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Executive Director's Message

Dear Community Champion,  

Next week, the 2020-2021 PGA TOUR season concludes with the TOUR Championship, where the top 30 players in the FedExCup standings will compete for the chance to be crowned the season-long champion.  We are inspired by how our industry and community partners have worked together in order to arrive at this finish line.  

Staging a PGA TOUR event in a new city each week comes with its own set of unique challenges. When coupled with last year's unforeseen challenges, our tournaments and their partners needed to collaborate more than ever to reimagine our tournaments with new practices and protocols. This teamwork was on full display at THE PLAYERS 2021, thanks to your support. 

By hosting PGA TOUR tournaments, we are able to make investments that benefit citizens, economies and charities in the communities where we play. Having fans back on site at THE PLAYERS 2021 has allowed us to strengthen our year-round commitment to serving, supporting and investing in local nonprofits. As you'll read below, starting September 1 we will be accepting applications for our Red Coat Grants. THE PLAYERS' Red Coats, the committee of past volunteer Chairpersons, oversee this program and are eager to receive and review applications in order to help make a difference in our community.      

Over the past month, we've also celebrated National Golf Month, an observance that promotes golf as a sport that has something for everyone, no matter your skill level. As I took some time to reflect on the role this sport has played in my own life, I am so grateful for everything it has given me - personally and professionally. I encourage you, if you haven't already, to give golf a try. There's no right or wrong way to engage with the game; just have fun and #MakeGolfYourThing. 


Best, 


Jared Rice 
Executive Director, THE PLAYERS Championship

Charity Spotlight: North Florida Junior Golf Foundation 

As we celebrate National Golf Month, THE PLAYERS is spotlighting one local nonprofit organization dedicated to growing the game among youth in our community. North Florida Junior Golf Foundation (NFJGF) was founded nearly 30 years ago to provide competitive and instructional play for junior golfers aged 8-19 in order to help them gain tournament experience and enhance their life skills.  In addition, since 2006, the Foundation has presented over $180,000 in scholarships to local youth who demonstrate a high level of academic achievement, outstanding character and a commitment to furthering their education and contributions to society.  

In a few weeks’ time, one junior golfer from NFJGF will get the opportunity to tee it up on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in the prestigious Junior PLAYERS Championship. Jacksonville’s Moses Campaan earned a spot in the elite field after defeating 119 local junior golfers in a series of tournaments conducted by NFJGF over the last year, culminating with a 12-player shootout for the single spot. More than a dozen current PGA TOUR players have previously competed in the Junior PLAYERS, including 2021 PLAYERS Champion Justin Thomas. Best of luck, Moses!

 
Local junior golfer Moses Campaan earned a spot in the AJGA's Junior PLAYERS Championship, which is contested on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass September 2-5. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Laura Dobbs 

For the past 15 years, Laura Dobbs has been a valuable member of “Golf’s Greatest Volunteers.” She began her volunteer experience as a marshal in 1992 and since then has worked on various committees, including Tournament Support, Apparel and Practice Facility. She currently serves as the Assistant Chair of Runners, the group of youth volunteers between the ages of 10 and 13 who assist with practice ground (i.e., range) operations.  

  
First Vice-Chair Houston Bowles presents Laura with the Paul C. Warren Spirit of the GJO Award. 


Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Dublin, Ireland, but moved to Montreal when I married my husband, Derek. I graduated from Concordia University and McGill University, in Montreal, Canada. My hobbies and interests include running, tennis, golf and travel. 


Laura and her family. 

When did you start playing golf, and why do you enjoy the game? 
I have been an athlete all my life; growing up with four brothers left me no choice. I started playing golf when Derek and I were dating; he introduced me to the game and put a five iron and a putter in my hand...the rest is history. Golf is a wonderful walk in the park with people you enjoy spending time with. We travel and play golf across the country and internationally, and the people we meet bring so much to the game.


Laura during a golf trip to Thailand. 

How did you initially get involved as a volunteer at THE PLAYERS? 
I got involved with THE PLAYERS when we spent time at our Sawgrass home in 1992. We visited our Sawgrass property from Atlanta during the children's spring break.  Needless to say, school schedules limited my time to volunteer for a few years. There have been many major changes to TPC since 1992, all of which have brought a magnificent event to Ponte Vedra Beach. [Former PGA TOUR Commissioner] Dean Beaman's vision for THE PLAYERS continues to evolve as a premier golfing experience for all who visit and play. 

What is your favorite memory as a PLAYERS volunteer? 
The return of volunteer friends, and making sure we provide a positive experience for spectators.  Engaging with spectators and young children is always a win-win. Our job is to make their experience a memorable one. 

I volunteer at THE PLAYERS because _____. 
Every year we see leadership bring enhancements to the overall experience for those who make the journey to THE PLAYERS. I like to connect with new and seasoned volunteers and enhance the volunteer experience. 

