The PGA of America announced on Monday that it has developed the Golf Emergency Relief Fund to help individuals who work in the golf industry weather the storm caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Golf Emergency Relief Fund started with a $5 million pledge by the PGA of America with a matching fund for gifts by third parties of up to $2.5 million, raising the total to as much or more than $10 million. That money will be made available in direct payments to a wide range of the golf industry’s 1.8 million workers, not just the 29,000 PGA of America professionals. Those impacted financially by COVID-19 can apply for a share of these funds as early as Thursday.
“This is all going to individuals,” said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh. “We tried to design it in a way that makes the most sense and gets it to the people in the most need.”
The fund will be administered by E4E Relief, an independent third-party public charity. There will be two phases, the first supplying grants of $500 to $1,500 for people in the most immediate need, then transitioning several weeks later into a second phase with grants topping out at $3,500.
Qualified applicants will include Golf Course Superintendents Association of America members, caddies who are employed through a handful of caddie companies, Association of Golf Merchandisers members, players on developmental tours and more (see the complete list of possible candidates at the bottom of this story).
The initial funding includes direct contributions from PGA of America board members and executives, and Waugh said those contributions are not yet fully determined but will reach into the high six figures. The effort also is being supported in various ways by a number of industry organizations, including the GCSAA, PGA Tour, LPGA, U.S. Golf Association, the National Golf Course Owners Association and the Association of Golf Merchandisers.
“We’ve added the Relief Fund as a next layer of defense, to pump a little adrenaline into the system in the form of cash,” Waugh said. “We’re just thinking about how to get everybody to the other side, so that’s our approach.”
Waugh estimated that with outside contributions, the fund could grow to as much as $20 million. He said the PGA of America has not been able to fully audit how much of the golf industry has been impacted by COVID-19 or to what degree, but he said “it’s a bunch of small businesses that are getting crushed” as more than half the golf courses in the U.S. are closed with 16 states banning golf altogether during the pandemic, based on a recent National Golf Foundation report.
“You go to any business with a zero-revenue model, that’s pretty hard to model, right?” Waugh said. The full impact on the golf industry “obviously depends on how long it lasts. … This is an event-driven crisis. Everything was going well. If this is a two- to three-month crisis, we probably can come back pretty much as business as usual. If it goes longer than that, there will be some failures and there will be some consolidations.”
Hence the relief fund, Waugh said, as well as delaying PGA of America membership dues and working directly with all 41 PGA sections to help them survive the pandemic.
“We’re put on earth to serve our members and the game, and what more important moment to do it than now?” said Waugh, the former CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas who took his role with the PGA of America in 2018. “You wake up every morning trying to figure out how to be smart and to be human, and the most important part is how can you be the most human. If you can do that, and prove that you have a brain as well as soul, you can come out of these things better than you went in.”
Below is the complete list of industry employees who may apply for a grant at https://relief.golf:
- PGA of America professionals (includes members, students and associates)
- LPGA professionals (includes members and students/apprentices)
- Golf Course Superintendents Association of America members
- Employed or contracted as a caddie of one of the following caddie companies (qualifying employers and their subsidiaries): Caddienow, Caddiemaster, 4C Caddies, Premier Caddies, ClubUp, CaddieU, Circuit Caddie and Caddy King
- Association of Golf Merchandisers members
- Players in developmental tours operated by the PGA Tour (Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Latinoamérica, Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour China Series)
- Players in developmental tours operated by the LPGA (Symetra Tour)
- Employees of United States Golf Association authorized allied golf associations
- Employees of PGA of America sections
- National Golf Course Owners Association members