The GMG Cup: A Tournament in Memory of Gage Gavin, a 'One-in-a-Million' Kid
By Kayla Gutierrez
Gage Michael Gavin, son of longtime New Mexico State University (NMSU) PGA Golf Management Director Pat Gavin, PGA, passed away unexpectedly in his sleep the morning after Father’s Day in the summer of 2015.
Gage was a one-in-a-million kid. His infectious smile and genuine kindness left a mark on the hearts of everyone who knew him. Spending much time with his dad at many of the PGM events, tournaments and banquets, Gage was known amongst the entire NMSU PGM family.
In the summer of 2017, Gavin received a call from (at the time) University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) PGA Golf Management Program Director Adam Scott, PGA — now the Director at Mississippi State's PGM program — and then Assistant Director Mark Bacheldor, PGA — who now serves as UCCS' Program Director — about possibly beginning a Ryder Cup-style competition between UCCS and NMSU.
It sounded like a great idea, except it was missing a crucial component: the name.
The UCCS and NMSU teams spent some time brainstorming ideas about what to name the event. Many names circled around, including The Battle of I-25 — the interstate that runs through both Colorado and New Mexico — The Southwest Showdown, and some others, but none of them quite stuck.
“How about the GMG Cup,” Gavin remembers Scott suggesting. "Named after your son and in memory of him.”
Overwhelmed with the idea of honoring his son through this event, Gavin admits he shed tears.
“The Gage Michael Gavin Memorial Cup . . . that’s it,” Gavin said in reply.
And the rest was history from there.
The first-ever Gage Michael Gavin Memorial Cup — GMG Cup for short — was held on UCCS’s home turf Sept. 2-4, 2017, at King’s Deer Golf Club, just north of Colorado Springs, with the home team taking home the first-ever GMG Cup victory. The event was small and simple, and the week ended with players sitting behind the 18th green together, eating cold Domino’s pizza. It was perfect.
Now, the event has grown even bigger, and its something both programs circle on their calendars every year.
This year’s GMG Cup was hosted at New Mexico State University Golf Course in Las Cruces. The event began with an evening dinner and pairings announcements, followed by guest speakers who presented to the entire student body and staff. PGA of America Vice President Don Rea was featured as the keynote speaker and official starter on the first tee for his second time at the GMG Cup.
The format is a Ryder-Cup-style event with both teams consisting of 10 PGA Golf Management students and two staff members from each program. Students are hand-selected by their directors based on various attributes, including playing ability, leadership and volunteerism within the program, sportsmanship, character and more.
The first day consists of a morning two-person best-ball match play, followed by a two-person alternate shot in the afternoon. The second day of the tournament consists of student-only singles matches, where directors are able to coach — similar to the Ryder Cup.
“To be on the GMG Cup team is a great honor that not many people get every year, especially with the legacy it upholds," NMSU PGM Student Association President Alex Duran says. "I think anyone who is able to play on the GMG Cup team is in for a great experience and memories that will last a lifetime. It’s an amazing opportunity, and I’m beyond glad I was a part of it this year.
"We truly are one big family here."
Students who play on the NMSU team honor Gage by wearing a special logo created by his dad in memory of his late son. The PGA Golf Management caps are embroidered with a unique Gage Gavin “Wings” logo on the side. Custom university logo headcover tee gifts are created by Golf Iconic, a local company near campus owned and operated by NMSU alum and PGA of America Member Justin Dahrling, PGA.
"Our students, staff and alumni all join in to make this event extra special every year," says Gavin. “It inspires me that my students want and expect to wear these caps at every event. It’s like a good luck charm for them. We take Gage everywhere with us and we dedicate all of our wins in Gage’s memory.”