PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla.-- On the lawn of the famed TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse and with more than 100 children and young adults representing local non-profits serving as a colorful backdrop, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem announced a committed goal by THE PLAYERS Championship to generate $50 million for youth-related charities over the next 10 years. Joining the commissioner was Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce Chairman Hugh Greene, Jacksonville Public Education Fund Chairman Gary Chartrand, Florida State College of Jacksonville President Dr. Steven Wallace and numerous additional community leaders.
The announcement was made just 12 days before the start of THE PLAYERS 2011, May 9-15, when the event will be played at TPC Sawgrass for the 30th time.
"We are proud of the impact THE PLAYERS Championship has had on many charities -- and lives -- in Northeast Florida over the years, and we have long supported youth development through a majority of our charitable proceeds," said Finchem. "But we have heard the call by community leaders for additional support and an increased focus on the children in this area who need us now more than ever. While we will honor all current commitments to the wonderful charities in this area that do not fall under the umbrella of 'youth-related,' going forward, we are committing ourselves with a laser-like focus on this goal of $50 million. We hope today's announcement helps to serve as a rallying point for all of Northeast Florida to come together and address a critical need in our community.
"In addition, we are grateful to our fans and our Proud Partners -- JELD-WEN and PwC -- for their support. We have set an ambitious charitable goal to benefit the youth of Northern Florida, and together with our fans and partners, we're confident we can achieve it."
To put the goal in perspective, THE PLAYERS has generated approximately $27 million for charity -- in total -- over the past 10 years, $15 million of which has benefited youth-related organizations. Through this shift in focus, the event will more than triple the financial impact on area non-profits that promote youth education, character development, and health and fitness. Since 1977, when THE PLAYERS moved to Ponte Vedra, more than $40 million has been generated for Northeast Florida charities, including a record $4.8 million donation in 2010.
"I'd like to commend THE PLAYERS Championship for not only recognizing the crucial need for improved health and education services for our community's children, but also for taking a leadership role in setting such an aggressive goal to help address the challenges," said Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton. "THE PLAYERS has been a great partner to local charities for more than three decades, and I'm thrilled that the tournament's leadership will be taking that partnership to new heights during the next 10 years."
Some of the current fundraising efforts in place through THE PLAYERS will be refined as a way to bring new youth-related charities into the fold and generate additional dollars. For instance, the tournament's popular Birdies For Charity allows fans make a donation (minimum $20) to a local charity for the chance to guess the total number of birdies that will be made by the field during the tournament; the person who guesses correctly wins a trip to The Presidents Cup 2011 in Australia. Birdies For Charity -- which has already generated $2.4 million in 2011 -- currently includes 197 local non-profits. Going forward, THE PLAYERS will solicit additional youth-related charities to participate and fans will be encouraged to support these causes.
Another example is THE PLAYERS Chip in for Youth Sports promotion, where area youth sports organizations and qualified middle and high school athletic programs from the five-county area can promote the sale of "any day" tickets to THE PLAYERS. Groups receive $25 from every ticket sold, and the remaining net proceeds are donated to The First Tee. In 2012, THE PLAYERS plans to expand this Chip in for Youth Sports to include other youth-orientated programs.
Approximately 120 children and young adults from Daniel, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Junior Achievement of North Florida, MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation, Metro Kids Konnection, Take Stock in Children, Teach For America, The Boselli Foundation, The First Tee of Jacksonville, THE PLAYERS Boys & Girls Club of St. Augustine, The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund and the University of North Florida attended the announcement to represent just a few of the many programs that have received support from THE PLAYERS over the years. Following the announcement, they were treated to a party on the lower presentation lawn of the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse, where they enjoyed refreshments and golf skills challenges hosted by TPC Sawgrass and the TOUR Academy TPC Sawgrass.