For as long as I can remember – and that’s quite a while – golf and charity have been almost synonymous with each other. We’ve all played in golf events that have been organized to raise money for charity. But even in bad economic times, when wallets aren’t opened so easily for worthy causes, the opportunity to contribute while enjoying fellowship and networking can and still does occur frequently on a golf course.
The PGA Tour, rightfully (if somewhat aggressively) likes to point out how much money it raises for local, national and international charities each year. Last year alone, the Tour raised over $140 million, bringing the cumulative total to over $2 billion donated to worthy causes since the first philanthropic pro tournament, held in Palm Beach in 1938. That’s a staggering amount of money, and it’s surely not inaccurate to say that through the Tour alone, lives have been saved, human suffering has been reduced, and many “causes” have been able to start, and to flourish.
On the local front, in southern Ontario, many of our golf courses might be in danger of going under, economically, if it weren’t for the charitable golf days that they host. Just this morning, I noticed another full-page ad in the Globe and Mail thanking sponsors and participants for helping a local hospital exceed its fund-raising target, through its annual golf day. I suppose it’s easy to be a bit cynical about luring people to untie their purse strings because of the reward of a game of golf and perhaps a nice prize, but such is the way of the world; and thank goodness that golf continues to be an enticement to motivate donors.
The purpose of this blog, however, is to make my reader(s) aware of one charitable enterprise that started with a burst of spontaneity. Four years later it’s grown to become a shining example of how golf can be used to enhance the lives of others who are worthy. Allow me to let my friend David Horsman, known to his friends as “Captain Canada” for proudly wearing the Maple Leaf everywhere he goes, to tell you the story…
In 2011 after being extremely lucky and successful at a Men’s Night event at Devil’s Paintbrush one Wednesday evening and winning a few dollars, two of our longtime members decided that the money they had won that night was indeed very nice, but having been very blessed in life, they felt that the money they won that evening could be better served being given back to the employees [who were summer students] who served them that day. [The money was then earmarked to help with their post-secondary tuition fees.]
The original two members later invited about 12 other fellow members to a meeting and discussions were held about how to move this program forward. Between us, we contributed enough funds to provide six $3,000 bursaries in 2012 – all paid directly to the post secondary educational institution [as is still the case]. In 2013 we became the Devils Pulpit Golf Association Members’ Charitable Foundation and by the end of the year we were granted Charitable Status by Revenue Canada, which now allowed us to not only solicit funds from our members but also issue tax deductible receipts as well.
With a tremendous amount of energy, in 2014 raised $39,000 from just over 80 of our members and were able to bestow twelve $3,000 bursaries on twelve future leaders of our country, and have started the 2015 campaign with a nice head start. [The bursaries are not just “handed out”… the Club has developed a selection process whereby the department heads of the golf section, course maintenance, and food and beverage service make the final decisions on who the successful applicants will be. Over 50 employees applied for bursaries last year.
As I write this we are just a few days into our 2015 campaign and have already raised $10,000 as we hope to match or better our results from 2014.
What began simply as a nice gesture from two financially stable members has now morphed into a very honourable enterprise, and a very proud undertaking at Devil’s Pulpit. Other private clubs throughout the country should consider doing something similar for their staffs, or for other causes that could use some financial support.
In my view, if you can afford to pay several hundred, or a few thousand dollars, to enjoy one of your favourite pastimes, you can undoubtedly consider others who can’t even think about doing what you’re able to do.
Better yet, do what the gents at the Pulpit did… make it viral, and club-wide, by starting at the 19th hole.