As the WGC Bridgestone Invitational approaches this weekend, I’ve been inspired, like many others before me, by Arnold Palmer - however this time it has nothing to do with his golfing exploits. The Bridgestone Invitational is an event that supports Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation who, in their own words:
“Arnie’s Army provides financial support to institutions and organizations that support the well-being and development of children & youth, support health & wellness initiatives and strengthen communities and the environment.”
Clearly a stellar organisation, that looks to carry on the work of Arnie and fully leverage the great influence that he had on the world of golf. Which led us to discuss whether golf could do more to raise the profile of charitable causes around the world.
Take cycling for example. The majority of road cyclists that follow the sport will be able to tell you about the excellent work that Qhubeka do. It’s true that they are a title sponsor of the team which helped to raise their profile significantly, however I’d argue that it’s the way that almost all of their riders and staff will look to talk about the charity whenever possible that has made the largest impact.
Star rider Mark Cavendish, a man that’s both loved and feared by journalists for his natural ability to speak openly with a passion and emotion that can result in the best and worst interviews. Mark, undoubtedly, has a very strong heart and no matter the situation, win or lose, he will always thank his team mates with genuine sincerity for their efforts in helping him and he will always find a way to talk with enthusiasm about the Qhubeka cause and how it inspires him.
I just don’t see the same passion and desire in golf. This isn’t because it’s missing. It’s definitely there. It’s just not as visible. Most big-name golfers have their own foundation or are closely associated with a charity.
As a Brit, I love Rory. He has always struck me as a man with a massive heart and his open interviews provide a genuine warmth. His foundation has helped 3.7 million children through both money raised and large personal donations from Rory himself. A phenomenal contribution to this world for anyone, let alone for a man who is yet to turn 30 years of age. Rory talks about his foundation in the media and it’s ties with the Irish open are reasonably well known. However, I’d personally love and respect him even more if the next time he’s down at the Sky cart doing his post round interview he finds a (genuine) way to talk about Daisy Lodge and the impact it’s had on families that have been affected by cancer, if only for a few seconds.
The onus isn’t just on the players though. Would it be too much for the media that asks the questions of the players to give them the opportunity to talk about their charity? The fans of the sport are also accountable and need to listen and engage to the messages so that the players and media are afforded the air time and print space required.
Golf is a sport with a strong tradition of respect and generosity. Most clubs in the UK will have a captain’s charity that they raise money for throughout the year. Overall, the sport’s contribution to charity is strong but it’s a privileged sport. With that privilege comes a certain level of responsibility. A level of responsibility that Arnold Palmer certainly took on board in order to leave the legacy that he achieved and, in my opinion, a level of responsibility that we should all look to promote so that we can help change the world for the better in our own way.
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