Golf Writers Honor Els with Charlie Bartlett Award
March 1, 2010
HOUSTON—Three-time major champion Ernie Els, whose commitment to charitable giving began in 1999 and is embodied in his youth foundation South Africa, the Els for Autism Foundation and the Els Center for Excellence, has been honored with the Golf Writers Association of America’s Charlie Bartlett Award.
The 40-year-old Els has been a passionate advocate for autism since his son, Ben, 7, was diagnosed four years ago. He and his wife, Liezl, founded the Els Autism Foundation in 2009 and are now undertaking a capital campaign to raise $30 million for the Center for Excellence. The Center will be the first of its kind, combining cutting-edge education, therapy and research for children in the autism spectrum. The campus will have a global outreach through its digital learning program which will allow professionals and those families with ASD around the world to access the Center.
The award, named for the first secretary of the GWAA, is given to a professional golfer for his/her unselfish contributions to the betterment of society. Els will be honored at the GWAA Annual Awards Dinner April 7 in Augusta, Ga.
Els has said, “The mark of a true man is now what he takes in life, but what he gives back.”
He began his work in his native South Africa in 1999 with the Els Foundation, which assists young golfers from families of limited resources with education and playing opportunities. The foundation joined forces with the Fancourt Foundation in 2006.
Since Ben’s diagnosis at age 3, Els has provided awareness for the developmental disorder. In a current public-service announcement, he notes the odds of winning the U.S. Open twice, which he did, are 1 in 1.2 billion. The odds of someone being diagnosed with autism is 1 in 110.
The Center, which will be located in Palm Beach County in Florida, will also offer a services program to help students transition to college and adult life.
In following Tiger Woods (2007), Greg Norman (2008) and Jack Nicklaus (2009) in receiving the Bartlett Award, Tim Rosaforte, former GWAA president and chairman of the Bartlett committee, said Els “epitomizes the spirit of the award” and the work being done by professional golfers toward the betterment of society.
Other former Bartlett winners include the Louisiana trio of Hal Sutton, David Toms and Kelly Gibson, Val Skinner, Betsy King, Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, Tom Lehman, Arnold Palmer, Kenny Perry, Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade, Patty Berg and Andy North.
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