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Chicago’s Sunshine Through Golf Foundation

There are nearly 140,000 charity golf outings held annually in the USA. Chicago’s Sunshine Through Golf Foundation Outing is as worthy a cause as any of the others.

Held each June, this isn’t ‘hit-and-giggle’ golf, populated with once-or-twice-a-year hackers.  The outing attracts a serious group of committed players, who (mostly) walk, (mostly) with caddies in tow, and play their own golf ball on some of the most venerable clubs in greater Chicago. Illustrious grounds like Rich Harvest Farms, Beverly, Knollwood, Shoreacres and Exmoor have played host to the group since its 2002 inception.

The monies raised also benefit a serious cause. Nowadays stellar organizations like Folds of Honor and Wounded Warriors are well known. But the century-old Chicago District Golf Association, ostensibly the “parent company” of the Sunshine Through Golf Foundation, has been supporting our returning troops since 1944. “The CDGA began funneling monies towards returning vets during World War One,” explains founder Sheldon Solow, a partner in a major law firm, “but it became an official cause for the organization during World War Two.”

            Over time, the CDGA’s charitable arm expanded to include disabled and economically disadvantaged kids in addition to the veterans. The Sunshine through Golf Foundation funds upwards of two hundred clinics annually throughout greater Chicago, no trifling number considering the brevity of the Midwestern golf season.

                        Additionally, they built and continue to maintain a three-hole golf course at the CDGA’s headquarters, which serves a dual purpose. Not only are the kids and vets welcome to play what’s known as the Sunshine Golf Course, with wheelchairs, walkers and leg braces as common a site as flagsticks and tee markers, but the course also serves as a turfgrass research facility, with a full-time agronomist on the CDGA staff. 

            While luxurious fairway grass is always nice, in the big picture bringing opportunities to those less fortunate is at the beating heart of the Sunshine Through Golf Foundation. Many of these kids have self-esteem issues, and have dealt with setbacks in life. They feel like they’re less worthy than their more able-bodied peers, and have myriad problems, above and beyond their physical and economic reality. “When they absorb the instruction and eventually hit a real golf shot, make solid contact and get the ball in the air, their joy is palpable,” continues Solow. “So is the pride and relief you sometimes see in the faces of their parents.  I tell our volunteers, board members and donors the same thing; we’re not curing cancer and we’re not eradicating the many problems in the world. But come to a clinic just one time. When you see how kids react and respond to positive feedback and performance improvement, how excited they get when they achieve even a modicum of success, you’ll support this cause for life.”





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