Since its arrival in Charlotte in 2003, the PGA Tour stop now known as the Wells Fargo Championship has given more than $18 million to local charities, from Teach for America to the Special Olympics.
But when the golf tournament shifts to Wilmington for a one-year stay in 2017, its more than $1 million in annual charitable giving will move, too.
“It only makes sense that the community where the tournament is held would be the recipients of the charity donations,” said tournament director Kym Hougham. “They are the ones supporting it by purchasing tickets and hospitality.”
The tournament is taking a one-year hiatus from Charlotte in 2017 because the PGA Championship – one of golf’s four major tournaments – will be played in August of that year at Quail Hollow Club.
Charlotte charities that have benefited from the Wells Fargo Championship say they are grateful for all they have received over the years, but they may need to fill a hole from the lost donations next year. The $1 million is only a small part of the city’s total charitable giving, but the donations are meaningful to the individual charities.
During its time in Charlotte, the PGA of America, the organization behind the PGA Championship, plans to make charitable contributions in Charlotte and in the Carolinas, a spokesperson said. The tournament doesn’t have a specific figure to disclose as plans are still in development.
The organization’s PGA REACH Foundation “strives to leave a lasting legacy in the markets that host our championships by focusing on our three core pillars: military, youth, and diversity and inclusion,” Scott Kmiec, senior director of PGA REACH, said in a statement.
The nonprofit PGA of America and the entity that operates PGA REACH gave a total of $1.3 million to charity in the year ended June 30, 2014, according to the latest available 990s on guidestar.org. PGA Tournament Corp., the for-profit entity that actually runs the PGA Championship, also made charitable contributions of $2.27 million in the year ended June 30, 2015, the PGA said.
Overall, the PGA Championship is expected to have an economic impact of around $100 million in Charlotte, a figure that includes media exposure for the city.
$1 million in giving
Professional golf tournaments are typically structured as nonprofits that donate a portion of the proceeds from each year’s event to charity.
Champions for Education, the nonprofit that runs the Wells Fargo, gave away a little more than $1 million in the fiscal year ended August 2014, according to the latest 990 tax filing available on guidestar.org. That amounted to about 8 percent of its $12.2 million in revenue from tickets, hospitality suites, concessions and other income.
The 990 filing lists 19 mostly local organizations that received more than $5,000 from the tournament in the most recent fiscal year, with Teach for America receiving the most at $350,000. Other big recipients were the Levine Children’s Hospital ($100,000), the World Golf Foundation in St. Augustine, Fla. ($50,000) and First Tee of Greater Charlotte ($45,000).
Non-cash grants included $62,265 in tickets for the USO North Carolina and $39,500 in food for the Second Harvest Food Bank.
The Wells Fargo Championship has notified its “core charities” about the change in 2017, said Hougham. The tournament, he said, hasn’t yet chosen the beneficiaries for next year’s event, which will be held at the Eagle Point Golf Club.
Teach for America has been the primary beneficiary of the tournament since the inaugural event in 2003, when it was known as the Wachovia Championship.
Teach for America recruits and trains professionals and recent college graduates to become teachers. It currently has more than 300 teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, working with 20,000 students, said Tim Hurley, Teach for America’s executive director in Charlotte.
The tournament informed his group about the move to Wilmington, but he said he didn’t know any specifics about future charitable giving. The tournament’s beneficiaries typically receive their contributions in October, following that spring’s tournament.
“I’m so appreciative of all the support they have given us over the years,” he said. “They were one of our founding partners and one of the reasons we were able to start up in Charlotte. They have been a great partner for more than a decade.”
The $350,00 Teach for America receives from the tournament is one of the group’s largest annual contributions, Hurley said. The organization raises about $3 million annually in the Charlotte community, he said.
“We’re a nonprofit, so every dollar that we invest in kids and teachers we have to raise,” he said. “So if the funding goes away, we would have to find new sources of support.”
The Special Olympics of Mecklenburg County received $10,000 from the tournament, according to the latest 990. That’s been a valuable contribution to an organization that raises $200,000 for its work with athletes with intellectual disabilities, said Susan Doggett, vice president of development.
If the Mecklenburg County chapter misses out on a contribution in 2017, the group’s chapter in Wilmington would be a worthwhile recipient, Doggett said. “I hope that they’ll look to support our Special Olympics program in New Hanover County,” she said.
The First Tee of Greater Charlotte, which teaches children life skills through golf, has received $45,000 from the Wells Fargo Championship in the past. In 2017, it expects to work with the PGA Championship, said executive director Jane Singleton.
“The good news is that the PGA Championship will be in Charlotte in 2017, and we are connected with that and partnering with them,” she said. “They are equally committed to helping out with the community.”
The PGA said it has a number of programs in the works for next year’s tournament that will have a local impact, including:
▪ The addition of 10 Carolinas locations in a national program that provides golf rehabilitation services for transitioning veterans.
▪ Golf lessons and financial assistance for kids in the Boys & Girls Clubs and The First Tee of Greater Charlotte.
▪ An internship for a minority youth to work with 2017 PGA Championship director Jason Mengel.
▪ The donation of hundreds of tickets to local charities, which will use them to thank donors or raise money through auctions.
▪ An event organized by the PGA of America Spouses and the PGA Tour Wives.
After its year away in Wilmington in 2017, the Wells Fargo Championship is under contract to be held in Charlotte in 2018 and 2019. Charitable contributions from those years will stay in Charlotte, Hougham said.
In the meantime, Charlotte organizations are in line to receive another contribution after this year’s tournament.
“I hope Charlotte turns out and has a great time at the tournament, supporting us and a lot of great nonprofits across Charlotte,” said Teach for America’s Hurley.