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September 2021

New Owners, Same Mission

World’s Largest Golf Outing Survives Mergers and Acquisitions 

By: Steve Eubanks

Usually, they’re the first casualties. Whenever a club or group of clubs sell, the first things that evaporate are the charitable relationships. This isn’t out of malice. No one wants to shun a worthy cause. But if the old course owner belongs to the local Methodist church, it makes sense that the Methodist Youth Union had its annual fundraising tournament every June. Then, when the course sells to XYZ Golf Management, whose president sits on the board of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, things change.  

The same is true with clusters of clubs. One multiple-course operator might have a fundraising relationship with the United Way. But when his assets are acquired by a larger company, one that, say, has a long-standing relationship with the American Cancer Society, priorities shift toward the preferences of the new owner. 

That’s why it’s great to see the continuation of the World’s Largest Golf Outing benefiting Fisher House and America’s wounded warriors.

The event was created by the former heads of Billy Casper Golf Management, the largest manager of municipal courses in the country. The idea was to hold a same-day outing on all Billy Casper managed courses for a single charity. With their corporate headquarters in Reston, Virginia, 20 miles from Walter Reed National Military Hospital, the Fisher House, which provides free lodging to military families near hospitals, seemed like the perfect fit.

Then new faces appeared in the company and Billy Casper Golf Management became Indigo Golf Partners. But the World’s Largest Golf Outing survived. However, this past January, with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic still unclear, Indigo was purchased by Troon Golf, part of an aggressive acquisition strategy that included buying the tennis company Cliff Drysdale Management, RealFood Hospitality, OB Sports and Green Golf Partners. With all the new assets, people, cultures and infrastructure to absorb in a short period of time, it would have been easy to see this one charity event vanishing. 

But it hasn’t. On August 1, 2, and 3 of 2021, the World’s Largest Golf Outing teed off again at 76 courses around the country. One of those facilities, Currie Golf Course in Michigan, was full.

“I came over from the Billy Casper side of the business and saw what we did with this event and it is pretty special,” said Paul Milholland, the general manager at Currie Golf Course. “Now that we are a part of Troon Golf, the hope is that it will expand even more. This is a wonderful cause and one that communities around the country have latched onto.”

To date, Fisher House has saved military families an estimated $525 million in lodging expenses while service members receive medical treatment.

“People want to come together for a good cause and be part of something big,” Milholland said. “This is the biggest. And I think it’s going to stay that way.”

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