PGA REACH New England is excited to continue its spotlight piece dedicated to sharing the goodwill and support of local communities by our PGA Professionals. Chipping-In trumpets the story of individual PGA Professionals and their efforts to differentiate their facility and personal PGA Brand within the community. This month, we share the story of Head Golf Professional Matt Walsh, PGA of Warwick Country Club.

Matt Walsh, PGA
Head Golf Professional
Warwick Country Club (Warwick, R.I.)

I have been a member of the PGA since November of 2004. I have worked at clubs on the Cape, Central Mass., Florida and now am currently employed at Warwick Country Club in Warwick, R.I.

I laughed because the question asked to list my accomplishments and awards. I frankly don’t have any, at least none that are golf related and that you could put in a frame and hang on a wall. Nothing against awards or being recognized for your efforts by your peers but that shouldn’t be the impetus for giving back, it doesn’t move the needle for me. I realized that the annual philanthropic endeavors consistently gave me a sense of fulfillment and just simply made me feel better about myself, all while helping others.

What events at Warwick Country Club support the Rhode Island community?
There are two annual events that we have been doing for years at Warwick: The WCC Turkey Shoot and the Gingerbread man day at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence. The Turkey Shoot is a fall tournament at Warwick where half of all entrance fees go to the R.I. Food Bank. Members are also asked to donate canned goods and non-perishables. Since 2013 we have donated over $20,000 and hundreds of pounds of food. The other annual event involves a partnership with Johnson & Wales to benefit the Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Every year at Christmas the members at Warwick would donate candy and the Culinary staff at Johnson & Wales would donate gingerbread men to Hasbro. On the day of the event, we go to the hospital and visit the kids and present them with Gingerbread Man kits where they can make their own. They have an absolute blast. Some of the children are very sick; to see what these parents are dealing with is truly heartbreaking. Having three healthy kids at home myself this day really resonates with me. I find myself holding them a little longer that night, trying unsuccessfully to hold back the tears.

Are there any other charitable endeavors at Warwick CC that support the community?
ButtonHole Golf in Providence is an organization geared towards introducing inner city kids (and their parents) to golf. They have a 9-hole executive course and a full-size driving range on property. Warwick member Tom Stone is their current president. Tom is very active in the community and is extremely generous with his time and resources. As an organization Buttonhole relies on equipment donations as well as financial gifts. In my eight years at Warwick the membership has donated hundreds of clubs and golf balls to ButtonHole. Last Spring alone the membership filled a full-size pick-up truck twice with all types of golf equipment. It truly is a fantastic organization that is making a difference in kids’ lives.

How long have you been involved in these charitable organizations?
Since 2013 in R.I., while at Mount Pleasant we had a great relationship with the Worcester County Food Bank in my 4 years there.

What is the most rewarding thing about giving back to the community?
I’ve never gone to bed hungry. I’ve never had a serious illness nor have my kids or wife. I have two phenomenal parents who gave my sister and I all we ever needed growing up. I’ve led an “easy” life if I compare it to the kids we encounter at Hasbro or the gut-wrenching stories from the Food Bank where kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from. I feel compelled to give back. We try to instill giving back to our kids. This past Christmas my two oldest asked if we could help the sick animals they see on television in the Humane Society commercials. We made a small donation in their names. The seed is planted in them and hopefully they grow up and continue to give to the community and the less fortunate.

How has giving back to the community helped to raise awareness of your facility?
By their nature the Warwick membership is one of the most generous I have worked for. For example, there is a Ladies Twilight League that annually give to local charities through season-long League donations. The Club has also participated in toy and coat drives and has adopted several families at Christmas time through the years.

Any recommendations on how someone can start to support their community?
There are so many worthy organizations out there that need our help. I would suggest finding a cause that resonates with you and your club and try to form a relationship with them. I have found that giving your time, not necessarily just your money, is most rewarding.