As part of the golf industry’s effort to create a more welcoming game and advance diversity, equity and inclusion, 81 golf-oriented grassroots organizations will receive a total of $750,000 in grants through the “Make Golf Your Thing” initiative.
This is the third round of funding since the program was launched in May 2021 to support organizations committed to engaging underrepresented populations in golf, including Asian, Black, Indigenous communities, individuals with disabilities, Latinx, LGBTQI+, veterans and women. In just over a year, 155 grants for more than $1 million have been distributed to 110 unique organizations.
“This unifying movement is helping to make a difference in communities across America, and advance the game in ways none of us can do alone,” said USGA CEO Mike Whan, an executive sponsor of the youth & adult player development work group for Make Golf Your Thing.
Funding for the grant program is administered by the American Golf Industry Coalition, a partnership among golf’s leading organizations to promote and advocate for the collective interests of the sport. Financial support for the program is led by a contingent of industry supporters, including many of the most prominent businesses and organizations in the sport.
“We rely on the support of others to keep our programs free to our participants, and through the generosity of the grant program – we’re able to do just that,” said Gianna Rojas, founder of Adaptive Golfers, in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The organization, one of the 81 recent grant recipients, provides clinics and programs to children and adults with disabilities — cognitive, physical, sensory, health or age-related – and employs golf as a social, therapeutic activity.
The Los Angeles-based Latina Golfers Association has utilized grant money to fund affordable clinics and lessons, making golf more accessible and teaching girls how to use golf as a tool for personal and professional development.
“We are so grateful for the funding of the grant program, as they have made a significant impact on the programming we provide to inner-city girls from economically challenged communities,” said founder Azucena Maldonado. “Our mission is to empower young girls through golf leadership development programs, and I am moved and inspired by how golf has transformed their lives.”
Orlando, Florida-based Fairways to Leadership has seen a similar impact as it focuses on increasing diversity in business and in golf by teaching college students from diverse backgrounds the skills they need to develop into effective leaders.
“The financial commitment of the grant program to organizations like ours will only further golf’s collective efforts to bring new and diverse audiences into our sport,” said Fairways to Leadership co-founder Anna Alvarez Boyd.
Among the other programs receiving grant money are the Annika Foundation, Black Colleges Coaches Association, Cameron Champ Foundation, Fore the Ladies and 19 local First Tee organizations.
Golf has experienced meaningful on-course growth in the U.S. over the past several years, with a record number of beginners in 2021, according to the National Golf Foundation. In addition, the game has recently seen the largest increase in the junior ranks (in 2020) in more than two decades, the most female golfers since 2007 (prior to the financial crisis), and the most non-Caucasian golfers in almost a decade.
The grant program is part of a larger industry commitment to make golf more inclusive. Last month, a new Make Golf Your Thing search directory was launched, allowing consumers to search the 8,400+ registered golf programs and organizations – using filters such as location, age, ability, gender, etc. – to become more engaged in the sport through programs in their community.