Pro Golf Holes It For Charities 2009: 1 Economic

Pro Golf Holes It for Charities

Economic Leaderboard at The Players Championship: Over Par, or Under For the moment, the controversy over corporations that have received billions in federal bailout funds continuing to host high-profile golf events has died down, especially after last week’s “Wachovia” reverted to being the “Quail Hollow.” Even Barney Frank would likely never dare to point an accusing finger at The Players, for it’s this tournament that has set the standard for pro golf giving back to all of its host communities. Said sportscaster Jim Nantz, when interviewed by the Charlotte Business Journal during last weekend’s Quail Hollow Championship: “Golf is such an easy target. I wish all these politicians who invested their time to make all these scolding remarks about our sport had sat down and realized what the sport does to support charities, to support local communities…. They misrepresent where its heartbeat is. It’s amazing, isn’t it, that the PGA Tour gives more money to charity than the NBA, Major League Baseball, and the NFL combined” Players Championship organizers recognize that local communities need the sport more than ever. Since relocating to Ponte Vedra Beach in 1977, The Players has donated more than $31 million to charities throughout Northeast Florida, including a record total of $3 million in 2008. The Players’ philanthropic focus includes health and human services, children’s causes and education, and arts and culture. The Players also provides grants and scholarships, and one of the event’s biggest recipients over the years has been The Players Championship Village, a substance- and drug-abuse rehabilitation facility for youth and young adults. Other recipients have included Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, which received a half-million dollars from the event last year. Such major charitable initiatives also influence the amateur scene, like this week’s Ganley Foundation Ironman 500 at the Heron Bay Club, former home of the Honda Classic and TPC of South Florida. The 100-hole event directs funds to depression awareness and suicide prevention, especially among youth. Looking ahead to the summer and that “other” PGA event, despite the slow economy, tournament officials at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota expect to sell out tickets and corporate hospitality packages for the 2009 PGA Championship, set for Aug. 10-16.
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