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A Short Report on Golf and Charity in Australia

Altruism and golf seem to fit together in a symbiotic relationship where one gives to the other to create a cross-pollination of golf, business and benevolence that enriches the game and everyone associated with it.

Perhaps there is no greater example of charity and golf than from ‘The King’, Arnold Palmer. His foundation, established in the USA, is a model of philanthropy designed to fund children’s hospitals around the world and nurture youth into a ‘life well played’. The Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation is flanked by the brilliant work of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and, of course, Tiger Woods, in their charitable work. Indeed, the entire business model of the PGA Tour, a registered charity, has a mode of benevolence using the corporate sector to empower the less fortunate.

Australian golf walks a similar path and this sort of industry within an industry is an attractive way for golfers and business to expand their networks and establish their own means to bring altruism into the golfing calendar. 

Golf in the USA is gargantuan in comparison to Australia, with their 17000 golf courses dwarfing our (perhaps) 1200. The charitable arm of their PGA tours has contributed over $3USbillion, largely funded by sizeable donations from masthead sponsors like AT&T, which raised over $200 million from the annual Pebble Beach event alone. While the USA might be home to nearly half of the world's golf courses, and have a corporate sector geared towards altruism, Australian golf is much more in the grassroots of the charitable space, but as we know, when the chips are down and when the community is in strife Aussies rally around each other and the best in human behaviour is on full display. 

Perhaps the best example of the Aussie spirit in recent times was the Mick Fanning Charity Golf Day that appeared like a new swell on the horizon to raise several hundred thousand dollars for flood relief efforts in Northern NSW. Volunteers and small to medium-sized businesses donated their products, prizes and auction items. They rattled the jungle drums to draw together their work colleagues with a sprinkling of celebrity attendance and endorsement and Coolangatta Tweed Golf Course came alight with enthusiasm and charitable giving. It was a sight to behold. Charity golf days like these are happening at more and more golf courses throughout Australia.

Mick Fanning Charity Golf Event

Talking to PGA professional Matthew Laverty, the brains behind the annual ‘charity challenge’ golf series, one can sense that the corporate sector is looking for the right vehicle to drive their charitable efforts. We’ve been lucky that a lot of corporates have come on board and want to build their charity days. They’re keen to use our golf day model, bring in a lot of their sponsors and brand partners which makes it all work well together.” The ‘charity challenge’ is a brilliant concept by Laverty and his partner, Smokey Dawson OAM. Most executives who love their golf have probably participated in one of their events.  

Arguably one of the most successful events in Australia that uses charity golf days with a twist of celebrity endorsement is ‘Sporting Chance’. Hosted in both Sydney and Melbourne, it has raised nearly $20 million to help children with cancer. Formed in 1996 by former Australian Cricket Captain, Mark Taylor; Rugby League legend, Reg Gasnier; Olympian, Raelene Boyle and Triple Brownlow Medallist, Bob Skilton, the Sporting Chance Cancer Foundation is committed to financially supporting mobile home care units and outreach programs to help make life easier for children dealing with cancer from regional areas. 

When they think of cancer, most Aussie golfers probably think of the late Jarrod Lyle, the former PGA Tour player and loveable lad from country Victoria. Jarrod poured much of his energy to help the Challenge Foundation raise funds to help sick children. Golf courses, Australia-wide, are invited each year to dedicate one of their club days to ‘#doingitforjarrod’. With the endorsement of the PGA of Australia, the enduring legacy of Jarrod Lyle continues to thrive with more than 100 golf clubs actively participating in 2023. You little beauty! (Leuk the duck)

Young Charlotte Hyne (Stinger Golf, Melbourne) became a LinkedIn star early in 2023 when she shared her personal struggles and challenges dealing with Crohn’s disease. Charlotte organised a charity golf day full of excitement, good food and a swag of prizes at Rosebud Country Club in October, raising $40k in the process to help research into this horrible disease which affects over one hundred thousand Aussies, including this scribe.

Golf Australia has a major charity partnership with the Cancer Council for “The Longest Day”, a brilliant initiative that raised $3.1 million for cancer research in 2020. The PGA of Australia supports several charitable golf days helping to make many charity golf days come to life. But truthfully, the success of charity and golf usually comes from the passion of a lone individual, such as the late Jack Newton. The Jack Newton Celebrity Classic is an annual shindig that raises money (over $9 million) for Diabetes and the Jack Newton Junior Golf. This year will see the 37th staging of the event to be held in Sydney.

Feel free to reach out to Andrew Crockett, via beyondthegreen.org if you want to hold your own charity golf day.

Words by Andrew Crockett

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