What started as a charity fundraiser for frontline hospital workers in New York City affected by Covid-19 in 2020 has grown into a virtual community that’s raised around $2 million for charities and non-profit organizations while providing once-in-a-lifetime golf experiences.
Member for a Day has auctioned off golf getaways at celebrated private clubs like Merion, Shinnecock, Oakmont, Sleepy Hollow, Winged Foot, The Creek Club, Old Sandwich, Myopia Hunt, Fishers Island, Sankaty Head, Maidstone, and many more. There have been stay-and-play opportunities at places like Congaree, Pinehurst, Caves Valley, Bandon Dunes, and Sand Valley, a one-year membership in the Dormie Network, and rounds with PGA Tour and LPGA players.
It’s been a “mind-blowing” ride, says founder Eric Sedransk—one that got its start during the pandemic while he was between jobs after about a decade running business development and partnerships for a variety of venture capital-backed tech companies.
“I did not start this with any grandiose ambitions,” says Sedransk, who grew up in New York City. “But when things started to snowball initially, it felt different. It felt like there was something here. The community has only grown since. That community of philanthropic minded golfers is a really, really amazing group and a testament to them.”
Sedransk reached out only to friends or mutual connections when he was starting out—no cold-calling. A friend who was a member of the Dormie Network suggested he connect with Dormie President Zach Peed, who readily donated a stay-and-play package and one-year membership that raised $10,000. Even so, Sedransk expected resistance from some of the old school private clubs.
“The first club I reached out to was Rolling Green,” Sedransk says, referring to the 1926 William Flynn design outside Philadelphia. “I assumed they’d say we can’t (donate a round), the board won’t allow it. But they said, ‘Okay.’ Getting that first yes was really all the momentum that I needed.”
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Today, Member for a Day has auctioned off close to 1,000 golf experiences. The opportunities don’t come cheap, but the money goes to worthy causes—from local First Tee chapters and Golf Fore Africa to a non-profit organization, Aproquen, that provides specialized care to children in Nicaragua who are suffering from burn injuries or cleft lip and palate.
Member for a Day recently auctioned off three threesomes at Grove XXIII, the new club built by Michael Jordan in Hobe Sound, Fla. All went for more than $20,000, including several in which the member playing with the winning group is Ken Griffey Jr.
In addition to special courses, Member for a Day has auctioned off rounds with basketball coaches such as former North Carolina head coach Roy Williams, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, and Iona head coach Rick Pitino, along with former MLB pitcher Roger Clemens, PGA Tour player Keegan Bradley, and LPGA golfer Cheyenne Woods.
The overwhelming majority of what Member for a Day does, at least currently, is auctions because they’re neat and clean, with the person who bids the most winning. But that also prices out a lot of golfers who don’t have $12,000 to drop on a foursome at Winged Foot. So, the organization is now dipping into sweepstakes that allow golfers to donate as little as $10 for a chance to win a stay-and-play package at a public facility like Palmetto Bluff in the South Carolina Lowcountry. And the proceeds in that example go to the Nicaraguan pediatric burn hospital supported by Bandon Dunes architect David McLay Kidd and his wife, Tara.
“I would hope the community I’m building would say, ‘Sure, I’ll throw $10 for a chance of that,’ and oh, by the way, it’s going to help an amazing cause,” says Sedransk. “It’s been so fun and fulfilling. We’ve attracted wonderful people and organizations who have made our job easy. We’re growing quickly and it’s a testament to those early days and the community.”