The Beaufort County School District's inaugural golf tournament fundraiser, which tees off Monday at Callawassie Island Club, has collected more than $100,000 for its scholarship endowment fund.
That amount far exceeds the original goal of $15,000 and more than quadruples the number of students the district could send to the Technical College of the Lowcountry for free.
"I'm not super surprised by the amount because I am always talking to people who support the schools and want them to do well," said Board of Education member Geri Kinton, who will volunteer at the tournament. "This initiative where all students have that capability of going to TCL for no cost is a tremendous opportunity for our students."
The district began planning the Swinging with the Superintendent fundraiser last fall. Cost to play for teams of four is $400. The district sold all 36 team slots more than three weeks ago, according to head of student services Gregory McCord. Callawassie had to bring in additional golf carts for the tournament, according to superintendent Jeff Moss.
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Business sponsors were also sought. The district's school bus operator, Durham School Services, is the title sponsor, according to McCord. The tournament has more than 20 other sponsors, including Thompson Turner Construction, McNair Law Firm, GCA Services Group and Sodexo, the district's food-service vendor.
McCord said the public is invited to watch the tournament and talk with the competitors. They can also take part in a silent auction for free rounds of golf donated by more than 15 local courses.
"I think this will be one of the premier events for Beaufort County," McCord said. "I think as the community buys in to the concept of what we are doing and as our students become graduates of TCL, then others will continue to buy in. There really is no ceiling any more."
The more than $100,000 the district plans to raise from the tournament, after about $15,000 in costs, will go toward its new Building a Better Beaufort Scholarships, Moss said.
The district announced in May it was partnering with the TCL and Know2 Beaufort County, a nonprofit organization funded by the S.C. Commission on Higher Education, to create a scholarship program for district graduates to attend TCL tuition-free.
Know2 is funding the scholarship for the first year, and the district hopes the fundraiser will help it create an endowment to sustain the scholarships. Know2 has also donated to the tournament, Moss said.
While this first year's fundraising sets the bar high, both Kinton and McCord said they are confident the tournament's success will continue.
As the tournament approaches Monday, McCord said he and Moss -- who are on the same four-person team -- are focusing on the competition.
"I don't want to share the names of our playing partners and scare away the competition," he said, "but we come to win."
Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.