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Ernie Els Launches Fifth Annual Els for Autism Golf Challenge

Organizing Sponsors SAP, Adams Golf, RBC and Wine Spectator support autism cause

Jupiter, Fla. (February 24th, 2015) – Els for Autism today announced that registration is now open for the fifth annual Els for Autism Golf Challenge; the largest international charity-driven amateur golf tournament in history. The Golf Challenge, spearheaded by four-time Major winner and World of Golf Hall of Fame member, Ernie Els, is an international, season long event series that takes place between May-October at over 20 of North America’s finest golf courses and culminates in a series finale in Las Vegas on November 13th and 14th.

Host venues for 2015 include a selection of first-class PGA TOUR stops and Major hosts including; Baltusrol Golf Club, NJ; Harbour Town Golf Links, SC; Congressional Country Club, DC; Hazeltine Golf Club, MN; TPC Boston, MA; and this year’s US Open venue, Chamber’s Bay.  This year Hawaii’s Hoakalei Country Club, an Els Design course, joins the impressive list of venues.  The 2015 series will kick-off with its first event on May 11th, at Trump National Doral Golf Club, Miami; hosted by last year’s top fundraiser, Sergio Leao.

In this event series, a team’s fundraising ability is valued as much as their performance on the golf course.  Teams compete in a combined low-net event for a selection of first class regional prizes and all teams that fundraise $13,000 or more will join Ernie Els and his celebrity friends from the PGA TOUR at the series Finale in Las Vegas in November, where major prizes will be awarded to the top teams.

Each team registers online at and is encouraged to choose an “Honorary Captain,” a child on the autism spectrum who they play and fundraise in honor of. Teams are assigned their own fundraising page and are able to email this out to friends, family and colleagues soliciting donations for their team. One team raising $2,500 or more in donations will be selected to receive a 7-day ultimate IRISH LINKS golf tour to Ireland in recognition of their fundraising efforts.

Non-golfers and those unable to play in a regional event are invited to participate in the fundraising drive by joining ‘The Gallery Club’.  Members can compete in teams of one or two to raise funds and awareness for Els for Autism and earn the chance to come to Las Vegas and participate in the Finale.

Els for Autism is excited and proud to announce that a family of highly-respected global brands are supporting Ernie in his philanthropic efforts through the 2015 Golf Challenge. Organizing Sponsors include Presenting Sponsor, SAP; Adams Golf, RBC and Wine Spectator.  The Challenge is also supported by an impressive team of Contributing Sponsors including: Boeing, ECCO, Hospitality America, IRISH LINKS, Maui Jim, Southwest Airlines, and The Honda Classic.

In 2015 the Foundation will continue to use golf to reach out to autism groups across the U.S. through the hosting of Ernie Els #GameON Autism® Golf Clinics alongside each of the regional Golf Challenge events. With support from The PGA of America Foundation (now called PGA Reach), The First Tee, The Honda Classic, Adams Golf and Southwest Airlines, this clinic series looks to build self-esteem and confidence in a fun, welcoming and supportive environment; encouraging participants to learn golf skills while practicing specific autism learning concepts. This year #GameON Autism clinics will also be expanded to include select Golf Challenge host courses in Canada.

Proceeds from the Challenge benefit Els for Autism in the U.S. and Canada. Proceeds from the Canadian events are donated to a variety of autism-focused, non-profit organizations in the territory or province in which they are raised. Proceeds from the U.S. events predominantly go towards the funding of a state-of-the-art autism center and hub of worldwide operations for Els for Autism; The Els Center of Excellence, although a portion of the funds raised on the day of each regional event is left behind in that city to fund sports and wellness programs for the local autism community.

The Els Center of Excellence will provide a uniquely designed on-site educational program for 300 children on the autism spectrum ages 3-21. It will also bring together the critical components of early intervention, transition to adulthood, medical and professional services, and adult services all on one campus. Committed to a global mission, the Center has been designed to facilitate a multi-faceted global outreach program focused on the sharing of best practices and programs with the global autism community and beyond.

The Groundbreaking for the Center took place in March 2014 and marked the start of construction of the Lower School and Center of Excellence Auditorium Building that will be at the heart of the global outreach programs. The school will welcome its first students this August. In the meantime, the capital campaign continues to ensure a continuous build schedule for the Upper School, the sports facilities, the medical and professional component and the adult services program.

“We are delighted to celebrate the fifth year of the Golf Challenge with our family of dedicated sponsors, players and donors. The Foundation has taken massive strides forward in the last year thanks to the support of some amazing companies and people who have taken this cause to heart; many of whom have connected to us through the Golf Challenge. It has been pretty amazing to witness the vision that Liezl and I had of creating a world-class Center start to take shape, and we are so excited to be welcoming our first students through the doors this August and taking our global outreach programs to the next level.”

Els added: “In addition, the Golf Challenge has already touched a lot of people through the #GameOn Autism Golf clinics. This is one initiative that is particularly close to my heart and plans are underway to launch the clinics in Canada this year and develop #GameON Autism Golf into a comprehensive program so that more individuals with autism can have access to golf worldwide.”

Since its inaugural 2011 series, the Els for Autism Golf Challenge has grown year on year and has raised a total of over $9 million for autism thanks to over 7,500 rounds of golf and over 17,500 donors pledging funds. The series has also helped raise awareness of a disorder that that now affects a staggering 1 in 68 children, and 1 in 42 boys.

For more information on the Golf Challenge, the full events schedule and to register, visit:

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  • To donate by check: make out checks to Els for Autism and address to: Els for Autism, 3900 Military Trail, Suite 200, Jupiter, FL 33458
  • To donate online visit:

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