As Curtis Strange Bent over a tricky 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at last November's Skins Game in La Quinta, Calif., 40 boys in Richmond watched so intently that they were virtually scraping their noses on their television screens. The residents of the Virginia Home for Boys, who two days earlier wouldn't have known Ray Floyd from Sleepy Floyd, held their breath as the putt headed for the cup. When the ball dropped, the kids went nuts. "Everybody was jumping up and down, whooping and hollering," says Rose Duesberry, the home's associate director. "We were all on cloud nine."
By winning three skins at the La Quinta event, Strange earned $265,000, $53,000 of which he would give to the home. The story behind that donation—and SI's incidental role in it—is, in a word, strange. The home, a nonprofit organization that has provided care for underprivileged youths since 1846, last year had some of its youngsters put together an advertisement with the help of their graphics teacher, Marty Roush. The finished product (a part of which is shown with Strange's photo at left) was then sent to SI, where it appeared as a public service ad in the New York metropolitan edition of our Oct. 16,1989, issue.
Strange happened to be reading that issue during his flight to California for the Skins Game, which requires that participants give 20% of their winnings to charity. Strange and his wife, Sarah, had already decided that they wanted his winnings to benefit children, and the Virginia Home for Boys sounded like a natural. The pledge was made.
But first the home's benefactor had to win something. "It was a one-shot deal, so there was a chance I wouldn't make a dime for them," says Strange, who was well aware that he hadn't made a nickel in the 1988 Skins Game. "Fortunately it was a big payday."
Several weeks later Strange discovered he wasn't the only member of his family who was helping the home. By coincidence his twin brother, Allan, a Richmond stockbroker, had been contributing to it for two years. "It's great that we both had a chance to help in our own way," Curtis says. "For me, it was kind of neat winning for all of those kids."
But Strange's most important gift may have been spiritual rather than financial. "Curtis couldn't possibly imagine the good feelings he created here," Duesberry says. "It was something these kids will never forget."