Thanks to the play of nearly a dozen current and former University of Georgia golfers in a recent PGA Tour event and the generosity of Bulldogs on and off the course, contributions totaling more than $100,000 will create a new endowed, need-based scholarship at UGA.
Eleven UGA-affiliated golfers took part in the RSM Classic on St. Simons Island in November. Former UGA Alumni Association President Bonney Shuman (BBA ’80), a resident of St. Simons Island, saw an opportunity to pull together the group to support their alma mater.
“While my golfing talent is more watching than playing, these players and I do share something powerful: pride in our university,” said Shuman. “UGA made incredible experiences possible for all of us, so we are proud to help UGA make incredible experiences possible for future generations through a Georgia Commitment Scholarship.”
The Georgia Commitment Scholarship (GCS) Program—a need-based aid program built on private donations matched by the UGA Foundation—captured the attention of many donors since its 2017 launch, resulting in the creation of over 520 endowed, need-based scholarships.
Shuman joined Harris English (BSFC ’11), Brian Harman (BBA ’11), Russell Henley (BSFCS ’11), Chris Kirk (BSED ’08), Kevin Kisner (BBA ’06), Keith Mitchell (BBA ’14), Sepp Straka (BBA ’15), Hudson Swafford (BSFCS ’11) and Brendon Todd (BBA ’07) in pledging $5,000 each, which was then matched by the UGA Foundation, resulting in $100,000 committed to the UGA Alumni PGA Tour Professionals Georgia Commitment Scholarship.
Support also came from beyond Sea Island Golf Club. Prior to the RSM Classic, the UGA Alumni Association asked a select group to pledge “A Buck A Birdie” to the scholarship fund: $1 for every birdie by a UGA golfer during the tournament. At the close of the event, the golfers had scored 155 birdies, bringing the total amount pledged to more than $2,500.
“Our alumni are some of the most generous and supportive that you are likely to find, and the work of incredible volunteers like Bonney, who take their passion for UGA into their communities, is a big reason why,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations. “Every Bulldog who contributed to this scholarship has made a tangible, long-term impact on students in Georgia, and they have my gratitude.”
This isn’t the RSM Classic’s only connection to the GCS Program: last year, the Davis Love Foundation, which hosts the tournament, created its own GCS fund with a $50,000 gift.
Georgia Commitment Scholars are supported not just by funding from the scholarship, but with a rich slate of programming that offers ways to connect with other GCS recipients and the donors who created the scholarships. GCS students can receive special tutoring, workshops, academic coaching and other support through the Division of Academic Enhancement.