When PGA REACH Southern Ohio, the charitable foundation of the Southern Ohio PGA, teamed up with Play Yellow to create the first-ever Play Yellow Birdie Bash, they were excited and hopeful, but they had no idea how successful the event would end up being. They were able to raise $238,705 in a single day, far beyond their expectations.
The event itself, hosted June 1, 2021 at Kinsdale Golf & Fitness Club in Shawnee Hills, OH, benefitted local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals). Chris Casto, General Manager at Wedgewood Golf & Country Club, was one of 30 Southern Ohio PGA Professionals from the Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus areas to participate in the event.
Set up as a Doubles Golf format (two-person scramble), money was fundraised through donors who pledged a certain amount of money to different teams per birdie made. The PGA Professionals involved in the event moved quickly to spread the word and bring in donations.
“We set up an online page where friends, family, members and others could donate to the cause. We promoted [the event] through different channels including social media, email promotions and text messages,” said Casto. “We got the information out there, and a lot of people wanted to help, it was remarkable for a first year event.”
The cause itself is something that brought a lot of donors and interest in, but for Chris it was personal. “Obviously this event benefited the Children’s Miracle Network, which directly impacts children’s hospitals in the area. I’ve had a son that has been directly impacted by the great people at Nationwide Children’s Hospital here in Columbus, so this was a passion project for me."
Before the first ball was even teed up, hopes were high that the event would be a success, but no one could have imagined the impact that it would have or the impression that it would make on those who participated.
“Our goal was to raise $75,000 and we thought that was a pretty lofty goal, so it’s absolutely remarkable what happened.”
Though there were many pledges from donors ahead of the event thanks to the advertising efforts of the PGA Professionals, as the day went on more and more people began to get involved and the donations kept rolling in.
“We knew going into the event roughly how much we would make, but throughout the day the fundraising kept coming. People were contributing per-birdie pledges as we were playing,” Casto described. “It was a perfect day, there were a lot of birdies made and we began to realize ‘Hey, maybe we can make $100,000’.”
“We also found out midday that HNS Sports and the Memorial Tournament here in Ohio pledged an extra $200 a birdie for a power hour. Next thing you know there’s these other sources of giving and when we finished we asked the Executive Director Patrick Salva how much we made and he said ‘We’re still adding it up, but you guys aren’t going to believe it.’"
When the dust settled, the total number of donors passed 650 with five teams receiving pledges of $1000 per birdie. This brought their total number raised to a staggering $238,705 that goes directly back into their community and their children’s hospitals.
As Chris put it: “I’ve been a member for a long time, and I can’t remember anything like this ever happening before. With PGA REACH I know we have a greater ability to further our efforts. But for a one-day event to raise this much, I am pretty blown away.”