THE PLAYERS Championship treats local kids to an afternoon at Topgolf

Tournament’s volunteer leaders presents $10,000 donation to Boselli Foundation


Children who participate in the Boselli Foundation’s after school programs enjoyed dinner, golf lessons and a visit from a PGA Tour player last week, as THE PLAYERS Championship leadership team treated the group to a fun-filled afternoon at Jacksonville’s new Topgolf facility.

PGA Tour player Tim Wilkinson joined with the tournament’s volunteer leadership and former chairmen – known as the Red Coats – for the event, which also provided each of the children with a gift card to help them with their holiday shopping.

“Today was about introducing these kids to golf and showing them how much fun it can be, “said 2016 tournament Chairman Michele McManamon. “I hope they enjoyed themselves as much as we did.”

THE PLAYERS also surprised the Boselli Foundation with a $10,000 check. The donation and overall charity event concludes the organization’s Giving Back Month, which included six other “Red Coat Rideouts” to local charities to present donations generated by the tournament.

“This is the best part of being involved on the leadership team and as a volunteer,” McManamon said. “There are no words to describe how cool it is to be able to give back a check every week to a different charity that gives so much to the community.”

Wilkinson, who has lived in Jacksonville for nine years and is originally from New Zealand, was happy to be part of the event.

“I try to do as many charitable things as I can, especially during the offseason,” he said. “It’s important to give back to the community.”

Throughout the event, the middle school-aged kids received pointers from Wilkinson and the Red Coats – high-fiving them after driving balls down the range – and enjoyed the ambience of the Topgolf facility, which opened in late October.

“I want to live here!” exclaimed one of the girls. “This place is like 500 stories.”

Brian English, the 2017 tournament chairman, said events like this one make the team’s years of volunteering so meaningful.

“To see all these smiling faces, it’s great,” English said. “It’s really impactful for these kids to come to such a state-of-the-art, fun place that they may not ever get to come and see on their own. They’ll remember this for a long time.”

The money generated by THE PLAYERS each year benefits more than 300 northeast Florida charities such as the Boselli Foundation. Established in 2007 by former Jacksonville Jaguars player Tony Boselli and his wife Angi, the Boselli Foundation is a faith-based, non-profit organization working to to help children living in at-risk neighborhoods on the north side of Jacksonville. Its Youth Life Learning Centers (YLLC) focus on providing a comprehensive after-school learning environment to children with limited financial resources.

Jen Vihrachoff, executive director of the Boselli Foundation, said the Topgolf event provided the kids with a unique experience.

“From their reactions and the comments they’ve made, they’re really excited and grateful to be here,” she said. “THE PLAYERS allows us to make an impact in the lives of a lot of kids in Jacksonville that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Both the Bosellis and I are grateful for that.”

The PLAYERS 2016 raised $8.5 million for local charities, with more than $84 million donated to local charities since the tournament moved to Ponte Vedra Beach in 1977.