Golfers compare the complexities of the game to the cycle of life, since both offer endless opportunities — and challenges.
Helping students overcome their own challenges is a key motivation for supporters of the Belk College of Business Risk Management and Insurance Golf Tournament. Over its six years, the annual tournament has raised over $320,000 to support scholarships. This year’s event on Sept. 14 brought in a record amount of over $70,000.
“Scholarships made possible by this tournament are crucial for our students,” said Interim Dean Dolly King. “They allow students to borrow less, work less, and spend more time taking advantage of all that the college experience has to offer inside and outside the classroom.”
Nearly 60 sponsors signed on this year, with 136 golfers — many of whom are alumni and their work colleagues — taking to the greens on a breezy sunny day at Concord’s Rocky River Golf Course. They played a round of Captain’s Choice, enjoyed a buffet lunch and mingled with RMI students.
Ross Fowler, director of the tournament planning committee and vice president of underwriting at Builders Mutual Insurance Company, sees the tournament as an opportunity for people and organizations to support students while also building relationships through networking.
“The tournament generates tremendous energy and enthusiasm for the program, the college and the industry,” said Fowler, who also is a member of the Belk College Risk Management and Insurance Advisory Board and received the Belk College Honorary Alumni Award in 2021.
“It’s particularly exciting to watch Charlotte students connect with program alumni and other business professionals,” he said. “We also see relationships growing among faculty, staff and industry professionals. We know that these connections extend, as people in the field interact with classes, host interns and hire graduates. This initiative is much more than just one day on the golf course and raising a bunch of money.”
During the event, Belk College alumni and brothers Yancey Hicks ’15 and Noah Hicks ’19 described how scholarships funded by the initiative help students focus on their studies and, ultimately, launch their careers. They continue to support the initiative as a way to give back to the RMI program, they said in remarks at the tournament luncheon.
"Having earned my MBA in risk management at Charlotte, and working in risk management, I have experienced the value of the business community's active involvement with the Belk College," said Matthew Lindsey '18, who served on the golf tournment planning committee. "I was fortunate to participate in several study abroad trips and have other in-depth learning experiences that added to my knowledge and expertise. The scholarships we support with the tournament affords these types of opportunities to many students."
The tournament welcomed new players to the course, helping them prepare through a diversity and inclusion initiative that started last year. “Many female golfers took part in golf lessons leading up to the tournament to expand the diversity of this year’s participants,” King said. “Those golf lessons were free to the students thanks to our diversity sponsor, Northwestern Mutual.”
Shata Bogans, a senior risk control representative with Westfield Insurance Group who was paired with the USI Team at the tournament, described how the golf lessons increased her confidence in her ability to play and also provided valuable connections with other industry professionals.
In one fun element of the tournament, participants bought mulligans to raise $3,130 to support students.
King expressed appreciation for this year’s 58 sponsors and to the tournament planning committee, including alumni Matthew Lindsey, Angela (Fowler) Cook, Noah Hicks, Jessica Medlin, David Rogers, Chris Slack and Hunter Weedon, and longtime supporters Bill Schaffner and Don Stroud.
“Special thanks to all of the sponsors who make this tournament possible and support our students year-round through mentorship, internships and welcoming them into your agencies after graduation,” she said. “Our committee of volunteers put countless hours into planning the logistics of the tournament, recruiting sponsors, collecting door prizes and ensuring this tournament is top notch.”
The Belk College’s Risk Management and Insurance undergraduate concentration, housed in the Department of Finance, helps develop the next generation of insurance professionals. It does so through courses closely aligned with industry and through experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, career fairs, student mentoring, and international travel.