These Gals Are Good
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"Yes, we are bringing world-class golfers into your community, but after that last ball drops Sunday night, the impact of that tournament is here for the whole year," says Moores. "It's really what the PGA Tour is all about -- we're all about giving back. Together, anything's possible, and that's what we are doing."
Blessings in a Backpack, which is helping 62,000 children in 437 schools with its weekend meals program, is one of the primary beneficiaries of the PTWA. This assistance addresses the findings of recent studies: that better nourishment results in better test scores, improved reading skills, positive behavior, as well as improved health and increased school attendance.
At the Players this year, the PTWA staged a fundraiser for the Community PedsCare children's hospice and participated in the Mother's Day Pink Out to call attention to the fight against breast cancer. Depending on practice schedules, some husbands show up for the tournament-week events. In this case Charley Hoffman was at the Wednesday outing near the simulated 17th island green at TPC Sawgrass with his wife, Stacy, as were the Furyks.
"The positive feedback we get from the families and the children is the most satisfying part of this work," Jim Furyk says about the foundation he and Tabitha created two years ago, which ran the event at the Players in conjunction with the PTWA. "We are blessed with two healthy children, and there are a lot of kids here who are struggling. To see them smile and make their lives a little better and see the appreciation their parents have is very satisfying. Things that seem so minute and so small to us and to see how much of an impact it has with them, that makes it all worthwhile."
Wives, like caddies, use the pronoun "we" when talking about their players. For the husbands, going into a town means stressing about making the cut and then being competitive on the weekend. For the wives, the work is early in the week -- usually Tuesday or Wednesday -- when an event is held.
"Seeing everyone's face and getting to interact with the families and realizing that you really made a change in their day," is the best part of her involvement, says Meagan Laird, who has been part of the PTWA since her husband Martin arrived on tour in 2008. "It's really special. We are very fortunate with our husbands' platforms and being able to be in a different city every week and to go in and to have different projects and be able to touch different charities."
When Moores was trying to find a project for the PTWA in Fort Worth, she was put in touch with Jay Dill, who is on the board of Ronald McDonald House and is also chairman of the credentials committee for the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
It was a natural fit, and it was representative of the way a lot of the charitable connections work -- networking through the tour's events, its sponsors and those local charities that benefit from PGA Tour stops.
"My background is in PR, so I thought I would be able to come in and help the association get the word out to golf fans -- and those who aren't golf fans -- about all the great work we are doing in the community," says Stacy Hoffman, who is in her fifth year with the PTWA and says she goes to nearly every event Charley plays.
"I love being able to see the families year-in and year-out," she says. "It's really great to see these kids come back year after year. The interaction with the kids and the families is special."
To celebrate the PTWA's 25th anniversary and help make the public aware of its work, Kelly Bettencourt, wife of Matt, and Deanna Pettersson, who is married to Carl, have headed up a project to produce a book that will "take you into the living rooms and kitchens of many tour players," says Bettencourt. The book, which details the evolution of the PTWA, will be released next February by Butler Books. Emeril Lagasse will write a foreword, as will Clint and Dina Eastwood.
Bettencourt, who joined the PTWA in 2009 and is now the vice president of fundraising, says: "From the instant I attended my first community outreach project, I knew this was what I needed to do. We were visiting a school in Hawaii where we support Blessings in a Backpack. When I saw the joy and happiness that we brought to those sweet and innocent children that day, simply by spending time with them and providing the food that so many of us take for granted, I quickly found a huge place in my heart for this organization."
Deanna Pettersson, who has been involved with the PTWA for 10 years and is currently vice president for membership, says the organization "helps to keep you grounded to real life. The PTWA gives me a chance to give back all year long. The events we do also give an immediate gratification and sense of deep satisfaction because we see who the service impacts. It's truly humbling for me every time we go to an outreach event."
Traveling with the wives to these events and speaking with them about the PTWA, it is clear these are words from the heart. Most tour players and their wives lead very comfortable lives. What the PGA Tour Wives Association has done is figure out a way to share that good fortune with those less fortunate. And for nearly 25 years, that's what it has been doing very well.