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Golfers have the drive to help students stay the course academically

Gilpin County Education Foundation annual golf classic

by Patty Unruh

Golfers hit the links last Friday, August 25, in the Gilpin County Education Foundation’s (GCEF) 12th annual Gilpin Golf Classic. 51 golfers competed in teams at the Evergreen Golf Course, with the goal of raising funds to benefit Gilpin County students. A little over $15,000 was raised, before expenses.

Participants signed in starting at 7:00 on a beautiful morning. Early arrivals were delighted to see a herd of elk enjoying the course also, including one bull that seemed to be attacking a flag.

One of the course employees gave some good advice. “Watch out for the elk,” she said. “It’s almost rutting season. Don’t approach them.”

After the golfers had completed some warm-ups and heard the course rules, GCEF President Craig Holmes made opening remarks.

“We all know why we’re here, and that’s to support the students of Gilpin County. Last year, we awarded $10,000 in scholarships and helped with technology and teacher projects.”

He was pleased to welcome Kenny Larson, a former student and scholarship recipient, who recently graduated from the Colorado School of Mines. Funding for his education was made possible in part by GCEF. Kenny, now employed, was enjoying golfing with his dad Jim Larson and the rest of his team that morning.

Several Gilpin High School students were present either to play or to help by selling raffle tickets and providing water, including Chad Holmes, Courtney Holmes, Kristi Schmidt, Austin Boulter, Blake Boulter, and Katelyn Armstrong.

GCEF Board members attended, either to golf or to assist with registrations: President Holmes, Vice President Sarah Swanson, Treasurer Kevin Armstrong, Secretary Kellie Bayne, and members Jim Larson, David MacKenzie, Lee Ramsey, Barbara Thielemann, Dick Vickery, and Sunny Vincent.

The event sponsors included ASAP Asphalt & Concrete, Morning Mist Landscaping, Isle Casino, Saratoga Casino, United Power, Circle K convenience stores, The Clinton Family Fund, and Same Electric. Craig Holmes advised that GCEF hopes to double the size of next year’s tournament, with even more sponsors.

The players’ entry fee of $125 included green fees for 18 holes, a golf cart, lunch, awards for the flight winners, a goodie bag, and other special awards.

The tournament format was the same as in previous years. The golfers began at 8:00 a.m. with a shotgun start, where each team teed off simultaneously from different holes. It was a standard 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. Golfers also had a chance at “Mulligans,” where they could replay an unfavorable shot without taking a penalty.

After their 18-hole round, the group enjoyed a Mexican buffet and the presentation of awards.

Jeremy Noll had the men’s longest drive, with Alexis Donaldson taking the honors for the women. Jeff Greenhalgh came in with the longest putt.

Morning Mist Landscaping was the first-place team with a score of 54. Second place was a tie between Circle K and Same Electric, each team shooting a 57.

Raffle prizes included various golf clubs, gift certificates, baseball caps, and a complete set of Broncos clubs. Each golfer received a goodie bag with chapstick, United Power golf tees, buy-one-get-one buffet coupons from the Isle, $5.00 and $10.00 gift certificates to the Saratoga café and casino, a set of three golf balls, and several snack items.

Hole-in-one prizes were also offered, although went unclaimed: $10,000 cash, golf clubs, and trips to a golf resort.

One of GCEF’s main goals is to provide scholarships for graduating seniors. Any student who is a Gilpin County resident may apply; see gilpineducationfoundation.org.

GCEF’s overall mission is to provide additional resources to better the education of Gilpin County students. The organization has provided funding for improved technology in classrooms, supported teacher programs and group events, and offered the Mt. Thomas Fund, which helps individual students with needs.

The golfers had a great time while raising funds for students. Even the duffers who didn’t win special awards declared, “We’re first in fun!”

“It was a great day, the course was excellent, and it was a day off of work,” said Jim Stahly of the Circle K team. “You can’t beat it. A lot of folks get behind the Education Foundation and support it with this good tournament.”

The next fundraiser for GCEF is its seventh annual scholarship fundraising dinner on Saturday, November 4, at the Reserve Casino in Central City from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

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