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It has nearly been three decades since Gary Baker, AIA, began to help organize TAF Wichita Falls’ annual scholarship golf tournament. Over the course of that time, he has seen the golf tournament blossom from an unassuming social event into the largest source of architectural scholarship fundraising in the Texas Architectural Foundation.

“Our goal was to raise enough funds so the scholarship would be endowed to make sure the scholarships would always be there even if our golf tournament went away,” Baker says.

Already, the chapter has provided over 50 full scholarships to architecture students over the course of the tournament’s history, and with an average turnout of over 100 each year, the tournament doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Though the event had already been in effect for almost 10 years, the idea of using a golf tournament as a fundraising platform was only later was raised at one of the chapter’s executive meetings where members were discussing what they could do as an organization to promote the advancement of architecture in Texas. They decided to leverage the preexisting golf tournament to raise funds for TAF with the purpose of providing scholarships to architecture students in each of the nine state supported schools of architecture.

The chapter began to sell sponsorships for the event, such as sponsoring holes, specialty awards (longest drive or closest to the pin) as well as food and beverage carts. Additionally, all the revenue from entry fees to compete in the tournament proceed directly to the scholarship fund.

Good ideas breed good results, it turns out. Before the tournament became a fundraiser, the event averaged 28-34 players. The first year of the fundraiser, those numbers shot up to 58, the next year to 80, and since then it has averaged between 104-110 players.

“Most of the growth has been from the local architectural firms working hard together to ensure the success of the scholarship fundraiser,” Baker says.

Each of the local architecture firms has at least one member of their firm working on the golf committee who invites as many players and sponsors to the tournament as possible.

“This is truly a chapter effort to see to the success of the scholarship program,” Baker adds.

Considering that Wichita Falls is one of the smallest, and non-staffed, chapters of TAF, it’s no small feat that they lead the state in architecture scholarship funding.

AIA Wichita Falls Secretary Glenda Ramsey, AIA, has been helping to organize the tournament for 20 years now. She emphasizes the importance of the chapter’s tight-knit nature, and its role in creating a collaborative, everyone-puts-in-their-two-cents kind of environment.

“We, as a chapter, work well together, and we are concerned for the future of the architectural profession in our area,” she says. “We take this opportunity each year to raise funds and to help raise awareness for the AIA, architects, and for future professionals.”

This year’s 38th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament took place at Champions Course at Weeks Park in Wichita Falls on September 14th.

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