CSGA (Updated: May 18, 2020). As they often do in times of need, golfers have responded to the COVID-19 crisis with compassion and initiative.
The good work continues here in Connecticut. We're keeping track of these initiatives in our new #CSGACommunityAces campaign.
- At Indian Hill Country Club members paid for box lunches put together by the club's staff under the direction of President Joe Herzog, House Chair Tom Trutter, Office Manager Andrea and the staff of Casa Mia, the club's restaurant, and sent 420 the to four local front-line organizations: Newington Human Services; Newington EMS team; Newington VA Hospital (photo); Newington Police and Newington Fire.
- Madison Country Club, through the ClubsHELP program that matches clubs with hospitals, on May 8 donated $11,325 to the Yale New Haven Hospital COVID-19 Fund. Madison Country Club president Matt Rubano presented the Club's donation to Yale New Haven Hospital Director of Development Lucy Sirico. The donation will be used to provide support frontline hospital workers. "We are greatly appreciative of Madison Country Club's generosity and support," Sirico said. "Together, we can make a difference in this battle to keep people safe.
- Members of the Newtown High School Golf Team (photo) organized a golf marathon to raise money for the Connecticut Food Bank. Trevor Hislop, Alex Walton, and James Celentano played 72 holes in 12 hours on May 12 at Rock Ridge Country Club in Newtown and raised $5381 from pledges for holes played and birdies. "The event was an amazing experience," Hislop told the Newtown Bee. "We played 72 holes, walked 18 miles and we also had six birdies. It was a windy day making it tough conditions, but the event was successful!"
- Hartford Golf Club members have launched a gofundme for its caddies. "In today’s time we recognize the need to help others," read the letter heading the fund. "This is a special letter of help directly asking for consideration of our caddies who are not employees but are independent workers (contractors), most of whom are not eligible for unemployment benefits or the additional $600 supplement! We all know they help make our club a special place whether you take a caddie or not."
- Members at Ellington Ridge Country Club having already run a food drive, have now joined ClubsHELP, which pairs clubs and hospitals, and dropped off 4200 N95 masks, 2000 surgical masks, 250 surgical gowns, gift cards and snacks to Ellington Ridge Community Health Center. President Cyndi O'Connor (photo) and the members at Ellington Ridge Country Club have been also been donating food to Ellington's Crystal Lake Food Pantry throughout the lock down. A member-generated idea that now involves most of the membership, says O'Connor.
- At Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, where the club’s 125th anniversary has been disrupted and the playing of the 3rd U.S. Senior Women’s Open has been cancelled, club members created not one but two accounts to help first employees, and also the independent contractors who participate in its very active caddie program. To date, $50,000 has been raised for the employees. Another $30,000 has been collected informally by a group club members and their friends through a GoFundMe to support caddies, who are independent contractors. Regular caddies who are usually at work early in the season are being reimbursed their normal earnings.The employee fund was established mid-March, just after the club opened for the season and then was forced to close again. It is designed to bridge the gap during the shutdown and employees’ first unemployment payments, and to make employees whole who are not making their full salary even with Coronavius Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) stipends. In all, about 80 employees are impacted.General Manager Bill Shaw, who only came to Brooklawn from Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts in November, says the response by members has been “unhesitating” and enthusiastic. “In fact, we’ve had people call and say, ‘If you need more, don’t hesitate to reach out,’” he said. No situation in his long career, Shaw said, including a stint at PGA West during the Great Recession, resembles the present crisis. “Nothing compares,” said Shaw.
- At New Haven Country Club, members and staff, including professional Bill Wallis and general manager Andrew Cunningham, have hooked up with ClubsHELP, which connects clubs with local hospitals. New Have is providing lunches and supplies such as water and gatorade to Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford. "They're a smaller hospital and it just seemed a perfect fit," says Wallis. Four clubs in Connecticut are part of the ClubsHELP network.
- In Manchester, members at Manchester Country Club, established a multi-faceted “Friends of MCC” program for employees and vendors. A letter from the Manchester Country Club Board of Governors spelled them out: 1) a one-time charge to every member of $30 “in order to create a fund to help this community who serves us Kindness, Food and Cheer all year long;” 2) a GoFundMe page “for members and non-members who choose to help more” in paying employee living expenses. That fund iof about $6500; 3) a gift card program for the Waterview Cafe attached to the club, and 4) a gift card program for professional Jordan Gosler’s shop. In all, says Board Member Bill Creamer, the club has already raised about $20,000 to help staff of MCC partner Waterview Cafe and Banquet.
- At Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington (photo right), it’s a combined member/staff effort. Members and staff both wanted to express appreciation and gratitude to those “who put themselves in the path of COVID-19 during this unprecedented crisis” and are donating meals to essential service organizations. As of this week Shuttle Meadow members have contributed close to $4,000 for meals and the staff has prepared and delivered more than 370 meals to the Hospital of Central Connecticut and the Berlin Police Department. Over the next couple weeks, the staff plans to deliver more meals to other organizations such as the New Britain Police Department and Hunter’s Ambulance of Connecticut. (Pictured are Michelle McMahon and Ashley Gay).
- In Coventry, the Harbor Hemp Company (photo), co-founded by Glen Boggini, a CSGA member and 2014 Connecticut Public Links champion, donated hand sanitizer to the town and its ambulance and fire corps. This included both large gallon containers for on-site use as well as smaller packaging for first-responders. As of April 14, Boggini said, Harbor Hemp has donated about 100 gallons of sanitizer. to Coventry and Vernon police and fire. “Harbor Hemp’s home is Coventry, and we wanted to manufacture hand sanitizer for our important first-responders here as well as beyond,” said Boggini. The company added the product to its line in order to help. “We think that it’s important to keep them safe while they are out on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. Town Manager John A. Elsesser thanked Harbor Hemp for “a timely donation that may very well save lives.” Harbor Hemp is also donating a portion of all sales for the entire month of April to Feeding America and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness. Sales manager Evan Boggini (right) did the presentation to Vernon first responders.
- The Wintonbury Men's Golf Association, with the help of professionals Ciaran Carr and Kevin Laing at Wintonbury Hills Golf Course, has raised more than $1,000 for the Food Bank in Bloomfield.
- Paul Bonini, Watertown Golf Club superintendent and the president of the Connecticut Golf Course Superintendents Association put out a call for respirators. That reminded supers like Marc Weston at Indian Hill Country Club that instead of replacing their respirators as they do each this spring, they’d use last year’s for another year, freeing up new ones for medical teams.
- Yale student Paul Stankey, a member of the golf team, contributed in an entirely different way. A Biomedical Engineering & Mechanical Engineering student, class of 2021, Stankey noticed that ventilators could be shared, but that while there were two-way and four-way devices, there was no good design for a three-way. He’d just attended a lecture about how extended use causes these devices to break down. “I saw the four-way, but I didn’t see a good design for a three-way and I figured the less you have to split a ventilator the better it probably is for the system. It’s closer to the original design of what it’s meant to do,” he told Jeff Jacobs of the New Haven Register. So Stankey, with a little time on his hands because a trip South to play a qualifier with the team had been postponed, created the three-way design himself. Asked about the money his invention might bring, Stankey replied: “At a time like this, it’s more important to be helpful than rich.”
It’s sentiment shared by many Connecticut golfers during the pandemic. If you’d like to share other initiatives you know off, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.