San José, Calif. — San José State University celebrated the completion of the Spartan Golf Complex, the first significant renovation to its South Campus athletics facilities in recent years, at an event on June 1. The privately-funded complex was made possible by a $5 million gift from alumni Rich and Cindy Thawley and multiple gifts from other donors.
“San José State University is thrilled to open a golf facility that will benefit student athletes, the broader university community and our neighbors,” Athletics Director Marie Tuite said. “This project is a significant milestone in our efforts to revitalize all campus facilities for academics, athletics and extracurricular activities.”
Located at 579 E. Alma Ave., the opening of the complex, one year after construction began, featured a short program with President Mary A. Papazian, Tuite, Rich and Cindy Thawley, members of the men’s and women’s golf teams and their coaches.
The power of philanthropy
College sweethearts, Rich and Cindy have been married since 1979. They met at Cindy’s sorority house, when Rich was running what would prove to be a successful campaign for student body president. Rich also worked in San José State Athletics as an associate athletics director.
Rich and Cindy started their extended career in the life insurance and securities business in 1980. Early on, they helped to develop a company known today as Primerica Financial Services. In 1991, they left Primerica and founded a company now known as World Financial Group.
"The generosity of the Thawleys and other donors demonstrates the power of philanthropy to advance San José State University's impact in and beyond our community," Vice President for Advancement Paul Lanning said.
After a ribbon cutting, guests will be invited to a ceremonial first swing. Two grass tee areas will provide hitting positions for 80 golfers. In addition, the complex will offer two large tour-quality putting greens, three bunkers, and two chipping greens. Three target greens will be positioned in a 400-yard-long driving range for distance hitting practice.
Blach Construction and Gensler served as general contractor and architect, respectively. Fundraising is underway now for phase 2, which will include a clubhouse with a fitness center, locker room and coaches’ offices.
Other recently completed South Campus projects include a new field for the men’s and women’s soccer teams and the Stephens Family Pitching and Hitting Facility for the baseball team.
A rich history
San José State’s men’s and women’s golf programs have rich histories. Since college golf first became a NCAA sport in 1897, and with the addition of women’s golf to the NCAA’s championship calendar starting in 1982, the Spartans are one of only nine programs to claim a NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship and Division I Women’s Golf Championship. The Spartans are one of 11 schools with a NCAA individual men’s champion and women’s champion.
Professionally, San José State alumni have 131 victories on the PGA, LPGA, Champions, Nationwide and PGA Tour Canada tours. Spartan golfers can claim 23 major and United States Golf Association (USGA) championships through 2016. Ken Venturi, Juli Inkster and Patty Sheehan have major championship victories as part of their World Golf Hall of Fame careers. Mark Hubbard, ’11 Business Management, is the latest Spartan to join the PGA Tour.
About San José State University
The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San José State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study – offered through its eight colleges.
With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San José State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.
The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.
About San José State University Athletics
San José State University’s athletics program sponsors 20 NCAA Division I sports (7 men’s and 13 women’s) and offers an intercollegiate athletics experience to at least 450 student-athletes annually. The Spartans compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the highest level of college football. San José State is a member of the Mountain West — a conference of 12 football-playing schools in the Pacific, Mountain and Hawaiian time zones.