Golf for Water: Get the “T” from the Texas Tee
On the week celebrating National Golf Day and leading up to the PGA Championship, I can think of no better way to celebrate the game of golf and honor my father’s legacy than to tell you about how a Plano, Texas golf tournament has brought clean water to 500,000+ in the dusty plains of Africa.
If you would have told me 13 years ago that The Gary Lipman Invitational would raise $1.6 million and fund the drilling of 159 wells on the African continent, I would not have believed you!
What started as a small tournament of about 20 players from Sent Church in Plano, Texas, has been blessed beyond my imagination to supply clean water to an estimated 500,000 people! It has been incredible to watch this unfold as I continue to lead this effort. This invitational holds significant personal meaning for me and my family, because it carries on the legacy of a great man who impacted hundreds of people.
My father, Gary, started the golf tournament to fund scholarships to the church’s annual men’s retreat. My dad passed away in 2008. A few years later in 2011, a group of us decided to carry it on in his honor. But instead of funding men’s annual retreat scholarships, we chose to adopt the cause of clean water and got connected with World Hope International.
At that time, the cost to drill a well was $5,500 and our goal was to raise half of that amount. Instead, $11,000 came in and we were thrilled that we had raised enough that first year to drill two wells!
Over the past 13 years, our objectives have continued to evolve. This year our goal is to raise $150,000, which will then be matched by an anonymous donor, for a total of $300,000.
Our original tournament group of 20 now has 120 golfers with an additional 50 volunteers. We recently added a pre-tournament banquet with 150 in attendance and an only-in-Texas style hole-in-one contest where competitors vie for the chance to win a longhorn cattle!
Over the years we have learned a lot about event coordination and fundraising, but the biggest lesson our team takes away on an annual basis has been to never underestimate what can be done by God through us. We have learned to simply just be faithful with what has been entrusted to us and then joyfully, and with great anticipation, follow His lead.
In the United States, it is easy to take clean water for granted. But globally, the lack of access to clean water is the leading cause of death. It gives me great joy to see a golf tournament that originated with my dad to meet a need right in front of him, through a game he loved, now be the conduit that brings life-saving clean water to half a million people through our partnership with World Hope.
Well into our second decade, I am thankful for an incredible team of people who give their time and talent to make this tournament happen. As I look to the future, I am particularly excited about strengthening the partnership we’ve formed with World Hope International that allows us to leverage their experience in drilling and supplying fresh water that will extend our reach to more communities. I am looking forward to the day we celebrate doubling our reach through this tournament fundraiser so that over a million people will have access to clean water through this joint effort.
Visit gligolf.org/#events to register as a golfer, donate to the silent or live auction and/or become a sponsor. The auction takes place on September 29, followed by the tournament on Saturday, September 30, 2023 in Plano, Texas.
Chair of the Gary Lipman Invitational