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Sedgefield costs to affect charities
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Sedgefield costs to affect charities

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GREENSBORO

In the Wyndham Championship’s much-anticipated return to Sedgefield Country Club, no detail seems too small, no project too lavish.

From the hand-tufted Indian rugs emblazoned with the tournament logo in the clubhouse lobby to the completely renovated locker rooms upstairs, tournament officials estimate they are spending upwards of $750,000 sprucing up Sedgefield and its grounds.

But the nonprofit foundation that runs the Wyndham isn’t the only group paying for that spanking-new stone scoreboard by the ninth hole.

Wyndham officials acknowledged last week that Triad charities, typically the beneficiary of the golf tournament’s generosity, will receive far less money than in recent years because of Sedgefield’s makeover.

The reduction in giving comes at a time when donations to most Triad charities are already down, in part, due to the sluggish economy.

Tournament officials are sympathetic, but say it is crucial that the Wyndham’s first year back at Sedgefield after 31 years at Forest Oaks Country Club is a success if the tournament is to survive and continue assisting area charities in the future.

“We’re building a brand that, hopefully, pays off down the road for the Piedmont Triad,” said Bobby Long, chairman of the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation, the nonprofit group that runs the Wyndham.

Building that image doesn’t come cheap. In recent months the foundation has paid for improvements to Sedgefield’s golf course beyond the $3 million renovation paid for by club members.

The foundation also paid to bury a power line that was stretching over the No. 11 tee box and to upgrade Sedgefield’s electrical and communications infrastructure. And since Mother Nature refuses to chip in, the foundation is buying thousands of gallons of water to top off the course pond.

Mark Brazil, the tournament’s director, said the extra costs are part of doing business at a course that hasn’t been home to a major golf event in 32 years.

“We’re like a 70-year-old start-up company with a lot of initial costs,” he said. “We’re putting out a lot of money this first year, but I would think we’ll see a quick turnaround on our investment and be able to give even more money down the road.”

PGA Tour events such as the Wyndham typically are set up as nonprofit organizations that donate a portion of their proceeds to local charities. Last year, the 100-plus tournaments that comprise the tour and the related Champions and Nationwide tours, gave $123 million to charity.

“We’re extremely proud of that amount and of the tournaments that helped raise it, including Greensboro,” said Ty Votaw, executive vice president of the tour.

Not as publicized is that an inordinate amount of money involved in running those tournaments goes toward expenses and operations — particularly the purses won by golfers.

Tour officials said in a report last year that their average tournament provides golfers with winnings of $5.7 million (the Wyndham’s purse this year is $5.1 million). After paying costs associated with the event, a tournament generates about $1.75 million for charity.

That figure is far less for Greensboro’s golf tournament, which has given away an average of $410,000 over the past three years, according to the nonprofit’s tax records.

That amount, known in charity parlance as direct dollars, would easily double if you factored in the Wyndham’s indirect giving, Brazil said.

The tournament helps charities indirectly by donating tickets for them to sell or by staging golf tournaments to help raise money for a group or cause.

Brazil and his staff have helped organize and run a golf tournament the past three years to raise money for the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.

This year’s tournament at Sedgefield raised more than $40,000 for the museum, said Amelia Parker, the museum’s executive director.

“It was a sizeable amount for us, but even more important was the outreach into the community,” Parker said. “Different groups of people living in different parts of the community getting together who otherwise might never meet. You can’t put a price on what the Wyndham does for us.”

Brazil said the foundation also will spend about $600,000 buying seven 30-second commercials that will run on CBS (WFMY-2 locally) and The Golf Channel during the tournament. The ads will promote the Piedmont Triad as a place to do business.

“We’d certainly like to give more money directly to charities,” Brazil said, “but we’re still giving and helping — just in different ways.”

Contact Robert Bell

at 373-7055 or robert.bell@news-record.com

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