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Paying It Forward


The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) is embarking on one of the most significant efforts of its 33-year history. As PDGA Executive Director, Brian Graham #5861 can attest, "Our member driven organization is forming a partnership with a very powerful, national charity organization. This partnership will be pivotal in helping to propel disc golf to the forefront of professional sports while bringing about the notoriety we have all dreamed of and know disc golf deserves."

To help explain why this is so monumental for professional disc golf, it's important to understand the history of professional ball golf. We need a quick review of some Professional Golf Association (PGA) history.

As we look at professional golf, most of us may not realize that back in 1974 the PGA's total yearly purse was only about $8,000,000. To put that in perspective, the PDGA's total purse this last year was just over $2,900,000.

In the 20 years from 1974 to 1994, the PGA's total purse skyrocketed from $8 million dollars to well over $100 million; and it's now approaching the $300 million mark. In that same time span, the golf industry grew from being in the millions of dollars to now being in the billions!

One of the primary changes that lead to this spectacular growth was the PGA's decision, under the leadership of Deane Beman, to turn all its major tournaments into charity events. Other program changes were, of course, implemented, like building stadium courses and naming events for the main sponsors. However, those familiar with PGA history have long recognized that it was the implementation of charity events that became one of the primary catalysts that launched their organization to the “next level.”

So, it is with this recognition that we are beyond excited to announce that the PDGA has the opportunity to duplicate one of the PGA’s principal models of success. The PDGA is teaming up with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, one of the most wonderful charity organizations on earth.

St. Jude treats pediatric cancers and other life-threatening, catastrophic childhood diseases, and they share this valuable research all over the globe. Breakthroughs discovered at St. Jude have increased pediatric cancer survival rates from 20% to over 80%. And incredibly, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food. You’ve probably seen or heard their ads. They are an amazing organization!

The first and most important event in this partnership is the St. Jude Disc Golf Charity Invitational. It will take place over the Memorial Day weekend, May 22-24, 2015, on two of the most amazing courses ever constructed for disc golf. Bayonet Golf Course, in Seaside California, is the site of the event. It overlooks Monterey Bay and, as you will see, is absolutely stunning, with its rolling terrain, huge trees, and abundant white-sand bunkers. Two epic courses will be constructed for this first annual event.

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The main focus of this event is for us as disc golfers to raise money for St. Jude. This is our chance to “pay it forward.” The tournament will no doubt be an amazing event with cameras rolling and a big purse, but the most important aspect will be our philanTHROWpy. We need to direct our energy, spirit, and passion for the game at raising money for this amazing cause. What this effort and association with St. Jude could mean for professional disc golf is hard to measure but as many can attest, it raises the stakes dramatically.

The primary way we’ll be raising money will be through a peer-to-peer effort. The idea is that each person participating will approach their family, friends, and fans with an opportunity to sponsor them for the event. Once people know that the money is going to such a remarkable institution, they will be happy to contribute. All the donations are tax deductible and will go directly to St. Jude.

Our goal is to have each of the 400 participating pro and amateur players raise as much money as possible for the kids at St. Jude through online fundraising. Sponsorship tools and aids will soon be supplied to make your effort fun and easy.

Our disc golf community already has a great example of successful implementation of this peer-to-peer concept: touring pro, Dana Vicich  #26228. Dana took it upon himself to go out and get sponsors for his participation in the 2012 PDGA World Championships. His personal mission was to raise money to fight cancer after his own mother and aunt lost their battles with this dreaded disease. By himself, with no outside help, Dana raised almost $5,000.00! Dana did it - so can you!

Serving with Dana, as the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Committee Co-chair, is 3X Pro World Champion Paul McBeth #27523. Dana, Paul, and all of us on the event committee believe that with the systems we have in place, each participant could do this same level of fundraising and that together, we can bang the chains so loud that no one can possibly ignore it.

There will be programs in place to help you - plus incentives along the way. Outside sponsors are providing prizes to be given to the top fundraisers. It won’t just be the best scores awarded at this event; it will also be the best fundraisers!

Besides this peer-to-peer aspect, there are significant efforts underway to bring in corporate sponsors, both from inside the disc golf industry, and more importantly, from outside. With the associations of St. Jude, it is believed that many non-disc golf companies will become a part of this event and that, in the end, not only will the kids of St. Jude benefit but the entire disc golf community will as well. Celebrities are also very likely to become involved.

There are already sponsors coming in that have never before been associated with disc golf. We believe that our success at this first event will lead to ever-increasing events; and that many more national and international corporate sponsors will become familiar with the game and spirit of disc golf.

Our sport is not just about being outdoors and throwing discs into chains; it’s about etiquette, sportsmanship, and honor. We have an amazing story to tell. This is our chance!

Current Women’s Pro World Champion, Catrina Allen #44184, has been named alongside McBeth and Vicich as part of the event committee; and many of the world’s top players have confirmed their commitment and are already gathering sponsors. Invitations to compete in this inaugural event will go out to Pro and Am players based on their current player rating. These invited players will have a short time to respond and register. After that, any current PDGA member will be eligible to register until the field is full. If you can’t make it to California for the event, please sponsor someone or help us recruit as many sponsors as possible. Every little bit you can do will go to this great cause.

In the end, this partnership will not only do great things for the children of St. Jude and to the treatment of life-threatening childhood diseases, it will do amazing things for those who take part in it and for our beloved sport that has everything to gain by giving back.

Say it with me … “I believe in philanTHROWpy. I’m playing disc golf for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

More information will become available later this month. Please join us on Facebook and Twitter to keep current on all the exciting news that is quickly unfolding!

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Left to right: Paul McBeth, Will Schusterick, Dana Vicich, Catrina Allen, and Paul Ulibarri

Comments

Representatives from St. Jude’s regularly appear on the TODAY show. I would recommend attempting to gain an appearance of the event committee. Showing off the event to the general public could bring in more funds and attendance. Perhaps even a disc golf demonstration on the plaza could be arranged. If that doesn't seem realistic, there are many smaller fish out there to be had.

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