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Guest Post By: Lauren Hale

Golf has always been defined by its palpable prestige and pot money. The vast manicured greens visually coincide with the sport’s reputation for being one of the highest-paying competitions in the world.

The FedEx Cup gives out a massive paycheck of $35 million annually. The Players Championship recently increased its prize money this year from $11 million to $12.5 million. The US Open is at a close second with $12 million. The prestigious Masters Open and PGA Championship offer $11 million apiece.

No doubt, golf is one of the most lucrative sports that have been producing millionaires since the start of the Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) back in 1916. Some elite golfers have consistently dedicated chunks of their money prize to improve the lives of others. It’s not just about making putts for the win—some of them put their money where their heart is.

Some of PGA’s elite players have been recognized for their charitable pursuits. They’re the kind of people who have a good grip on how a helping hand can change a person’s future. Here are the top favorite golfers who have been making an impact in paying it forward and contributing to pushing for social change in their own little ways.

Ian Poulter

Celebrities and athletes made headlines this month for joining the #bottlecapchallenge. Elastic tapes may have doctored a lot of lower limbs in the process—except for one guy who didn’t need to huff and puff to pull off the Bruce Lee–inspired spin kick.

Ian Poulter instead chose to play on his strength: an effortless swing on the cap with his golf club. The cool-hand-Luke golfer not only makes legendary swings on the greens but also goes the extra mile for charitable causes.

Currently ranked 39 by the PGA and fondly nicknamed as the Postman, Poulter started his professional career in 1996. He actively supports two charitable organizations: Dreamflight and Willow Foundation UK. Poulter actively hosts charitable during tournaments and golfing events to raise funds for both foundations.

Dreamflight funds kids from the UK who are suffering from illnesses and puts them on a plane to America to have the best 10-day holiday of their lives. They are flown over to Florida to experience some of the most favorite theme parks for kids, like Disneyland, and to have the trip of a lifetime.

When they return from their holiday, most of them get so inspired by the trip that they start thinking about what would give meaning to their lives and begin working on them. In 2017, the organization built on the idea and expanded it to start the Beyond Dreamflight program, which provides support to the same children who took the Dreamflight trip.

On the other hand, the Willow Foundation UK, funds “special days” for young adults who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses. The foundation provides transformative experiences to help them get that much-needed, brief reprieve from dire circumstances. These experiences are memorable enough to spark a light of hope and inspire these people to action.

Rory McIlroy

The Irishman with the big heart, Rory Mcllroy has been supporting several charities dedicated to children around the world. He created his own foundation, the Rory Foundation, back in 2010. He focuses his samaritan efforts in making meaningful and lasting changes in children’s lives, especially those who are suffering from poor health.

The Irish Times has reported McIlroy’s contributions to several for-children organizations. He has made massive donations to several charities in the UK and Ireland, amounting to $1.5 million.

Mcllroy has admitted to spending a lot of time with children who have gone through tough times, and learned essential values like staying positive and perseverance despite difficult circumstances. He is humbled by their experiences and appears poised to continue dedicating a portion of his earnings to children’s causes. He is an active philanthropist and currently ranks as the world’s number 3 in golf

Brooks Koepka

Golfers around the world have big shoes to fill after PGA’s number 1 player (as of this writing), Brooks Koepka, made a heartfelt gesture at the recently concluded 3M Open. He has been making headlines for being the bigger man by donating his golf shoes for a charity auction.

The custom-made red, white, and blue Nike golf cleats, with his name printed on the entryway, are the same shoes the 29-year-old golfer used during his first appearance at the Ryder Cup. It has a sentimental value to the elite player, which makes the shoes even more valuable. The shoes have been handed over to the event organizers.

Avid fans can make a bid on the shoes online. Koepka intends to match the amount of the winning bidder, and the total money earned will go to charities supported by the organization.

Dustin Johnson

The 35-year-old American golfer embodies the charitable spirit of the game. He ranked number 1 in 2017 and stayed on top for over 60 weeks, making him the fifth golfer in history to remain on the spot for a long time.

Johnson has 20 PGA Tour wins and joined the US National Team delegation eight times, but what makes him the ultimate champion goes beyond the greens. Johnson founded the DJ Foundation, which focuses on honing the skills of the next generation golfers.

Founded in 2010, Johnson shares his love for the game to young amateurs. He admits that he owes his success in the sport to golf programs offered in his local communities, which were designed for youth. He understands how vital these programs are for young players to develop strong foundations for the sport. He believes he still carries the lessons he learned from the programs, and these lessons are more than just about golf.

In his foundation, members are given the opportunity to learn more about golf, playing, and competing. The foundation also provides scholarships for promising athletes to compete in local, national, and international competitions. The DJ World Junior, one of the competitions that members get to participate in, is held every year at Myrtle Beach.

Phil Mickelson

The famous 49-year-old lefty golfer Phil Mickelson has gone a long way from his first win ever at the Northern Telecom Open. He was a 20-year-old amateur then, and his caddy was his college coach.

Now on his twenty-sixth year at the PGA Tour, he has worked through five major championships and three Masters in his golfing career after turning professional back in 1992. He is currently making the headlines at the British Open and is considered one of the strong contenders for the cup.

As for his philanthropic works, he founded the Phil and Amy Mickelson foundation back in 2016, primarily supporting two charities for the military: Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOFW) and Homes for Our Troops (HFOT).

SOFW provides educational funding for the children left behind by the military’s special operators who didn’t make it back home. The organization has confirmed that, last year, a total of 32 military operators died, leaving behind 66 children in need of financial support.

The SOFW actively pursues families eligible for the program and provides them with assistance for living and educational expenses. Children are given what they need to pursue their goals, and they don’t need to send in applications for support. The foundation also has in-house counselors who work with the students with tutoring and mapping out their academic goals from kindergarten to college.

For operators in need of hospitalization, SOFW sends out a check to free families from the financial and psychological burden that comes with hospital bills.

Meanwhile, HFOT is a top-rated charity for 9/11 military veterans who have sustained permanent and traumatic injuries in the line of duty. HFOT provides aid to severely injured military service members and help them rebuild and recover their civilian lives. It is a publicly funded nonprofit group coordinating fund-raising events within communities.

With the tagline “Building homes, rebuilding lives,” HFOT has been consistently going the extra mile with each veteran in helping them become a homeowner. HFOT offers programs for household budgeting, peer mentoring, and overall financial planning for beneficiaries.

Tiger Woods

The stunning comeback of Tiger Woods after an 11-year absence has been making waves not just in the golf community but also among sports fans. His win at the Masters is nothing short of a miracle after years of suffering from personal struggles and back-to-back surgeries. At 43, he has achieved more than any golfer in his time has and will be heralded by more generations to come in the industry.

But Woods is not only a miracle worker on the greens; he also extends his magic to charity works that he is committed to. The TGR Foundation, which he founded while he was a promising newbie in golf, has been operating for more than 20 years. The foundation expresses its ideals clearly through this statement: “With an unwavering commitment to impact an entire generation, our mission is to empower students to pursue their passions through education.”

Students are given a chance to pursue their life goals with quality education and to adhere to a persevering mind-set. Aside from students, teachers have also benefited from the program.

The foundation has successfully redefined education in and out of the classroom. Based on the foundation’s recent reports, the demographics of the students and teachers they’ve helped out are 88 percent minority races, 85 percent live below the poverty line, and 97 percent are first-generation college students.

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