Nope, I am not married to a PGA Tour player. Nor am I dating one. But, last week during The Players Championship I teed it up for the PGA Tour Wives Golf Classic, a nine-hole tournament at the Dye Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass, alongside those who are wives and girlfriends of Tour players.
There were a few of us “non-golf wives” in attendance – including Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee’s wife Melissa and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem’s wife Holly – to help raise money and awareness for Community PedsCare, a pediatric hospice program for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, and the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, which also helps families faced with childhood cancer.
The home of The Players hosted this year’s edition in honor of the PGA Tour Wives Association’s 25th anniversary. And while players at the top of the game like Justin Rose and Webb Simpson were focused during the rest of the week on competing against the deepest field in golf on the Stadium Course, they traded in their clubs last Tuesday for caddie duty – bibs and all – in support of their significant others.
My group included my caddie for the day, 22-time Olympic medal winner Michael Phelps, who was on hand to lend his support to the cause and graciously interact with fans, Angie and Arron Oberholser, Jan and Peter Jacobsen, and sponsors Debbie and Jim Thompson. We had some spectacular shots, including Angie sinking a 25-foot eagle putt, and some more forgettable ones, like my 30-yard tee shot into the trees on No. 8 (yep, let’s forget that one)! With the oohs and ahhs, laughter, libations and excitement filled the role-reversal afternoon as the guys pulled clubs, drove golf carts and cheered on their team.
Some of the most competitive players on the planet were in the fairways so score certainly was important (probably a little more to them) – we finished at 5 under – but even more so was the camaraderie and good will. It felt like a release for the families who grind and focus so much week in and week out playing on the PGA Tour to let their guards down, spend time with other families and their own, and reflect a bit on what is really important.
After the tournament, my caddie and I joined players and their families for the awards banquet in a ballroom that had been transformed into a kid-friendly golf wonderland at neighboring Sawgrass Marriott. As the players mingled and played games with their children, I was reminded that just like the children and their families who were helped that day through the tournament, these players, too, are real people with real families. They face the same types of challenges we all do and at the end of the day also enjoy the same thing that we all do – being with those we love.