'Bama Belles and Bubbas' complete 24th year as Sony Open volunteers
January 13, 2019
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- January 13, 2019
- Justin Thomas poses with the 'Bama Bells and Bubbas.' (PGATOUR)
For Joy Parker, Hawaii and the Sony Open have long felt like a second home.
Joy and her late husband, Colonel Brandon Parker, were once stationed in Hawaii for six years, and the two fell in love with the island together. Once back home in Huntsville, Ala., the Parkers made it a point to return to Hawaii each year for the PGA TOUR event and to visit close friends in the Aloha State.
And, for what has now been 24 years, Joy and her “Bama Belles and Bubbas” have made to trek to volunteer as marshals at the Sony Open.
“They call us the ‘Bama Belles and Bubbas,’ and I have no idea when it started,” Joy said with a laugh. “I think this was a newspaper thing in the local paper. I think they said, the ‘Bama Belles’ about us, and that’s how it stuck.”
The group this year at the Sony Open featured 14 men and women, all with military ties out of Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. In addition to their volunteer experience at Waialae Country Club – which, this year, included a photo opp with PGA TOUR star Justin Thomas – Joy also takes the group to her favorite must-see spots and local tours.
So, after all these years, why does Joy keep coming back?
The answer is simple; it’s the impact the Sony Open has on the local community.
“It’s about the charities of Hawaii,” Joy said. “For all (the time) we put in, it goes to the charities of Hawaii. That’s the most important thing. …We give millions of dollars, especially to the children. That’s, I think, what we’re more interested in that than anything.”
The Sony Open is a leader in charitable giving in the state of Hawaii. The tournament’s charitable impact surpasses the $1 million mark annually, benefiting more than 150 not-for-profit organizations each year. To date, the Sony Open has raised over $18 million dollars for over 350 local not-for-profits since 1999.
Joy’s own impact has hardly gone unnoticed. In 2014, for her continued efforts in leading the "Bama Belles and Bubbas" on their annual trip to the Sony Open, Joy was named the tournament’s Volunteer of the Year. In fact, she finished as a runner-up for the PGA TOUR Volunteer of the Year that same year.
“I was really humbled, because if it weren’t for all these people – they made me the Volunteer of the Year,” Joy said of her group, all of whom pay their own way for the trip. “I probably have brought over 300 people in all. I mean, some two or three, four, five times. One came 10 times, and another 15 times. They all gave me that honor.”
One Sony Open appearance away from meeting her 25-year goal, Joy shows no signs of slowing down.
“Well, I said the 25th year I would quit, but why, right?” Joy joked. “I mean, I would sit at home in Huntsville, Alabama, and probably cry during the whole tournament thinking, ‘Why am I not there?’”