27 August 2019
The Kirkham Classic tournament, named after former Athletic Director Steve Kirkham, is held every year to raise money for UCCS Athletics. The Aug. 28 tournament reached the 128 person capacity by the close of registration on Aug. 15.
All proceeds from the $125 a person or $480 a team tournament go straight to UCCS Athletics to supplement scholarships for student athletes according to Beau Kelly, the director of Development for UCCS.
Kelly said that the event lets donors, alumni and corporate sponsors meet with student athletes, a rarity for charity golf tournaments.
“We bring out student athletes from almost all of our programs unless they’re on the road for a sporting event,” said Kelly.
UCCS student athletes help with check in, handing out bagged lunches and meet with the players at each of the holes. The scramble format tournament is scheduled to begin at 1:30 pm with a banquet dinner, once the 18 holes have been played, around 7 pm.
The 128 player list includes business owners, according to Kelly.
“A number of the people who play in the tournament end up hiring our student athletes for internships, which is neat,” said Kelly.
The yearly tournament has been hosted by the Air Force Academy on the Eisenhower Golf Course since Kirkham launched the initiative during his tenure as athletic director, and renamed in his honor three years ago after a push by a donor to recognize his legacy to the UCCS Athletics department according to Kelly.
Part of the appeal of the tournament for alumni and donors is the exclusivity of the course.
“Eisenhower is a tough course to play on because you have to have a military connection, generally, so for a lot of our participants it’s a way for them to get on to the Air Force Academy and play,” said Kelly.
The event maintains a casual atmosphere, encouraging a fun day of golf using a best ball format, where the teams will continue play from the best shot by one of their team members. The casual atmosphere does not exclude skilled players, however, as Kelly said that some men’s golf alumni participate every year.
Fundraising for UCCS Athletics scholarships allows the university to increase the caliber of our teams, according to Kelly.
“If you look at the last 15 years, we’ve had department GPA above 3.0, and that’s attributed to our scholarships,” said Kelly, noting that the tournament helps achieve those goals because the best student athletes are easier to attract with great scholarships.
Besides helping pay for an education, Kelly attributes career success to the skills and attitudes taught through athletics.
“We find that our student athletes become great employees. They know how to manage their time. They know how to manage a team environment. They know how to work hard and take feedback,” said Kelly.
Kelly said that people in the community hire athletes from UCCS because of the traits taught to them in the program.