Last year on World Water Day, King donated $1.3 million and committed to help raise a total of $10 million for clean water over the next five years. Golf Fore Africa is partnering with World Vision to help end the global water crisis by 2030. Here's a little more about the LPGA legend:
American Golfer: How were you introduced to the game of golf?
Betsy King: My parents learned to play golf as adults, and we belonged to the local country club (Reading Country Club) outside of Reading, PA. I started taking lessons when I was 9 years old, along with my brother who was year and a half older than me.
AG: When you started your career, did you ever imagine some day being in the World Golf Hall of Fame?
BK: I never imagined one day I would be nominated for that honor because when I started on the tour, it took me almost 7 years to win my first tournament. Once I won, it was like a light switched turned on for me, and I went on to win 33 more times on tour.
BK: Golf Fore Africa is a non-profit I founded in early 2007, following a life changing trip I took to Africa with relief and development organization World Vision. On that trip, I saw the effects of poverty and HIV and AIDS on women and children. I came back from the trip wanting to do something to make a difference. I played on the LPGA Tour for 28 years and have been in the golf world for a long time. I know how charitable golfers are so I started to raise money in the golf community to bring health and hope to Africa. To date, GFA has raised over $6 million to fund various projects in Africa. Currently we are working to bring clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene education to rural communities in Zambia. We are raising funds to dig wells in villages and provide mechanized water systems at health clinics and schools. We partner with World Vision, the largest non-governmental provider of clean water in the world.
AG: How can people help with this wonderful cause?
BK: People can help by going to www.golfforeafrica.org and making a donation. As little as $50 can make a difference and bring clean water to 1 person for a lifetime. We also host a number of golf events and luncheons to raise awareness and money for Africa. All these events are listed on our website. People can also contact us about hosting an event at their club or in their community.
Team World Vision is another great way to get involved - they host a number of events throughout the year, including the world’s largest 6K walk for water, the Global 6K for Water, each May. Every $50 registration for that event provides clean water to one person. This year, on May 19, more than 34,000 people from more than 10 countries joined us! You can learn more about the event by visiting www.worldvision6k.org.
AG: Back to golf ... How can we grow the game?
BK: It is important to reach the next generation of golfers. The golf community needs to make golf more accessible to juniors, both boys and girls. I currently serve on the board of the JGAA (Junior Golf Association of Arizona), and access and affordability are the two major issues that prevent kids from getting involved in golf. Public and private country clubs need to do a better job about opening their facilities to offer free or low cost golf to juniors in order to grow the game.
AG: What’s the most common mistake amateur golfers make on the course?
BK: Overestimating how far they hit the golf ball. As a result they don’t use enough club when hitting approach shots into the green. In addition, amateurs often try to pull off shots from the rough or trees that they have a low chance of executing instead of just getting the ball back into play!
AG: Is there a shot you've always dreaded?
BK: No not really. I have enjoyed competing and trying to execute whatever shot I am facing!
AG: Do you have a favorite course?
BK: My two favorite courses on tour were Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California and Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, New York. I had success on both these courses and I enjoyed playing them because they had tree lined fairways and small fast greens.
AG: Is there a course you haven't played that tops your bucket list?
BK: Yes, I would love to play at Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, California.
AG: What’s your “dream foursome” (living or dead, golfer or non-golfer)?
BK: I’d love to play with my parents, who are deceased, and my brother. My brother and I still play golf when we get together.
To learn more about Golf Fore Africa, visit www.golfforeafrica.org.