Helping Hands In Time Of Need
HGA Members Donate Equipment To Ball
High Golfers Affected By Ike
November 20, 2008
By David Shefter, USGA
Far Hills, N.J. - Like many Texans living along the Gulf Coast
region, Glen McWhorter felt the brunt of Hurricane Ike. The
category-2 storm, which blasted the southeastern portion of the
state on Sept. 13, left an estimated $27 billion in damages in
its wake, especially in Galveston and surrounding
McWhorter, who lives northeast of Galveston, lost his home and
other valuables. Two months removed from one of the worst
hurricane disasters in American history, he remains displaced in
At least one of his prized possessions was spared.
"I had my golf clubs in my car," said McWhorter with
Golf clubs might seem insignificant compared to lost property
and businesses, but to members of Galveston's Ball High golf
team, they are almost as vital to their education as books.
So when McWhorter, the golf coach at district rival Clear
Creek High in League City (35 miles northeast of Galveston),
witnessed Ball High golfers playing with as little as three clubs
at the first tournament since the hurricane, he recognized it was
time to be a good Samaritan.
As a member of the Houston Golf Association, which conducts
the annual PGA Tour Shell Houston Open at Redstone Golf Club and
operates The First Tee of Houston/Redstone, McWhorter understood
the role golf can play with young people. So he contacted Dianne
Overstreet at the HGA about getting a club-donation drive going
to assist Ball High.
"That's just what a coach does," said McWhorter,
whose Clear Creek team members were unaffected by the hurricane
in terms of property loss. "I'm a member of the HGA and
that's what [we] do - help kids out. It's not so much what I did,
but what the HGA and all of its members really did.
"When you give them something like that when they are not
expecting something, it makes your heart just feel good that at
least somebody cares about them."
Overstreet immediately sent out e-mails to all 250 HGA
members. Even non-HGA members who heard about the drive got
involved. Within 48 hours another hurricane of sorts found its
way to the HGA's headquarters. A once serene lobby suddenly
became awash with clubs, bags, shirts and shoes.
One individual donated a new set of irons he had won at a
tournament because his company wouldn't allow him to keep them.
Instead of collecting dust in the garage, those clubs now are
being put to good use.
"It was pretty incredible as far as how quick the
response was," said Overstreet, who sent out the e-mail on
Oct. 24. Five days later the items were delivered.
"Everyone, particularly those living in the immediate
community, really understood the devastation."
Members of McWhorter's team helped bring the donations to
Galveston, and some were envious at the quality of the items.
"They were saying they've got better equipment than what
we've got," said McWhorter. "[The Ball High players]
deserve it. These kids lost their homes and everything. It was
kind of sad."
News of Galveston County, more than half of the Ball High team
was displaced due to Ike. Two seniors - Dillon Millender and J.W.
McCartney - lost everything they owned except for their golf
clubs. Just like McWhorter, they had kept the clubs in their car
during the evacuation.
Once golf did resume following a one-month hiatus, the
disabled Ball High team scraped together whatever clubs they had
to play a tournament on Oct. 21. One golfer, Parker Montalbano,
used a 3-wood to putt and still managed to shoot a 93. Most of
the players resorted to using borrowed equipment. Some played
with as few as three clubs.
Eight days after that tournament, Christmas came two months
early, courtesy of the HGA's benevolence.
"You should have seen the kids' eyes when I gave them the
stuff," Ball High coach Gary Key told
News. "I think once everyone finds out what the HGA did,
they will be impressed."
Once the equipment arrived, Key let the players who lost clubs
have the first selections. Kyle Tramonte, a huge Texas A&M
fan, spotted a golf bag with the school's name on it and wasted
no time claiming it.
"I was all over that bag," the Aggie fan told
The Daily News.
"I didn't know what to say about all that new stuff. It was
really gracious of everyone to donate it."
But for the Ball High team members, just returning to the golf
course provided therapeutic relief from the everyday
post-hurricane trauma facing the region's inhabitants. The
community is still facing myriad issues, from housing to district
"It's hard to find words to express our emotions,"
golf team member Nicole Benjamin told
The Daily News
. "What really makes it amazing is it was one of our rivals
(Clear Creek) that was helping us get back out there. That was
really cool of them."
Prior to the hurricane, McWhorter, Overstreet and other HGA
members were making inroads to bring The First Tee's National
School Program to the Galveston Independent School District.
Discussions had taken place with community leaders Buddy Hertz,
Gean Leonard and Bill Ross.
The First Tee, whose largest benefactor is the USGA, uses golf
to teach nine core values - honesty, integrity, sportsmanship,
respect, confidence, responsibility, courtesy, judgment and
Because most of the region's demographics feature low-income
and economically-disadvantaged families, The First Tee program
would be an ideal educational tool for students. McWhorter and
Overstreet remain optimistic that the program will eventually
find its way to Galveston, even if the hurricane put those plans
in a holding pattern.
As the HGA club donation proved, anything is possible.
"If that happens, this driving range [at Moody Gardens
Golf Course] will be full every day with kids playing golf,"
said Key. "That would be a great thing for this
David Shefter is a staff writer for the USGA's Digital Media
Department. E-mail him with questions or comments at