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PGA TOUR: Bold PR move?

Growing up a golf fan, I didn’t realize until recently how involved PGA TOUR players are with charities. After working as a Texas Golf Association intern and attending the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and the Masters, I realized these athletes have more on their plates than constant travel, workout regimens and playing golf for a living.

The public relations department for the PGA TOUR made a bold move publicizing what players do with their time off the course. The TOUR launched a website showcasing each player’s philanthropic organizations and ways players give back to their communities.

The tagline “Together, anything’s possible” represents how the TOUR highlights each player and each tournament’s specific cause and charity. These causes include youth and children, volunteering, military, health and medical, growth of the game, environment, education and leadership, disaster relief and community.

A portion of most tournament profits, as well as a specific portion of the players’ winnings, goes toward the tournament charity each tournament week. The player can also donate to his personal charity. These professional athletes not only give some of their earnings to these organizations but also bring in money to the local town’s economy.

Tournaments and Charities

The HP Byron Nelson Tournament, for example, supports the Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Center, a nonprofit organization, and allows free admittance to active military and their families.

Several PGA TOUR golfers actively volunteer for these charities beyond tournament week, in addition to their personal causes.

Golf favorite Phil Mickelson, for instance, is involved in a number of charities. “Birdies for the Brave” raises millions of dollars for military home-front groups. Throughout tournament play, Mickelson donates $100 for every birdie he makes and $500 for every eagle to the organization.

After both his wife and mother were diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2009, Mickelson began providing funds to expand cancer research. The TOUR supported the diagnoses of his wife and mother by conducting a “Pink Out” during the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, which received endless amounts of media attention. Signs were made in honor of Mickelson’s wife, and he now wears monogrammed hats with the breast cancer awareness ribbon to support this cause.

Anthony Kim regularly makes appearances at the TOUR’s First Tee Program near local tournament sites. The First Tee’s mission is “to impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character-development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.” Kim donates to the organization, hosts group golf lessons and speaks to children about golf and ways it can impact their lives and futures.

Sergio Garcia and Kenny Perry agreed to donate $1,000 for every birdie they make and $5,000 for every eagle during the Greenbrier Classic held in West Virginia. Amthor Steel and Carrar Steel joined the two players. The donations supported 29 families that were affected by the West Virginia mining disaster in April.

Part of the TOUR’s mission statement is to be “committed to generating revenue for charitable causes in their communities.”

The TOUR has done a spectacular job illustrating to the public that athletes can be involved in other purposeful commitments than just their game. This not only shows a new aspect of the TOUR but also provides an ideal way to promote the game and attract a more diverse fan base.

Golf has always been a sport of integrity, and these players are some of the most well-liked athletes in the world, doing a good deed each time they tee up. I don’t see any other sport going out of its way to initiate such a strong PR move.

By Paige Niewerth

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