New Orleans — Nearly 200 members of the Kelly Gibson Junior Golf Tour get to compete on the course, but also get a chance to earn money for college. Any participant that’s a junior in high school through their 5th year in college is eligible for their scholarship program. Last year the Kelly Gibson Foundation awarded 27 scholarships valued at more than $60,000 dollars.
“The ability to give people the opportunity to go attend a college that maybe they wouldn’t be able to if they didn’t have the financial help is always something that’s really fantastic,” said Vincent Almerico, a sophomore at Brown University. “It’s much appreciated by myself and I know many of the other players out here.”
“I won a scholarship last summer and I’m so thankful for them,” said Callee Breland, a freshman at Loyola. “They do so much for us and they want to give back and they’re just very thoughtful. It’s about service to other– service hours and giving back to the community. It’s based not only on golf but about the person and their grades and their service to the community.”
Part of that community service criteria to earn a scholarship, is participating in their mentorship program, where the older golfers help-out with the younger golfers on the tour.
“It is so nice for me because I love kids,” Breeland said. “I volunteer at the boys and girls club a lot so being a mentor for younger kids and seeing them, they’re all shy but then you get to know them and you can build confidence in them in the game of golf. It’s just really fun.”
“I definitely enjoy that,” Almerico said. “It’s really great to see how many kids are out. A lot of people think of golf as an old person sport and the ability to maybe project it to a younger audience is something that we’re always looking to do. That’s really a fantastic part of the foundation.”
The local non-profit`s founder and chairman, Kelly Gibson, brings a passion for golf to the cause, having played 15 years on the PGA Tour, and is blown away with how much the foundation has grown since the golf tour part of it started in 2009.
“This is our 8th year now,” Gibson said. “We started-out very humble– about 10 tournaments a year– and now we’ve grown to and done as many as 17. We do 12 plus our junior clinic. We do a 3 day junior clinic and we do one national event in December at TPC Louisiana. We want to get the kids into the game. We want to have the educators at the school level start understanding the importance golf can have as a sport.”