A Hummel Report InvestigationThe CVS Caremark Charity Classic is not only one of Rhode Island’s premier sporting events - featuring world-class golfers - but one of its leading charity events as well. It’s a unique partnership that has helped the tournament grow over the last 16 years, generating millions of dollars for nonprofit organizations. This week Jim Hummel discovers some things you might not know about the tournament, as he sits down with Brad Faxon, Billy Andrade and the CEO at CVS Caremark.
Brad Faxon is presiding over a reunion of sorts in the parking lot behind The Rhode Island Country Club, where he first picked up a set up golf clubs more than four decades ago.
Faxon is welcoming golfers and their families who have gathered this Monday morning from all over the country for the CVS Caremark Charity Classic. Billy Andrade, Faxon’s childhood friend and co-host for the event, is across the lot kicking off his own annual homecoming.
They met here at the clubhouse in 1975 when Andrade was 11. Faxon was 14 and already a golf phenom. The friendship would continue through college and into their professional careers. And 15 years ago they helped launch a tournament that has generated a total of more than $17 million for nearly two dozen charities in Rhode Island.
Faxon: ``The monies all stay in Rhode Island the go to all different charities, it’s not just for children, it’s not just for women, it’s not just for the hospitals, or boys and girls club, it’s almost every charity you’ve heard of in Rhode Island.’’
And - Faxon says - here’s what you might not know about golf as a professional sport.
Faxon: ``We do something that’s neat: every year the PGA Tour gives more money away to charity than NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL combined, so we kill ‘em.’’
Andrade: ``Golf is different than other sports, you’re not owned by an owner. You’re your own independent contractor and you get to the PGA tour level and you realize all of this money we’re generating for charity every week, every city we play in.’’
The three-day event is a combination of great golf, nearly a thousand volunteers and a lead sponsorship by CVS Caremark with support from the company’s suppliers. Plus the Rhode Island Country Club’s willingness to provide the course. And it takes each element to make it work every year.
Merlo: ``A lot of people talk about the fact that it’s Rhode Island’s premiere sporting event. I think it’s Rhode Island’s premier philanthropic event.’’
CVS Caremark’s CEO Larry Merlo was one of the first to arrive at the club that Monday.
Merlo: ``Brad and Billy do a wonderful job in terms of getting a world-class field of players year after year, whether it’s the PGA Tour, the LPGA, the Champions Tour. I think we’ve been very fortunate over the past 16 years to see some of the legends of golf and at the same time the current stars and the future stars. And the fact that they are very philanthropic focused themselves and you talk to the golfers, and some of them have a favorite charity, some of them have a foundation, they believe in the foundation for what the charity classic stands for.’’
The tournament began in 1999 as a successor to another charity tournament Andrade and Faxon had been running for the better part of a decade. Faxon says the CVS Caremark Charity Classic is modeled after a tournament in Oregon that former CVS CEO Tom Ryan had played in.