In acknowledgement of his character, sportsmanship and dedication to charitable giving, Zach Johnson has been named the 2020 recipient of the PGA TOUR’s Payne Stewart Award presented by Southern Company.
Johnson, 44, was born in Iowa City, Iowa, but was raised 30 miles north in Cedar Rapids where he took up the game as a 10-year-old. He honed his skills at nearby Elmcrest Country Club, which now hosts the annual Zach Johnson Foundation Classic. “Zach Johnson as the recipient of this year’s Payne Stewart Award is a testament to the impact Payne made on many of our contemporary players who never had the chance to meet him in person,” PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “Zach would say he’s just a normal guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but in truth, he has one of the most compelling stories on the PGA TOUR in the last 25 years, a fearless underdog who has carved out an incredibly successful career through hard work and dedication to his craft.”
In 2010, Zach and his wife Kim established the Zach Johnson Foundation, which fulfills a dream of theirs to give back to children and families in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in a long-lasting and meaningful way. One year later, they introduced the Zach Johnson Foundation Classic, which was created as a two-part event: a fundraiser gala and auction for sponsors and participants and a Pro-Am charity golf tournament. In 2019, it raised $1.1 million to support their non-profit, Kids on Course, which serves 1,000+ students with the goal of closing the opportunity gap so all students can be on a path for post-secondary education.
The Foundation also provides three summer programs tailored toward helping kids stay connected to positive adults while maintaining or growing their academics. Their flagship summer program – Kids on Course University – serves over 700 elementary school students from 21 schools in the Cedar Rapids Community School District and targets those students behind in math and reading, eliminating the academic summer slide that disproportionately affects low-income students.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation has adapted to continue reaching those most in need. Following the cancellation of the 2020 Zach Johnson Foundation Classic, a virtual gala was held on June 6, which raised more than $180,000.
Through the Foundation’s partnership with HACAP, the Kids on Course staff have delivered more than 3,800 food boxes to those in need. More than 20 Zach Johnson Foundation AmeriCorps members are serving at the nine school meal sites across the Cedar Rapids Community School District. To date, nearly 521,724 meals have been distributed since the meal program started after spring break.
Prior to the establishment of the Zach Johnson Foundation, Zach’s charity work was on display during the 2008 Iowa floods, when he raised funds for victims and their families through several touchpoints including the 9-hole Zach Johnson Iowa Disaster Relief Challenge, which also featured PGA TOUR players Chris DiMarco and Todd Hamilton.
Johnson has been a mainstay in the professional ranks since first joining the PGA TOUR in 2004 after finishing as the leading money winner on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2003. Now a 12-time PGA TOUR winner, Johnson’s career is highlighted by victories at the 2007 Masters and 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
Johnson has competed in nine team events for the United States – four Presidents Cups and five Ryder Cups – spanning from 2006-2016. In 2018, Johnson made his debut as a captain’s assistant for Jim Furyk at the Ryder Cup and assisted Tiger Woods at the 2019 Presidents Cup.
Following a third-round 60 at the 2009 Valero Texas Open, Johnson became the first player on the PGA TOUR to shoot 60 twice (2007 TOUR Championship).
In 2016, Johnson was inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame.