A charity golf event that was set to take place on Thursday, May 2 and be headlined by Steve Stricker has been outed as an apparent scam.
First reported by Golf.com’s Sean Zak, the BB&T Invitational was touted as a charitable event that would benefit the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, a “non-denominational ministry that provides services for anyone who calls on us for help, regardless of race, cultural or ethnic background.”
Supposed to be held at the Maple Chase Country Club in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a $7,500 donation would earn guests a spot at Wednesday, May 1st’s meet-and-greet dinner with Stricker, an 18-hole round with the 2020 Ryder Cup captain as well as signed memorabilia and photo opportunities.
@stevestricker this what was advertised for this Friday at Trump National Charlotte. Was invited to play with the group that purchased it as they are Members of Maple Chase. Really confused. Was really excited to teeing it up with you today and Friday. pic.twitter.com/Ml4b5h06Iu
— Sean Branagan (@sbranagan74) May 2, 2019
There was only one problem, which became obviously evident when Stricker was not present at the meet-and-greet on Wednesday evening — Stricker had no clue about the whole thing.
“Essentially somebody posed as a relative of his and convinced a group that he was coming and going to do a clinic and an exhibition and a dinner and essentially got sponsorship money to make all that happen, which is all false,” Stricker’s agent, Mario Tiziani, said. “We were never tipped off on it at all, which is kind of crazy. We were saying that ‘It’s the craziest thing that someone didn’t tweet something like that.’”
Sean Branagan, the head professional at Maple Chase Country Club, clarified some of the confusion, stating that an employee of The Rescue Mission claimed to be related to Stricker and that he would be coming to the outing.
Good Evening Josh. I am the Head Professional at Maple Maple Chase Golf & CC. The outing took place today with 200 total players. An employee of the Rescue Mission stayed that he was related to Steve and said he was coming to the outing.
— Sean Branagan (@sbranagan74) May 3, 2019
The outing took place on Thursday as planned, but without Stricker in attendance. He released a statement Thursday addressing the issue.
— Steve Stricker (@stevestricker) May 2, 2019
“One of the greatest things about being a PGA Tour player is the ability to use my platform to help others,” Stricker wrote. “I’ve been humbled and honored throughout my career to help generate much-needed awareness and funds for deserving organizations that can quite literally change the course of a person’s life. Which is why I was so shocked and then saddened to learn that an organization was misled in their effort to do great things.
“An individual using my name and potentially harming my reputation is one thing, but more importantly, to tarnish the powerful mechanism that golf provides to help others, that’s something that truly disappoints me and should disappoint anyone who loves this game as much as I do.
“I was never aware of this event or the false association of my name with it, but nonetheless, I am sorry for the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission that was misled and for anyone who had their expectations unfulfilled. I hope it does not temper your love of the game or your willingness to participate in charitable endeavors in the future.”