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Gage Gavin died unexpectantly in his sleep on June 22, 2015, the morning after Father’s Day. His, father, Pat, wanted to celebrate his son’s life, so he created an endowed scholarship in his son’s name, and began staging an annual golf tournament to raise funds to support the fund.
The event was first staged on March 26, 2016, which would have been Gage’s birthday, and it also coincided with the annual NMSU PGA Golf Management alumni reunion.
During the four years the tournament was held, more than $400,000 was raised, which has been used to establish four endowed scholarships. To date, 30 students have been assisted with scholarship funds to help with university expenses, including tuition.
Because the scholarships are endowed, they are designed to help students each year in perpetuity.
Ten additional students will be chosen to receive the scholarships this year, except there was no 2020 tournament due to COVID-19.
Pat Gavin said he hopes to reschedule the tournament to the fall and then return to the normal rotation in 2021, but if holding it this year isn’t possible, he’s planning an online auction instead.
Pat Gavin was born and raised in Las Cruces, and graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1983 and NMSU in 1987.
“I came back to NMSU for my MBA in the early ‘90s,” he said. In 1993 “I came back to NMSU as a director of the Professional Golf Management (PGM) program. I have known New Mexico golf legends Herb Wimberly and his brother Guy Wimberly for most of my life.”
Pat Gavin said the NMSU PGM program is entering its 28th year. NMSU was the third university to offer the degree, which is accredited by the PGA of America.
“Due to the overwhelming success of the original four programs – Ferris State, Mississippi State, NMSU and Penn State – there are now is 18 universities around the country that offer this degree,” he said. “We pride ourselves on our program and continue to make changes and upgrades to stay relevant in the golf industry. This includes creating a state-of-the-art indoor teaching studio, which utilizes the leading technology, Trackman.”
Pat Gavin describes the program in one word: “perfect,” and he said the alumni and program team are close enough to refer to one another as family. He said he talks to alumni of the program on a regular basis.
In addition to Pat Gavin, the two other PGA professionals on staff are Josh Salmon and Henry Stetina. “All three of us teach different components of the PGA-specific education,” he said. “In addition, all our students are required to complete 16 months of internships, working at courses during their summers all over the country. I would guarantee that every course in the country has been touched by the NMSU PGA Golf Management Program at some point over the years.”
Through it all, Pat Gavin said his mind never wanders far from his son, Gage.
“Gage had graduated from Oñate High School just four weeks prior to his unexpected passing,” Pat Gavin said. “He was planning on working at Sonoma Ranch Golf Course that summer, then had planned to start take some classes at NMSU and Doña Ana branch that fall semester. He was very fun to be around and loved to hang out with the PGA students for fun and laughs.”
Pat Gavin can be reached at email@example.com for anyone who wishes to donate to the scholarship or learn more about the PGA program.