The Timuquana Country Club, the PGA Tour Champions and the Furyk family are throwing a party.
More than a year out from the first PGA Tour Champions event on the First Coast since 2002, Jim and Tabitha Furyk met with the media on Monday to lay out some of the plans for the Constellation Energy Furyk and Friends tournament on Oct. 4-10, 2021, at Timuquana.
The tournament, which evolved from the Furyk and Friends charity tournament at the Sawgrass Country Club from 2011-2020, will benefit charities that help children, families and the military on the First Coast.
Constellation, a Baltimore-based energy company, has pledged $500,000 per year to the foundation beginning in 2021, and already made an initial donation of $100,000 this year. Over the duration of the first contract, at least $2.6 million will go to charity.
The purse will be $2 million and the event carried by Golf Channel. It will be the first nationwide TV exposure for Timuquana, the Donald Ross-designed course that was built in 1923.
Furyk has a sponsor relationship with Constellation’s parent company, Exelon, that goes back two decades. Constellation also was the title sponsor for the Senior Players Championship from 2007-2018.
“Tabitha and I like to have a good time and we have a lot of friends who like that as well … golf, food, drink and fun, though not in that order,” Furyk said. “Golf is probably fourth.”
But the main priority will be charity. In the past, the Jim and Tabitha Furyk Foundation has raised money for charities such as Wolfson Children’s Hospital, Blessings in a Backpack, Operation Shower (a baby shower for military mothers), Community PedsCare and the Monique Burr Foundation.
“Our relationship with Jim and the PGA Tour has just gotten better and better over time,” said Mark Huston, president of Constellation Retail. “Jim is a standup person, a good family man who gives back to the community and is recognized as a leader among PGA Tour players. It’s great to be associated with a family and a sport that has such a positive reputation.”
Plans were released for three hospitality venues at Timuquana, the 18th hole Skybox, Cabanas on 17 and Club 58 (which commemorates Furyk’s record PGA Tour score for one round), also near the 17th green.
The sides will be flipped for the tournament, with No. 17 the short par-3 and No. 18 the par-4 adjacent to the cart area and tennis courts. Furyk said the Constellation hospitality venue will be on the back left of the green, a presenting sponsor venue on the right to right-rear of the green and the right side will have spectator viewing.
Furyk said plans will be fluid, based on whether the COVID-19 pandemic has eased within the 13 months before the tournament.
“We know there are no guarantees,” he said. “We hope by next October we can have fans but we want to do it in the safest manner possible. Our job is to make sure we have options.”
Furyk noted that the PGA Tour Champions has had pro-ams since returning in late July (Furyk won the first event back, at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, Michigan, his first PGA Tour Champions start) and next week, at the Tour’s stop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, fans will be allowed on the course.
“The Tour has done a good job of getting us back to tournament golf, but also changing and reacting to the climate,” Furyk said. “A lot depends on area governments and where are the hot spots.”
But the organization is planning for the best.
“Our mission and goal is to have a great event, draw in the fans and showcase our city,” Furyk said. “You look at the view of the St. Johns River and downtown from this course and it’s a great opportunity to bring in a lot of folks to watch this, raise more money and help more people.”
The military will have a strong presence at the tournament, given that Timuquana is adjacent to NAS Jacksonville, the third-largest naval base in the U.S.
Tournament director Adam Renfroe said the 21,000 military and civilian personnel who are at the base on a daily basis will be offered complimentary admission, and a military hospitality venue will be built near one of the closing holes.
“We will have a strong relationship with NAS Jacksonville,” Renfroe said. “There will be a number of military-driven initiatives during tournament week and we anticipate a lot of people coming from the base. Supporting them will be a central part of the week.”
The timing of launching the tournament also couldn’t be better. A new wave of marquee players has become eligible for the Champions Tour and two of them, Furyk and Phil Mickelson, won their first starts last month.
Also becoming eligible within the past two years have been World Golf Hall of Fame members Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, plus K.J. Choi, Darren Clarke, Mike Weir and Rich Beem.
Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington will join the list next year.
“It’s amazing all these guys are jumping right in and playing well,” said Davis Love III. “The competition is tough. If you make five pars in a row you feel like you’re out of it.”
Other possible participants will be Fred Couples, John Daly, Bernhard Langer, Mark O’Meara and Colin Montgomerie.
Renfroe said marketing a tournament with a potential field like that — and with the Furyks’ name on it — won’t be difficult.
“The name recognition of those players goes a long way, and the reputation of Jim and Tabitha in this community goes a long way,” Renfroe said. “The players have had long and successful careers, with a lot of history. There are a lot of legends who will be playing here.”