Giving thanks for charity through golf
The Cape Region community should be proud of its efforts to help those who need it.
In a normal year, there are scores of events and activities that convince people to open up their wallets for good causes.
In a normal year, I publicize about two dozen golf fundraiser tournaments held throughout the area – and those are just the events that made it into this column.
This was not a normal year.
Most charity golf fundraisers in the Cape Region were canceled, postponed or downsized because the logistical, organizational and safety restrictions related to the pandemic response made the process so difficult.
For example, a local volunteer fire company/auxiliary normally holds a fall fundraiser event at a Cape Region public course, raising from $7,000 to $8,000. The volunteer in charge of running the tournament canceled it. He couldn’t bring himself to ask struggling restaurants and other Cape Region businesses to donate items or sponsor the event when they were already under tremendous money-draining circumstances. Furthermore, the limitations on after-round gatherings for a meal and an auction just didn’t work from his perspective.
It was not all doom and gloom, however. Several events succeeded in raising needed funds despite COVID-19. Here are some examples.
The Lewes Historical Society held its very first golf tournament Oct. 8 at the Peninsula Golf & Country Club. The event proceeds help support the society’s work on historic preservation, educational programming and publications.
LHS Development Director Michael Whitehouse told me the event raised $25,000. Its success generated enough buzz to go ahead and schedule the next tournament for Oct. 7, 2021.
The Delaware State Golf Association announced earlier this year an agreement with Youth on Course to support subsidized golf opportunities for junior golfers. YOC has similar agreements with most of the country’s golf associations, helping thousands of youngsters play the game.
To raise money for the subsidy cost, the DSGA held a 100 Hole Hike. DSGA staffers and others played a lot of golf on a single day, with donations coming either in a set amount or an amount per hole. The first such event took place at Bear Trap Dunes Sept. 28, with a second round held Oct. 26 at Cripple Creek Country Club with Heien and volunteer Jeff Baxter.
Heien said the two hikes raised $13,842. That will pay for a lot of junior golfer rounds in 2021.
Clothing Our Kids is one of most successful grassroots charities to be created in the Cape Region. The organization provides clothing and footwear to needy elementary-age children throughout Sussex County. The primary source of funds has been a fall golf tournament at Peninsula, where many of the charity’s supporters live. The tournaments’ successes inspired a second fundraiser in the spring, an auction party.
The pandemic response forced the postponement of both the golf tournament and the spring auction in 2020, along with a significant cutback in the charity’s day-to-day operations.
Undaunted, COK chose a new option to deal with the situation. On Sept. 27, the Kruisin’ For Kids parade of highly decorated cars, often convertibles, rode through the Peninsula’s neighborhoods. Butterfly nets hanging from the cars collected donations from residents, and a safely spaced tailgate party to judge the car entries finished the day. It raised $8,000 – not a huge amount compared to the five-figure sums raised normally, but it will spend, and the county’s needy children will benefit.
Since 1986, Delaware State Golf Association has raised over $1.3 million to award college scholarship stipends to high school seniors demonstrating academic achievement, community service, and a love for golf. Many of the recipients graduated from Cape Henlopen High School and other Sussex County schools.
A fall tournament held at Rehoboth Beach Country Club is the primary money-raising vehicle. Despite pandemic restrictions, this year’s event in mid-September brought in $44,283.
The First Tee of Delaware is part of a national organization supporting junior golf. The First Tee’s programs use golf to develop character and personal growth, without losing sight of the fact that this is a fun game to learn and play.
The Rookery’s long-running annual Pro-Am to support The First Tee of Delaware wasn’t too affected by the pandemic, in part because it’s on a small scale. This year’s tournament took place Nov. 4 and raised over $4,500.
This year also marked The First Tee of Delaware’s debut Golf Marathon, held during September and October at Cape Region courses including Mulligan’s Pointe, Bear Trap Dunes, Heritage Shores and Rehoboth Beach Country Club. The Indian River Senior Center Golf League – East Division had nearly 120 of its members participate at Mulligan’s Pointe. Its members also donated clubs, bags and balls to help lower the cost of golf participation for parents and children in Sussex County.
Thus far the Golf Marathon raised over $20,000, which will stay in the region and help local juniors.
If you have the time and the dime, please consider participating in these and other charity golf events as part of meeting your own charitable goals in 2021.