• Alistair Tait

Golf: the game that gives back

Updated: May 20

There have been many times over the years when we’ve been proud call golf our favourite sport. This is one of those times.

Our game has gone to great lengths during this pandemic to give back not only to the game, but to charity at a time when it is most needed. The R&A’s £7 million funding package – the R&A Covid-19 Support Fund launched yesterday – to help national golf associations and other affiliated bodies in Great Britain and Ireland deal with the impact of this pandemic is the latest in a long line of gestures, large and small, that should make us proud to call golf our sport.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers announced the package yesterday. He said: “The pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on golf and many clubs are facing dire financial situations through no fault of their own. Golf is in our DNA and we want to see the sport continue to thrive from grassroots right through to the top level on the professional tours. We have a responsibility to do what we can to help in such a crisis. “The R&A Covid-19 Support Fund will enable national associations and other key bodies to provide support to some of their members. We know that many challenges lie ahead but club golf is the bedrock of our sport and hopefully this fund will help to begin the process of recovery.”

This news comes at just the right time for many clubs struggling to get through this pandemic.

The R&A initiative follows the TaylorMade Driving Relief match on Sunday featuring Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff. The skins match at Seminole may have been low on entertainment and production value, but it raised millions for charities.

Many others have done their bit to helps raise money throughout this pandemic. Ian Poulter auctioned off 782 items of personal stuff – shoes, shirts, hats, etc., – for Covid19 charities.

Tommy Fleetwood’s caddie Ian Finnis organised a raffle that raised £125,000 for the NHS. Fellow caddie Brian Nilsson, who caddies for Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, organised a campaign along with his wife to feed starving villagers in his adopted home in Thailand, where Nilsson has lived for the past 17years.

There are scores of other examples to numerous to list.

It isn’t just organisations, players and caddies who’ve given back. Ordinary golfers have helped struggling clubs by taking out country memberships at clubs such as Brora and Fortrose and Rosemarkie. Cavendish Golf club in Buxton organised a crowdfunding campaign to raise £25,000 to save Cavendish Golf Club. As I write, the club has raised £24,286 of that £25,000 target with nine days left in the campaign. It seems certain the club get the other £714 comfortably.

Our game is by no means perfect. For example, we have a long way to go on equality, and we need a serious discussion on diversity. However, by and large, golf can hold its head high. We’ve seen, and are continuing to see, during this crisis that we can be proud to call ourselves golfers.

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