The timing was almost perfect.
The Constellation Furyk & Friends PGA Tour Champions event found out on Wednesday night that it earned the annual Players Award, voted by PGA Tour Champions members as their favorite event of the schedule, in only its second year of existence.
About 20 hours later, nearly 300 volunteers showed up at the TPC Sawgrass to help pack 5,000 food bags as part of the Jim and Tabitha Furyk Foundation's 11th annual Hope for the Holidays campaign.
"We haven't had a whole lot of time to process that with all of this going on," said tournament director Adam Renfroe, looking over dozens of green bags with food such as ham, mashed potatoes, canned vegetables and fruit that will be distributed to people in food-insecure areas of the First Coast. "It was good timing. For us it means everything. It speaks to the care in which we take about the event and trying to be thoughtful about the sponsors, fans and players."
According to the PGA Tour, the Players Award goes to tournaments that go "above and beyond in the experience they provide to PGA Tour Champions players."
Feedback from the players took note of the facilities and amenities at the Timuquana Country Club, the customer service provided by the staff, the cleanliness and management of the locker room and clubhouse and quality of the food and atmosphere.
Players also complimented the tournament the hospitality it provided for caddies.
"We want everyone to have a good time at our event, sponsors, fans, the Timuquana members and of course the players," said tournament host Jim Furyk, taking time out from loading a truck of food and water. "When the players vote on something like that it means a lot to me. It also reflects on our team, which is very small. We have four employees and [his wife] Tabitha and I'm so proud of that team, the hours and the heart they put into it. It's a special group."
Tabitha Furyk said being honored by her husband's fellow players, "makes me want to cry."
"We wanted to do something very special for Jacksonville and wanted to make sure and make sure we treat the players the best we could and give them the best experience we could," she said. "The fact that they recognized how much work we put into is really incredible."
The tournament also was honored with the PGA Tour Champions Social Media Award, presented for the first time to acknowledge an event's social media presence over a calendar year.
The PGA Tour Champions cited the Furyk & Friends with its "robust social media strategy," impressions, engagements and video views that highlighted its charitable giving as well as ticket launch and tournament sales announcements.
The Hope for the Holidays, with support from AT&T, Feeding Northeast Florida, Conagra Bands, PepsiCo and Target, resulted in more than 70,000 food items such as canned ham, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing, noodles, cornbread, corned beef, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, canned sausage, applesauce and candy canes for families and children who might otherwise go hungry during the long holiday break.
The food bags were distributed to charities such as Blessings in a Backpack, Title 1 schools in Duval & St. Johns Country, Guardian Catholic School families, USO families, MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation children, Daniel Kids families, Community PedsCare families, Foster Closet children, the Mission House, Jewish Family & Community Services, Beaches Chapel School, BEAM and the Carver Center.
Among the volunteers were entire families, PGA Tour employees and more than 70 members of the Nease and Bolles lacrosse programs.
"It really warms our hearts to know how important it is for people to bring their families and share the passion that we have to take care of our community," Tabitha Furyk said.
Players surprise St. Francis
The St. Francis Housing Crisis Center received a surprise $50,000 donation from The Players Championship last week, which will help the organization continue to provide shelter and services for homeless families in St. Johns County.
The St. Francis House and Port in the Storm Homeless Youth Center assists men, women, families, and youth experiencing homelessness with shelter, comprehensive services and access to the resources they need to escape homelessness.
“As more community members here in Northeast Florida find themselves in need of shelter, food and housing resources this holiday season, the team here at The Players knew we had to help support this organization that does so much good for our local community. Our hope is that this gift will make the holiday season a little bit brighter here in Northeast Florida,” said Emily Bellock, director of community outreach for The Players.
UNF swims with Sharks
The University of North Florida signed Ponte Vedra High players Danny Erickson and Stefan Ink, three weeks after the Sharks won their eighth state golf championship.
Erickson and Ink are the first players signed to the current incoming freshman class.
Erickson played four years at Ponte Vedra and also has experience on the Florida State Junior Tour and American Junior Golf Association. Ink also played four years at Ponte Vedra and won nine junior tournaments over the past five years.
Pro team named
The Northern Chapter PGA has named its team for the Underwood Cup Matches Jan. 30-31 at the San Jose Country Club. PGA Life Member Tim Peterson will be the captain for a second year in a row, assisted by Mike Broderick of Deerwood. The team is Clint Avret, Jennifer Borocz, Stephanie Connelly-Edwards, Jake Etherton, Hayes Farley, Mitchell Haley, Jeff Hanson, Gerry James, Rob Lee, Will Rehberg, Aaron Russell and Josh Wolfe. … The First Coast Women's Amateur will move from June to July 24-26 next year, at the TPC Sawgrass Dye's Valley. … Violet Robbins of Jacksonville (161 for 36 holes) finished second in a Florida Junior Tour girls 16–18-year-old tournament at Santa Lucia in Port St. Lucie and Brock Buhnerkemper of Orange Park (155) tied for third in the boys 16-18 division.
Contact Garry Smits at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GSmitter.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: PGA Tour Champions players vote Furyk & Friends as top tournament