Charity is big winner at Kapalua, Waialae tournaments
Profits from PGA tournaments at Kapalua's Plantation Course and Waialae Country Club go to charity.
HAWAII'S professional golf season has begun, bolstering tourism through television coverage of paradise in the middle of winter. Less attention is paid to the generous sharing of the benefits with local charities.
As in other PGA tournaments across the country, the profits from last week's Mercedes Championship at Kapalua will go to nonprofit organizations. Through Kapalua Maui Charities Inc., 11 organizations received $353,536 from last year's tournament, bringing to $1.7 million in golf proceeds distributed to the Maui community since 1999.
During that same period, the Friends of Hawaii Charities, owner of the Sony Open, has raised and distributed more than $5 million to some 100 charities statewide that help children, youth, women and the elderly. The organization achieved its annual goal of $1 million last year.
Half of the amount comes from matching funds provided by the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Included in the total are funds raised by Friends of Hawaii at the upcoming Turtle Bay Championship on the seniors' Champions Tour and the LPGA SBS Open at Turtle Bay.
"It comes as a surprise to many people that Friends of Hawaii Charities owns the (Sony) tournament and is responsible for its organization each year," Anthony A. Guerrero Jr., vice chairman of First Hawaiian Bank and president of Friends, recently wrote in a column on this page.
Charity from Kapalua and Waialae Country Club is consistent with the PGA's effort nationally. Unlike any other sport, 100 percent of the net proceeds from nearly all of the tour's 100-plus tournaments go to local charities. More than 2,000 charities and a million lives have been helped annually since the organization's first donation of $10,000 was made in 1938.
Its goal of donating $1 billion to charity was reached two months ago, with the second $500 million given in just the past seven years. "Our goal is to give the next billion inside of 10 years," says PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem.
Apart from that effort, the PGA, LPGA and other golf organizations exceeded the stated goal of raising $5 million for the U.S. Golf Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. Upon turning professional in October, Michelle Wie joined in the charitable spirit by donating $500,000 of her initial $10 million endorsement income to the Katrina fund.
The PGA will provide more assistance by returning the Zurich Classic of New Orleans to the city at the traditional April date, although it will need to change courses because of wind and flooding damage to the T.P.C. at Louisiana. The tournament will be moved to the nearby English Turn Golf & Country Club, and the players look forward to the event, with profits going to the New Orleans area's Fore!Kids Foundation.
"It is very important for the PGA Tour to take a stance and become the first major sporting event to make the commitment to return to the city," said David Toms, player director of the PGA Tour Policy Board. "That says a lot about what the tour is about, and how we support our communities and our partners."