Extreme Golf Added To President's Golf Tourney

SOCORRO, N.M.. September 14, 2011 – New Mexico Tech is preparing for the 17th annual President’s Golf Tournament on Thursday and Friday with a new wrinkle.

As usual, Thursday’s VIP flight will allow major donors to play a relaxed yet competitive round of golf and Friday will see two flights of golfers competing in the fund-raising tournament.

New this year is an extreme golf event after Thursday’s VIP flight. A few brave souls will compete in two “holes” of golf at the EMRTC test range, which is usually reserved for training exercises and testing. Extreme golfers will compete in a long-drive competition, where they will hit their driver from the top of a cliff. On the second “hole,” golfers will play on a par-3 that is desert and rocks and has no grass.

Event organizer Tony Ortiz said the President’s Golf Tournament has a well-earned reputation as one of the most entertaining and fun golf fund-raisers in the state. To add to the mystique, organizers added the special events.

“This tournament isn’t about winning and competition,” Ortiz said. “This event is about students and raising funds to help deserving youngsters stay in school.”

In 2010, more than 250 golfers and dozens of sponsors helped contribute more than $170,000 to the President’s Scholarship Fund. This year, Ortiz said even more golfers are competing and sponsors have been equally as generous.

“Our sponsors really came through again this year,” Ortiz said. “Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to help so many students each year.”

University president Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said the tourney has proven to be very beneficial to students who run short on money to complete their education.

“To date, we have provided support to more than 300 students who may not have otherwise finished their education, but for the generosity of our sponsors and supporters of the tournament,” he said.

About three dozen students receive scholarships from the golf tournament fund every year. The tournament was formerly the largest single-day fundraising golf tournament in the state – until the event expanded to two days in 2009.

The event kicks off Thursday, Sept. 15, with a VIP flight for major sponsors. Friday’s play included two flights, meals for all golfers and gourmet snacks on the course.

Ortiz organizes an army of volunteers, including dozens of university staff members and many student organizations.

“We provide so many perks to the golfers that this tournament has earned a reputation around the state for being the most fun around,” Ortiz said.

Everyone enjoys a beautiful day on the golf course, great meals and good company. The winning teams (or best cheaters) go home with some prizes. The ultimate reward, however, is reserved for the New Mexico Tech students who received Presidential Tuition Assistance scholarships.

This fall, more than two dozen college students – many of whom might not have been able to afford tuition – will continue their studies thanks to the generosity of tournament donors and sponsors.

The bulk of the recipients are fifth- or sixth-year seniors who have run out of state-funded scholarships and other full-time undergraduates who don’t have the resources to put themselves through college.

“Retention will always be an important issue for science and engineering schools,” López said. “This is just one weapon in our arsenal to help keep students in school and help them earn their degrees. A variety of issues influence a student’s decisions, and finances often are crucial.”

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech