Golf steps up its charity game for COVID-19 relief

Causes from caddies to charities are benefiting from the funds.
Linksoul has created the "Flatten the Curve" T-shirt to raise money for coronavirus relief.

No sport plays the fundraising game better than golf.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on golf's biggest fundraising efforts. The four major professional tours - the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions, Korn Ferry Tour and LPGA Tour - have canceled tournaments through May, meaning hundreds of charities are left scrambling to raise the thousands of dollars those events normally would on their own.

Golf charity fundraisers at the local level are also taking a hit with virtually all of them canceled because "large gatherings" aren't permitted per mandates from the federal government.

But there are other ways golf is stepping in to help. Professional and amateur players, golf resorts and golf companies are getting creative, fundraising for charitable causes to combat COVID-19. Rev up your credit card, pay it forward with Paypal or sign a check if you can.

Rain Suits for Responders

KemperSports has teamed up with the Illinois PGA Foundation and FootJoy to launch Rain Suits for Responders, a program to collect new or gently used men's and women's golf rain suits and deliver them to healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

AMITA Health officials, representing the largest healthy system in Illinois, have identified rain gear as reusable Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). To donate, visit the website www.amitahealth.org/rainsuitesforresponders to receive a free FedEx shipping label by e-mail within two days. You can schedule a pickup from your home or workplace.

A $100 donation will also allow KemperSports to donate a rain suit. A $10,000 gift from the Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation provided 100 new FootJoy rain suits to launch the program.

Golf T-shirts

Two golf fashion companies - Linksoul and Waggle - plus Carl's Golfland, an independent golf store in Michigan, have created T-shirts where profits kick back to important virus relief efforts. Linksoul co-founder and artist Geoff Cunningham has created a limited-edition "Flatten the Curve: Charity T-Shirt" that can be pre-ordered throughout April and shipped at the end of the month. All of the proceeds from the $40 shirt will be donated to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, a charity with a COVID-19 direct relief fund that helps the most vulnerable populations affected by this crisis, including hourly wage workers, the elderly and those with disabilities. They also connect with other organizations to provide desperately needed hospital supplies for the front line.

Waggle offered four themed T-shirts through April 12 called the "Scramble Against Covid-19". For each $25 shirt bought, $12 was donated to the CDC Emergency Response Fund.

Proceeds of the #Shankthisvirus T-shirt from Carl's Golfland will go to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Hurley Medical Center in Flint, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac and Say Detroit, a non-profit. The shirts, costing $18, are available here.

Pros step up

Brooks Koepka is no stranger to helping in a time of need. His foundation raised $450,000 for Hurricane Dorian relief last year, according to Golf Digest. He announced on Instagram that his foundation was donating $100,000 to the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin County's COVID-19 Respond Fund and asked that others donate as well.

Ryder Cup teammate Tony Finau and his Tony Finau Foundation has teamed up with For the Kids non-profit to provide food for 500 of Utah's most at-risk kids during the next five weeks of the pandemic, according to ABCNews4 in Salt Lake City. The foundation will offer meals and hygenie kits for two local elementary schools.

AJGA's Leadership Links

The American Junior Golf Association's Leadership Links program is helping young golfers who are mature beyond their years to fundraise for the greater good. Leadership Links is a program that provides resources and tools to AJGA members, according to GolfChannel.com's Brentley Romine. Golfers pick a charity, and the AJGA provides a personal website and marketing materials. The money raised is split between the golfer's cause and the AJGA's ACE Grand program. Nearly 50 are raising money for COVID-19 relief, including Yu Wen Lu and Eddie Zhang, who have raised more than $3,500 combined.

Feed your local food bank

Professional golfer Max Homa has become one of the must-follows on Twitter for his humor and swing tips. He and Shane Bacon, a golf analyst for FOX, have raised more than $32,000 for food banks through their "Get a Grip" golf podcast. For a $5 donation to any local food bank, you can get a podcast sticker mailed your way. A $75 donation lands a hat. For proof of a $2,500 donation, Homa will shave his arm hair. Anything for a good cause, right?

Saving a Scottish links

An outpouring of support for Brora has brought the beloved Scottish links "back from the brink", according to the National Club Golfer. Last week, the club's president sent out a message to members that Brora "might not exist" after the mandated closure by the Scottish government. No Laying Up brought the struggle to light with a tweet, leading to a rush of support online. Golfers around the world have bought merchandise from Brora's online store or purchased a No Laying Up towel, where $15 goes directly to the club. Some die-hard golfers have even purchased an international membership.

Community support

Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters, is donating $2 million to its local community to fight the pandemic. A press release states that $1 million will go to Augusta University for research, and the other million to the COVID-19 CSRA Emergency Fund, launched by the Community Fund and the United Way of the CSRA to "directly support relief efforts for the most vulnerable populations" in the area.

The Solmar Foundation, a non-profit created by Solmar Hotels & Resorts in Mexico, has been working with poverty-stricken locals in Los Cabos to educate them about hygiene during the pandemic, as well as providing food and paper goods. Hotel workers are providing self-employment tips (teaching jewelry design, carpentry, etc.) and donating all the supplies to help these underprivileged people start micro-businesses for themselves. Solmar is matching every donation given to the foundation.

Although the golf season hasn't officially started in Canada, the culinary team at Cabot, the popular 36-hole destination in Nova Scotia, has delivered homemade meals for staff at the local hospital and donated goods to the local food bank. Every little bit counts.

The TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley in Ontario has donated $100,000 to the Caledon Community Services, according to Flagstick.com. The money will support The Exchange, an initiative focusing on providing nutritious food and community programming for those in need throughout the region.

Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa is donating $5 from every round to local relief for first responders (police, fire, EMT) and medical professionals. Also, first responders, medical personnel and military can play for just $35 plus tax at any time.

Clubs care for their own

Millions of hourly, freelance and contract workers have been affected by government shutdowns. Many at golf clubs; Caddies among them. Some private clubs have stepped up to take care of their own during this economic crisis. Four prestigious Los Angeles area clubs - Wilshire Country Club, Lakeside Golf Club, Riviera Country Club and Los Angeles Country Club -- have launched Go Fund Me campaigns for their loopers in need, raising more than half a million dollars as of March 27, according to Geoffshackelford.com.

Pinehurst supported its employees by auctioning off 15 once-in-a-lifetime experiences at the resort, including a round on Pinehurst No. 4 with architect Gil Hanse. It raised $241,730.

At the Mistwood Golf Club and McWethy's Tavern in Romeoville, Ill., salaried employees voluntarily donated a portion of their earnings to be split evenly between hourly workers.

"We are a family first and foremost, and we support each other, especially in difficult times," Mistwood General Manager Dan Bradley said in a statement. "We are all grappling with the constantly changing COVID-19 situation and a small sliver of generosity might be just the kind of inspiration we could all use right now."

Has your club stepped up to help charitable causes at this time? Let us know in the comments below.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Golf steps up its charity game for COVID-19 relief