To date, the PGA TOUR and its associated tournaments, sponsors and players, have provided more than $3 billion to those in need through their PGA TOUR charity events. That’s an astounding number. Really, it’s a number that’s hard to even imagine.
One of the warmer ways to give perspective to such an amazing total is to break it down and put faces and names to where just some of that money comes from and understand exactly who it helps.
To begin doing that, consider this: seven PGA TOUR events have surpassed $100 million in all-time charitable giving. In no particular order, they are THE PLAYERS Championship, AT&T Byron Nelson, Valero Texas Open, Waste Management Phoenix Open, Charles Schwab Challenge, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and John Deere Classic.
While it would be impossible to highlight every donation, there are a few that are able to cover a lot of ground with the charitable funds provided. What follows is a closer look at some of those organizations and individuals and how they help impact and even save countless lives every year through the PGA TOUR charity events.
Nearly 25 years ago, the PGA TOUR, PGA of America, USGA, LPGA and Masters Tournament partnered to help make golf more accessible to kids, especially those living in economically disadvantaged areas. But providing affordable and easier access to the game became just one of the many results of First Tee. Through First Tee programs, youth are also taught life and skills lessons, which affect all facets of living. These principles are grounded in nine core values including honesty, confidence, respect, perseverance and responsibility.
Today, nearly every First Tee chapter that exists where PGA TOUR events are held has become a beneficiary of those tournament proceeds. With more than 1,200 locations in operation, millions of young people have been given the opportunity to take part in First Tee.
Founded in 1996 by Tiger Woods, who is also the primary contributor, TGR Foundation transforms and equips students with the tools and knowledge needed to help individuals thrive, not just in school, but also later in life. To date, the Foundation has positively impacted well over one million students and continues to have a positive effect on communities through education. As the foundation’s main benefactor, the Genesis Invitational in 2020 provided free science, technology, English and math (STEM) activities for youth on site at Riviera Country Club. In addition to the Genesis Invitational, the annual, unofficial Hero World Challenge, hosted by Woods, provides a majority of its proceeds to TGR Foundation.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital And Shriners Hospitals For Children
As is the case with most PGA TOUR events, proceeds are divided among a number of charities. Two PGA TOUR events, though, designate one charity as lone beneficiary. Since 1970, the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational has made St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that one recipient. The hospital is a leading authority on the understanding and treatment of childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Nearly $40 million has been provided to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by the annual TOUR event at TPC Southwind. What that translates to is patients and their families never having to receive a bill for services rendered.
Founded in 1983, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open has made the Shriners Hospitals for Children its sole beneficiary. Led by many of the most innovative doctors in the world, the Shriners Hospitals for Children provides specialized pediatric care for everything from orthopedics and spinal cord injury to burns and sports injury. Like St. Jude, Shriners Hospitals for Children provide exceptional service regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Of nearly 1.5 million children treated, 145,608 came in 2019 alone. With Shriners Hospitals all over the United States, millions of dollars have been raised by the annual TOUR event to help improve the lives of children everywhere.
Justin Thomas Foundation
In April 2019, celebrated PGA TOUR winner Justin Thomas, along with his family, started the Justin Thomas Foundation. Based in his hometown of Louisville, Ken., the objective of the Justin Thomas Foundation is to make a profound impact on children in need, military families and junior golf programs. By partnering with philanthropic organizations and communities, primarily in the Louisville area, the goal is to have helped individuals and families achieve their full potential.
Special Olympics Arizona
In addition to the charitable dollars raised by the Thunderbirds Charities via the Waste Management Phoenix Open each year, many participants in Special Olympics Arizona programs are also given the opportunity to volunteer at the annual Scottsdale PGA TOUR event. By having that kind of interaction with players and fans, the Special Olympians develop valuable life skills, not to mention lifelong memories.
Hands down, the biggest charity story to emerge from the Waste Management Phoenix Open and, arguably, any event on the PGA TOUR was that of Arizona Special Olympian Amy Bockerstette. She got the chance to play TPC Scottsdale’s famed par-3 16th with Gary Woodland during the Wednesday pro-am in 2019, months before Woodland won the U.S. Open. The viral video not only introduced the world to Bockerstette, but also gave awareness to Special Olympics Arizona in a way that no amount of money could have provided. This served as a perfect example of how influential PGA TOUR charity events are.
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