More than 30 years ago, I played golf in a fundraising event at Chapel Hills Golf Course in Ashtabula, Ohio. Billed as the “Longest Day of Golf,” we raised money for the American Cancer Society by having people pledge a certain amount per the number of holes that we played. In all, my foursome carded 101 holes and logged plenty of miles.
My days of marathon golf are behind me, but there are plenty of people and courses ready, willing and able to carry the charity flag. Patrick Koenig, for one, quit his job and spent 2018 traveling the United States in an RV, playing golf in all but one of the 48 contiguous states. His mission raised $20,000 for the First Tee of Greater Seattle.
Koenig dubbed his journey—which started at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash. and ended at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore.—the “RGV Tour,” and he chronicled it online and across social media.
“The game of golf brings people together,” says Michael Chupka, Bandon Dunes’ Director of Communications. “When you pair the social connection with an inspiring setting, golf transcends from a game to an opportunity to make impactful change for the greater good.
“Patrick Koenig’s mission during the RGV Tour was a perfect example of this, and many other organizations, as well as the resort itself, utilize our links experience to bring golfers together for a greater cause,” Chupka adds.
On March 14 of this year, David Blakelock began a national fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Awareness. His “Drive for Alzheimer’s” started in Palm Desert, Calif., and was scheduled to end in Boston on June 21. In all, he planned to play 100 courses in 100 days.
Golfers could make a donation and/or join his foursome anywhere along his route. All donations (including tee-time bookings) to Blakelock’s “100 Days 100 Courses” initiative benefited the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund and the Alzheimer’s Association, with 100 percent of the money going to those two organizations.
“What I have learned from my first 50 days is that if I do a good job of letting [the courses] know that I am coming, the clubs are very receptive,” Blakelock said halfway through his version of a charitable golf odyssey. “They often will acknowledge me on their social-media channels.”
And even if management didn’t seem to be interested in his cause, Blakelock learned, members or guests at the clubs and courses he played were very interested in what he was doing.
“Quite often I’d join a foursome and the majority of the conversation for 18 holes included questions like Why? Where have I been? Where am I going? What have been the highlights?, etc.,” he says.
Early into his quest, Blakelock says, he realized he needed to do a better job of letting the club know ahead of time about his visit. With more advance notice, he found, the club would be able to help him take full advantage of promoting his cause across its social-media channels.
While many clubs aren’t willing to offer their courses for grand events that require blocks of tee times, just about any facility can make room for a foursome that’s on a mission for good. If done right, it can be a win-win for both the charitable cause, and the club. The money raised is easily quantifiable—and the positive publicity and extended social-media exposure can also have great value in building and/or strengthening the club’s brand.