SHAT­TER­ING EX­PEC­TA­TIONS

… in a good way, as Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic posts record-set­ting fundrais­ing ef­forts

Calgary Sun - - SPORTS - wgilbert­son@postmedia.com @WesGil­bert­son

Ev­ery golfer can re­late to this feel­ing.

You have a num­ber in mind, typ­i­cally an am­bi­tious goal.

And when you add ’em all up, you have … uh … ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions.

In this case, that’s a good thing.

A very, very good thing. Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic of­fi­cials de­liv­ered big news and big bucks Tues­day, an­nounc­ing the fifthanniver­sary in­stal­ment of Calgary’s wildly suc­cess­ful se­nior shootout at Canyon Mead­ows Golf & Coun­try Club raised a record­set­ting $8,391,413 for youth-based char­i­ties across the province. That shat­ters the pre­vi­ous mark for the largest char­i­ta­ble give in PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons his­tory, a bar that they have raised year after year. The ini­tial goal for 2017 was to drum up just north of $6 mil­lion in do­na­tions, push­ing their fiveyear to­tal past the $20-mil­lion plateau.

Done, and then some. “I know the re­ac­tion from our pa­tron group and from Shaw, when we told them the num­bers at our last board meet­ing, there were cer­tainly some jaws drop­ping around the ta­ble,” beamed Sean Van Kesteren, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic.

“It’s not just a golf tour­na­ment any­more. It’s a ma­jor char­i­ta­ble event that has sig­nif­i­cant im­pacts not only in Calgary, but Al­berta in gen­eral. And who knows, maybe we’ll be able to grow it even big­ger.”

You’d be crazy to bet against that.

After all, this has be­come an an­nual tra­di­tion for the Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic.

Set a lofty fundrais­ing goal. Eclipse your own record. Re­peat.

Now a sta­ple on Calgary’s sum­mer sport­ing cal­en­dar, the Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic has to­talled $22.1 mil­lion in do­na­tions dat­ing back to 2013.

This year’s haul will ben­e­fit 159 dif­fer­ent youth-based or­ga­ni­za­tions and causes.

“The money that the lead­er­ship group and Shaw Com­mu­ni­ca­tions have been able to raise for char­ity in literally five short years, it re­ally is out­stand­ing” said PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons pres­i­dent Greg McLaugh­lin. “It’s re­mark­able and it’s also quite an ac­com­plish­ment, some­thing that on our tour and at the PGA Tour, ev­ery­body is re­ally proud of.”

You have to look at the fundrais­ing statis­tics on the PGA Tour to truly pro­vide per­spec­tive on what’s be­ing ac­com­plished in Calgary.

Ac­cord­ing to char­ity fig­ures re­leased this past Jan­uary, only four tour­na­ments on the pri­mary cir­cuit — the AT&T Peb­ble Beach Na­tional Pro-Am on Cal­i­for­nia’s stun­ning coast­line, the Valero Texas Open in San An­to­nio, the Dean & Deluca In­vi­ta­tional in Dal­las and the

John Deere Clas­sic in Sil­vis, Ill. — sur­passed the US$10mil­lion mark in 2016.

The PGA Tour’s flag­ship event, The Play­ers Cham­pi­onship at TPC Saw­grass, touted a tour­na­ment-record to­tal of US$8.7 mil­lion in 2017.

The Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic is near­ing that same strato­sphere, al­beit in Cana­dian cur­rency.

Even be­fore Scott McCar­ron put the fin­ish­ing touches on a three-round tally of 16-un­der 194 and was white­hat­ted as the lat­est cham­pion, it was crys­tal-clear that the fifth an­nual birdie-fest at Canyon Mead­ows had been an­other smash suc­cess.

Ev­ery­body ex­pected Tues­day’s an­nounce­ment would be record-set­ting.

But 8.39 mil­lion?!? Whoa. That tops the pre­vi­ous gold stan­dard by more than $3 mil­lion. (The 2016 Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic raised $5.2 mil­lion and change).

“We be­gan our five-year cel­e­bra­tions by en­cour­ag­ing the public to find a small way to make their mark on this pow­er­ful event in Al­berta that is hav­ing a last­ing im­pact on com­mu­ni­ties through­out the province,” said tour­na­ment chair­man Clay Rid­dell. “This do­na­tion proves Al­ber­tans have made their mark in a ma­jor way.”

A grand to­tal of 2,400 in­di­vid­u­als from across the province and even around the globe chipped in through the Birdies for Kids pro­gram, pre­sented by Al­taLink.

McCar­ron & Co. did their part by rack­ing up 83 cir­cles on the Par-5 fin­ish­ing hole at Canyon Mead­ows, good for $500 apiece through Shaw’s Birdies for Char­ity ini­tia­tive. At the tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion, CEO Brad Shaw an­nounced the ti­tle spon­sor would round those pro­ceeds up to $50,000.

And golf fans stashed their own clubs for a few days to show their sup­port, with 45,250 spec­ta­tors fil­ing through the gates to watch a star-stud­ded field that was head­lined by Fred Cou­ples, Nick Faldo, Miguel An­gel Jimenez, Colin Mont­gomerie and Vi­jay Singh.

“I’m sure there will be some very happy char­i­ties around the province. Hope­fully that will make their year,” Van Kesteren said of Tues­day’s re­veal. “Re­ally, I think the most stag­ger­ing num­ber is this will help over 480,000 kids in one year, have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on 480,000 chil­dren. That’s im­pact­ful. That’s a big deal.”

Sure is, and no­body will be sur­prised if the num­ber is even higher in 2018.

“I think the sky is the limit with this tour­na­ment,” McLaugh­lin said. “Our feel­ing is that it’s go­ing to con­tinue to grow and do great things.”

Cana­di­ans made a ma­jor mark on the fifth an­niver­sary of the Calgary Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic by chip­ping in to raise a record $8,391,413 for 159 youth­based char­i­ties across Al­berta.

CLAY RID­DELL

Wes GILBERTSON

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