KUALA LUMPUR: Such has been the impact of the PGA TOUR’s Together, Anything’s Possible charitable platform that Swedish golfer Jonas Blixt succinctly explained what it meant to see thousands of lives being touched beyond the ropes.
“I feel like playing on the PGA TOUR almost comes second,” said the three-time TOUR winner. “What we get to do for charity, what the PGA TOUR gives back to the community is the greatest thing about playing on the PGA TOUR.”
Indeed, beyond the push to excel in the professional game and beyond the pursuit of golfing greatness, the PGA TOUR’s stars and the tournaments that form its annual schedule have joined forces to go beyond the game and impact the lives of people in places where the TOUR visits.
In 2017, the PGA TOUR and its tournaments generated more than US$180 million for charitable causes, surpassing the previous year’s record amount by approximately US$14 million. The landmark announcement raised the all-time total generated for charity by the PGA TOUR to US$2.65 billion.
From supporting children’s hospitals to mobilising disaster relief, building homes for disabled troops and providing educational opportunities for kids, raising awareness and research for cancer and autism to providing food aid, the PGA TOUR has taken the lead to making a difference beyond establishing global golf stars who make headlines every week.
“The entire PGA TOUR family takes tremendous pride in the positive impact that we continue to make each year through the millions of dollars that are raised for very deserving charitable organizations,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan.
“As we often note, beyond the sheer dollar amount, the real story is in the hundreds of thousands of lives that benefit from these contributions every year.”
In 2017, five PGA TOUR events raised more than US$10 million for charity – the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Valero Texas Open, DEAN & DELUCA Invitational, the John Deere Classic and the Waste Management Phoenix Open. In addition, the Presidents Cup announced a record donation of more than US$10.7 million while the TOUR’s flagship event, THE PLAYERS Championship, generated US$8.7 million.
In the spirit of giving back, golf stars, both past and present, have chipped in over the years to make a difference for the less fortunate. Golf’s Big Three – Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and the late Arnold Palmer – participated in a one-day event back in 2010 which raised an astounding US$15.2 million in a single day for a mission school.
Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, launched the “Birdies for the Brave” programme over 10 years ago to help build homes for disabled troops and provide educational support for spouses and children of servicemen and women killed in action.
Olympic gold medallist, Justin Rose, and his wife, Kate used their foundation to help under privileged students via a school lunch programme called “Blessings in a Backpack” where for many kids, lunch at school on Friday is their last meal until they return on Monday for breakfast.
As part of its sponsorship of the season-long FedExCup on the PGA TOUR, FedEx commits US$1 million in annual donations to benefit non-profit organizations. The donations align with FedEx Cares, a global giving initiative, in which FedEx is investing US$200 million in over 200 global communities by 2020 to create opportunities and deliver solutions for people around the world.
South Korea’s K.J. Choi, the first Asian Tour graduate who made it big in America by winning eight PGA TOUR titles including THE PLAYERS Championship in 2011, has a big heart as well. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Choi donated US$100,000 for relief efforts. “Watching the chaos and devastation, I felt the need to get involved and support the residents of Houston,” he said.
Support for ailing PGA TOUR stars is never forgotten. In January, the TOUR launched “January for Jarrod”, a fundraising effort to help Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle meet his medical costs after undergoing a third bone marrow transplant for acute Myeloid leukemia.
As the lifeblood of professional sport, corporate support has been important too with the likes of TOUR marketing partner, Metlife entering a second year with its innovative season-long charitable initiative called Metlife MatchUp, a weekly competition between two players who most successfully navigate tough situations on the golf course. The winner is determined through a fans’ vote and US$1 million will then be channelled to his chosen charity.
Last year’s MetLife MatchUp winner Bubba Watson said: “My fans are really the ones who made this happen. They made it possible for me to give back to the Pensacola community where the US$1 million prize was used to further two causes, our local children’s hospital and junior golf efforts in the area.”
Indeed, when everyone comes together for a worthy cause, anything’s possible.
Chuah Choo Chiang is Senior Director, Communications of the PGA TOUR based at TPC Kuala Lumpur