In Boulder and Colorado Springs, two schools of thought about golf
By Jon Rizzi
For young men and women, golf can lead to life-changing events like a college scholarship or a chance to compete at the next level. But not all changes are good, as the experiences at two University of Colorado locations shows.
A Full Ride to CU
Last month at Denver Country Club, 14 students who caddied in the state were awarded the Evans Scholarship—a full housing and tuition college grant offered to golf caddies valued at more than $125,000 over four years. The students will attend University of Colorado in Bouldin the fall.
From a record 39 applications, the Western Golf Association and the Colorado Golf Association selected 14 students. Of those, an unprecedented 11 were women. Come fall, they will all live in the same Evans Scholars house at the University of Colorado with 40-45 fellow scholars on the Boulder campus.
Those who received the scholarship (and the club at which they caddied) are Michael Barbone, Alexandria Gough and Sarah Jimenez (Cherry Hills); Georgia Meysman-Sharpe, Ellie Rodriguez (CommonGround); Hannah Abbey and Jovaun Salcido (Meridian); Madeline and Schuyler Jonasen (The Broadmoor); Karely Castillo and Erika Kemp (Green Valley Ranch); Julia and Brady Schiff (Denver); Keileigh Gorman (Rolling Hills).
A Gut Punch at UCCS
On Feb 10, three weeks after the Evans Scholars announcement, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs made a statement with a completely different tone. The school announced the elimination of the men’s and women’s golf programs at the conclusion of the current season for budgetary reasons.
The announcement blindsided Phil Trujillo and Todd Laxson—coaches, respectively of the men’s and women’s golf teams.
“It’s unbelievable to me,” Trujillo, who has led the program for 24 years, told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “Our program is the most successful program in the history of athletics at UCCS. The boys are completely torn up and saddened by the news because obviously we were all caught off guard.”
“This was an incredibly difficult decision, but also necessary in order to ensure the university and department’s budget expectations were met,” UCCS Executive Director of Athletics Nathan Gibson said in a press release. “It will now be our top priority to make sure that we support our student-athletes through this transition.”
None of the school’s other 14 NCAA programs got the axe. Eligible student-athletes receiving an athletic scholarship will have their scholarship honored in full through the 2023-24 academic year. Those choosing to transfer can compete at that institution beginning next fall.
But for this spring, they’ll all remain Mountain Lions and try to go out with a roar by making it to the NCAA II championships.
Interestingly, UCCS, which has the only Professional Golf Management Program in Colorado, will continue operating as it has since 2003, as part of the UCCS College of Business, not the Department of Athletics.
The student-athletes affected are Brandon Bervig, Travis Bossio, Jake Chesler, Trevor Grenier, Brady Haake, Lucas Howell, Barrett Jones, James Perry, Olivia Florence, Mackenzie Fontana, Torri Leung, Rachel Penzenstadler, Samantha Saile, Emily Shimkus and Eliana Vigil.
As these 15 young adults and the 14 mentioned earlier know from their hours on the course, golf can not only change your life, but it can also teach you how to navigate it.
Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.