Golfers' Charitable proves to be an ace in helping others out of financial holes


As an example of the good things that can evolve from sports, turn your attention to an organization known as the Golfers' Charitable Association. It's on the way to making its second million dollars -- which, like the first million, will go to humane causes.

This is the 25th anniversary of the group that was formed for the purpose of supporting professional golf in Baltimore but, at the same time, donates substantial revenues to hospitals, educational and rehabilitation institutions. The members allow themselves the enjoyment of being involved in golf, but the scorecard adds up to an immense profit for charity.

What has happened to Golfers' Charitable since it was chartered in 1967 is an inspiring story. It makes you want to stand up to cheer. The genesis for its formation occurred in that initial year when the Ladies Professional Golf Association wanted to hold its national championship but had no place to play nor a guarantee for paying the purse.

So the Golfers' Charitable Association, at the urging of Paul Hampshire and Rip Mann, came into being when 52 men and women each paid a $1,000 initiation fee and the LPGA was rescued. Even though there is no longer a tournament in Baltimore, the group stands ready to assist when and if an event, possibly an elite amateur or senior PGA tournament, is scheduled.

For the last five years, it has staged what is called a Scramble For Kids. It includes members of the Middle Atlantic Professional Golfers Association, its own membership and guests. Members of the Golfers' Charitable Association and their friends, each paying $500 to play, will again be at the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club on Tuesday for lunch, a round of golf and dinner.

They'll also present checks for $25,000 to the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital and to the Little People's Program at St. Joseph's Hospital. The board of trustees of Golfers' Charitable has, over the years, built an impressive investment portfolio that has matured to a value of $523,829.

The fiscal responsibility of the organization is exemplary. It receives numerous requests for contributions but, unlike government, makes sure it doesn't give away more than it can afford. The firm of Price Waterhouse audits the fund-raising, and its trustees are constantly monitoring how much money it has in reserve as it weighs future undertakings.

Asked why the Golfers' Charitable Association has progressed, while other golf-oriented efforts by some groups have diminished, a member of the board of trustees, Gil Kunz, offered an explanation.

"We have endeavored to build on the foundation we started with," he said. "Our 12-member board is rotated, and we also have a different president and golf chairman every year. This means we constantly receive new ideas, thanks to the fresh input that comes from the leadership. It keeps us alert and receptive to changes that are only beneficial."

A case in point was the decision to put on an annual tournament that includes an area club professional in a scramble format with each of 28 foursomes.

"It's one of the nicest afternoons a pro gets to enjoy," said Bill Bassler Sr., of Rolling Road Country Club. "We have the opportunity to be with fine gentlemen and to play a wonderful course. This typifies what golf is supposed to represent, fellowship and fun plus helping the hospitals."

The membership roster lists 120 names, including some of the community's most substantial citizens. All it takes to belong is a profound desire to be charitable and, of course, an interest in golf, regardless of the level of ability. New members are continually being added. Sons of some of the founding fathers are joining the ranks, which is an endorsement of both its popularity and the essence of its purpose.

Should Baltimore find itself again holding a tournament, the Golfers' Charitable Association will be receptive to playing a role. But, meanwhile, it contents itself with the one-day-a-year golf outing that has become a major success.

That the organization has endured for 25 years while fulfilling its purpose in such a generous way merits gratitude from the entire area. The fact it has contributed $1,009,300 sets it apart. No other sports event in Baltimore has offered such charitable continuity.

The Golfers' Charitable Association doesn't solicit attention for itself, nor does it partake of self-aggrandizement. To the contrary. It takes pride in quietly doing for others. Such noble intent and what has been achieved earns momentous respect.

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