Ron Balicki Scholarship Created For Aspiring College Golf Writers
WARREN, N.J., December 5th, 2014 – Golf, and college golf in particular, lost a great friend in April with the passing of former Golfweek writer Ron Balicki. Balicki, who was days shy of his 66th birthday when he lost his eight-month bout with cancer, wrote about the college and amateur game for more than 30 years, delivering stories not only about the players who would become the PGA Tour’s stars of tomorrow, but stories about amateurs of all talent levels who simply loved to compete.
In hopes of expanding upon Ron’s three decades of journalism excellence, a Ron Balicki Scholarship has been created in his memory. The purpose of this award, to be given annually at the NCAA Championship, is to honor and encourage a student who, in pursuing his or her interest in journalism and writing, exemplifies dedication by writing about college and/or amateur golf.
“To me, Ron Balicki was the ultimate college and amateur golf writer,” said Denny Glass, former tournament director of the Northeast Amateur and chairman of the steering committee for the Ron Balicki Scholarship Fund. “It was always so inspiring to be around Ron while he was working and witness his enthusiasm and dedication to his craft.”
Ron Balicki did not spend his life jumping on airplanes wishing to write about golf tournaments. Instead, he lived to write about the people who played in them. And he told those stories very well, winning several state and national awards, including the Golf Writers Association of America’s Best Column in 1998 for a piece he wrote on Scottish amateur Barclay Howard.
“His best stories,” Debbie Balicki said of her husband, “were always people stories.”
Balicki wrote about college coaches and gave readers an inside view into their programs. A fixture at college and amateur events throughout the country, he touched many lives. The coaches thought so much of him that in 2010, Balicki became the first non-coach inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America’s Hall of Fame.
Phil Mickelson called Balicki when Balicki was hospitalized in March and left him a voicemail to thank Ron for his integrity. When Rickie Fowler decided that he was leaving college early to turn pro in 2009, he stopped in the middle of a practice round and made the one call he knew he needed to make: He phoned Balicki.
“He had written so much about me, about Oklahoma State, and I didn’t hesitate,” Fowler said. “So I called him that day, right in the middle of my practice round.”
Said former Georgia Tech standout Matt Kuchar, “For Ron Balicki to come out and do a proper story on your college tournament, it was a big deal.”
A website for the Ron Balicki Scholarship Fund is under development (RonBalickiScholarship.com). Tax deductible Contributions for the Ron Balicki Scholarship Fund can be made payable to “Ron Balicki Scholarship Fund” and mailed to: Ron Balicki Scholarship Fund, ℅ GCAA, 1225 West Main, Suite 110, Norman OK, 73069. For further information, please contact the GCAA at (866) 422-2669.
Barbasol to Sponsor Jack Nicklaus Awards
LAS VEGAS – Barbasol, America’s #1 Men’s Shaving Cream brand, has become the presenting sponsor for the Jack Nicklaus Award. The Nicklaus Award recognizes the top players at the Division I, II, III, NAIA and NJCAA levels.
“We are extremely excited to sponsor the Jack Nicklaus Award and to honor the most elite collegiate golfers in the country,” said Tom Murray, President and CEO of Perio Inc., the parent company of Barbasol. “We look forward to seeing the Award winners on Tour and competing in the Barbasol Championship.”
Since 1988, the award for the GCAA Collegiate Players of the Year have been named after Jack Nicklaus, a Big Ten and NCAA Champion and GCAA All-American at The Ohio State University. Mr. Nicklaus annually recognizes the recipients during the final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide at world renowned Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, just outside of Nicklaus’ hometown of Columbus.
Winners of the Nicklaus Award include Tiger Woods (1996), Phil Mickelson (1990-92), David Duval (1993), Justin Leonard (1994), Stewart Cink (1995), Luke Donald (1999), Hunter Mahan (2003), Bill Haas (2004) and Ryan Moore (2005) among many others. Award recipients have combined for over 200 victories worldwide and claimed 22 major championships.
