THE PLAYERS, held at TPC Sawgrass, is the premier event on the PGA TOUR each year. Ponte Vedra has hosted the tournament since 1977, and TPC Sawgrass is the headquarters for the PGA TOUR.
THE PLAYERS is a huge event for the Jacksonville area. Approximately 174,000 people attended THE PLAYERS last year, and an estimated 38.7 million viewers tuned into the Golf Channel and NBC to watch the 2013 tournament. Even more impressive is that more than 1 billion households around the world received the telecast in more than 25 different languages.
Because THE PLAYERS puts Northeast Florida on the map each year, the tournament has made it its mission to showcase the best of what the area has to offer to both visitors and viewers.
Northeast Florida has become a hub for great food, music and community involvement. THE PLAYERS emphasizes local food, charity and music by incorporating these aspects into the tournament itself.
THE PLAYERS continues to incorporate local restaurants into its fan experience on site, with a total of 25 outside vendors serving fans in 2014. Taste of JAX features local restaurants between the 11th green and 12th tee. This section has been upgraded this year to include an expanded patio, more seating, and two new local restaurants, 4 Rivers Smokehouse and Culhane’s Irish Pub. Pele’s Wood Fire, Metro Diner and Indochine are returning from last year.
Located between the 11th and 13th fairways, “Tacos on 12” will feature Jacksonville Beach’s most popular Baja Mexican restaurant, TacoLu.
“Trucks on 10” is another new edition to this year’s tournament. This section of the tournament will feature a local food truck court, bathrooms and a Michelob ULTRA bar. There will be six food trucks this year: Mama’s Food, Baby’s Badass Burgers , Corner Taco, Gourmet Aviator, Up In Smoke and Super Food.
THE PLAYERS has always been dedicated to raising money for local charities. Since 1977, the tournament has generated nearly $60 million for charities in Northeast Florida. In April 2011, THE PLAYERS announced it would focus on youth-related charities with a goal of raising $50 million over the next 10 years. THE PLAYERS generated $7.1 million for local charities in 2013, a tournament record, and is $17 million toward its $50 million goal for local youth.
One of the ways THE PLAYERS accomplishes this fundraising is through the “Charity of the Day” promotion, in which six charities are featured for each of the six days of the tournament. “Charity of the Day” representatives are stationed at the front gates of the tournament to greet fans and distribute promotional items. This allows local charities the opportunity to increase awareness and donations for their cause. The six charities of the day are:
Tuesday, May 6: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida
Wednesday, May 7: Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation
Thursday, May 8: Wolfson Children’s Hospital
Friday, May 9: HandsOn Jacksonville
Saturday, May 10: UF Health Jacksonville
Sunday, May 11: The 26.2 with DONNA
“Partnering with THE PLAYERS gives us the opportunity to align ourselves with one of the most positive, powerful brands in the world. The financial support we receive through the Pink Out is helping us to achieve our goals of offering financial assistance to the under-served and ending breast cancer in our lifetime” said Donna Deegan, Chief Eternal Optimist (CEO), of 26.2 with DONNA.
Even if a local charity isn’t selected as one of the six promoted at the actual event, THE PLAYERS has other ways to help local charities raise money. Proceeds from The Lot parties that follow the tournament each night go directly toward the charity hosting the event. The Chip in for Youth program allows youth-related organizations to sell tickets to the tournament at a discounted rate of $45 with $25 of that given directly back to the charity.
Prior to the tournament, fifteen local charities are invited to participate in THE PLAYERS 17th Hole Charity Challenge, in which a representative from each charity hits two consecutive shots at the famous island green on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course. This year, The Boselli Foundation took home first place and the $10,000 grand prize. The First Tee of North Florida earned second-place accolades as well as $5,0000.
Birdies for Charity encourages fans to make donations to local nonprofits by providing an incentive. If a fan correctly guesses the correct number of birdies that will be made by the field during THE PLAYERS, they can win $5,000, and an additional $5,000 will be donated to the charity they choose to support.
In December of 2013, THE PLAYERS kicked off the ROCK THE PLAYERS contest for local musicians who competed for the chance to write and record the unofficial song of THE PLAYERS. The winner was selected through online voting, and country artist Stephen Carey won the contest with his single “Love the Way You Love.”
In addition to a $5,000 prize, Carey’s song is the soundtrack to THE PLAYERS official promotional trailer, and he will perform during the tournament at the Sawgrass Marriott on May 10.
“The impact ROCK THE PLAYERS has had on my career has been huge,” said Carey. “Every time I get to explain it to someone, they’re blown away. My song is on a commercial on the Golf Channel that also features some of the biggest names in golf and in country. The fact that a song I wrote it associated with Dierks Bently, Darius Rucker and Tiger Woods has been such an eye-opening experience for me.”
In addition to THE PLAYERS impact on local charity, food and music, the tournament also generates revenue and sheds light on some of the city’s campaigns.
For example, the Tee Off Downtown event brings the tournament out of Ponte Vedra and into downtown to help promote the City of Jacksonville’s campaign to revive the downtown area. With the assistance of THE PLAYERS, Orange Peel Entertainment helps to make this kick-off event possible.
The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce encourages local businesses to let their employees work a half day on Friday, May 9th, so more people can attend the tournament and take advantage of everything the events and city have to offer.
Since THE PLAYERS made Ponte Vedra its home in 1977, the tournament has been dedicated to promoting charities, businesses and the economy in Northeast Florida. The PGA TOUR recognizes all that the area has to offer, and THE PLAYERS showcases this each year by staying loyal to local businesses and causes.