SUGAR GROVE, IL – The Hansberger Family recently donated $1 million to the Kids Golf Foundation of Illinois to help grow the game of golf throughout the state. To date, this is the largest single donation received by the Foundation, a nonprofit junior golf organization that has impacted the lives of over 250,000 youth through golf and its valuable life lessons.
“I want to help the kids,” said Allan Hansberger of his donation. “I want the kids to be brought up with the game, like I was.”
The money will be used to cover the cost of running program sites, from southern Illinois to the Wisconsin border. This includes equipment like SNAG (Starting New At Golf) sets for Level 1: SNAG Programs and a starter sets of golf clubs, polo shirts and hats, rules books, bag tags, golf balls and tees for participants of Level 2: Traditional Clinics. The money will also go towards Site Coordinator training, providing them with resources and program consultations, as well as site visits from the Foundation staff. Event costs, such as mentoring events, will be covered, and the Foundation staff will be given the chance to create new opportunities for Program Sites as well.
“We are extremely grateful to Mr. Hansberger and his family,” said Michala Mika, Director of the Kids Golf Foundation of Illinois. “We impact thousands of children through our programs and events every year throughout the state. Golf is such an amazing sport with so many life lessons, which is why we provide all of our equipment and resources at no cost to our program sites. Thanks to the Hansbergers, we can continue to spread our mission and grow the game.”
Allan and his brothers are innovators in the golf equipment world, founding Sportsman’s Golf in 1946. After various acquisitions, the family-run company changed its name to RAM Golf Corp. in 1963 in order to streamline their marketing. Their biggest fan was Tom Watson, who endorsed RAM for the entirety of the company’s existence due to the quality of their clubs, and used them to win eight major championships, including five British Opens, two Masters, and the U.S. Open. Other professional golfers who used RAM clubs included Nancy Lopez, Patty Sheehan and a number of others.
The Hansbergers ended up selling RAM to the Colgate-Palmolive Company in 1974, but reclaimed it six years later. The dividends of that trade are apparent today, in the generous donation to the Kids Golf Foundation.
When the Hansberger brothers split RAM into the Ram Golf Club Company and Ram Tour Balls in 1993, Allan Hansberger’s son, Gary, decided to strike out on his own. He launched Vulcan Golf in 1995, a custom-made club builder that sold to individual customers and pro shops.
It was Gary who helped his father Allan consider many youth golf organizations to be the beneficiary of his generosity before the Kids Golf Foundation was ultimately selected.
“I’ve been friends with Al[lan] and Gary [Hansberger] for over 20 years,” said Mr. Jerry Rich, Founder of the Kids Golf Foundation. “I was more than happy to sit down with them and tell them about the Foundation. When I told them about targeting at-risk youth in lower-income areas with the life-changing teachings of golf, they knew they found the right place.”
Though RAM now only exists as a brand subsidiary of other corporations, with the Ram Golf Club Company a part of Tommy Armour and Ram Tour Balls purchased by TearDrop Golf Company, its legacy will live on through the Kids Golf Foundation.
“We wanted to keep things close to home,” remarked Gary Hansberger of the donation. “For me personally, having been involved in golf for most of my life, I know the future of the sport is in the youth. With all the challenges in the industry, supporting organizations like the Kids Golf Foundation is a great way to bring the kids back into the game and keep the game alive.”