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September 2021

How Payne Stewart’s Legacy Continues to Grow Golf (and Why You Should Care)

By Doug McPherson

A quote from the late actress Carrie Fisher (you know her as Princess Leia from the movie “Star Wars”), goes something like this: “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

Those who knew and loved Payne Stewart, the former PGA pro who died at age 42 in a plane crash in 1999, have a special appreciation for Fisher’s words. 

Led by Stewart’s wife, Tracey, those who were closest to him have created the Payne Stewart Kids Golf Foundation (PSKGF), a nonprofit that teaches golf to lower-income and inner-city kids. And while a foundation may not be actual art, it is clearly a way to help those children and to soften the pain of broken hearts.

“We are a community outreach program that exposes more kids to golf through churches, YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Title 1 schools [schools that get federal funds to support academic achievement],” says Dan Anderson, chief operating and marketing officer and development coach at the PSKGF. “We’re filling a gap that exists in bringing the basics of golf to four- to nine-year-olds, ages not currently addressed in the golf industry.”

Anderson says it’s critical for golf to be in the recreational mix when parents are deciding what sports they want to get their pre-school kids involved in and that the foundation is one way to ensure that happens.
What’s more, the PSKGF is approaching golf instruction in a rather unconventional way: taking the sport to the kids in unusual settings such as gymnasiums, on parking lots, at athletic fields and similar spaces that feature games-based play and modified golf equipment that Anderson says makes it easier for kids to experience early success.

Anderson adds that it’s about having a “broader reach” than what’s typically done.
 
“The PSKGF hosts camps and clinics at these places so that the program advances Stewart’s vision of new golf spaces that give kids the chance to learn and play golf, especially kids in need and inner-city families,” he said.

Anderson explains that the goal with the foundation is to raise funds to expand the number of camp locations, provide equipment and give families in need an opportunity to participate.

“We have flipped the traditional golf paradigm on its head by helping bring golf to kids away from the golf course,” he said. “We’re using unique spaces [that are] closer to home.”

But Anderson is quick to add that after kids are exposed and trained in the basics, the PSKGF hands them over to junior golf programs at courses.

“We’re a new onramp that channels more beginners to local golf courses and course owners will want to get active in the process and involved in the community where kids are learning the game so they can bridge them onto their golf courses,” he adds.

Golf Course owners can check out camp locations on the first page of https://paynestewartkids.com.

During this September, the Payne Stewart Family Foundation, which Payne and Tracey created one year before Payne’s death, is holding fundraisers at 2,500 courses with more than 50,000 golfers who are expected to raise $1 million for the PSKGF.

He adds that the tournament will be held each September and that courses interested in hosting the tournament in 2022 are asked to pre-register by May 1, 2022.  

“We want to promote the courses that have signed up to drive players to play their round at those courses promoting the tournament,” Anderson says. “We believe supporting the tournament is a positive marketing tool for courses. With the strategic focus of diversity, equity and inclusion with all golf governing bodies, including NGCOA, PGA Tour, PGA of America, LPGA and USGA, the PSKGF is the best onramp for driving new players from all backgrounds into the game.  We are where the rubber meets the road in making the golf course look like the surrounding neighborhoods.”

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