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Carson Racich is the 2023 Ron Balicki Scholarship Recipient

NORMAN, Okla. - The GCAA announced today that Carson Racich is the recipient of the 2023 Ron Balicki Scholarship. The PGA Golf Management junior at Florida Gulf Coast will receive a $5,000 grant.

After receiving her first bachelor's degree at Lamar University, where she was a member of the women’s golf team for three years and was the 2019 Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year and 2021 Communication & Media Senior of the Year Award recipient, Racich decided to further her education by specializing in the golf industry. The Loves Park, Ill., native is now in her second full year attending Florida Gulf Coast in one of 17 accredited PGA Golf Management University Programs held by the PGA of America.

“Not previously being able to receive any scholarship due to being a second-degree-seeking student, paying for college has been a struggle,” said Racich. “I am super eager to finish this degree, having one year left, and I am more than ready to get into the workforce.”

Golf has been a huge part of Racich’s life for as long as she can remember.

“I was very fortunate to grow up in an area that provided lots of opportunities for junior golf,” she said. “Early on, I was taken under the wing of a Top 50 Junior Instructor named Lloyd McWilliams.”

From the First Tee Program to present day, Racich wouldn’t be where she is today without McWilliams.

“He saw something within my passion and personality,” said Racich. “He always said, ‘you can’t teach passion.” 

The biggest life lesson McWilliams taught Racich:

“Not every day will be a good day. You must have bad days to appreciate the good ones. it's about the journey, not the destination.”

McWilliams has since passed away, but Racich said that she “owes him everything.”

Before graduating cum laude at Lamar, Racich represented the women’s golf team by serving on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). While at Florida Gulf Coast and working part-time at Eastwood Golf Course in Fort Myers, working tournaments and camps along with providing lessons and clinics, she has been given multiple opportunities to freelance and work alongside amazing reporters and companies such as OUTLYYR, HOOT, ESPN+, and NewsPress. Before she became the PGA Golf Management program’s tournament director, Racich was on its social media committee. 

“I have developed a love for storytelling,” she said. “There's more to a player than just a score and I think that is what drives me to tell their stories. I know I am meant to do so much within the golf media industry.” 

About the Ron Balicki Scholarship

The Ron Balicki Scholarship for aspiring golf journalists is dedicated to the memory of Ron Balicki for his lifelong commitment to covering the game of golf.

Few individuals have done more to bring exposure to college golf than Balicki. Since practically inventing the college golf beat while at Golfweek in 1983, Balicki became part of the fabric of the college and amateur game. He covered his first golf tournament in 1980 while with the Florida Daily News. He won first-place and third-place in Golf Writers Association of America writing contests and won four first-place and numerous honorable mention awards with the International Network of Golf. Balicki also won three first-place awards from the Texas Golf Writers Association. He was a winner of the Golf Writer’s Association of America Jimmy D’Angelo Award and the Northwest Florida Sports Association Al Byrne Award, both of which are presented to a person for contributions, devotion, and service to the organization and the community.

A 2010 inductee into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame, Balicki covered every NCAA Championship dating back to 1985 and every GCAA National Convention since its inception until 2013, when the cancer that claimed his life prevented him from traveling. Dubbed "Wrong Ron" for his propensity to incorrectly pick the winner of the NCAA Championships and playfully teased for his uncanny ability to bring the rain with him to events he covered, Balicki was truly fond of the sport and people he covered and was loved back by the players, coaches, and everyone involved with college golf. Truly one of the kindest men one could ever meet, Ron is greatly missed.

The first Ron Balicki Scholarship was awarded for the Spring 2018 semester with a $2,500 grant awarded to Luke Hendry from the University of Texas. A $5,000 grant ($2,500 per semester) has been awarded since the 2018-19 academic year.

Past winners of the Ron Balicki Scholarship include Alex Gelman (Arizona State University), Cade Tjomsland (Palm Beach Atlantic University), Brayden Conover (University of Oklahoma), Tracy Peyton (Palm Beach Atlantic University), and Hendry.

Any college/university student at the undergraduate or graduate level or high school journalist may apply for consideration. A recipient is only eligible to receive the Ron Balicki scholarship once during their college career.