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Curling’s Southern Gentleman 10

Posted on February 08, 2010 by Dean Hybl
South Carolina's Beau Welling provides the U.S. Curling Association with ideas from someone from a non-traditional curling background.

South Carolina's Beau Welling provides the U.S. Curling Association with ideas from someone from a non-traditional curling background.

Given that the sport of curling was invented in Scotland and perfected in Canada, you might be surprised to know that one of the biggest fans and advocates for the game is a golf course designer from South Carolina. Yet, when the Olympics start later this week Beau Welling will take his place among representatives from more typical winter sports locales as a board member of the Unites State Curling Association.

That someone with no background in the sport could become a decision maker at the national level illustrates the desire by the leadership within American curling to grow the popularity of the sport with a non-traditional fan base across the country.

Welling’s road to Vancouver is an interesting tale that started in 1988 when curling was a demonstration sport at the Calgary Olympics.

“I remember briefly watching it in 1988 with the rocks and brooms and thinking it was one of the most ridiculous sports I had ever seen,” Welling recalled.

It wasn’t until 14 years later in 2002 when Welling’s compulsion with the sport started to be cultivated.

“I saw it on television in Salt Lake City and was inexplicably drawn to the sport,” Welling said. “One of the guys in our office was from Canada and knew the sport, so I would come in every day asking him questions.”

By the time of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, curling was a ratings bonanza for NBC and Welling couldn’t get enough of it.

Just weeks after the 2006 Olympics, the US National Championships were being held in Bemidji, Minnesota and for some odd reason Welling felt that he should be there. Unfortunately, he was scheduled to be in Europe on business at the same time.

In a moment that would have lasting implications, Welling’s trip was cancelled at the last second leaving him an unexpected free week and feeling like fate was sending him to Bemidji.

“When my trip was cancelled I felt like it was a sign that I was supposed to go to Bemidji,” Welling said.

Thanks to his secretary, Grace Bishop, Welling had tickets and unbeknown to him was the talk of the town. Read the rest of this entry →

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