Officials at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational distributed more than $11.6 million in charitable donations Thursday to non-profit groups based in North Texas, marking a tournament-record total for Fort Worth’s annual PGA Tour stop.
Representatives from 33 charities gathered at Colonial Country Club to receive proceeds from the 2016 tournament, won in May by Dallas resident Jordan Spieth, a two-time major champion. The final distribution of $11,628,787 included more than $10 million raised for local charities through the tournament’s Birdies for Charity campaign.
As part of the program, local charities solicit donations based on the number of birdies made by golfers during tournament week in Fort Worth. The touring pros did their part by bagging 1,216 birdies in May to help boost the total above $10 million for the first time in tournament history.
The total was energized by a matching fund of $275,000 from Colonial Country Club and the PGA Tour.
“It’s a very exciting time here at Colonial,” said Colonial club president Rob Hood, who helped distribute checks to recipients during Thursday’s luncheon. “It gives you such a sense of pride and optimism that the people of this community give to that extent to help their own. And we’re proud to help them do that.”
The tournament has generated cash and services for more than 150 different organizations totaling $90 million in the past two decades. Most donations focus on children and support a variety of programs. Included are camp scholarships for disabled, special needs or low-income children; residency programs/services for abused, neglected and at-risk children and cultural programs/field trips for underserved students.
The proceeds also help fund college scholarships, educational mentoring programs, after-school programs, support services and medical diagnostic and treatment services for disabled and low-income children as well as services for homeless families.
The Birdies for Charity initiative has raised more than $58 million for participating charities since it was introduced at Colonial in 2005. Michael Tothe, Colonial tournament director, said club officials were pleased to set a new mark for charitable giving during the first year of a six-year agreement with title sponsor Dean & DeLuca that runs through the 2021 event.
“They’re proud of that and we are, too,” Tothe said. “It’s huge. It shows the generosity of the community. It shows that the charities that we have involved in this program embrace it and they utilize it well.
“We’re really proud of our match funds. That was one of our goals was to grow that. Having Dean & DeLuca be a part of that was critical and instrumental.”