The recipients of the fifth annual Tom Cousins Award were announced Monday night in conjunction with the East Lake Cup in Atlanta, as the Duke women’s golf team and Vanderbilt’s Michael Shears were presented with the award. The honor recognizes a collegiate golfer(s) best representing the values of the award: excelling in academics and engagement in the community.
The Duke women’s team earned the distinction for their passion in helping others in their community. Initially established by a teammate who has since graduated, the team’s “Birdies for Babies” initiative raises money for the Duke Children’s Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Units, having raised more than $40,000 to-date. The program was adopted during the 2017-’18 season and enables anyone to pledge money for every birdie, eagle, albatross and hole-in-one the team records in competition.
The male recipient, Shears, is a sophomore on Vanderbilt’s men’s golf team, who developed an enthusiasm for helping others while in high school. Since arriving at Vanderbilt, Shears has continued his service efforts as a leader of the university’s student athletic advisory committee, spearheading the team’s engagement with patients at the university’s children’s hospital.
The Tom Cousins Award is named after developer and philanthropist Tom Cousins, who laid out an aspirational blueprint to revitalize the East Lake community of Atlanta by providing cradle-to-college education, mixed-income housing and community wellness to break the cycle of poverty to create a holistic environment. East Lake now acts as a national model for community redevelopment through Purpose Built Communities for transforming a struggling community into a thriving neighborhood.
The East Lake Cup is being contested over three days, following the format from the final three days of the NCAA men’s and women’s golf national championships. On Monday, Oct. 28, the eight teams competed in individual stroke play competition to determine the individual champion and to seed for two days of match-play competition. Tuesday-Wednesday, Oct. 29-30, two match-play tournaments will be hosted simultaneously for the men’s and women’s divisions, with the semifinals taking place on Tuesday and the finals and consolation matches on Wednesday.
Teams for the East Lake Cup are competing on the championship golf course at East Lake Golf Club, home of the TOUR Championship, the season-ending event of the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs. The East Lake Cup benefits the East Lake Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to helping families build better lives and children reach their highest potential through its holistic approach to community revitalization incorporating mixed-income housing, cradle-to-college education and community wellness. The East Lake Cup is one of the largest contributors to the East Lake Foundation, having raised more than $1.5 million for the East Lake Foundation since the tournament’s inception in 2015. ZipRecruiter is the presenting sponsor for the East Lake Cup, joining tournament sponsors Bridgestone Golf, Mercedes-Benz, CSX, Uber and Topgolf.