They do it all the time, so often in fact that it’s easy to overlook. The Monday before Thanksgiving, a day after the long and exhausting LPGA Tour season came to a dramatic close at the CME Group Tour Championship, a handful of pros traveled to Bradenton, Fla., two hours north of Naples and just across the bay from Tampa, to support a compatriot.
By all rights they should have been home with family, sleeping in, preparing for the holiday and recharging for the 2020 LPGA Tour campaign that kicks off in January at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. But instead, Brooke Henderson, Amy Olson, Olafia Kristinsdottir, Morgan Pressel, Madelene Sagstrom, Shasta Averyhardt, Karen Stupples and Golf Channel commentator Jerry Foltz showed up at The Concession Golf Club, the private Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin-designed course that hosted the 2015 NCAA Championships, for an event put on by their friend and fellow LPGA Tour pro Sandra Gal. It was a fundraiser for the Volunteers of America Sandra Gal Children's Center, a place in Miami, Fla., where at-risk kids can have after-school care and mentoring, where the most vulnerable members of the community can find love and caring.
“When I had this dream for a center to care for these children, I had no idea how to do it or if it was even possible,” said Gal while fighting back tears. “I just knew that I had to do something.”
Four years later, the center is up and running and the VOA Sandra Gal Charity Pro-Am has raised over $150,000 for its operation. Gal herself has done much more, advocating for the disadvantaged in ways big and small. And her friends were more than happy to help.
“I always enjoy coming here for such a great cause,” Olson said. “This is a meaningful event, especially this time of year.”
Henderson, who drove up from her winter home in Naples along with her mother and grandmother, was equally humbled and honored. “It’s always impactful to do something like this, especially for children,” Henderson said.
Gal’s event is just one of many charitable fundraisers that LPGA Tour players sponsor and participate in on a yearly basis. Pressel’s “Morgan & Friends” outing for breast cancer, which will be played for the 13th time next January, has raised more than $1 million each year for the past four years. Brittany Lincicome has hosted an outing every year for the past decade in support of the First Tee of St. Petersburg, while numerous other players donate their time and money to other causes close to their hearts.
The fact that these events are so ubiquitous speaks volumes for the bond between players on the LPGA Tour. It also says something about their values. At the luncheon held after play last Monday, Gal was so moved by a video of the children from her center that she couldn’t speak. The players all know what it means to be a part of something bigger than themselves. And they are always there for each other and the causes that matter.
The LPGA has an edict: Act Like A Founder. It means behaving like the 13 women who formed the organization in 1950 and blazed a trail for all the opportunities and all the good that would follow.
LPGA Tour players live that message every day.