Doug McGrath has his priorities straight. That was evident when he entered the hospital in Atlanta in September 1996 for four months of bone marrow and chemotherapy treatments to beat back the leukemia ravaging his body. On the luggage cart with his bag of personal belongings was another bag containing something inspirational—his golf clubs. McGrath planned not only to survive the disease but to leave the hospital healthy enough to play.
“Rolling my cart through the hospital, I said golf is my passion and I’m going to get out of here and go play golf,” McGrath says. “It was a reminder to get out.”
He was out by Christmas, but it took about a year of recovery time before he was able to play golf again. Today he plays every weekend.
In the meantime, McGrath and his wife, Barbara, who both graduated in 1976, were so grateful for all the help from neighbors, friends and the community that they decided they had to give something back. So they created a charity golf tournament–not just a little golf tournament, a big golf tournament that now is the largest on the PGA Nationwide Tour.
The fifth annual BMW Charity Pro-Am at the Cliffs Golf Tournament in Greenville, S.C., was held this year in late April. It offered $625,000 to amateur, professional and celebrity golfers including actors Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell, and professionals Gary Player and Steve Nicklaus. Last year, it raised a record $756,000 for charity, says McGrath, chairman of the event, and the total over four years is more than $2.4 million.
“It’s given me inner pleasure that the event has turned out as well as it has. When I was first diagnosed, we figured we’ll never figure out the reasons why, that God had some plan and let’s just make the best of it.”