The Outpost Club is an invitation-only member organization composed of really passionate golfers.
Modeled on the numerous golf societies that exist in Great Britain, it organizes more than 70 events each year, played at some of the finest private clubs in the nation. As our John Steinbreder wrote in these page several years ago, the Outpost Club “boasts a heady national membership of roughly 500 that is geared toward serious yet social players who possess a high golf IQ, fancy architecturally significant courses, relish the camaraderie of a competitive game, favor fast play, prefer to walk and like to savor a drink in the clubhouse with their playing partners once their rounds are done.”
From the very beginning, the club has had a charitable bent. In 2015, it established the Outpost Foundation, a nonprofit organization designed to give back to the game, primarily through providing academic scholarships to young men and women. Each year, the foundation reaches out to countless golf professionals and general managers, seeking a list of candidates for the grants from youngsters in need who worked at golf clubs. A vetting process narrows it down to eight to 12 awardees, who earn four-year scholarships.
In the past decade, the foundation has raised and distributed more than $350,000. In describing this effort, club co-founder Quentin Lutz said, “It’s been amazing how the Foundation has positively impacted the lives of so many young students who needed this break in order to get a start in life. Very humbling, actually.”
Co-founder Will Smith was in the process of canceling a few club events in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic when he determined that things were about to get ugly and that people were going to need help. “I thought our foundation was uniquely positioned to help out,” he told GGP last week.
So the foundation set up the Emergency Relief Fund, designed to support members of the golf community who rely on gratuities, such as caddies, locker room attendants and outside services workers as they grapple with the hardships resulting from the pandemic. These are “the men and women who so frequently contribute to our enjoyment of the game we love (who) are in need of our assistance,” a written appeal to the foundation’s members stated.
“It’s like taking care of family,” said Melissa Bellomo, the club’s general manager. “These are proud people who don’t want to ask for help, but they need it.”
Indeed they do. One application among a total of 74 came from a caddie living in his car, and there also was one from another caddie who is a single father of six kids and has little money for food. To read the applications is a gut-wrenching exercise.
The club reached out to its 800-plus members with the proposition that it would match the first $50,000 raised. By Sunday, 128 individuals had chipped in to help the foundation surpass that goal, and as a result more than $100,000 will be distributed to those in need. A first group of checks, totaling $20,000, is in the mail.
"At this time, so many of us are focused on what we can do to help in our immediate communities,” said course architect Gil Hanse, who surprised organizers when he made his donation. "What the Outpost Foundation has done is to recognize that there is a portion of the golf community that is suffering significantly from the economic impacts of the virus.
"When I recall the many fond memories I have from the staff members and caddies at golf facilities both public and private, who all are truly the heart and soul of the golf community, it was an easy decision to contribute to this effort. I thank the Outpost Foundation for recognizing this need in our larger golf community, and for their generosity in coordinating the efforts.”
The impacts already are being felt. Bellomo paraphrased the words of one recipient: “This is a difficult time, but I am looking forward to better times when I can contribute back to the foundation.”
If you would like to contribute to the Outpost Foundation, click here. Consider e-mailing this information to your regular golf partners. And if you maintain a social media presence, post this story on the platform. Let’s all help spread the word throughout the amateur golf community.