PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The PGA Tour and its tournaments have raised over $1.4 billion for charity over the last 70 years. David Toms wonders how high the figure would be if the tour counted what the players do by themselves.
The figure doesn’t include the $35 million the Tiger Woods Foundation has contributed through grants and scholarships.
It does not include Phil Mickelson serving 5,000 students from 90 elementary schools in San Diego County through a “Start Smart” education program, or his “Birdies for the Brave” program of donating $100 for every birdie and $500 for every eagle since 2004.
Toms has given over $3 million in the last six years, starting with his efforts following Hurricane Katrina when at one point, he distributed 5,000 gift cards worth $100 each to help displaced victims take care of immediate needs.
“You’ll hear more and more stories about what guys are doing on their own,” Toms said. “We’re on our way to our second billion dollars for the PGA Tour. But if you combined everything that the players do on their own, there’s no telling what that number is.”
The tour wants to do a better job telling that story.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced plans Tuesday to highlight what golfers do for charity, and get more tournaments, sponsors, volunteers and fans more involved so the tour can do even more.
The campaign is called “Together, anything’s possible,” and it will be launched for the 2010 season.
Part of it will involve bringing together the tournaments, sponsors and the 2,000 charities involved with the tour so they can learn from each other what works best in raising money.
The more visible part will be letting fans know what the players are doing. Finchem said the tour’s Web site would enable fans to see what charities a player supports so they can get involved – either by donating to the charity of their favorite player, or finding which players support a particular cause.
“I think it’s important for the tour to get out the word on the charitable impact the tour has in each community,” Mickelson said. “We’ve been getting an unfair rap, if you will, in Congress about some of the dollars being spent for entertainment, spent for sponsorship of these events. And yet, we’re doing a lot more than just entertaining clients here. We’re helping the community.
“We have a whole different business model structure than any sport,” he said. “I think that message needs to get out.”
Finchem said the campaign had nothing to do with criticism earlier this year from Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. John Kerry over title sponsorship of golf tournaments.
“This comes on the heels of several years of thinking through how we can elevate what we’re doing,” Finchem said.