A little more than three years ago, the men’s golf program at Furman University was on the verge of being eliminated. Today, the program has made a remarkable comeback.
Sparked by a gift of $1 million from Fred and Lyn Stubblefield of Charlotte, N.C., and the hard work of a dedicated group of supporters, there is now a $2.7 million endowed scholarship fund to support the men’s golf program.
The fundraising effort began in February 2014, when Furman announced it planned to eliminate the men’s golf program. But before that could happen, a number of alumni, including many former men’s golfers, approached the Furman administration to discuss saving the program.
Former Paladin golfers Frank Ford ’74 and Rob Langley ’05 were among first to begin to the fundraising efforts. The original goal was to raise $330,000 to cover the program’s operating costs for the following two years and then begin to raise money to endow men’s golf scholarships.
“We obviously wanted to save the program, and we knew we could raise $330,000 in short order, but we always had our sights on the larger goal of endowing the entire program so that it could once again compete at the highest levels nationally,” said Ford.
“We were happy to save the Furman men’s golf program, but we ultimately want the program to provide opportunities for young men all over the country to compete at the highest level of Division I golf and receive a great education,” said Langley. “This combination of competition, discipline and learning has pushed Furman men’s golf alumni into leadership positions all over the world. The program is important to us, but more importantly, it is important to keep it in place for future generations.”
After the initial goal had been reached, the men’s golf advisory committee, which consists of professional golfer Brad Faxon ’83, Heyward Sullivan ’59, Jeff DeLoach ’99, Fred Stubblefield ’86, along with Ford and Langley, undertook a three-year campaign to raise an additional $2.7 million, establishing one of the largest endowed scholarship funds of any sport at Furman.
The completion of the goal was made possible by the Stubblefields, who were inspired to issue the “Stubblefield Challenge” in January 2015. The couple made an initial gift of $600,000 and then made a challenge to the men’s golf community. If Furman supporters would collectively contribute another $1 million, the Stubblefields would make an additional gift of $450,000.
On Dec. 31, 2016, the Stubblefield Challenge was officially completed. According to Clint Hill ’03, Furman’s director of athletics development at the time, the men’s golf committee recruited nearly 100 donors over a two-year span, raising $1,003,259 to meet the challenge and support the men’s golf endowed scholarships.
“It wasn’t an easy road, and there were many phone calls, meetings and emails discussing the process of the fundraising effort and how to meet the Stubblefield Challenge,” said Furman Athletics Director Mike Buddie. “The men’s golf advisory committee was relentless in its effort and expectations, and they deserve a standing ovation for their service to Furman. They put their money, time and hearts toward this effort. They truly made this happen.”
Faxon, who is assuming the presidency of the men’s golf advisory committee from Ford, is excited about the future of the Furman program.
“It is incredible to see how far we have come in the past three years but we aren’t satisfied yet,” said Faxon, a 34-year PGA Tour veteran and current golf analyst with FOX Sports. “Our goal is to return the program to the highest level of competition. Furman has world class golf facilities, great weather and a stellar academic program. With the appropriate funding, we know we can compete at the highest level and we will continue to work diligently to build the scholarship endowment so that the experience that I was able to have is available to future student athletes.”
Todd Satterfield, the men’s golf coach at Furman, said, “It’s been nothing short of amazing what our alumni have done to support our current and future players. I will always be grateful for their efforts and look forward to the continued effort to endow all of our scholarships.”
For more information, contact Julie Pare at 864-303-3200.