Golf has a longstanding tradition of giving back to society. It starts with values like sportsmanship, respect and integrity that are passed on to kids who learn the game. The game also raises several billion dollars annually for charities across the country.
Philanthropic contributions, including those from professional tournaments, are a huge part of the industry, with the majority of funds going to organizations outside of the sport.
The game raises more money for charitable causes than the NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA combined. According to a study conducted by the National Golf Foundation, golf’s charitable impact in 2011 was $3.9 billion. This includes 143,000 events at 12,000 golf facilities (or 75 percent of U.S. total). More than 12 million participants helped to raise an average of $26,300 per function.
Beneficiaries include health, youth, education, environmental and cultural groups nationally, regionally and locally. Below are a few programs being helped by golf:
Based at Olney Golf Park in Maryland, the Salute Military Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Its mission is to provide rehabilitative golf experiences and family-inclusive opportunities for post-9/11 wounded war veterans in an effort to improve the quality of life for these American heroes. The organization has a strong relationship with Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It has equipped more than 500 wounded warriors with properly fitted clubs and offered free lessons to 1,000 combat-wounded veterans.
There are approximately 57 million Americans with some form of disability (or 19 percent of the total U.S. population). Formed in 2001, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf ensures the opportunity for all individuals with disabilities to play the game. The organization has granted more than $581,000 to 7,000 participants in 19 states.
Also a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Folds of Honor Foundation provides postsecondary educational scholarships for children and spouses of military men and women disabled or killed while serving our great nation. Each year, the PGA of America and United States Golf Association join together to host “Patriot Golf Day” over Labor Day weekend. Golfers are asked to add an extra dollar to their green fees to support the cause. The organization has raised more than $17.1 million for 5,000 recipients in all 50 states and 41 PGA sections.
Wounded Warrior Project raises awareness and enlists the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members by offering unique, direct programs and services. Billy Casper Golf (BCG), owner and operator of more than 150 golf courses nationwide, hosts the “World’s Largest Golf Outing” (WLGO) each August to generate funds for the organization. Since its inception four years ago, WLGO has donated more than $2 million to Wounded Warrior Project. In 2013, BCG hosted more than 10,000 golfers at 110 of its golf courses in 28 states, raising more than $875,000.
There are many ways to get involved with charity through the game of golf without opening your checkbook.
- Volunteer – Impact the lives of young people by donating your time to The First Tee at one of their 180 chapters across the U.S. Also, research opportunities to volunteer with local charity golf tournaments or junior organizations.
- Lend Your Voice – Tell your story by speaking to Congressional leaders about why golf is more than a game to you.
- Support Through Social Media – Post to your channels about golf’s importance to the economy, the environment and how it provides a fitness activity for millions to enjoy.
As you can see, golf is a great vehicle to support charitable causes. Everyone can help make a difference with the game we all love.
Steve Mona became the World Golf Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in March 2008. Mona served as tournament director of the Northern California Golf Association from September 1980 to January 1982. He moved to assistant manager of press relations for the United States Golf Association from January 1982 to June 1983, at which time he became Executive Director of the Georgia State Golf Association. In November 1993, he became CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.