What are your duties as chairman of THE PLAYERS Championship 2021?
Along with my vice chairs, we are responsible for all of the volunteers, the volunteer committees and the volunteer divisions to help produce THE PLAYERS Championship.
We have about just under 50 different committees. On a normal year, we have between 2,200 and 2,500 volunteers. This year, of course, with limited capacity we have fewer volunteers, but still a significant number.
How do you manage it all?
I’ve got five vice chairs who work with me. Each is responsible for a different division of committees. Each committee is headed by a chairman and an assistant chairman. And the work flows in that manner.
Tell me about this large group of volunteers who make THE PLAYERS Championship happen each year.
Everyone is an ambassador for this game, but no one plays a more pivotal role than our volunteers. They devote countless hours to this championship every year to make sure it’s a top-notch experience. They’re truly the backbone of the tournament. You can’t say enough about them, and I thank each and every one of them.
How did you first become involved in THE PLAYERS’ volunteer leadership?
My good friend Andy Baggs convinced me to come out and work in general parking 11 years ago. There was a lot of friendship and camaraderie, so I decided to come back, and they gave me a promotion to ecology that next year. Assistant chair of ecology is a nice way of saying “picking up trash.” [laughs]
What are some of the positions you’ve held on the various committees?
I started as assistant chair in general parking, and then assistant chair in ecology, commissary, VIP parking, benefactor venue, volunteer shuttle, and then started moving up into the vice chair.
You start out with volunteer services. We have a facilities division, spectator services, players services and then first vice chair. The first vice chair is the one who really runs the logistics of the tournament, and the chairman is just doing presentations and consulting with the first vice chair and making critical decisions on the tournament and volunteers and getting this championship set up so that it’s presented in a safe and responsible manner.
How has this experience prepared you for your role as tournament chairman?
It’s been different. Everyone’s heard by now that we have limited capacity: 20% of maximum expected occupancy during the week. And that’s because of the uncertainty surrounding COVID and our attempts to present it in a safe and responsible manner.
So, there’s not a whole lot that can prepare you. We had a system we developed over years for how our volunteers would be staffed and what their functions were. And it was refined every year to make it better.
But this year, we basically had to start over.
For example, we’ve added safety ambassadors who will be roaming the course and providing positive reminders for folks to wear their masks and socially distance while they’re on the course.
We started meeting in March and had multiple meetings leading all the way up to the tournament. Beginning in January, we started meeting every week. But the meetings this year have been, instead of one-hour meetings, four- and five-hour meetings. Just trying to figure out what we haven’t thought of. What scenario have we not prepared for?
It’s just a lot of precautionary planning to make sure we present this championship responsibly.
What is the most rewarding part of being involved with THE PLAYERS Championship?
The charitable aspect of it. The players, together with the partners, the volunteers, the patrons and fans in the Northeast Florida community, have been able to generate over $100 million for local charities since 1974.
And as a red coat, I get to do what’s called Red Coat Rideouts, an annual tradition where we go out and we present checks to charities and local nonprofits in our Northeast Florida area that are doing so much good in the community.
Tell us about your background.
I’m from Palatka. Born and raised there. Went to Palatka High School. Played baseball at St. Johns River Community College. Went from there to the University of Florida. From there, I went to law school at Stetson University College of Law in St. Pete, Florida.
Tell us about your profession as an attorney.
I work at Burr Forman, a regional firm. We’re all over the Southeast with almost 400 attorneys. Primarily what I practice in is construction, so anywhere from contracts and negotiations to problems that develop during a project all the way through litigation on the tail end.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Since COVID hit, we really spend most of our time in the back yard. We go boating. We go fishing. We go golfing a lot as a family.