Charities hurt by PGA Tour’s cancellations

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The PGA Tour, like the rest of the world, is playing a waiting game with the coronavirus pandemic as we try to figure out when and where the world’s best players will be back in action.

Let’s face it, between the time this was written and the time you’re reading it there’s likely been another tournament put on hold or outright canceled as well as numerous updates that will hopefully show us there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel.

Even the Masters is not immune

That’s all well and good. We will all wait out this virus as calmly and patiently as possible. Like everyone’s saying: Please stay at home. We are all vulnerable. 

With that in mind, the bottom line is the players, their caddies, the volunteers, the golf courses, the sponsors and everyone else in the PGA Tour’s world is facing an uncertain future without a paycheck for the time being.

There’s also one more glaring crisis that may be overlooked unless people point it out: Charities the PGA Tour events represent and pour millions of dollars into will now be facing a future with much less funding to help them assist those in need.

Did we say millions? Let’s up the ante a little. In 2019, the PGA Tour passed the $3 billion mark in donations to places that help families during tough times. Whether it’s the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open here in Las Vegas or any of the other tournaments, the bottom line is charities will be severely impacted without the generous donations they receive every year.

Patrick Lindsey, executive director of the Shriners Open, knows this will be a tough time.

“Ultimately Shriners Hospitals for Children and their mission is our No. 1 concern,” Lindsey said. “This great PGA Tour event helps raise awareness for the charity and organization. Unfortunately, the charities that have the most to lose are the eight PGA Tour events that have already been canceled.”

The PGA Tour’s rise to more than $3 billion includes $204 million in 2019 alone. With the number of tournaments being reduced by eight at the very least, the money charities receive this year will definitely be down.

Charity donations vary. Some, like the FedEx St. Jude Invitational or the Shriners event, set aside their main donations to their charity. Others, like the John Deere Classic, spread the wealth. The John Deere has handed out its millions to more than 500 charities.

Overall, more than 3,000 charities have been helped by the PGA Tour’s efforts. But, that was in the good times. The question now is: Will the PGA Tour charity money for this year include funding for the tournaments that have been wiped off the schedule?

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, in a conference call with the media after The Players was canceled along with three other events at the time, said the tour is sympathetic. 

“My expectation is that the staffs will continue, they’ll proceed and do everything they can do to help those communities and we’re going to partner in that process,” he said.

Even PGA Tour players are reaching out. Ryan Palmer has committed $20,000 to canceled tournaments he was scheduled to play in and is hoping other pros will follow his lead.

It’s not just the PGA Tour that will be hurting. Add in the LPGA Tour, the Korn Ferry Tour and the PGA Tour Champions and you’ve got a big portion of the golf community that’s dealing with the battle. Those tours also raise money for charity.

Throw in golf tours worldwide and, like the virus, it’s a global problem.

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Lindsey hopes his tournament can go on as planned. In fact, because we’re a gaming site, we asked him if he thought the odds were good the 2020 tournament in Las Vegas will still be held.

“I would say right now we are 100 percent going to have this event,” he said. “We’re still dealing with a very fluid situation with all of this stuff. But right now I don’t see anything that can keep us from having this event … fingers crossed.”

That’s something everyone should be doing — crossing their fingers in the hope golf returns soon. A lot of charities are depending on it.

About the Author
Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 18-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas including 10 years as a writer/editor with VegasGolfer Magazine. He also contributes to the GolfNow Network of websites and Las Vegas Golf Insider.

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