The Symetra Tour announced Hyemin Kim is donating her entire $15,000 first-place check from her POC Med Golf Classic victory to LPGA USGA Girls Golf.
Even in a sport that values charitable giving more than, say, the NFL does, Kim’s act is unprecedented—and extremely generous.
Speaking with reporters ahead of the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National, Bedminster, Kim told reporters that the decision was anything but hasty.
“My mom and I always talked about donating the paycheck from my first win to charity. I remember growing up in Korea and first being introduced to the game. I just want to help the next generation of girls and my hope is that this donation helps bring more girls to golf that don’t have the means on their own.”
If you’re wondering, LPGA USGA Girls Golf introduces girls (ages 6 to 17) to golf via instruction and competition. The organization reaches more than 70,000 girls annually.
The most impressive thing about Kim’s generosity is this: Her career earnings (including the $15K) only total $86,618. Thus, the donation represents 17% of her career earnings. This begs the question: Is Kim’s donation the largest charitable gift with respect to career earnings?
For some perspective, if Tiger Woods were to give away 17 percent of his $110,061,012 earnings, that figure would be more than $20 million.
While it’s inappropriate to tell anyone what to do with their money, and Tiger Woods has done good work with his Tiger Woods foundation, it’s difficult to imagine he’s given away 17 percent of his career earnings.
Again, charity is a big part of the PGA Tour (the organization will happily tell you as much). Heck, check out PGATour.com, and in addition to stats and results, each player’s page lists his charitable initiatives and causes.
That said, for a pro on the feeder tour to a tour (LPGA) whose pros make a fraction of what PGA Tour stars make to act so generously is incredible. Professional golfers (and professional athletes in general) are extremely fortunate to be able to play games for a living.
Obviously, pros are entitled to everything they earn as entertainment worthy of attracting the sponsor dollars they do. Obviously they work hard. However, more high-profile acts of generosity along the line of Kim’s gesture would drive home the point that professional golf’s “giving back” imperative is more than a PR exercise.