Each year, THE PLAYERS volunteer leadership team annually recognizes outstanding volunteers who go above and beyond their volunteer responsibilities.  In 2020, you won the Paul C. Warren Spirit of the GJO Award. What did it mean to receive that award? 
I was shocked to learn I was awarded the Paul C. Warren Spirit of the GJO Award.  There are so many dedicated volunteers whose leadership enhances the spirit of the Tournament. To be selected among several thousand is truly an honor. 

Beyond the Ropes
THE PLAYERS’ impact extends far beyond the rope lines and well past the moment when THE PLAYERS champion sinks the winning putt. Learn more about our year-round commitment to being good stewards in our northeast Florida community.
 
Remembering Dr. Leon Haley  
THE PLAYERS Championship team joins the thousands of people across the country in expressing our sincerest condolences to the UF Health Family after the passing of Dr. Leon Haley. 

During THE PLAYERS 2021, we had the opportunity to learn from and highlight Dr. Haley’s talent, passion and commitment to the northeast Florida community. His participation as a thought leader on the "Place Matters" panel captures his strong leadership and advocacy in addressing the disparities and systems that impact the quality health outcomes of citizens. Dr. Haley’s thoughtfulness, candor and compassion have made a remarkable impact. 

While we all miss his stewardship and leadership, we are encouraged and inspired by the contributions he made and the advanced efforts he led to deliver care with excellence in all communities. Click the image below to watch a tribute video to Dr. Haley, commemorating the partnership we have long valued with him and UF Health.
 

 
Special delivery for Ava
In July 2020, Ava Jones was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, an extremely rare form of cancer (There are less than 500 cases per year diagnosed within the United States). Over the last year, she has undergone intense chemotherapy and proton radiation therapy but has never lost her incredible spirit.  In February 2021, THE PLAYERS partnered with Dreams Come True and other community partners to help fulfill her dream of receiving a claw machine. Since then, Ava and her neighborhood friends have enjoyed the claw machine so much that she was close to running out of plushies. With the help of 2020 Red Coat Andy Carroll and members of the TPC Sawgrass team, THE PLAYERS recently surprised Ava and her friends with over 400 new stuffed animals.  
 

Delivering smiles
Ahead of the 2021 PLAYERS, team members from Grant Thornton, a Proud Partner of THE PLAYERS, visited Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville to deliver books and smile kits to the patients and their families. Months later, these gifts (provided by Coming Up Rosies and Weird Enough Productions, which are emerging nonprofit organizations Grant Thornton supports through funding and skills-based and hands-on volunteering) continue to bring joy and deliver smiles to the House's residents. 
News to Know

Red Coat Grants - application opens on September 1
As a way to continue our ongoing commitment to Northeast Florida, the Red Coats, a committee of past volunteer Chairpersons, oversee a grant program to support local charities. From September 1 to October 15, the Red Coats will accept applications for this grant program. Click here to view application details and requirements.  

#Match4Military grant recipients announced 
20 local military-and-veteran-serving organizations are receiving grant awards from the #Match4Military campaign, which generated nearly $140,000 during the 2021 championship. Several Red Coats presented one of the recipients, K9s For Warriors, with a $15,000 check at the organization’s groundbreaking ceremony for its “Campus for K9 Operations,” which will become the nation’s largest shelter-to-Service-Dog facility. Click here for the complete list of recipients.   

New hospitality products on sale now 
Secure your hospitality packages at THE PLAYERS before venues sell out! New in 2022 are the Greenside Seats, which overlook 17 green and 18 tee, and The Deck, which offers views of the 16th and 18th holes. Click here to connect with a member of our team to learn more.  

Volunteer Registration Opens Soon
Registration for returning volunteers begins on September 15, and registration for new volunteers begins on November 3. Please visit THEPLAYERSVolunteers.com for more information. Click here for more information about each committee.  
Quick Nine
The "Quick Nine" video series introduces you to a different member of THE PLAYERS team each month. Click the image below to learn more about Sam Dunham, a Sales Representative with THE PLAYERS. 
 

Sales Representative Sam Dunham and his family. 
Photos of the Month
A few weeks ago, four First Tee – North Florida golfers got to play the Stadium Course for the very first time. Marsh Landing Country Club General Manager Chet Stokes, a former volunteer with First Tee, donated the foursome. To make the experience even more meaningful, each golfer received a PGA TOUR employee as his/her caddie, including Ed Waller, a member of THE PLAYERS sales team. 

“I was so excited, because it’s a rare opportunity, and I’m very grateful for it,” said Katarina Hoag, one of the First Tee golfers.  
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry proclaimed August 2021 as Golf Month in Jacksonville  to encourage all citizens to #MakeGolfYourThing and share in the celebration of the game and its impact on our region.  
Two PGA TOUR team members who support THE PLAYERS Championship’s relationship with Grant Thornton (Olivia Rentz and Colleen Lienesch) recently volunteered at North Florida School of Special Education’s iCan Bike Camp, which helped 50 children from the school learn how to ride a bike. In total, over 100 volunteers – from all five counties and even Georgia — logged hundreds of miles running alongside riders! Volunteers encouraged riders as they progressed from learning to balance on a specialized bike with roller wheels at the beginning of the week, to zipping around an outdoor track on their own bicycles by the end of the week. 
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