Give it back: How to do something good for the game that’s done so much for you

August 31, 2019
A marshal watches the action at the Open Championship.

For too many of us, the notion of “giving back” means dunking our tee shot in the drink right after taking a 1-up lead. Sorry, but that’s coming up short figuratively, too. Golf needs our charity to thrive — and this charity deepens our own bonds to the game while being a force for good. Here are some thought-starters you should turn into action.

Donate

Consider giving to PGA REACH, the PGA of America’s nonprofit foundation, which works to enrich the lives of youth, the military, and diverse populations through access to PGA of America pros, PGA Sections and the game of golf itself. Another option: the USGA Foundation, for its missions of environmental sustainability, mentoring golf’s next-gen leaders, increasing access to the game, and celebrating its traditions.

Volunteer—USGA

Go to usga.org and click on the USGA championship schedule — there are icons on every championship line for ways to volunteer. Among them: 2020 U.S. Open leaderboard volunteer at Winged Foot. That’s right, you could be the one to put Tiger or Brooks or DJ atop the heap on U.S. Open Sunday, which is also Father’s Day — maybe even with your dad, or son, or both! Not to be a mercenary, but being a USGA volunteer offers lots of perks, including a credential for the championship, two golf shirts, a wind jacket, a hat and a water bottle. Your $185 volunteer fee covers a portion of your uniform — consider that shirts alone run about $100 each, so it’s a steal for the loot and the ticket. But the 5,000 volunteer spots for the U.S. Open on various committees fill fast, so get on the case, pronto.


Volunteer—PGA Tour

More than 100,000 volunteers each year support PGA Tour tournaments, enabling the events to give back to charity to the tune of nearly $3 billion to date. Each tournament has upwards of 30 volunteer committees; one especially cool volunteer role is assisting with the ShotLink Scoring System, which more than 300 people do weekly. As with the USGA, the nominal volunteer fee gets you outsized perks, too, like merch, a guest ticket, and access to special volunteer functions. Visit pgatour.com, select the event closest to you, and sign up for the Volunteer Information Page (VIP), the Tour’s volunteerism-dedicated newsletter.

Volunteer Close to Home

“Think globally, act locally” is good golf advice, too. Local and state associations have their own great initiatives, like the Utah Golf Association’s “Veterans on Course” program, which introduces golf to vets as a recovery tool and hosts nine-hole tournaments for active and retired military. Also, you don’t have to be a GOLF Magazine Top 100 Course Rater to become a course rater for your nearest golf association. You don’t even have to know your Course Rating from your Slope Rating — you’ll get trained for this fun and important task.

Mentor

LPGA*USGA Girls Golf (girlsgolf.org) is a fast-growing leadership and golf program for juniors with more than 500 chapters nationwide, so you don’t have to venture too far to help a young woman feel empowered, enriched and engaged in the sport. By helping out, you’ll feel the same way, too.

Organize

Use golf as a force for good by organizing a charity tournament for a cause near and dear. Want to start smaller? Play in some charity events, ask questions of the people running it, and take notes. It’s hard work to pull one off, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.