RICHMOND, Va. – VCU Golf is set to host its annual College-Am, hosted by Dr. Jim Neifeld and presented by Janney, on Saturday, April 19 at 9 a.m. at Brickshire Golf Club.
Dr. Neifeld has been one of the driving forces behind the fundraiser and has targeted specific areas of need for the golf program. In recent years, money raised by the college-am has been allocated to create a recruiting budget for the Rams and allowed Ball to upgrade the program's recruiting technology. Due to Neifeld's efforts, Ball has the ability to watch video and scout recruits from all over the world before even scheduling an official visit.
"You can learn a lot by watching video of a player's swing or by reading scores, but to actually see them on the course and watch how they handle themselves, to hear the quality of their shots, to see how they act in adverse situations is a lot different than just recruiting on the internet." Ball said. "The money raised from this event has truly allowed us to bring in better athletes, as people can see from our two victories this season and from the A-10 coaches picking us as favorites to win the conference championship."
"It feels good to know you are making a difference," Neifeld said. "For some other programs, $15,000 or $25,000 might not seem like a lot, but makes a significant difference to the golf team, with their smaller budget and emphasis on fundraising for more than the basics."
Neifeld says money from this year's event, in conjunction with an anonymous $100,000 gift the program recently received, will allow Ball to add an assistant coach to his staff.
The addition of an assistant, Ball says, will allow the Rams to extend their recruiting efforts, as well as enhance the development of VCU's current roster.
"It's not necessarily about keeping up with the Joneses, but rather, making sure we have the ability within our framework to get the best possible talent, and then put them in a position to improve," Ball said. "We want them to be able to win championships at VCU, but we also want players to earn a degree and have an opportunity to chase their dreams of making the PGA Tour someday."
Over the years, Ball says he's watched the College-Am grow into a vital lifeline for the VCU Golf program.
"In the past, this was a fun little event with a lot of Dr. Neifield's friends," he said. "Then close friend Allan Strange of Janney approached us and said he wanted to get involved become a part of our golf team. The event has really grown since Allan got involved with his sponsorship and paved the way for participation from golf friends in the business world around Richmond. Now it is a big event that is a blast to attend, and all year long people are expressing their desire to play and sponsor."
Ball says he's considering expanding the College-Am to two courses next year to accommodate demand.
"We'll see. But for now, the weather looks great for this Saturday, and we're ready to have fun in support of a great cause," he said.