“OMG, this is so cool!” – I kept saying to myself over and over. Here I was playing golf with Angela Stanford (yes, that Angela Stanford) at a Golf Fore Africa golf outing hosted by Betsy King (yes, that Betsy King) with tons of other LPGA participants (ever heard of Juli Inkster?). Except for the stress of trying to get off the first tee with Angela Stanford watching, it was one of the most fun golf days ever.

But the day ended up being more serious than fun. For one thing, Golf Fore Africa’s mission, the reason for this fundraiser-outing, is to bring fresh water to African villages that have none. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’ve taken having fresh water for granted. That changed at this outing.

Angela Stanford and I also discovered we have something other than golf in common. I’ve read that she loves football as much as I do, but nope, we didn’t share our mutual love of the NFL… we landed on cancer. Turns out, her mother and I had the same, rare (it’s called Lobular) breast cancer. Tragically, her mother passed away on March 9, 2022, after a recurrence. So, my big concern of the day – getting off the tee – quickly turned to bigger issues.

It was with that seriousness in mind that I started to really appreciate the sheer number of LPGA players (some superstars) using their personal time to support this charity event. So, I wondered, are some professional athletes more prone to give back than others? And if so, why?

First, there’s Angela, herself. Here she is, in the middle of two bookend LPGA tournaments where she has less personal time than usual, on a yucky, cold and clammy autumn day, playing golf with a schlepp like me. All to make the world a better place.

Many professional athletes express gratitude for their circumstances, but Angela seems to make gratitude her credo. Of the many things for which she’s grateful, she’s quick to tell you how lucky she was to go to college. She grew up in a household with modest means so college wasn’t a given, and for her, college (Texas Christian) was a wonderful experience. It was where she not only grew into a champion golfer but into the person she is today. In Angela’s own words, college is where she learned how to “fit into the world”.

She was older when her mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer but realizes that had she been younger, her mother’s cancer may have precluded her from ever going to college. So, in addition to playing golf to support Golf Fore Africa, Angela has her own personal mission, the Angela Stanford Foundation, which gives college scholarships to Texas kids whose families have been affected by cancer. To date, there have been 60 recipients of an Angela Stanford Foundation scholarship. Think of that – 60 kids who have been affected by cancer have had their lives made a little easier, a little more bearable, because Angela Stanford wanted to show gratitude for her own life.

Then there’s the legendary Betsy King who founded Golf Fore Africa – talk about giving back. Betsy King took a trip with World Vision in 2006 and saw, first-hand, the devastating effects that poverty and the HIV/AIDS crisis were having in Africa. Not even a year later, she founded Golf Fore Africa, which doesn’t just bring in water, they build wells, thus making a lasting difference. To date, Golf Fore Africa has built 422 fresh water wells in African villages and changed the lives of almost 150,000 people in doing so.

Here’s the essence of who Betsy King is. With 34 LPGA Tour wins, six of which are majors, and an inductee of both the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame, Betsy will tell you that bringing fresh water to villages in Africa has been her life’s biggest purpose.

Look, I’m a fan of the LPGA and so I’m going to be quick to think that LPGA players are the most charitable, but watching so many LPGA players donate their time and playing a round of golf with Angela Stanford who couldn’t have been more gracious sure helped solidify my LPGA bias.