PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – If you happen to be a storyteller at the TPC Sawgrass, you tend to give much more than you receive. They give their time, knowledge, and appreciation to hundreds and thousands of visitors to the clubhouse every year. That giving tradition continued as the storytellers donated all of the tips they received for the year to five deserving charities on Wednesday.
"There is no charge for the tours but people seem to like them a lot," said Matt Cooney who is in his 9th year as a storyteller. "Sometimes they like them so much, they give us some sort of gratuity which we give back to charity."
All 55 storytellers at TPC Sawgrass gave to the tune of $25,000 this year.
Receiving $10,000 was the Folded Flag Foundation who provides grants and support to spouses and children of active military personnel who have lost their lives in combat. Founded in 2014, Operation New Uniform received $5,000 from the storytellers. Their mission is to train veterans for fulfilling careers after they leave the service. Also receiving $5,000 was Wish For Our Heroes. They provide resources for active-duty military members from putting food on the table to covering medical expenses of their families. $2,500 went to two organizations who concentrate on helping animals. Ana's Angels rescues animals from shelters that are about to be euthanized, gives them medical treatment, and finds them new homes. Florida Urgent Rescue was founded in 2015 and is a foster-based rescue organization run by volunteers.
Jim Fleck is the chairman of the Storytellers contributions committee and says that not only to their donations stay locally, but the charities they go to are recommended by the storytellers themselves. "We try to keep it local in the four-county area that we are located," said Fleck. "Since 2007 we have donated over $120,000 to local charities where five or ten thousand dollars to these small organizations really mean a lot."
After just her second year as a Storyteller, it did not take long for Cathy Wichert to get bitten by the volunteer bug. She says that as much knowledge as she passes on during one of her tours, she gets it back ten-fold.
"It makes me feel great" says Wichert. "I love doing it, I love meeting the people we meet, people from all around the world. I learn as much from the people I take on tours as they probably learn from me telling them about the clubhouse and the PGA Tour."
If you want to take a tour of the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse and golf course, Storytellers are available seven days a week from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.