As Sea Island prepares for the 10th year of The RSM Classic, philanthropic organizations reap the benefits.
By Dale Leatherman
For many years, Davis Love III and Mark Love had a vision of bringing the PGA TOUR to Sea Island for an event that would be enjoyable for everyone involved—players, their families, spectators, volunteers and resort staff. The result: The RSM Classic, which has taken place each fall since 2010 at the Sea Island Golf Club.
“We grew up here and love this place,” says Mark, The RSM Classic’s executive director, and brother of tournament host and PGA TOUR player, Davis. “Golf’s been good to us and is the platform we had available to give back and show our hometown on a global stage. We wanted to raise money for charities, generate an economic boost for the area and spotlight the Golden Isles.”
By the success of the competition, which is celebrating 10 years this fall, the Love brothers have achieved what they set out to. While it’s a popular PGA TOUR stop for those living on and around Sea Island, it is for those playing as well.
“The RSM Classic is definitely one of the favorite stops for wives and players on the PGA TOUR,” says Brittany Kisner, whose husband, Kevin, won the tournament in 2015. “It’s hard to beat the beauty and the amenities of the Sea Island resort, and St. Simons Island has such a relaxed, small-town atmosphere. Coming into town for The RSM always feels like a bit of a vacation for families even though it is a work week for the pros. Personally, it feels like home to us. We have family on the island and I grew up vacationing here as a child. Plus, The RSM Classic is extra special because it was Kevin’s first TOUR victory. We have so many special memories and love creating new ones each year.”
Beyond the Classic’s world-class golf competition and family-oriented activities, at the heart of the event is the PGA TOUR’s commitment to giving back to local communities. As a member of the PGA TOUR Wives Association, Brittany supports various charitable initiatives that are a part of The RSM Classic experience, such as the annual Wiffle® Ball Classic between TOUR players and their wives. “It’s one of my favorite events,” she says. “It’s so much fun to team up with local children from … Altama Elementary School [in Brunswick, Georgia], and it’s one of the only community outreach events all season where a lot of TOUR pros are able to participate. The guys have so much fun with the kids, but they also take it very seriously and the competition between husbands and wives is fierce. I love the mission of the beneficiary, Blessings in a Backpack, which sends healthy, nutritious food home on the weekends with school-age children in need.”
At the 2018 RSM Classic, Davis expressed amazement at how the event’s charitable impact had grown from its initial $200,100 raised in 2010. Through the generosity of title sponsor RSM US LLP as well as other partners, the Davis Love Foundation was able to present more than $3.6 million to philanthropic organizations, bringing the nine-year total to more than $13 million.
Since RSM US took the foundation’s Birdies Fore Love charitable giving platform national a few years ago, RSM offices have raised funds for more than 70 charitable programs, which improve educational opportunities as well as the quality of life for families and children.
“RSM gives the three players who make the most birdies during the first eight events of the PGA TOUR season $300,000, $150,000 and $50,000, respectively, to donate to the charities of their choice,” Mark explains. This fall, RSM is expanding the program to the first 10 events of the 2019-2020 season. In addition, the company will award $50,000 during each of these 10 tournaments to the golfer scoring the most birdies (or better). Again, the players will donate these dollars to the charities of their choice.
One of the local beneficiaries of The RSM Classic and the Davis Love Foundation is the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Georgia. Damaria Gurley, the organization’s 2019 Georgia Youth of the Year representative, has personally felt the impact of the charity: “Every year, the Boys & Girls Clubs serve nearly 4 million children. I’ve been included in that number since I was 6 years old. The club has been a second home to many, including me. Through all my hardships, self-doubts and negative influences, the Boys & Girls Club has helped me develop into the person I am today—a high school graduate who will be attending college this fall.”
Catch the 10th annual RSM Classic at the Plantation and Seaside golf courses from
Through the Years
Take a look back at some of the most memorable moments in the tournament’s history.
The Davis Love Foundation and McGladrey (now RSM) partner in a new PGA TOUR event. Heath Slocum wins by one stroke. $200,100 is raised for charity.
Ben Crane wins in a playoff with Webb Simpson.
Tommy Gainey sets a course record of 60 and wins by one stroke.
The PGA TOUR restructures to a wrap-around season giving the tournament winner full FedExCup points and an invitation to the Masters. Chris Kirk wins by one stroke. $880,263 is raised for charity.
Robert Streb wins in a playoff. $936,861 is raised for charity.
Title sponsor McGladrey rebrands as RSM US LLP and the tournament becomes The RSM Classic. It expands from 132 players to 156 with play on both the Plantation and Seaside courses. Kevin Kisner wins by six strokes.
Mackenzie Hughes wins the tournament in a five-way playoff.
Austin Cook wins by four strokes.
Charles Howell III wins in a playoff, collecting the highest purse yet—$1.15 million.