The Players - Giving Back to Local Charities

Jim Furyk lends a helping hand at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new driving range made possible through money raised by The PLAYERS in 2007. THE PLAYERS is one of the premier events on the PGA TOUR and is widely regarded as golf’s “unofficial fifth major.” The tournament brings the best golfers in the world to the greater Jacksonville area and at the same time makes a significant contribution to a diverse number of charitable organizations throughout Northeast Florida.

Last year THE PLAYERS raised $2.8 million dollars for local charities and continued the PGA TOUR mantra as being the official sport of giving back. The tournament raises money primarily through ticket sales and sponsorships which greatly benefits a large number of groups.

“Realize that the money raised stays right here in the First Coast,” said Ron Natherson Jr., PLAYERS tournament chairman. “The dollars we give span the gamut of human services, youth initiatives, health care; all sectors you could ever imagine. We really touch them all, it’s wide reaching.”

Since 1977, when THE PLAYERS moved to Ponte Vedra, more than $28 million has been contributed to Northeast Florida charities. The effort is a joint venture between the players and members of the local communities along with area businesses.

Past PLAYERS Champion, Calvin Peete holding a golf clinic at The First Tee, on organization supported by THE PLAYERS.

While most of the money is raised during the actual tournament, golfers return in November to lend more time and support to the organizations the event benefits.

Last year Fred Funk, who won the 2005 PLAYERS Championship, visited a local elementary school to talk about the importance of learning and presented the school with needed supplies not covered in the school’s annual budget. Jim Furyk participated in an event along with former Jacksonville Jaguars star Tony Boselli that assists underserved, economically challenged children in the Jacksonville area.

Natherson said the effort put forth by the players is matched if not exceeded by tournament volunteers.

PLAYERS Champion, Fred Funk at Pine Forest Elementary School as part of the Junior Achievement Program which THE PLAYERS supports.

“It’s a complete community effort,” he said. “We have about 2,000 volunteers year after year. We have some volunteers of 40-plus years dating back to the Greater Jacksonville Open. It all starts with the volunteers.”

If you’re looking to get involved, an easy way is the Birdies for Charity program. Similar to a Walk-a-thon, Birdies for Charity participants make a pledge for each birdie made by the player field during THE PLAYERS which was 1,370 in 2007.

This year’s PLAYERS takes place from May 8-11 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

 

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