Runway of PGA HOPE
By Keith Stewart, PGA
A participant hits his drive down the runway.
PGA Professional Rich Scott is a golf course owner, general manager, director of golf, and pilot. For a man who wears many different hats, he keeps a wonderful perspective on his role in the community surrounding Fox Run Golf Club in Johnstown, New York. As you read that list, you’re probably wondering why being a pilot is relevant? In this story, Rich’s desire to fly led him to create something truly special on the ground.
One day while standing on the runway at Fulton County Airport after a pilot’s class, Scott asked his instructor how long the runway was. “It’s over 4,000 feet long” was the response. Like so many golfers while looking at that asphalt alley, Rich wondered how far he could hit a drive down it. That little thought turned into something quite big.
Rich Scott is the President of the Northeastern New York PGA Section of the PGA of America. As President, Rich is an avid supporter of the section’s foundations. One foundation program that Scott loves to discuss is PGA HOPE. Rich comes from a military family. His dad was in the Army and his sister is in the Air Force. PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) has grown to three chapters in their Section and one can easily see why from this story.
Scott took his vision, and like any great leader, made it into a reality. Runway of Hope took place on Saturday, September 17th at the Fulton County Airport. Rich organized a charity Long Drive Contest to benefit the winter PGA HOPE programs he coordinates at Fox Run. In one day, he and his Committee raised over $7,000! Donations are still coming in and the total will exceed $9,000 and hopefully $10,000. All of this came from one amazing idea each of us has considered every time we get on a plane.
To make the event even more special, Rich and his team added to the awesome long drive contest a craft fair and live music. In fact, the music was provided in part by another PGA Professional's band. There was more than one long drive launched over 400 yards during the day. Although nobody could beat Scott as he led the field with a 454-yard blast down the runway. Each entry was just $25 and that included three drives. A square turf mat provided the platform (or rather launching pad) for the participants.
You can’t help but hear his enthusiasm for what was created and he wasn’t afraid to ask for help. He admits trying to take on too much and that he should have expanded his Committee.
“Even though it was just a driving contest, when you include a craft fair, music, transportation, etc. your time fills up very quick, too quick.”
“Advertising is another key, start early and make sure you contact all the local media. They are all always looking for community development stories.”
A local news outlet even put together a promotional piece prior to Runway of Hope.
The event itself had a profound impact on Rich.
“One of our junior golfers hit a 330-yard drive. Annika loves golf, played PGA Jr. League, and tragically lost her father this past year. The second was Bill, a military veteran crossing the 300-yard plateau as well. Both participants are why we did this. To see their faces light up by doing something that was fun and had a purpose made it all worthwhile.”
Of course, Rich is already planning next year’s edition. He’s quick to look ahead, but at the same time somewhat grounded.
“The money we raised is for our indoor PGA HOPE programs starting in December.”
With five indoor simulators, Scott teaches veterans and builds their community through golf all winter. There’s no doubt his programs have been successful in those cold months outside of Albany, but it also sounds like things are definitely “taking off” in the summer as well.