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Big turnout for golf assists CIU athletics

CIU Golf Classic winning team: Adrian Despres, Branson Despres, Wyatt Butcher, and Bryson MacDonald. (Photo by Noah Allard)

September 26, 2023

By Bob Holmes

“Didn’t we order up a really good day to golf?”  

That was the question from Columbia International University Interim President Dr. Rick Christman to the 80 golfers ready to roll their golf carts into the Columbia Country Club golf course for the sixth annual CIU Classic golf tournament — a fundraiser for CIU athletics.

With mostly sunny skies, and song birds welcoming autumn, the tee time temperature was perfect — low 70s.

Before the event, CIU Athletics Director Darren Richie joined other golfers on the practice putting green where he doubted his chances of winning for lack of practice.

“They don’t let me out of the office too much,” Richie joked. “But if I win it, everybody will be mad.”

Richie was more focused on the purpose of the event, which he says raises $30,000-$35,000. He said the proceeds will help fund future plans for more bleachers at the CIU baseball and softball fields, and an additional locker room in the Moore Fitness Center.

Meanwhile, at the registration table, raffle tickets were being sold for baskets filled with Rams merchandise such as t-shirts, cups and even a softball. Additionally, mulligans were being sold. CIU board member and evangelist Adrian Despres was at the table buying mulligans for his whole foursome and joking about the need for “pastoral foot wedges” to coax a few balls into the holes to assist his game. 

Many of the golfers have been longtime supporters of CIU intercollegiate athletics from its start in 2012. Among them is Don Taylor, the son-in-law of the late Elizabeth Sessions, a 1943 CIU alumna for whom the soccer field is named. Taylor served as a construction manager of the field, one of the first athletics projects. He has watched CIU athletics develop winners who are focused on Christ.

“It was a lot of fun seeing it start up,” Taylor said as he boarded his golf cart. “And now to see the national championships. It’s very rewarding.”

One inviting prize this year was the shiny, new black GMC Sierra pick-up truck parked on the golf course. A two-year lease on the truck from auto dealer Jim Hudson would go to the golfer with a hole-in-one on hole #8.   

“If I shot 150 balls I would not even be close,” laughed Richie, the athletics director.

As it turns out, no one won the lease on the truck. But apparently, Adrian Despres’ mulligans were a big help, as his team won the tournament. But more likely, he got a big boost from his teammates. One of them was his son Branson and the other two are standouts on the CIU Rams golf squad: Wyatt Butcher and Bryson MacDonald. Congratulations!  

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