COMMUNITY IMPACTORS: How and Why Golf and SoCal Helped Hawaii
What is it about the Hawaiian Islands that feel so near and dear to us Southern Californians despite being so far away? Hawaii is one the most remote places on Earth yet feels like a neighbor just a few doors down. It’s hard to quantify a connection, no matter how tangible or intangible. But we all know it exists. We can feel it. Last summer more than ever.
Just days after devastating wildfires ravaged northwest Maui in August of 2023, Southern California mobilized various stateside relief efforts, chartering planes of essential items, shipping survival kits and sending money. The Los Angeles Times published an article that same week speaking to the undeniable sense of community between the two locales and reminding their Southland readers of the inherent responsibility to take care of the place that had taken care of them.
It’s impossible to say whether our region empathically felt the toll of the tragedy more than others, but it’s not unlikely. Our proximity to the islands, while far, is closer than anyone else’s. And despite the vast amount of ocean between us, it just feels close.
Help From The Golf Community
Former SCGA President, Bob Livingstone, was one of the many Southern Californians who wanted to help. In the wake of the wildfires, Livingstone approached his men’s club at El Dorado Park GC and asked that they donate their hole-in-one insurance to the relief efforts in Maui. It was put to a vote and approved. Livingstone then suggested that the SCGA see if other clubs might want to follow suit or find their own way to contribute.
Meanwhile, the Hawaii-based PGA Aloha Section had started a GoFundMe page asking for donations to specifically help displaced golf professionals and their families who had lost everything. Within weeks, more than a dozen PGA Sections and Allied Golf Associations across the country, including the SCPGA and the SCGA, combined to donate $56,000. As of January 2024, the fund has raised over $110,000.
SCGA Taps Its Membership
The SCGA had decided that the most effective, intentional and impactful way to message its entire membership base was with a simple call to action to join them in donating to the cause. Two charitable funds were carefully vetted and became the sole beneficiaries of whatever dollars would be raised.
The first charity identified was the Maui Strong Fund, organized by the venerable Hawaii Community Foundation. This general fund allows its contributors to make donations that are spread throughout the entire relief effort.
The second charity that the SCGA pointed its members to was the Aloha Fore Maui GoFundMe page organized by the aforementioned PGA Aloha Section.
Whether an SCGA member felt inclined to donate to a general fund or to a specific community of people was a choice the SCGA wanted to present with the confidence of knowing the dollars were managed by trusted organizations.
SCGA Membership Steps Up
Within days of the message going out, various members and member clubs contacted the SCGA to inform them of their plans to help.
The Encinitas Ranch GC men’s and women’s clubs, led by club president and SCGA volunteer Richard Beckman, went all in and required a $100 donation to play in the usual, standing Wednesday round. The day included a Hawaiian plate lunch from Encinitas Café, with part of the proceeds going to the fundraiser. In mid-November, Beckman’s group at Encinitas Ranch GC happily sent a check to the Aloha Fore Maui fund for $10,418.
Also in November, SCGA member club Gals on the Green hosted a tournament at Meadowlark GC where they raised $2,200 for the wildfire relief efforts. CEO and cofounder Michele Paddleford said, “Many of our members have strong ties to the island, and we understand the significance of coming together as a community. We believe that golf is more than just a sport; it is a tight knit family. Just like ohana means family in Hawaiian, golf embodies the spirit of unity and support.”
The great stories don’t stop there. Brentwood CC hosted a luau event and raised $4,000 for Maui. The Birch Hills Men’s Club collected $1,000. The Rio Hondo Men’s Club voted to donate $500. And a group of wives whose husbands play in the Palm Desert Greens Men’s Club collected $1,000 in gift cards and sent them to the island.
There’s no telling how many more similar efforts haven’t been made public. Or how many SCGA members donated anonymously. One thing is for certain: The sense of community between Southern California and Hawaii is special and undeniable. You might call it aloha.