Alumni golf tournament revs up scholarship support
September event to boost student assistance

golfersThe Calvin Alumni Golf Tournament has been around for more than 40 years now, with this Sept. 10 marking the 42nd annual gathering of golf-interested Calvin alumni and friends.

Started as a social event by the college’s physical education department, and shepherded by respected professor and coach Ralph Honderd, the tournament featured healthy doses of golf and banter around the clubhouse tables.

In 1999, the Grand Rapids chapter of the Calvin Alumni Association was handed the organizational keys to the tournament, and immediately wondered how to gently add a scholarship fund-raising element to the recreational and social gathering.

“From the start, the chapter leadership wanted current Calvin students to get some benefit out of alumni spending the day together golfing,” said association director Mike Van Denend ’78. “But there was a strong history of keeping green fees down at this outing, so the new organizers were gradual and careful with adding fund-raising elements.”

Since 1999, the Grand Rapids Chapter leaders have systematically added scholarship awareness and fund-raising at the tournament through corporate sponsorships, higher registration fees and a variety of other revenue-enhancement initiatives.

This year, the tournament committee decided to fully equalize its focus between providing an excellent opportunity for alumni and friends to reconnect and raising money for scholarships that defray the costs for the next generation of Knights to attend Calvin.

“The committee invites alumni from around the country to return to west Michigan and spend time with old friends and help service-oriented high school students en-roll at Calvin,” said Jim Oppenhuizen ’00, this year’s tournament chair.

After considering other methods of adding scholarship dollars to the local chapter assistance fund, the committee decided to start raising the registration fee more dramatically to balance the “fun” with the “funds” from year to year.

The 2011 tournament fees will go from $95 a golfer to $125 this year, as a beginning to dramatically increase the event income for the benefit of Calvin students.

“We considered alternatives to increasing the registration fee,” said Oppenhuizen, “but determined that the quality of the golf experience, the meal, the door prizes and gifts and the fact that proceeds will assist young adults obtain a top-notch Christ-centered education, warranted the increased price.”

Oppenhuizen said the tournament committee will be sending a letter to all previous participants informing them of the change in direction.

“We’re hopeful those who have faithfully participated each year will continue to do so, and we’ll draw even more alumni and friends that wish to make a Calvin education reachable for more young people,” he said.

Businessess already provide much assistance in sponsorships and in-kind gifts, and Oppenhuizen would love to see those partnerships increase as well.

“We are very thankful to all of the businesses and individuals who partner with us each year by donating everything from sponsorship dollars to gift certificates, door prizes and refreshments. They make the Calvin Alumni Golf Tournament a truly great event for all of us who participate,” he said.

More information, including registration, sponsorships and tournament history, can be found here.