Written By: Maggie McManus | Photography By: Kit Noble

A quick chat with Charlie Pagnam, Chief Philanthropy Officer at The United States Golf Association and President of Sankaty Head Golf Club.

N MAGAZINE: What is your connection to Nantucket?

PAGNAM: I first came forty-one years ago with my then-fiancée, now wife and fell in love with the island.

N MAGAZINE: How would you describe your ideal day on Nantucket?

PAGNAM: Golf in the morning—early. Go home, catch up on some things and then get to the beach late, probably 4:00 or 4:30, read a little, have a beer, get some fish at the market and grill at night with some friends.

N MAGAZINE: Any favorite golfers who you’d love to play with?

PAGNAM: Davis Love would be one. I would like to play with Fred Couples. I had the opportunity to play with Gary Player recently, and he is just a remarkable individual both in talent on the golf course but also as a human being. Obviously, Mr. Nicklaus was an incredible player and continues his involvement in the game.

N MAGAZINE: What is the most rewarding part about being the president of Sankaty Head Golf Club?

PAGNAM: The opportunity to be involved with an institution that’s going to be a hundred years old in 2021 and to continue the stewardship of those who were involved before me, nurturing it and seeing it remain the same while at the same time changing as things change.

N MAGAZINE: How did you first get involved with philanthropy?

PAGNAM: I had just gotten out of college and met someone who was working for Yale’s capital campaign. Two weeks later, I was working at Yale and spent twenty-eight years there. I started out as an intern. Twenty years later, I was the vice president.

N MAGAZINE: What is your biggest tip for successful fundraising?

PAGNAM: You need to learn what the interests of the donor are. You also need to remember that just because someone has the capacity to make a gift, it doesn’t mean that they have the inclination to make a gift. My job is to try to heighten that inclination. I didn’t do anything to help that person get that money, so they’re the ones that make the final decision.

N MAGAZINE: You’ve since fundraised for several colleges and hospitals. How will fundraising for the USGA be different?

PAGNAM: Even though the USGA is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year and is a nonprofit, they’ve never put together a program where they were consistently seeking philanthropic support. So I to need make people aware of what the USGA has done to have an impact on the game of golf and what it wants to do moving forward.

N MAGAZINE: What are your top priorities for your new assignment at the USGA?

PAGNAM: One might say “raise as much money as you can, as quickly as you can,” but my objective is to develop a program and put a structure in place that will last long after I’m gone from the position. I’m a big believer in establishing a process, which, for the first few years, is more important than the results.

Written By
More from Maggie McManus


An update on the #StoptheStraw campaign. Over the last few years, we’ve...
Read More