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High school golf programs in the Northwest are in financial peril. Raise the Bar Promotions wants to help.


The for-profit corporation is initiating sales of a golf card that will provide funding support for the First Tee of Greater Portland, Oregon junior golf and high school programs throughout the region.

The company has lined up several area golf courses to offer consumers up to 12 rounds of golf — some for free, some at a two-for-one or discount rates — along with discounts for lessons and in pro shops, restaurants and lodges for purchase of a $99 card.

“It’s a value of between $300 and $1,200,” says Gary Smith, national marketing director for Raise the Bar Promotions and a Vancouver, Wash., resident. “And if a high school team participates in marketing the cards, 50 percent (of the $99) goes back to the program.”

The other 50 percent goes to Raise the Bar Promotions, of course. It’s in business to make money, but it would like to be of benefit to several golf entities in the area, too.

Participating courses include Broadmoor in Portland; Orchard Hills in Washougal; Lake Oswego Golf Course; Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Wash.; Springwater Golf Course in Estacada; Tri-Mountain in Ridgefield, Wash.; Sah-Hah-Lee in Clackamas; The Resort in Welches and Eagle Creek Golf Course.

Raise the Bar began getting the word out about the $99 card — which holds the seal of both the Oregon Golf Association and the First Tee of Greater Portland — at the Portland Golf Show in February and introduced it on a limited basis last spring. The idea is to distribute the cards out to courses, golf shops and high school teams in full force this fall.

Donations from cards sold at a course will be made to a high school team in its area.

For every card Raise the Bar sells on its own, both the OGA and First Tee receive a $2 donation.

“It’s not huge, but it helps,” says Craig Winter, director of Oregon Junior Golf, which received $300 with Raise the Bar’s initial donation.

Also getting a $300 check was First Tee, a nonprofit that runs the Children’s Course in Gladstone and uses golf as a platform to teach life skills and core values and the transfer of those to every-day activities.

“We have another $400 on the way,” Smith says.

For each card the OGA or First Tee sells on its own, the organization gets 50 percent of the proceeds. The OGA is preparing to launch sales on its website.

“It has been a tough start for them, but it’s a card with a purpose,” says Craig Winter, director of Oregon Junior Golf. “If they can get it off the ground, it will do wonders to reinvigorate high school golf.

“Teachers and coaches are being let go, and high school teams are suffering. This is one more way to try to help fund the programs, and a good vehicle to do it. We have our fingers crossed. We hope it works.”

Partner with courses

Robyn Lorain, First Tee’s executive director, met Raise the Bar officials at the Portland Golf Show.

“They had this wonderful idea to partner with a local organization to promote the game and support youth in the community,” says Lorain, a former Idaho State golfer and a PGA professional. “We don’t have a lot of money allocated for advertising, so it helps spread the word about our organization.

“Part of their business plan is to help youth organizations or kids fundraising for their sport. Promoting the Children’s Course and First Tee is a win-win, for sure.”

Lorain says the cards will be sold at the Children’s Course pro shop.

“We’re excited and optimistic,” she says. “This is the very beginning, but we’re looking at the big picture. We have the potential to reach a lot of people, and to partner with more courses in the area. It’s a no-brainer for us.”

If high school teams want the cards to really work for them, the golfers must get out and sell the product.

“It’s a great concept, but I think they would be better off selling (the cards) to members (of clubs),” says Tualatin High boys coach John Gailey. “The kids aren’t really hip on asking people to give them money for golf things.”

Daniel Telles, coach at The Dalles High, has reservations for different reasons.

“I like that it offers an opportunity to play courses multiple times for a low price,” Telles says. “But I’m not sure it would be entirely successful in The Dalles. We’d probably sell some cards, but not many, because we’re located so far from most of the courses.

“Those kind of things are a hard sell in our town, too, because people are getting hit up every time for fundraisers.”

If the coaches and players are willing to put in a little work, though, the Raise the Bar card might provide a sorely needed financial boost.

Might even keep some teams afloat in this time when athletic directors are looking to cut programs.

Check out the organization’s website, http://www.teetogreenclub.com, for more information.

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