The perpetual Jack Nicklaus Award trophy is displayed in the Jack Nicklaus Museum on the campus of The Ohio State University.
Beginning with the 2015 Nicklaus Award, 20 semifinalists for each division will be named in late April while five finalists will be selected prior to their respective championships.
Additionally, Barbasol will sponsor the All-Nicklaus Team, which recognizes 24 honorees from across NCAA Divisions I, II, and III, the NAIA and the NJCAA for outstanding play over the course of the collegiate season. The All-Nicklaus Team plaques are displayed prominently in the Memorial Tournament’s Media Center at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
“We are very excited that Barbasol will join the GCAA in honoring the Jack Nicklaus Award recipients,” said GCAA President Conrad Ray. “We’re pleased to not only be partnering with someone that has a passion for golf, but a company that supports so many of the ideals that make the game special, including integrity, the value of hard work and giving back to the community.”
Barbasol, America’s #1 Men’s Shaving Cream brand was introduced as the first “brushless” tube of shaving cream in 1919. Currently offered in 7 varieties, Original, Soothing Aloe, Pacific Rush, Sensitive Skin, Skin Conditioner, Arctic Chill and Mountain Blast, Barbasol continues to be made in America and is available at major retailers nationwide. Barbasol is owned by Dublin, Ohio based Perio Inc. For more information about Barbasol, please visit barbasol.com..
Van de Velde; Heppler to Coach Palmer Cup Teams
LAS VEGAS – Former Ryder Cup player Jean Van de Velde and Bruce Heppler will serve as coaches of the European and United States Palmer Cup teams, respectively, at Rich Harvest Farms. The annual Ryder Cup-style competition will be played June 12-14.
Van de Velde won the French amateur championship in 1986 and represented France in the World Team Amateur and the Continent against GB&I in the St. Andrews Trophy later that year. He launched his professional career in 1987. Van de Velde claimed his first European Tour event at the Roma Masters in 1993. In 1999, Van de Velde finished runner-up at The Open Championship and became the first French player to qualify for the Ryder Cup.
After injuring his knee skiing and undergoing two surgical reconstructions, it was feared Van de Velde may not play again. However, he regained his card in 2005 by virtue of his second-place finish at the Open de France and earned an emotional victory at the Madeira Island Open in 2006 for his final win on the European Tour.
In addition to his appearances in the Ryder Cup, World Team Amateur and St. Andrews Trophy, Van de Velde represented France in 12 World Cups. He helped lead the Continent to victory over GB&I at the 2000 Seve Cup and Van de Velde captained at the 2011 event.
Van de Velde will also serve as Team Europe’s head coach for the 2016 Palmer Cup at Formby Golf Club on England’s Golf Coast.
“I feel very honored to have been appointed coach of the European Team of the Palmer Cup,” said Van de Velde. “It is a privilege, as well as a responsibility, to try guiding some of tomorrow’s future stars of the game. I hope that everyone involved with Team Europe will continue the successes our predecessors established. It is a big task, but we will try our utmost best, in doing so prolonging the values of our wonderful sport.”
This will be the second stint as head coach of the United States Palmer Cup team for Heppler. The Georgia Tech head coach was the first American Palmer Cup coach to face a team composed of European Players when the event was held at Cassique in 2003.
Heppler has guided the Yellow Jackets to the NCAA Championship every year since 1998, and helped author 11 top-8 finishes in the Finals, including three runner-up showings. Tech is currently on a run unprecedented in school history - seven Atlantic Coast Conference titles in the last nine years and four trips to match play at the NCAA Championship in the last five.
During his tenure, Tech has won or shared 10 Atlantic Coast Conference titles. Only two ACC coaches have led their teams to more ACC titles than has Heppler. The Yellow Jackets have captured or shared 44 team titles overall. He was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2014 for the eighth time, more than any coach in ACC history except one, and was a finalist for the GCAA’s Dave Williams national coach of the year award.
