October 16th was a crisp and sunny fall day — perfect weather for the 2017 Annual Builders Exchange Golf Outing. 132 players gathered at Louisville’s Big Spring Country Club for the golf scramble to benefit the non-profit’s scholarship fund. Last year, $40,000 was awarded to 17 children and grandchildren of member firms.
This year, four new recipients will be added, as graduates cycle out of the program. The Golf Outing is the yearly kick-off event for scholarship fundraising and this year was even bigger than most.
The Builders Exchange Scholarship Fund was started in 1997 by longtime former executive vice president, John Kelly. Since then, $436,000 has been awarded based on several qualities, including students’ academic merit, community involvement, and work history. Each year, one standout applicant in the field of architecture, construction, or engineering receives the John D. Kelly Scholarship award. Kelly’s legacy lives on in the continued education of the next generation.
The outing predates the scholarship fund, and some attendees, like brothers Mike and Larry Lambert, who own Lambert Glass, have been playing yearly since the start. Asked what brings him back each year, Larry Lambert said, “Good fellowship, good people to be around. Most everybody’s pretty fun to play with.”
Builders Exchange staff manned the registration tent, selling mulligans and raffle tickets, sharing quips and smiles as energy and anticipation built. Builders Exchange of Kentucky’s EVP, Lynn Stetson, seemed to be everywhere all at once, giving a hug here, a smile there, managing a flurry of greetings, requests, and tasks as she geared up to play.
Inside the club, the dining room filled quickly for lunch and the din of dozens of conversations happening all at once illustrated the camaraderie many returning members named as one of their favorite aspects of the Golf Outing.
Roger Potlitzer, founder of Louisville’s Vulcan Fire Systems, enjoyed a burger with his son Todd. A current board member of Builders Exchange of Kentucky, Roger has been attending the event since its inception, and Todd, the company’s current president, started attending when he was in college.
“It’s grown,” said Roger Potlitzer. “We always have a full slate if you look at the tee sheet.” Citing Builders Exchange of Kentucky’s massive membership, the senior Potlitzer said that the event has always been a big draw and the fact that the profits go to such a good cause doesn’t hurt.
“Have we ever won?” he asked Todd. “We certainly bend the rules as much as possible, as a scramble will allow you to do. I don’t think we’ve ever won.”
“We’ve had a good time, though,” said Todd.
“It’s always a good time,” Roger agrees.
Ryan Dinnegan and Kirk Esarey of CUB Bank, who arranged their company’s sponsorship of the cocktail hour posed for a photograph. “We try to help any way we can. It’s a community thing; we’re a community bank,” said Dinnegan.
The club’s PGA Head Golf Professional, Gary Bebelaar, made announcements to the players, seated in rows of carts, then directed them onto the path. Dozens of carts zipped through the 163-acre course to their first hole for the shotgun start. Teams of four took turns teeing off. Throughout the day, tents, including a Tito’s Vodka tent, served as welcome stops for the thirsty golfers.
As the sun fell, members trickled back into the club for the CUB Bank cocktail hour, tanner than before, and ready to eat after a day of play. They redeemed drink tickets, loaded plates with hors d’oeuvres and awaited the results.
“Lord, it’s a great bunch of people,” said Walter Schnurr who served on the Board of Directors for 40 years and is a member of the scholarship committee. “This is one of the best Builders Exchanges in the whole nation. That’s what we’ve been told.” Asked if he golfed that day, he laughed. “No, no, no. I don’t do that anymore. I’m too old… but I’m still vertical, so that’s all I can say.”
Once the tallies were recorded, Gary Bebelaar announced the scores. Of the winning team, who reported an impossibly low score of 54, he said, “They only played 15 holes…” Prizes were awarded for a number of categories, randomized to spread the luck around.
Lynn Stetson announced the door prizes and raffle, and many folks found themselves the lucky recipients of gift cards totaling hundreds of dollars in cash and Louisville Originals restaurant credit, bottles of fine spirits, and even a popcorn machine.
As the evening was wrapping up, John Schnurr, nephew of Walter Schnurr, President of the Board of Directors, delivered a heartfelt thanks for the members’ contribution to the scholarship fund and the evening came to a close. Attendees trickled out with convivial salutations, and plans to meet again.