Augusta National announces massive donation toward coronavirus relief efforts

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Add Augusta National to the growing list of golf clubs giving back during the coronavirus crisis. The club is donating $2 million toward coronavirus relief efforts, Augusta chairman Fred Ridley announced Monday.

“It is our hope these gifts will help address the many challenges brought about by the coronavirus throughout the City of Augusta and the greater region,” Ridley said in a statement. “We believe Augusta National has an important responsibility to support and protect the community who has so generously and consistently supported us for many years.”

A pair of local organizations working to stop the spread of the virus will split the gift equally. Augusta University will receive $1 million to expand testing capabilities in the area, while another million will be donated to the Central Savannah River Area’s COVID-19 relief fund.

“These dollars will give our nonprofit partners the security to focus on helping others and not worry quite as much about how to fund their work,” CRSA Community Foundation President and CEO Shell Berry said. “The Community Foundation will continue leaning into its mission by using our resources generously when the community needs it most.”

For Augusta University, the donation represents a huge infusion of capital at a critical moment. As of March 19, Augusta University’s COVID-19 research lab could only conduct 300 tests per day, according to the Augusta Chronicle. In the weeks since, the University has expanded mobile testing and developed an app that allows doctors to practice telemedicine for those in the area. But still, more help is needed. On Monday, 107 people in the Augusta area had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This gift is an immediate and important contribution to the expansion of our COVID-19 screening and testing efforts,” Augusta University president Brad Keel told the Augusta Chronicle. “It provides us with needed resources to limit the spread of the virus through quicker identification and treatment. There is no doubt that because of this gift, many lives will be saved.”

Augusta is just the latest golf heavyweight to contribute toward coronavirus relief efforts. Over the weekend, Pinehurst began auctioning off a series of once-in-a-lifetime vacation opportunities to support workers whose jobs were displaced when the resort’s hotels and restaurants closed. While membership at Riviera, led by Larry David, is engaged in a crowd-funding campaign for the course’s caddies. Both efforts have raised more than $250,000 for displaced workers in only a few days.

On March 13, the last time we heard from Ridley, the Augusta National chairman announced the Masters’ postponement. Now, seven days before Masters week was supposed to begin, Ridley expressed hope — not for the tournament, but for the donation.

“We are grateful to the Community Foundation for their continued partnership during this unprecedented time and especially appreciative to the dedicated healthcare providers, first responders and many others working tirelessly to fight the effects of this pandemic,” Ridley said. “We hope these contributions will inspire others to support their efforts.”

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