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Bobby Haven/BNP

Davis Love III, talks about the expansion of the Birdies Fore Love program.

By MARY STARR

What began as a way for local charities to benefit directly from the The RSM Classic golf tournament, has expanded to include the entire PGA community for the first eight tour dates of the PGA TOUR season.

Birdies Fore Love has added a new dimension following an announcement by RSM US and the PGA Tour. For the first eight weeks of the season, the top three players who accumulate the most birdies (or better) beginning with the Safeway Open, in Napa, Calif., and concluding with The RSM Classic at the Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons Island, will be awarded $300,000, $150,000 and $50,000, respectively.

On Tuesday, when the expansion of the Birdies for Love program was announced, PGA TOUR professional Davis Love III met with representatives of the media at The RSM Classic headquarters, which are ensconced in what was once the Corn Barn on Retreat Plantation, and now is part of the Sea Island Golf Club.

“RSM as a company has pushed us to do better,” said Love, adding that in the tournament’s first year, officials assumed it would lose money. Instead the tournament was able to donate $150,000 to charity, and in 2017, The RSM Classic, through the Davis Love Foundation, was able to give $2 million dollars to charitable causes, most of which are based in the Golden Isles.

The winners of the eight-week competition will be encouraged to donate their winnings to charity organizations dedicated to building middle market leaders through educational programs, as well as organizations committed to improving the lives of young people through a focus on hunger, housing and health.

Love said the PGA Tour is all about raising money for charity, and that most tour professionals have a desire to help children and families.

“Week in and week out, players raise money for different charities, and most of it is based on children and families,” said Love, citing Blessings in a Backpack, adoption and autism as three examples.

In case of ties, the player with the most birdies or better in a single tournament will win.

“Our people truly embrace Birdies Fore Love, and together with a match from our RSM US Foundation raised more than $2 million last year alone,” said RSM Chief Marketing Officer Andy Bosman. “We’re looking forward to doing even more through the enhanced RSM Birdies Fore Love program in coordination with the PGA TOUR.”

Since the inception of the RSM Classic in 2010, RSM and the Davis Love Foundation have donated more than $9 million to charities that support education and organizations that support children and families in the areas of hunger, housing and health. More than 200 organizations across the U.S. have benefited from these donations, including the Boys and Girls Clubs, Special Olympics, Blessings in a Backpack and Folds of Honor, just to name a few.’

“This is a significant increase in the Birdies Fore Love program, and the impact being made by RSM and The RSM Classic,” said Love. “RSM continues to raise the bar in its support of the communities in which it does business, including the Golden Isles where we host The RSM Classic.”

This year’s RSM Classic will be held Nov. 12-18, at the Sea Island Golf Club, on St. Simons Island. with the tournament beginning Nov. 15. Visit rsmclassic.com for ticket information.

The RSM Classic Schedule

Monday, Nov. 12

• Grounds Closed to the General Public

• The BMW Pro-Am Event — Seaside Course

• Practice rounds for PGA TOUR Players — All Day

Tuesday, Nov. 13

• Grounds Closed to the General Public

• Practice rounds for PGA TOUR Players — All Day

• 5 p.m. — Wiffle Ball Classic featuring PGA TOUR Players and Wives — Free to the public, Frederica Academy Baseball Field

• 6 p.m. — Meet the Pros hosted by Rotary Club of St. Simons Island, at The Cloister, on Sea Island

Wednesday, Nov. 14

• Community Day — Free admission to the general public

• 7 a.m. — Gates open

• The Yamaha Pro-Am Event — on both the Seaside and Plantation courses

• 3 p.m. — Youth Golf Zone, sponsored by Southeast Georgia Health System and featuring PGA TOUR Players — Sea Island Golf Performance Center Practice Putting Green

• 4 p.m. — Charity Putting Challenge featuring PGA TOUR pros, Special Olympics athletes and Boys and Girls Club participants — Sea Island Golf Performance Center Practice Putting Green

Thursday, Nov. 15

• 9 a.m. — Gates open

• Round 1 of The RSM Classic (Seaside and Plantation courses)

Friday, Nov. 16

• 9 a.m. — Gates open

• Round 2 of The RSM Classic (Seaside and Plantation courses)

Saturday, Nov. 17

• Military Appreciation Day

• Bridgestone Folds of Honor Million Dollar Challenge — located near the main entrance

• 9 a.m. — Gates open

• Round 3 of The RSM Classic (Seaside Course only)

• 7:30 p.m. The RSM Concert Event, sponsored by Southeast Georgia Health System and featuring country artist John Pardi, at McKinnon/St Simons Island Airport

Sunday, Nov. 18

• 9 a.m. — Gates open

• Final Round of The RSM Classic (Seaside Course only)

• Trophy Presentation on the 18th green immediately following the completion of play