Early Christmas present: Furyk & Friends earns top award from PGA Tour Champions

Early Christmas present: Furyk & Friends earns top award from PGA Tour Champions

Tournament gets the good news less than 24 hours before its annual Hope for the Holidays event

Story and pictures by Garry Smits via Florida Times-Union.

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.”

Jim Furyk Hope for the Holidays

Jim Furyk helps load food bags onto trucks during the 11th annual Hope for Holidays event. 

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.

Hope for the Holidays Volunteers

Volunteers fill bags full of food at the 11th annual Hope for the Holidays event.