Matt Welch is THE PLAYERS 2022 tournament chairman. In the role, he will oversee the roughly 2,000 volunteers working the week of the tournament, which he is familiar with, having been a volunteer with the event for 15 years himself.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
My enjoyment of being involved with large groups and golf tournaments comes naturally being born and raised in Augusta, Georgia as a member of a fantastic family including six sisters and three brothers.
I guess you could say joining “the ranks of the volunteers” for THE PLAYERS Tournament was an easy transition. I graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and relocated to Jacksonville in 1982 and have called Fleming Island my home for the past 32 years.
I retired as president of Elkins Constructors, Inc. in 2015 after working my entire career with Barry Allred, who hired me fresh out of college.
Throughout my career it was important to me to maintain an eye towards community, serving on a variety of boards and chamber groups ranging from the Clay County Utility Board of Supervisors to Catholic Charities Board of Directors.
How did you get involved with THE PLAYERS?
My story is probably similar to a lot of our volunteers. I attended THE PLAYERS for many years as a patron and drank my share of cold beers watching golf from the hill on the 17th hole.
A couple of Vice Chairmen at the time asked me if I would be interested in joining them as a volunteer. While I was aware of some of the charitable works the tournament supported, I was amazed to learn the full scope of financial impact on the Northeast Florida region and the critical role the volunteers play in making it all possible.
The more I learned, the more I wanted to dive in. That was 15 years ago. I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity to contribute to the incredible growth of the tournament and its ever-expanding impact on the larger community.
What do you enjoy most about what the event offers and your current role?
As noted above, the tournament has had a positive impact on addressing an expansive list of needs in our community. And my volunteer leadership position has allowed me the incredible opportunity to see firsthand how individual lives are changed by what we do.
There is no more rewarding feeling than a “Red Coat Rideout” to organizations in our community and supporting them with the tools to help move others forward in life. As fantastic as the tournament is for golf, and make no mistake, I am a huge golf fan, the smiles on the kids’ faces or the grateful eyes of a military veteran is a humbling experience.
I think we can all be proud of the way THE PLAYERS touches lives in Northeast Florida.
What are some of your goals as tournament chairman?
I am extremely proud of how the volunteers have worked through the many difficulties associated with the pandemic to date. At this point I am working to re-focus the best volunteers in golf on delivering the gold standard of golf tournaments now that things are thankfully moving back towards normalcy in terms of tournament attendance and social venues.
The theme I see for our 2,000 volunteers this year is we are making lives in Northeast Florida better by volunteering, and it’s all about having fun while doing it!
Through the tournament, I have developed many friendships over the years, even though some of them I only see once a year. But I have found that common goals make great friends!
How have you seen THE PLAYERS impact the local community over the years?
As a member of the board of directors for Catholic Charities I have been a recipient of THE PLAYERS generosity at Camp I Am Special and can testify to how it has changed lives.
THE PLAYERS has helped more than 300 local charities since its inception and there is no reason to expect anything less going forward.
In addition to the impact it has on our local charities, the impact it has on our business community is unmatched. The annual economic impact is estimated to be in excess of $212 million.
We experience over $115 million in off-site spending by attendees, have greater than 80% occupancy in our local hotels and over 500 local, national and international companies that use THE PLAYERS hospitality venues to expand their businesses. Now that’s impact!
What do you enjoy most about living in the Northeast Florida area?
Tough question! As I mentioned, being a golfer you can’t find many places better than Northeast Florida. I also love the river and when you get tired of that view you can just go take a walk on the beach.
Everything is at your fingertips. I have family living in Tennessee and Michigan too, so it’s always fun messing with them during the winter months as well.
When you get right down to it, I believe we are a community that cares and that helps make Northeast Florida a great place to call home.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’ll tell you in April. Haven’t had much free time preparing for THE PLAYERS, and I’m quite happy about that.
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