The golf industry has responded magnificently to the disasters affecting Florida, Texas and other parts of the South. In this moment in time, and I pray this moment in time is almost over, where every single gesture is over-examined and politicized with malicious intent, I am proud to be part of an industry that can rally to help people in need.
Dozens of golf courses were affected by winds, fire and flooding, but they pale to the loss of life, housing and vital infrastructure. Estimated damages from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are close to $500 billion. Meanwhile, the U.S. Forestry Service spent $2 billion managing wildfires this season, up from the ten-year average of $1.4 billion. Despite the stream of seemingly constant bad news, we as an industry are trying to play our part.
So, in the spirit of recognizing some of the relief efforts taking place and the companies that are supporting fundraising efforts, here are a few ways you can contribute to causes in your own way.
The GCSAA Disaster Relief Fund was established in 2006 in response to Hurricane Katrina to help assist GCSAA members who suffered personal loss. It raised $190,000 to help those affected by the severe storm season of 2006, and it continues to rebuild the lives of its members through its philanthropic arm, The Environmental Institute for Golf.
Billy Bunker is matching individual member donations up to $10,000 for this year’s campaign following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Deere & Company will make a $1-million cash donation to support Habitat Hammers Back, a long-term recovery initiative organized by Habitat for Humanity International to help repair and rebuild communities ravaged by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Additionally, Deere gives an annual $500,000 contribution to the Red Cross Disaster Giving Program, matches its employee contributions of more than $100,000 and regularly donates equipment and vehicles to regions on the mend.
Landscapes Unlimited mobilized a task force dedicated to remediating damages to storm-ravaged golf courses in Houston and Florida. They will make construction, irrigation, management and maintenance resources available to facilities in need.
There are many other golf companies and organizations joining the effort, and there are regular organizers of disaster relief, including the American Red Cross, The United Way, The Salvation Army, USAID (international), respective governors and mayors of affected states and cities, and The National Guard are longstanding options.
Impromptu fundraising efforts often follow events like these, too. J.J. Watt’s now-famous $30-million fundraising effort exploded in a wave of outreach after Hurricane Harvey, and the former Presidents of the United States started One America Appeal after Harvey that has extended to other disasters. Additionally many state and local PGA and GCSA chapters are managing fundraising efforts of their own.
The individual donation from professional golfers that live in Florida and Texas are too numerous to list, but a few are notable. The Presidents Cup yielded $340,000 for One America Appeal when each player and coach decided to give $10,000 toward recovery efforts. The International Team made the first gesture to help places that many of them call home for at least part of the year.
The LPGA’s Stacy Lewis donated her $195,000 in prize money from her win at the Cambia Portland Classic to the Houston Relief Fund, a place she now calls home as a pro.
And proving that donations don’t need to be big to be grand: Florida Seminole golf coach Amy Bond is donating money for each hole her ladies play under par. For every birdie, she donates $10 of her own money. For each eagle, $20, and $25 for each ace.
Want to do more than just give money? Here are a few ideas:
- Host a fundraising golf tournament each year; hold a rummage sale and clean out those storage areas in the clubhouse; host a bridge or poker tournament; find out what your members are doing and participate.
There are 100 fundraising ideas from the Center for International Disaster Information. Pick one, and let me know how it goes. You can send any information on disaster relief efforts to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will post it to our website.