SOME NOVEL CORONAVIRUS bad luck across the Pacific Ocean has turned into a stroke of good fortune for Colorado. By way of Hawaii, David Havens recently became the head pro at the Frost Creek Golf Club in Eagle—and he brought with him the newest chapter of a charity that will benefit kids throughout the region.
Started on the Islands 10 years ago by Havens and his wife Susan, Spare for Change is a non-profit that has given out more than 30,000 free golf clubs to players of all ages and experience levels. Opening a Colorado branch after arriving in the state in May, Havens says he distributed more than 500 clubs in the Eagle area over the summer.
“Colorado is like a blueprint for what it’s like everywhere,” Havens said. “People want to play golf, but they don’t want to lose their left hand over it because it’s so expensive, but there are ways around that if you’re smart about it.”
In essence, Havens says, he’s “recycling” golf clubs. Taking donations from players who have given up the game or purchased new sets, or from anywhere else—“people are always look- ing to get rid of clubs,” he says—Havens takes the old sticks and makes them new again for the younger set.
“I bring them in to my shop and tell them they can watch me give the clubs a ‘haircut,’” he said. “It’s not the perfect shaft flex for a six-year-
old, but they don’t care—they basically just want a club they can beat the hell out of the ball with. That starts the process; they pick out the color grip they want and through it all there’s the buy-in from them.”
Havens owns a golf academy on Maui called The Havens Experience, but that, along with most things golf on the Islands, were cratered with the onset of the pandemic. Things got to the point, Havens says, where he began looking “for a fun job” to take him through the summer.
“I was asked to come in and help build some teaching programs and things like that, but I eventually got offered a full-time job,” he said. “I really knew nothing about Colorado or Frost Creek, but it couldn’t have worked out any better than if I’d researched it for years—it was meant to be.”
In September, the non-profit put on the Spare for Change Frost Creek 100 Holes of Golf, which featured Havens and three other pros at the club, playing the eponymous number of holes over the course of a day.
“It was like a charity walk, where people donated money for each hole; we raised right around $25,000,” he said. “We used some of that money on starter sets—plastic clubs and the balls are like tennis balls. It’s a fun way to teach golf and have kids learn; I’m hoping to take them to all the schools in Eagle County and teach the kids there how to play.”
Havens says he also hopes to provide money to some of the PGA pros who assist him, in the form of scholarships, used to help pay their membership dues and other fees.
“The thing that I find interesting about non-profits is that they’re mostly just for kids,” he said. “Mine is for kids and adults, because if the parents don’t play, the kids won’t play as much— to me that’s a problem. And the guys who help me build clubs, or put on events, sometimes they can’t afford to pay their dues, or take flights to Florida for their continuing PGA education.
“I can’t just give them money, but I put it in the chapter by-laws that they can get scholar- ships. Because if you don’t have teachers continuing on in the PGA, you’re not going to have new students—kids or adults.”
Eventually, Havens says, the plan is to expand the charity from golf clubs to all kinds of sporting equipment.
“That’s why I gave it the generic name, Spare for Change, because I want to go into other sports—people can turn in their old mountain bikes or skis for families that don’t have anything. I see kids coming home and sitting on the couch and becoming (video game) thumb warriors—I just want them to have another option.
“It’s something that works—I know it’ll work here just as it has in Hawaii.”
This article was also featured in the Winter issue of Colorado AvidGolfer.