Living a legacy of impactful service
Giving back is an integral part of the ClubCorp story. From acts of volunteerism featuring members across the country through Shine Day to our participation in the annual American Red Cross blood drive, serving the communities where we live, work and play is ingrained in who we are.
“When we look at the entire ClubCorp portfolio, the cumulative effort of our club leadership and, especially, our members is staggering,” said ClubCorp CEO David Pillsbury. “Going beyond just the economics and the money generated for charity by our teams, you see the true impact that our efforts make in the communities we call home. It’s truly inspiring to be a part of this team.”
From providing aid throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic uncertainty to finding ways to support the movement to bring awareness to racial injustices and social inequalities, ClubCorp has committed itself to making a difference. Making an impact is a foundational part of ClubLife, as evident by the countless success stories we’ve been privileged to be a part of.
Transforming lives by opening doors
Expanding access and creating opportunity was the motivation for the rollout of our new Gateway Program. Initially launched in Atlanta, Dallas and Houston, the program offers complimentary memberships to select students of The First Tee. It is designed to remove long standing institutional barriers in the golf world and increase access to high-quality golf courses, training facilities and mentorship opportunities to a more diverse population.
Pillsbury wanted to reorient the company in 2020 to better focus on increasing access and removing barriers to Black and Hispanic golfers. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, he conducted a listening tour with the company’s Black employees to better understand how he and the company could do better. One of the comments he heard repeatedly was the notion that many of these private clubs had long stood as divisive institutions that simply were off-limits to Black golfers.
The Gateway program was born out of that conversation. It’s in its infancy in terms of rollout, but the goal is to connect with First Tee programs in the cities where ClubCorp owns properties and facilitate honorary memberships to the clubs for these young golfers, giving them the chance to play and practice at some of the best courses in the country, while also gaining access to the mentorship and teaching that can help craft their game.
In all, the efforts in these three markets constitute a $2.5 million investment stretched out across five years, and that number will grow as new programs are brought online. Additionally, Gateway is aiming to serve as one of the first steps in the pathway toward potential job opportunities in the golf and hospitality industry.
Setting aside time to serve others
Service anchors much of what we do at ClubCorp, and there’s no better representation of that than our annual Shine Day efforts. This day of volunteerism allows our members and employees to give back to local nonprofits that are making a difference in the communities in which they live.
From park and trail cleanup efforts to working shifts at food banks, each club is able to identify a charitable organization to work with. Earlier this year, our City Clubs across the nation made a difference, engaging 300 volunteers across 20 cities to plant 50 trees, feed 45 families, positively impact 20 neighborhoods and clean up two beaches.
And the commitment of our members and employees to giving back goes beyond that single day. For instance, in 2021 ClubCorp ranked second in the annual list of top corporate blood drive sponsors for the American Red Cross, overseeing 182 blood drives and collecting 6,136 units of blood. The national average for units collected per drie was 25 units, and ClubCorp’s tally came in at a whopping 33.7 units.
Yet, this is only a sampling of the wide array of charitable endeavors made by our members and employees, including:
- The Employees Cares Foundation assists ClubCorp employees financially in times of need. It has granted more than 2,000 requests and awarded more than $2.5 million to help out in the aftermath of house fires, hurricanes, domestic abuse, deaths of family members and more.
- Our clubs welcome the community to the annual Charity Classic, one of the largest golf and dining charity events in the world. The clubs choose their own dates to host fun events that offer a taste of ClubLife including golf tournaments, dining events, auctions, game nights and more. These events have raised nearly $30 million since 2007 to benefit important causes like the Employees Care Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club, Wounded Warrior Project and The First Tee.
- In addition to the new Gateway program, ClubCorp also holds several fundraising events at clubs across the country to benefit The First Tee. Each year, golf professionals at golf and country clubs in the ClubCorp family hold one-day, 100-hole golf marathons throughout the year to benefit The First Tee nationally and locally.
- Thanks to a tasting dinner, as well as complementary donations from other clubs in their community, the Pyramid Club Philadelphia took part in a charity event, benefiting Jaws Youth Playbook, which raised more than $500,000 in one evening.
Building a pathway to success at Bonton Farms
As a child, Ron spent time with older kids who influenced him in the wrong way, introducing him to alcohol, drugs and crime at a young age. Eventually, after several stints in jail, the court would label him an “habitual criminal.”
“When people asked me how many times I had been to jail, I answered ‘I don’t remember’ because it was so frequent,” Ron said.
Ron lived in an area of Dallas known as Bonton. Located south of the city’s urban core, the community had long been separated from the broader metro area thanks to the development of I-45 and Highway 175. This disconnect, coupled with a campaign of racial violence and terror in the middle of the 20th century, rendered a once prosperous Black community into one of the most impoverished areas in the country. That wouldn’t be the end of Ron’s story, however.
Through Bonton Farms, one of the large number of non-profit organizations that ClubCorp properties and members support which is focused on community empowerment, Ron has found a more promising path. The love and support from the community helped him realize that he was more than a statistic, equipping him with the support, skills and, most importantly, avenues to success that he needed.
Bonton Farms has proven to be an oasis in a sprawling desert, creating opportunity and encouraging innovation in an area long in need of both. Its mission of hope and restoration has rippled across the region and changed countless lives. It’s stories like Ron’s that have inspired an entire city, and stirred organizations like ClubCorp into action.
ClubCorp and Tower Club Dallas are embarking on a significant enhancement of the company’s existing charitable investment and an expansion of its partnership with Bonton Farms. Earlier this fall, ClubCorp CEO David Pillsbury announced the company’s plans to broaden its involvement with the non-profit through a mixture of program development, volunteerism and financial support.
Central to these efforts is a collaboration with the Bonton Farms staff to develop a comprehensive career development program that allows members of the community to secure internships and job opportunities with ClubCorp properties in the golf and hospitality space.
Additionally, Tower Club Dallas has pledged to purchase a large portion of its produce needs through Bonton Farms, as well as an agreement to buy Bonton Farms’ handmade wooden boxes to give as welcome gifts for all new members of the Dallas club.
Tower Club Dallas also plans to add quarterly volunteer opportunities through 2022 so more people can come serve in a meaningful way at Bonton Farms, while ClubCorp also will support the filming and production of a documentary of the Bonton Farms story, enabling the organization to take its uplifting message of hope to a larger audience.