The origins of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

By Jason SobelAugust 19, 2014, 4:00 pm

Chris Kennedy is a professional golfer on the minor-league West Florida Tour. The 26-year-old has won three times already this year and leads the money list with $18,250 earned in 24 starts.

“It’s been a good year,” he says. “Things are starting to click a little bit. I’m starting to figure out how to play this game.”

That's nice for his burgeoning career, but it doesn't account for how he became one of the founding fathers of the Internet’s latest charitable phenomenon.

No, for that we must trace the circuitous and fortuitous route of a single $100 donation and how social media has turned it into $22 million and counting.

Just over a month ago, Kennedy’s trainer, James Whatmore, was assigned to complete the Ice Bucket Challenge. A fad rapidly sweeping the nation, it consisted of a person pouring ice water over his head, then passing on the challenge to someone else. It was not only harmless, but philanthropic. Anyone who failed to complete the challenge in 24 hours was required to make a donation to their favorite charity. Even those who completed it often made a contribution.

Whatmore doused himself in ice water and passed it on to Jon Bullas, Kennedy’s swing coach. Then Bullas passed it on to Kennedy. On July 14, Kennedy recorded video of himself taking the Ice Bucket Challenge. He then called out three others, including his wife’s cousin, Jeanette Senerchia, whose husband, Anthony, is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – more commonly known as ALS.



Kennedy then kicked in $100 to help fight a disease which so far has no cure.

Meanwhile, Senerchia completed her challenge and posted the video to Facebook, retaining a connection to ALS with a donation to the non-profit organization that she and Anthony started to help underprivileged families who are suffering from the disease.

Residents of their Pelham, N.Y., neighborhood rallied around the Senerchias. Anthony’s three brothers completed the challenge. Old high school teachers. Parents, kids, entire families.

“Everybody came together in our community,” Senerchia beams. “We couldn’t keep up with all the videos.”

Kennedy’s wife, Ariana, started a YouTube channel and had about 400 videos collected after a single week. More and more people added to it each day.

Through it all, none of them changed the charity. They all kept donating to ALS and spreading the word about a deadly disease.

Not long after, these videos started clogging the social media pages of Pat Quinn, an ALS sufferer who has many connections in that community. He passed it on to Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball captain, who in turn passed it on to various athletes and celebrities.

And that’s where the Ice Bucket Challenge really took off. That’s where it officially became the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

That’s how everyone from LeBron James to Oprah Winfrey to Justin Bieber - even Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy together - has taken to pouring icy water over their heads in the name of charity.

That’s how a largely underfunded cause has turned into the fastest growing charitable campaigns in the world right now.

That’s how a $100 donation has morphed into more than $22 million in just over a month.

“The real story here is that donations are up 766 percent, which is crazy,” Kennedy says. “It’s been a little overwhelming, but obviously we’re all very proud of how it started and what it’s gotten to. It’s going to fund some research and help families. Hopefully it will help a lot of people. It’s been crazy, but in a good way.”

“It’s much needed attention for ALS,” Jeanette agrees. “I feel like it’s getting recognition that it desperately needs. We need more funding for research and we need to find a cure.”

That’s not all the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has done.

Anthony has been fighting ALS for 11 years now, which is two or three times longer than most who are diagnosed with the disease are usually given to live.

He can still walk,  but he needs a wheelchair when going longer distances. He can still talk, but his speech is impaired.

This latest craze has not only kept Anthony up past midnight lately, clicking all over the Internet to find the newest challenges, it’s given him a new lease on life.

“He’s always been kind of quiet and to himself,” his wife explains. “But he said he actually feels more comfortable going out and sitting in a restaurant now, because everyone in town knows about his disease. It’s not just about the money. He feels more comfortable in his own skin. He doesn’t feel like he has to hide from people.”

This isn’t just a story about how $100 has become $22 million and counting. It’s a story about raising awareness for a deadly disease and how an entire world can feel like one tight-knit community when it comes together for a cause.

As Jeanette Senerchia says, “I know people are like, 'We’re so tired of this thing.' But at the end of the day, we’re raising money and getting the word out. If one person learns about it, then it’s a win.”

Donations to The Anthony Senerchia Jr. Charitable Foundation (a non-profit foundation) can be sent to: 417 Ninth Avenue. Pelham, NY 10803. The Ice for Ant Senerchia YouTube channel can be found here.

Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

5/2: Rory McIlroy

7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

9/2: Justin Rose

5/1: Brooks Koepka

15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

10/1: Adam Scott

12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.