entrees donated by the Century Casino & Hotel, and a one-night stay plus a $100 food and beverage voucher contributed by the Grand Z Casino and Hotel. The tournament provided a setting for the football fundraiser and gave GCEF a feel for how the auction would perform as GCEF considers future opportunities.
Several Gilpin High School students took an active part. Seventh-grader Connor Vincent was playing in the tournament for the first time. Workers included students Courtney Holmes, Chad Holmes, Blake Boulter, and Nolan Lindberg, who buzzed around in golf carts handing out water and snacks and selling Mulligans.
The sponsors were Isle Casino, Same Electric Company, ASAP Asphalt & Concrete, The Clinton Family Fund, Saratoga Casino, United Power, Z’s Casinos, Ruiz Foods, EA Sween, and Circle K Convenience Stores. Six of these were $2,000 Platinum sponsors.
The tournament included 18 holes of golf in a shotgun start format, where each team teed off simultaneously from different holes. It was a four-person best ball scramble, where players on each team took a shot and the best ball was played. Team members all shot from the same spot, and the best ball was used until players holed out. After the round, the group feasted on a Mexican buffet at the clubhouse and held an awards presentation.
The first place team was Morning Mist Landscaping (Mark Byrnes, Bob Clark, Rick Roberts, John DeAngies). Second place was earned by Carwash Experts (John Brinkman, Jeff Truman, George Engle, Carl Lombardo). The third place team was comprised of Craig Holmes, Jim Stahly, Dave Milhollan, and Kirk Johnson. Scores were first – 17; second – 16; and third – 12. Sunny Vincent took honors for the women’s longest drive.
Raffle prizes included golf bags, golf clubs, cell phone accessories, gift certificates for dinners at casinos, and some golf practice sets. A generous purchase of 130 raffle tickets enabled GCEF to hit $20,000.
GCEF’s overall mission is to provide resources to improve the education of Gilpin County students. Its main goal is to provide scholarships for graduating seniors, and any student who is a Gilpin County resident may apply. Additional upcoming goals include supporting a new youth drama group, camps for kids, and instructional opportunities for teachers. GCEF members hope the group will grow and fund more scholarships and projects each year.
A chief aim of the tournament is simply to have fun, whether you’re a pro or a duffer. Steve Maeda, an employee of Circle K convenience stores, expressed the general idea. “It’s a great and worthy cause to support. The tournament is well organized and a fun time.”
The next fundraiser for GCEF is its annual scholarship fundraising dinner to be held in March 2019.
For more information about GCEF, visit gilpineducationfoundation.org.