Since 2000, the Yellow Jackets have finished in the top 10 of the final Golfstat rankings 11 times, and in the final Golfweek/Sagarin top 10 twelve times. Tech has not finished lower than 14th in either ranking in any year.
Heppler has recruited and developed his share of star players as well. The Yellow Jackets have had at least a pair of All-Atlantic Coast Conference honorees in 16 of the last 17 years, and landed four members of the team on the squad twice (2005, 2011). Tech has had at least two players earn All-America honors 14 of the last 16 years, and Ollie Schniederjans became the Jackets’ 20th first-team selection in 2014. Three of his players, Matt Kuchar, Bryce Molder and Troy Matteson, have been named national players of the year.
His players have been just as successful in the classroom. Tech’s golf program has been recognized with a perfect Academic Progress Report score of 1000 for eight straight years, and every senior has graduated. Twelve different players under Heppler have been named All-America Scholars by the GCAA. Molder and Roberto Castro, have received the NCAA’s Top VIII Award, an honor given to eight student-athletes from all sports each year and recognizes those who excel in their sport and in the classroom, and exhibit high character, leadership and service to others. Three Georgia Tech golfers, Matteson, Castro and James White, have been honored with the Byron Nelson Award presented by Cleveland Golf/Srixon.
Heppler was a 2013 inductee to the GCAA Hall of Fame and serves as the Association’s treasurer.
“I am certainly honored to be selected as part of this year’s Palmer Cup,” said Heppler. “Any time you get a chance to represent your country and peers in any form it becomes a special opportunity. I know Rich Harvest Farms is committed to having a great event for these great players. I’m looking forward to a great week for these special players.”
The United States leads the Palmer Cup series 9-8-1.
Flagler’s Schindler Recipient of David Toms Overcoming Adversity Award
NORMAN, Okla. – Spencer Schindler, a junior at Flagler, has been named recipient of the David Toms Overcoming Adversity Award.
In the fall of 2007, Schindler’s mother was severely injured while at work. The injury prevented here from working and due to financial constraints the Schindler and his mother moved from Savannah, Ga., to St. Augustine, Fla., to find work. The family moved in with his grandfather. Schindler’s mother found work as a cashier at a grocery store but the family was having difficulty making ends meet. Schindler found a job working 25 hours a week at The First Tee of St. Johns County and the family used much of his paycheck to pay bills.
Schindler’s grandfather, who taught him the game, gave him $250 a month toward a golf fund that allowed him to play in tournaments and get equipment when needed. Working at The First Tee also granted him a place to practice and golf balls and gloves to use. Schindler would practice in the mornings before school or evenings after work.
In December of 2011, his senior year in high school, Schindler committed to Flagler College. Playing at Flagler would allow him to stay close to his mother and his scholarship and the ability to live at home would reduce the costs of attending college. Shortly after committing to Flagler, his grandfather fell and broke his hip. He passed away on April 9, 2012. His death came at time of great transition for Schindler and his mother. He was soon graduating from high school and moving to college that August.
Since his grandfather owned the house he and is mother were living in they were forced to either pay rent or move. The family could not afford the rent and Schindler would no longer be able to assist with the finances, as he would be in college. They lost their home. Throughout the summer of 2012, the family sold everything they could in an effort to make a down payment on a new home. Eventually they were able to afford an RV with one bedroom and a pullout couch.
The First Tee teaches nine core values. Perseverance is the core value that has served Schindler as the backbone of his character. Even through the pain of losing his grandfather and the financial difficulties his family faced, they managed to get by and he was able to play competitively at Flagler. During his sophomore year, Schindler was able improve his stroke average by three shots and was selected as a Division II PING First-Team All-America selection. He was also able to maintain a 3.24 GPA through his first two years of college.
“I am honored to have been selected as the David Toms Award winner,” said Schindler. “The award means a lot to not only me, but also my family and everyone who supports me. I couldn’t be more grateful to see my hard work and dedication recognized. Thank you to David Toms and the GCAA for selecting me. I will continue to work hard and strive to reach my goals.”
