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.