PGA TOUR Wives Association tees it up at WM Phoenix Open, raises $200K and donates $20K to St. Mary’s Food Bank
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The PGA TOUR Wives Association presenting a donation to St. Mary's food bank. (Courtesy WM Phoenix Open)
Written by Doug Milne @PGATOUR
For as long as one can remember, Arizona has been synonymous with exhilarating PGA TOUR golf. And, at the heart of all that action stands the WM Phoenix Open. So, it’s understandable that golf fans the world over are fired up for the onset of Round 1 on Thursday.
By then, though, a number of other competitions, successes and even winners from this week will have already made their way into the hearts and minds of countless fans.
Among those successes was the 20th annual PGA TOUR Wives Golf Classic presented by Mom Water benefiting the St. Mary's Food Bank Pantry Program.
On Tuesday at TPC Scottsdale’s Champions Course, a "Roaring 20s"-themed golf outing pitted TOUR wives against one another, with their respective spouses on looper duty.
The PGA TOUR Wives Association's golf outing ahead of the WM Phoenix Open. (Courtesy WM Phoenix Open)
With a $20,000 donation from the PGA TOUR Wives Association to St. Mary’s Food Bank, a Thunderbirds Charities beneficiary, to kick the afternoon off, the most-worthy champion was crowned before the first tee shot was even struck.
“St. Mary’s is one of the largest food banks in the country,” said Milt Liu, St. Mary’s Food Bank president and CEO. “We service the Phoenix Metropolitan area, but cover 76,000 square miles of Arizona … all the way up to the Grand Canyon, across to the tribal nations and to all four corners of the state. We service the equivalent of about 2,000 meals per year to our neighbors in need.“
Today, St. Mary’s Food Bank is one of the largest food banks in the United States and proud of the impact it has had on Arizona — and the world.
“On one hand, we rescue food from food manufacturers, farms, supermarkets and outlets like that,” Liu said. “It’s all good, quality food that would otherwise likely be thrown away. We rescue that food, bring it to our warehouse and then redistribute that food through 800 partners across the state. They range from very large non-profits to a small group of church volunteers who simply wanted to serve their community. They then reach out to St. Mary’s Food Bank and we provide them with food, which they then distribute throughout the community to those in need.
“To have the PGA TOUR Wives Association come in and support us like this is so amazing and powerful,” Liu continued. “They’re even coming down tomorrow after today’s event to volunteer, too. It just means so much to this community to have that kind of support.”
“It’s a really fun afternoon, where the wives play and guys caddie for us,” said Amanda Hadley, wife of PGA TOUR member Chesson Hadley. “It’s very low key, lots of mulligans and, at the end of the day there’s a lot of money to give back to the communities throughout the year the TOUR visits.”
“I look forward to this every time,” said Chesson Hadley. “This is a lot of fun for us as players to come out and support our wives, who support us every day of the year. We’re supporting them, but in doing so, we’re helping support other people. It’s wonderful. We have a really big platform. To be able to use that to help people less fortunate is awesome. I’m really, really proud of all the wives who work so hard to make all of these kinds of things happen.”
“The local charities see the impact the WM Phoenix Open has and we, The Thunderbirds, couldn’t be prouder of the trajectory we’ve had over the years,” said 2022 Tournament Chairman and 2023 Thunderbirds Big Chief Dr. Michael Golding. “To support the PGA TOUR Wives Association is what we come here for.”
“The Thunderbirds do so much for this community and so much for the PGA TOUR Wives Association,” said Tawny Putnam, wife of PGA TOUR member Andrew Putnam. “We are so incredibly grateful for them and all they do. In addition, our sponsors for this event have flown in from all over the country and have gone to amazing strides to be able to be here. We’re incredibly grateful to the Thunderbirds and sponsors who get credit for making this kind of thing a reality.”
Among those sponsors honored to participate was Big Ass Fans. To help support St. Mary’s Food Bank’s mission of helping feed hungry individuals and families, Big Ass Fans donated two of their Black Jack directional fans to help combat the excess temperatures the food bank employees and warehouses experience during the summer season.
“Giving back to the community is what this is all about,” said Golding. “What the PGA TOUR Wives Association is doing, the movement they’re making and the impact they’ve had over the years goes to show how we all have a common goal. And, it’s special. In this case, St. Mary’s Food Bank is going to benefit.”
“With golf, the weather might be unpredictable, but what is predictable is that the golf community always shows up to support one another,” said Putnam. “It’s entirely true. We’re all here for the same reason, and that reason is to give back. The PGA TOUR Wives Association is in that all the way – shoulder to shoulder – trying to make a positive difference along the way. That’s what The Thunderbirds do, too.”
With its $20,000 donation, there are brighter days on the horizon for St. Mary’s Food Bank and those they serve. After all, every donated dollar translates to five provided meals from St. Mary’s.
While a $20,000 donation is a remarkable one by any standard, the added context of St. Mary’s nearly 60-year history takes the gesture to even greater, more encouraging heights. St. Mary’s came to fruition in 1967 by way of an experience John van Hengel took to heart.
While volunteering at a local soup kitchen, van Hengel happened upon a young mother who explained her need for not only soup kitchens, but also discarded food from grocery store dumpsters to provide food for her children.
The stark reality of that young mother’s words served as the impetus behind van Hengel’s move to create the world’s first “food bank,” where individuals and businesses could “deposit” excess food for those in need to “withdraw” it.
With donations of $3,000 and an abandoned building in downtown Phoenix from his local parish, St. Mary’s Basilica, van Hengel created from scratch a resource that instantly proved pivotal to the health and well-being of individuals and families all over the state of Arizona.
“Supporting such remarkable organizations like St. Mary’s Food Bank is precisely what we’re all in this together to do, added Golding. “To see the impact the WM Phoenix Open has on this community and, on a larger scale, the PGA TOUR on all of the communities in which it holds events is nothing short of incredible. It’s what makes the PGA TOUR so special.”