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UCM Cuts Ribbon Celebrating New Harbert Collegiate Golf Center, Commemorating New Era of Support, Success for Student Athletes

By Jeff Murphy, April 24, 2024



Cutting a ribbon in celebation of the completion of the new Harbert Collegiate Golf Center are, from left, Dr. Matt Howdeshell, vice president of Intercollegiate Athletics; Tim Poe, Mules golf coach; UCM alumni Randall "Rand" and Kelly Harbert, project lead donors; Courtney Goddard, vice president for Advancement, executive director of the UCM Alumni Foundation; Dr. Roger Best, university president; and Chris Port, Jennies golf coach. 

WARRENSBURG, MO – Ushering in a new era of support and success for the Mules and Jennies golf teams, the University of Central Missouri celebrated the opening of the new Randall and Kelly Harbert Collegiate Golf Center at the Mules National Golf Club on April 20. 

The celebration took place on the patio of Traditions, adjacent to the recently completed structure at the Pertle Springs Recreation area. After special remarks by a number of guest speakers, ranging from the lead donors for whom the facility is named to golf coaches, players, administrative and fundraising leaders, the ceremony concluded with a ribbon cutting officially dedicating the new building.

The university’s Board of Governors in June 2023 approved naming the golf center in honor of UCM alumni and lead donors Randall, ’85 and Kelly Harbert, ’86. Board members authorized a contract with Reasbeck Construction, Warrensburg, to provide all labor, materials and provisions to build the one-story structure, made possible via substantial donor support and university funds. Groundbreaking for the new building, which today picturesquely overlooks the 18th green at Keth Memorial Golf Course, took place on Sept. 22, 2023.
Accommodating Mules and Jennies golf team members, the new 2,100-square-foot, single-story building is expected to be at the top of all such facilities in Division II collegiate golf programs. The facility includes amenities such as lounge space for both the men's and women's golf teams, offices, restrooms, a recruit lounge/meeting room, laundry room, and a large outdoor deck.

  “Today is truly a historic day for UCM Athletics and our Mules and Jennies golf programs. As we cut the ribbon on the Harbert Collegiate Golf Center, for the first time in UCM’s history our golf programs will have a dedicated facility to call home,” said Dr. Matt Howdeshell, vice president of Intercollegiate Athletics at UCM.

Howdeshell spoke briefly about the history of golf at UCM, noting that it began in 1964 with a nine-hole course that was expanded to 18 holes in 1972, and was named for the course designer Earl Keth, who was the first UCM basketball player to become an All-American.  In 2016, a multimillion dollar renovation of the course with the addition of Traditions was completed thanks to the support of many donors, including Audrey “Audie” J. Walton, a long-standing supporter of UCM Athletics. Other significant additions have also taken place over the last 20 years. This includes indoor practice facilities, team sprinter vans, and other important updates.

“Together, alumni, supporters, and UCM coaches and players have contributed over 50 years of support and dedication to UCM Golf,” Howdeshell said. “This enthusiasm and dedication has elevated our programs to the highest levels of intercollegiate athletics. Our coaches have spent years advancing both our incredible athletes and the Mules National Golf Course. Thanks to them and all of you, Mules National is a premier golf destination.”

Courtney Goddard, vice president for Advancement, executive director of the UCM Alumni Foundation, echoed sentiment that was shared among the guest speakers. She noted that the Harberts wanted UCM student golf team members to have a “a place to call home.”

While expressing her appreciation to these generous alumni, Goddard also added that approximately 50 other donors came up alongside the lead supporters to “embrace the vision for this building and the future of UCM golf.” This is in addition to support provided by university leadership that includes individuals such as President Roger Best and the Board of Governors, who “recognize the impact facilities like this have on student recruitment and retention,” Goddard said.

“We at the Alumni Foundation are always committed to transforming the lives of students and creating opportunities beyond what they ever imagined possible. That’s what we do. Rand and Kelly are a great example of that, and we thank them and all of the other donors for their support,” Goddard told the crowd.

Before presenting the Harberts with a ceremonial key to the new building in recognition of being a catalyst to make the golf center possible, UCM President Roger Best said the investment that the couple and other donors made in this new facility supported more than 50 jobs that contributed to the local economy. He also emphasized the value of this facility for UCM Athletics.

“We certainly appreciate the impact this project has had on this community, but more important is the impact this project has on our Mules and Jennies golf teams,” Best said. “Not only will our coaches be able to recruit future athletes, future Mules and Jennies golfers by utilizing this facility, it will serve as a reminder of our commitment to provide the resources, provide the facilities, and provide the support for all of our students, including our students athletes, so that they can be successful in whatever they are engaged at the university.” 

Men’s Golf Coach Tim Poe introduced members of the Mules golf team who have contributed to 30 consecutive years of NCAA-II postseason-runs, and he also recognized three members of the 1994 team from Warrensburg who helped launch that string of successes, as well as current Mules and Jennies golfers.
In his remarks, Poe reminded the team’s alumni of the strong role they continue to play in making mew opportunities for the golf program possible, including this new center facility. 

“You are why this building is being built,” he said. “I want you to know that this place is yours and you are always welcome to use it when you come back to Warrensburg.” 

Women’s Golf Coach Chris Port called the new facility a “relationship center.” It is a place where golf team members and coaches, now and in the future, can meet and build relationships. Additionally, it is a place where alumni can visit to reconnect with individuals who are important to the golf programs. 

“It is my fondest hope that this new building will allow us to build relationships with a new generation of alums who are going to see the value of giving back to the university,” Port said. “Today, we are here to celebrate the Harbert Collegiate Golf Center, but what we’re really here to celebrate is relationships that made it possible, and the relationships it’s going to let us build in the future.”

Rand and Kelly Harbert concluded the event, retracing the new facility's origin back to their ongoing relationship with Coach Poe. Rand said that a conversation that had initially inspired the gift of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van to haul Mules golf team members then led to the greater vision of a home for both teams, and a significant gift to help make the golf center possible.

 “The idea for this building was probably hashed by Rand and Tim Poe, but it has taken so much collaboration and it would never have made it to fruition without so many people jumping in and really making it possible,” Kelly Harbert said. “It really could have been just an idea, but now it’s a building."

Rand Harbert said the new building will continue to remind him just how important UCM has been to he and his wife’s lives.

“Today is not about Kelly and I at all. It’s about a great university moving forward and these wonderful student athletes,” Harbert said.

Other individuals who offered comments or participated in the ceremony included Bonnie Seelinger, donor relations coordinator for the UCM Alumni Foundation; Cole Elling, a UCM senior and member of the Mules golf team; and Nicole Rallo, a junior at UCM and member of the Jennies golf team.


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