Often thought of as a game for the privileged, PGA REACH flips that generalization of golf on its head. By utilizing the resources and recognition that comes with a group as prominent as the PGA, PGA REACH is able to serve underprivileged youth by working to increase their academic—and ‘Beyond 18’ life—success. The philanthropic organization will now be implemented in cities hosting future PGA Championships—and it all started in St. Louis.
Founded by members of the PGA Gateway Foundation and Bellerive Country Club in the fall of 2011, PGA REACH is focused on extending the impact—or REACH, if you will—of area organizations. “Our first decision had to be Do we start a new 501(c)(3) kind of organization? or Do we try to find organizations in town that are doing a great job and need more help?” says PGA REACH committee chair Ed Glotzbach.
With a focus on “keeping kids in school,” the organization partners with established area groups to further its impact, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater St. Louis and Urban K-Life. “One of the big problems with St. Louis is how you keep kids in school, and it really wasn’t more complicated than that,” says Glotzbach. Measurable goals of the organization focus on topics such as classroom attendance and the dropout rate.
Progress thus far includes assisting Urban K-Life in finding the resources to hire an additional relationship manager, as well as two sessions of the PGA Sports Academy in participation with the Boys and Girls Club. “It’s progressed beyond my initial hopes,” says Glotzbach. PGA REACH also is helping to fund the development of a healthcare communication system for Big Brothers Big Sisters to bring attention to treatable medical issues that impact school attendance, such as head lice or asthma.
Financial backing stems from multiple sources, including the upcoming Memorial Day ‘Play it Like the Pros’ charitable golf event designed as a replica of the Senior PGA Championship. Bellerive Country Club also has promised 10 percent of proceeds from the two upcoming PGA events—the 2013 Senior Championship and 2018 Championship—to the cause. “There’s tons of excitement about the championships because PGA REACH has now been identified as part of the championships,” says Glotzbach, noting that this is the first time something like this has happened. “St. Louis is really blazing the trail.”
Currently on the lips of those involved is the possibility of a future golf site for the youngsters it serves, which has been greeted with praise and offers of assistance. With the rapid success PGA REACH has achieved thus far, it looks like blue skies and green fairways for this organization’s future.