From afar, Nick Price looked on as the economy of his homeland collapsed.
The fallout from Zimbabwe’s participation in the Second Congo War in the late 1990s and early 2000s left the small country with a 94% unemployment rate while inflation skyrocketed by 231-million%.
A World Golf Hall of Famer, three-time major champion on the PGA Tour, and most importantly, a proud Zimbabwean, Price can vividly recount those figures from memory.
Today, like so many others, he’s doing his part to help those affected most.
Price is awarding his donation from the 2017 Presidents Cup at Liberty National to the Zimbabwe Aid Fund (Zaf). Zaf was established in 2006 for the sole purpose of raising funds to support the pensioners in Zimbabwe, as the plight of the elderly is one of the less-publicised outcomes of the country’s social, economic and political collapse.
‘Their pensions became valueless,’ Price said. ‘A lot of these people, because of the political situation, their children have moved away and were funding them from other parts of the world. There were a lot of them who were single, didn’t have kids, and the poor people – they were eating pet food. That’s all they could afford… It was staggering, the amount of people.
‘With the hyper-inflation, what was a $2,000 a month pension – you went from making a home payment to not even being able to buy a newspaper.’
On behalf of the Zaf committee, Mike and Shelley Mino said: ‘A very sincere thank you from the Zimbabwe Aid Fund for the very generous donation made to the pensioners in Zimbabwe from proceeds raised at the 2017 Presidents Cup.
‘Support by way of donations and fundraisers is crucial to the survival of these elderly people. They are very proud and are not looking for sympathy. However, they are very appreciative of the assistance they receive. They do not have any means of conveying their gratitude to those overseas, but convey their thanks to those on the ground, and are often reduced to tears when given a box of very basic food.’
There are a number of institutions for the aged spread throughout Zimbabwe, and most of them are dependent on various levels of external funding to survive. In addition to retirement homes, there are many elderly Zimbabweans still living in their own homes that are also dependent on donated food parcels provided by these types of organisations.
At present, Zaf supports over 350 pensioners.
‘It’s just such a wonderful thing that these people are doing,’ Price said. ‘The country’s infrastructure has crumbled, and… it’s just hard for people who live in this country to relate to what happened in my country.
‘These people are absolute heroes and heroines in what they do. Thank goodness for them, because if it wasn’t for them, who knows what would be going on in the country right now?’
Since 1994, the Presidents Cup has donated more than $49.1-million to over 450 charities around the world. Price has been a part of eight Presidents Cups, playing in five and participating in another three as a non-playing captain.
‘I can’t tell you the good the money that I’ve received from the Presidents Cup has done for the people in my country,’ Price said. ‘There’s a lot of people in my country who know what the Presidents Cup is all about, which is terrific. I’ve loved being a part of every one of them.’
Where the proceeds from those Presidents Cups go – to charity, rather than to be paid out as a purse – Price said is very important not only to himself, but to all participants.
‘It’s an incredible situation we find ourselves in when we play the Presidents Cup,’ Price said. ‘Here we are playing golf, and obviously competitively, but the profits go to help those in our country who are really struggling. For me, it’s just a wonderful event, and it just makes me really feel good about being involved in it.’
The 2019 Presidents Cup will be held on 9-15 December 2019, when it returns to the prestigious Royal Melbourne Golf Club. The return to the State of Victoria, Australia, will mark the third time in the biennial event’s 25-year history.
Credit: PGA TOUR
To find hospitality opportunities, information on travel packages, and ticket options, please visit www.presidentscup.com.
For more information about the Zimbabwe Aid Fund or to donate, please visit www.zimbabweaidfund.org.au.
Reporting from The Daily Telegraph and The Globe & Mail was used in this story.