Indiana’s Mayer Winner of Labron Harris Sr. Award
NORMAN, Okla. – Mike Mayer, head men’s golf coach at Indiana University and a member of the Indiana PGA Section, has been named winner of the Labron Harris Sr. Award presented by the Golf Coaches Association of America in cooperation with The PGA of America. The Harris Award is presented to the college or high school coach and PGA Professional whose support of the game through teaching, coaching and involvement in the community has helped ensure the continued growth of the game of golf and who represents the finest qualities the game has to offer.
“I am deeply honored to be selected as the 2014 recipient of the Labron Harris Sr. Award,” said Mayer. “I greatly cherish my memberships in both the Professional Golfers’ Association of America and the Golf Coaches Association of America. It has been my privilege to be associated with the PGA of America and the GCAA and both organizations have given me unbelievable opportunities and life memories.”
Mike Mayer is in his 17th season at the helm of the Indiana men’s golf program in 2014-15.
He has propelled Indiana golf to the top of the Big Ten Conference and a regular in the NCAA Tournament field while also building the program into one of the nation’s best in the classroom. The men’s golf team has posted a perfect multi-year Academic Progress Rate score of 1000 in each of the last seven years and eight of the last nine years.
In his 16 seasons he has had 14 players receive All-Big Ten honors, including four-time honoree Jorge Campillo (2006-09) and three-time recipient Jeff Overton (2002, 04-05).
Two of the best, if not the two best golfers in IU history have played under the watchful eye of Coach Mayer. Current PGA Tour member Overton played from 2002-05 while Campillo graduated in 2009. Overton and Campillo own the best career scoring averages in school history and combined for four PING All-America recognitions. In addition, Overton and Campillo are two of the five golfers in conference history to win back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Year accolades.
The success derived by Mayer is even more rewarding given Mayer’s familiarity with IU. He is an alumnus of the university and spent nine seasons as an assistant coach under Sam Carmichael before taking over the Hoosier men’s program in the fall of 1998.
Individual accolades have not only come for Mayer’s golfers on the course, but also in the classroom. During his tenure, Indiana golfers have earned 79 Academic All-Big Ten honors, including a program record eight in 2004, 2005, 2011 and 2012.
Additionally, 13 Hoosiers have been recognized as Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholars under the leadership of Mayer. Most recently, was David Mills who earned the honor in 2014 and became the fourth IU golfer to receive the honor on multiple occasions. Drew Allenspach received that honor in 2009 in addition to being named an Academic All-American by ESPN The Magazine.
Mayer is the head professional at Indiana University Golf Course. There he has developed and established lesson programs, clinics and free lessons for IU students, faculty, golf course members and the Bloomington community and an on-going junior golf program for children five through eighth grade. In conjunction with the IU school of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Mayer developed curriculum for accredited beginning, intermediate and advanced golf classes. He also runs Mike Mayer Golf Schools and has conducted for the past 16 years golf camps for young golfers of all ability levels. Additionally, Mayer has worked with the Indiana Golf Association and Gongaware Junior Golf Academy to develop and host elite junior camps hosted by Indiana University. He is also involved in several free golf clinics across Indiana.
Mayer follows in the footsteps of past Labron Harris Award recipients Jay Hardwick (Virginia Tech/Middle Atlantic PGA Section), Devon Brouse (Purdue/Indiana PGA Section), the late Rod Myers (Duke/Carolina PGA Section), Herb Page (Kent State/Northern Ohio PGA Section), Jim Brown (Ohio State/Southern Ohio PGA Section), Pat Owen (U.S. Naval Academy/Middle Atlantic PGA Section), Rick Pohle (Williams College/ Northeastern New York PGA Section), John Bermel (Northern Iowa/Iowa PGA Section), Pat Goss (Northwestern/Illinois PGA Section) and Mike Small (Illinois/Illinois PGA Section).
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