How one New Jersey country club sparked a movement

ClubsHELP Foundation, Spring Brook CC
ClubsHELP Foundation, Spring Brook CC

Spring Brook C.C. in Morristown, N.J., donated truckloads of supplies to a local hospital. Ten days later, a new foundation was born.

It all started on March 27, when members at a New Jersey country club sent a few sandwiches to the emergency room staff at a nearby hospital. The doctors and nurses appreciated the gesture – and they also noted that they could use some water, Gatorade and snacks, as they worked around the clock. The club marshalled its resources and sent four truckloads of supplies to the clinic, Morristown Medical Center, two days later.

And so began a movement. After Spring Brook Country Club, in Morristown, N.J., caught the attention of Fox News for those four supply trucks, the program’s leaders wanted to help clubs across the country to do the same for their local clinics. They launched the ClubsHELP Foundation, which now connects golf and member clubs with local hospitals to activate a powerful network providing critical resources and support for frontline hospital workers.

Clubs “adopt” a local hospital where members, companies and individual donors can pitch in to gather, collect and deliver critical items and resources, from basic food items such as bottled drinks, and sandwiches, to office supplies like paper bags and UV lights, to more complex resources, including vehicles and personnel. ClubsHELP contributors include Clif Bar, which has donated 6.6 million bars, Mountain Productions, which sent a disaster relief mobile unit and the National Club Association, which offered aid through their Coronavirus Resource Center.

Rob Goulet, CEO of Entertainment Sports Partners, saw the Fox News clip live and notified his business partner, four-time major champion and World Golf Hall of Famer, Ernie Els. The Big Easy was all-in from the start and specifically asked golfers from around the country to become the captain of their respective clubs and lead donation projects. Els also launched a "Captain’s Challenge" on social media to drum up more support.

“When my management team told me about this initiative, I was right behind it straight away,” Els said in a statement. “It’s a shining example of how people all around the world are pulling together in this crisis to help vulnerable members of society and, of course, support the frontline healthcare staff who are literally putting their lives on the line for all of us.”

David Bachman, Spring Brook’s general manager, had no idea his weekend food drive would lead to a new 501(c)7 foundation in a matter of just 10 days. It has been a whirlwind, but a welcome one, because Morristown Memorial relies on his club as a trusted partner.

“It’s what this whole pandemic and struggling times are all about,” Bachman said. “We have members and members' kids working at the hospital, so we’ve heard the horror stories of supply shortages and no time to eat. Now we have the opportunity to help those who help us throughout the year.”

ClubsHELP has seen monumental support in its infancy. The PGA Tour has recognized the initiative along with 18-time major winner, Jack Nicklaus. ClubsHELP also plans to continue its outreach and growth after the coronavirus passes.

“In the immediate future, we want to be a leading resource for emergency medical services, firefighters, and really anything frontline as well,” Bachman said. “Further down the road, we look forward to supporting clubs outside of the United States and helping all of those affected by hurricanes, tornados and other natural disasters thrown at the worldwide golf community.”

Those looking for more information can visit the foundation’s website.