27th February 2023
Ryan Herrington of Golf Digest reported on 24th February 2023 that the USGA had established an endowment plan to help fund future Walker Cup and Curtis Cup matches.
With a home event costing around $1.25m to run and an away trip around $0.5m, with neither generating much offsetting income, the thinking was that something needed to be done to protect the matches in the event tougher financial times in the future led to questions being asked about whether they should continue to be funded from the USGA’s annual budget.
As a result the USGA has discretely been seeking out donors willing to give $0.5m each to become the ‘Keepers of the Cups’ since May 2022. The plan being for 20 such donors to raise $10m and for the USGA to match this sum with money from its Strategic Investment Fund. The new $20 million total fund would then be ring-fenced to keep both amateur events going in perpetuity.
Encouragingly 11 donors have already committed to the program leaving Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA, confident that the original two-year goal to raise the funds will be met.
Whan has suggested that the early donors are generally not past USGA champions but rather golfers who have a passion for the game and for keeping its history alive.
The ‘Keepers’ will travel to the events and be given behind the scenes access to the captains and players. Each will also be given a commemorative golf bag with a specially designed logo. There’s no such thing as a free golf bag !
Stu Francis, USGA President 2020-23 (Photo: USGA)
Outgoing USGA President, Stu Francis, became the 11th donor at the end of 2022. “I wanted to put my money where my mouth was,” Francis said. “I did want to show people that I really did care about it and was prepared to invest in it. I think the real interest level and commitment level to having a thriving Walker Cup and Curtis Cup is a pretty deep feeling within the golf community.”
It is important to note that the Keepers of the Cups Program will only cover USA team costs and that The R&A will still be responsible for all of the costs attaching to their two GB&I teams.
Given the income the USGA and R&A generate from the sale of TV rights for the U.S. Open and The Open Championships respectively it is surprising to me that this project was deemed necessary. I am sure costs could easily be cut for both Cups if both organisations wished to spend more of their money in different areas.
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