Waiting For Miracles To Happen
One of my golf buddies, Barney Adams, got an email in October from a doctor at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center thanking him for helping to start a foundation funding research on a rare children's disease called MPS. It might sound familiar because Dave Kindred wrote a column about it in Golf Digest in 2005. A boy gets this horrific diagnosis with no hope of a cure. His father turns to golf because he knows it can raise a lot of money. The dad walks into Barney's office at Adams Golf, and miracles start happening. "The enzyme-replacement therapy never would have happened without the foundation's support," writes Dr. Patricia Dickson, "and children's lives are absolutely saved every day by this treatment."
Barney is more or less like every golfer you know. Who doesn't play in charity tournaments or participate in charity auctions or use his or her connection to golf in some way for good works? From golf buddies who simply write a check, to Betsy King, who works in Africa on AIDS relief and clean-water projects. Golfers Who Give Back. That's what this issue of Golf Digest is dedicated to.
And the numbers are impressive. Tournaments on the PGA Tour, golf's showcase, raise $120 million a year for charity, but that represents only about 3 percent of the total fundraising done through golf. Three-quarters of golf courses in America host grass-roots charity events, and annually more than $3.5 billion is raised.
This connection goes back to the war-bond exhibitions that Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen played and the celebrity events starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. The tradition continues with tour pros today using their influence for good works -- from Notah Begay's foundation making an impact on the lives and well-being of American Indian youth, to Phil and Amy Mickelson, who created Birdies for the Brave to support troops injured during combat.
"Game Changers: Golfers Who Give Back," starting on page 98, isn't a ranking or even a definitive list -- it's an honor roll for recognizing some extraordinary golfers who make us proud to play the same game. We'll be profiling more Game Changers in 2013, including local heroes who have used golf to contribute to their communities. Please tell your stories by emailing us at golferswhogiveback @golfdigest.com.
Four Game Changers appear on different covers of Golf Digest this month, so your magazine has one of the accompanying images shot by the legendary sports photographer Walter Iooss Jr. Walter's son Christian Iooss, our director of photography, supervised the shoots; Editorial Development Director Craig Bestrom oversaw the project and wrote the cover interviews, and Contributing Editor Lisa Furlong researched the list and wrote the essays.
"With Michael J. Fox all we had to do was hand him a golf club, and it was like watching a master improv-acting class," Christian says. "The way he moved and engaged the camera was amazing. A total professional."
Morgan Freeman drove 90 minutes from his home in Mississippi for the shoot and wouldn't stop talking about golf. He might be the most amazing golfer of the foursome, having to play one-handed because of a car accident four years ago; he's shown in a video in our digital edition and on GolfDigest.com. We photographed President Clinton after he played in a charity event at Liberty National in New Jersey benefiting chef Mario Batali's foundation. And Michael Phelps, one of the world's most famous athletes, has an annual golf tournament for his foundation, which teaches water safety to kids.
Throughout this issue, there's an outstretched-hand logo on many pages that notes the author's or subject's favorite cause. Mine is The First Tee, which just announced it has completed a campaign and raised more than $106 million to teach the game's nine core values to 10 million kids. One out of every five American children will be touched by the program. As Barney's doctor friend said, "Lives every day are saved by this treatment."