College Sweethearts Engaged at ChampionsGate Golf Club

ChampionsGate EngagementA countless number of golfers have experienced moments of euphoria on the 9th green at ChampionsGate Golf Club’s National Course, dropping birdie putts or making miraculous par saves. But it wasn’t anything like the emotion felt when Chris Smith dropped to one knee to propose to his college sweetheart, Nikki Waning.

On Friday April 17th the green at the par-4 403-yard 9th hole was the site of ChampionsGate’s first proposal and engagement. That’s right, she said yes.

The couple’s courtship started shortly after arriving on the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where both Nikki and Chris will be starting their senior years this fall.

“The first day of our freshman year of college I saw Chris pulling into the parking lot and it was love at first sight,” Nikki wrote in an email. “I asked him if he needed any help moving in and he moved in just two doors down from me on the same dorm hall. The next day he came to my work and asked me on a date. We have been dating ever since.”

Chris and Nikki are both avid golfers and outdoor enthusiasts. Chris, who is also an experienced wakeboarder and team manager of USF’s wakeboarding club, played on a league with his dad during high school and worked as a golf course attendant in the summer. Nikki took up the game of golf at a very young age and played for her high school team for a total of six years between junior high and high school.

The Ring

The couple was thrilled with the experience at ChampionsGate.

“As if the actual engagement wasn’t amazing enough, each and every person at ChampionsGate congratulated us without us saying a word, Nikki wrote. “They went out of their way to approach us. Even when we came back to the pro shop the next morning we were still being congratulated with well wishes.”

The soon-to-be BrideA golf course was the perfect setting for Chris and Nikki, who love to spend their time together and apart playing sports and traveling.

“Our lives revolve around anything and everything outdoors. We play just about every sport and love to try new things and go on adventures together,” Nikki wrote. “We also love to travel and have been to two other countries together and are going to our third soon.”

While the couple has yet to set a date for the big day, they’ve started to think about possible locations. They haven’t ruled out holding the ceremony at ChampionsGate since they had such a wonderful experience the first time around. For now, they’re content enjoying the moment.

ChampionsGate Engagement

“We are just going to enjoy our engagement and time together for a while,” Nikki wrote. “We are planning to have our wedding next fall when we graduate college.”

Both Nikki and Chris took time to express their appreciation to the staff at ChampionsGate for a job well done.

“We left feeling like we knew each one of you personally and have a big place in our hearts for each and every one of you being such a huge part in our big day,” they wrote in an email shared with the staff. “We have raved to every single person we share our story with about how great the staff at ChampionsGate made the day! We will remember the day for the rest of our lives and your National hole No. 9 will always be our favorite.”


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