The Players volunteer spotlight: Nimnicht family tradition still going strong

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – They make the tournament go. The legion of volunteers at The Players Championship are one of the most integral parts of the event. This week, we’re looking at several longtime volunteers who are celebrating tournament milestones in 2021.

Lee Nimnicht was part of a lost art at The Players Championship.

Before the days of gigantic digital video scoreboards and technology advancements at TPC Sawgrass, there were scoreboards kept by hand and filled in with the classic style of calligraphy.

There was a gigantic one in the media center to keep reporters updated on scores. There was another nestled not far from the 18th hole. Nimnicht, now in his 45th year as a milestone volunteer at the tournament, played a small role in those scores.

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“My first job was a runner. We were located in the scoring tents at 9 and 18. And as the players would come through, the ladies in the tent would take a photocopy of the player’s scorecards,” said Nimnicht, now a vice chairman with the tournament.

“And then, as runners, we’d either run them back to the players on the next tee or we’d run them back to the media center so they could use that calligraphy board back in the media center. … That’s where I started.”

Lee Nimnicht helps put up a scoreboard at The Players Championship many years ago. Nimnicht is in his 45th year as a Players volunteer. (PGA Tour)

The calligraphy boards were a fascinating sight to see as the author filled in scores and shots in the swoosh and cursive fonts. While that forgotten art from The Players has been replaced by technology, what hasn’t disappeared at the tournament is presence of the Nimnicht family.

Lee’s mother, Anne, is a PGA Tour staple.

She became the first woman to serve as the chair for The Players Championship, serving in that role in 1997. Anne received the Deane Beman Award in 2019, an honor that goes to an individual who has had a significant impact in golf in the area. Anne’s grandson, Billie Nimnicht IV is in his fourth year as a volunteer.

Barbara Nimnicht, Anne’s mother in law, got her involved in volunteering back at the Greater Jacksonville Open. Lee’s uncle, Ed, was the 1978 chairman at The Players.

“My mom was the first female chairperson of TPC. So being with her on the 18th green when Elkington won that year, that was as special as it could get,” Lee said.

Lee Nimnicht and his mother, Anne, at The Players Championship. Lee is in his 45th year as a volunteer with the tournament. Anne was the tournament chair in 1997. (PGA Tour)

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.