The Florida A&M University (FAMU) men’s golf team had the opportunity of a lifetime to visit The Players Championship (TPC) Sawgrass course on the eve of the big tournament.
On Wednesday, March 10, the Rattlers toured The Players media center practice facilities and Fan Shop, and also met with Players Executive Director Jared Rice and Senior Director of Communications Stewart Moore. TPC Sawgrass is one of America’s most famous golf courses.
FAMU head men’s golf coach and alumnus Mike Rice said this is the first time most of his student-athletes had visited the site of a PGA Tour event. The group also had the opportunity to visit the practice range where they saw world No. 1-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 2 Jon Rahm and 2007 Players champion Phil Mickelson.
“This is a huge experience for them,” Rice said. “They’re thrilled to see the playing part, but we also wanted them to see the non-playing part and realize what’s out there for them.”
For four players – Mulbe Dillard, Mahindra Lutchman, Ethan Mangum and Cameron Riley – the visit to TPC Sawgrass was especially poignant. Led by Dillard, the four are among the top-five on the Advocates Pro Golf Association Collegiate Ranking.
“It’s been an amazing experience being able to come out here and watch the pros on the range and in the practice area,” Dillard said. “It’s a great environment to be in, surrounded around people like that and all of us have a dream of potentially playing professional golf in the near future so it was a great experience.”
The top-five players on the APGA ranking will be able to compete in summer events on the APGA Tour and pre-qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour without having to qualify, as well as financial assistance with travel.
The APGA, which provides playing opportunities for minority golfers, is receiving financial backing from the PGA Tour as part of the Tour’s $100 million, 10-year commitment to support nonprofit organizations that serve African American citizens and other underrepresented and underserved populations.