Step Up to the Tee

The Western Golf Association is inviting donors to “Step Up to the Tee” in 2013 to meet the rising costs of sending caddies to college through the WGA-sponsored Evans Scholarships.

“Step Up to the Tee” is the theme for the 2013 Evans Scholars operating fund campaign, which includes the third year of the Match Play Challenge initiative to increase the number of major gifts to the scholarship fund. The Challenge – the largest fundraising effort in the Foundation’s history – offers matching funds for Par Club operating gifts of $2,500 and greater.

The campaign also includes a drive to upgrade basic $250 Par Club donors to higher levels of giving and to invite past donors whose memberships have lapsed to rejoin the Par Club.

“The need is growing as the price tag for a college education continues to increase at a rate far greater than inflation,” said John Kaczkowski, WGA president and CEO. “We’ve seen record numbers of applications for Evans Scholarships in recent years. To make sure we keep pace, we’re asking our donors to ‘Step Up to the Tee’ with us and consider giving a major gift of $2,500 or more or, if that’s not possible, to upgrade their level of giving through our annual Par Club fund drive.”

Launched May 8 at the WGA’s annual Evans Scholars Charity Golf Retreat at Bandon Dunes, the 2013 Match Play Challenge will provide matching funds for major gifts through a Fifty for Fifty Drive to recruit 50 individuals, families or foundations to contribute a minimum of $50,000 each to seed a $2.5 million Match Play Pool.

In the first two years of the WGA’s matching gift program, 24 generous families stepped forward as Match Play Partners to provide nearly $4 million in matching funds. Donors responded enthusiastically, making 1,100 gifts of $2,500 or greater, resulting in a total of $9.9 million for the Evans Scholarships’ operating fund.

“We are very grateful to our Match Play Partners for leading the way in our appeal to raise new operating dollars so we can send more deserving caddies to college,” said Kaczkowski. “With more young men and women applying for Evans Scholarships, and with continuing economic hardships for many families, the need today is as great as it’s ever been.”

The success of the Match Play Challenge the past two years has allowed the WGA-sponsored Evans Scholars Foundation to award more scholarships, from 210 in 2010 to 240 this year. With a successful campaign in 2013, the foundation will be well positioned to increase the number of Scholars in school over the next four years from 835 to 920 at a time when families are struggling with the burden of rising college costs.

“We’ve made huge strides in our goal to meet the increasing need we see among today’s caddies,” said WGA Vice President Bill Kingore. “This will ensure that we don’t leave any qualified candidates behind.”

Mike Keiser, WGA Director and founder/president of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, took a lead role in the 2011 and 2012 Match Play Challenges. In 2013, he is serving as honorary chairman of the Match Play Challenge. His support for caddies stems from his own experiences as a caddie, a role that helped to define who he is today, he says. 

“I am a caddie,” Keiser notes. “Caddying taught me hard work, cooperation, persistence and respect. These are traits that helped define all of us and continue to shape our lives and the lives of young caddies across the country.”

For more information on the Match Play Challenge and the organization’s plans for this year, contact WGA Vice President Bill Kingore at 847-724-4600 or kingore@wgaesf.org.

In addition to the Match Play Challenge, the “Step Up to the Tee” campaign includes a corresponding outreach to encourage basic Par Club members to renew at higher giving levels, moving from the $250 Par level to Birdie at $500, Eagle at $750, Hole-in-One at $1,000 or at the major gift level of Silver at $2,500 or higher.

The campaign also will invite former Par Club members, who were not members in 2012, to rejoin the Par Club in 2013 to help the foundation meet the growing need.

“With the help of the golf community and other supporters who see the value in investing in the education of our youth, we can make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of caddies who otherwise may be unable to realize their career goals,” said Kaczkowski. “We’re counting on a third year of fundraising success as we make plans to offer more young men and women the gift of education through the Evans Scholarship program.”

Enroll now in the 2013 Match Play Challenge.