Tag Archives: TPC Sawgrass

Where does a dream come from?

Where does a dream come from?

When a dream becomes a reality it is a humbling experience. Today I feel as if I am floating on a cloud of gratitude. For a year and a half we have built a pyramid stone by stone beginning with a meeting of minds to discuss an idea. We lured them to our home with a promise of pizzas from the wood burning oven, craft beer on draft and plenty of cabernet to get the conversations going. What resulted was far more than we could have ever imagined.

Tommy had always wanted to throw a golf tournament on the golf course that we have viewed every morning for over twenty four years and one of the most famous in professional golf, the TPC Stadium course at Sawgrass. With each think tank meeting a team was forged. Ideas came from everyone, contacts were contacted and the event began to take form. We set up a meeting with the appropriate TPC staff and received their blessing. We asked our long time friend if he would want to join us once again. He gave a positive response with no hesitation. Our legal expert and a JTTF board member set out to form the Funk-Zitiello Foundation a new non profit, our JTTF marketing team began to work on the creative for the event. A web site was developed and social media began to promulgate. A team of over 80 volunteers was assembled. We were on our way to organizing a first class event at a first class venue.

However, before I go any further there is an element of the process that must be revealed.

Where does a dream begin? How is it born and how does it grow like ripples on the water? This dream came from a place deep within Tommy and I. We believe that God tugged gently at our hearts. We know He is the reason for our team, for our creative and crazy plans and for success beyond our wildest imagination.
But, then it became not just our dream, it became the quest for others who heard about it. We believe it was all God’s plan.

When we look back over time we can see His work behind the scenes. Not just the past few years, but for our entire lives. Why did we move to this place we call heaven on earth all those many years ago? Why was it the next home being built belonged to a striving pro golfer? Was all of this by chance? How about that hard working golfer pulling off a win at potentially the fifth major golf tournament on the PGA Tour calendar and it happened just months after a young high school senior suffered a near fatal spinal cord injury on the football field. How did he meet JT Townsend? How did Fred and Sharon Funk and his band of golf fans, the Funk’s Punks join together to rally a community to build that young man a home so his family could live under one roof? How did I survive a cancer that is statistically a death sentence within one year? You just can’t make this stuff up. God was and is always in control. And, His plans are perfect.

It was not an easy task putting this event together. It took a team and it took a lot of work and worry and so many conversations I can’t begin to count them. But, in another way it was simple really. All we had to do was tell our story. Those who have been touched by something so raw and devastating were caught hook, line and sinker, many had been touched by pancreas cancer or had seen the work of JT Townsend and his foundation helping others who found themselves in the same position as he was, disabled and with no hope of getting the things they needed.

When we began we had a budget that I felt was aggressive and maybe unattainable. But, I knew we had to make everyone on our team understand what we wanted to achieve. Just a few weeks before the event we were not even close to our number and I heard discouragement in Tommy’s voice. I assured him, this was not OUR event, the perfect people would be there and the perfect number would be achieved. We just needed to have faith and keep putting one foot in front of another. And we did by achieving not only that lofty budget, but going over it by almost twenty percent.

We were also concerned about holding the event during the rainy season in North Florida. The showers had appeared each day for a month, a nice drenching rain to water the flowers and keep the hot days humid and sustain our natural beauty. But, rain could potentially shut down an outdoor event. Again, I turned to my faith and declared the day would be perfect because this is His event not ours. And, it was a perfect morning with not a cloud in the sky as the JT Townsend Gospel Choir sang praises on the hill overlooking the golfers as they warmed up on the driving range.

The JT Townsend Memorial Gospel Choir

But, there was one more God wink that probably came from our beloved JT at near conclusion of the golf tournament. Fred Funk, who had never hit a hole-in-one on TPC Stadium Course’s most photographed and feared hole #17 did just that. Not only did he do it that day, he did it right when Tommy, his son and his father and his best friend were on the tee, a group of diehard golf fans who as Funk’s Punks had followed Fred for twenty five years of his career. Everyone could hear the cheers throughout the course and knew something wonderful had happened. And it did.

What has been confirmed to me is that when God is involved we just need to listen for his next instruction. We need to place our complete faith in Him and allow each piece to fall into place. He will never disappoint.

What is your dream waiting to come true? Do you possess the faith you need to make it a reality?

The crowd erupts as Fred hits a hole in one

“With God all things are possible” Mark 10:27

Judi Zitiello, Sunshine, Carmen Townsend, Tommy Zitiello, Precious Townsend

The sponsors who made this event possible. Thank you all

I do……

I do……

Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Christopher Garrity


Eight months have passed since that autumn day in October when our beautiful daughter, Lindsay became Mrs. Matthew C. Garrity. Much like the last eight months, the wedding we had been planning sped by quickly. Even now I reflect on it and an image pops into my head of a small detail. I wonder if I will forget those special touches that marked the occasion unique and so very “Lindsay”. Yet we all have those moments etched in our minds. Points in time when life took on a greater level of meaning and happiness. October 2nd, 2010 was one of those days.

Matt and his father, Jack Garrity.

Tom had entertained the groomsmen at our home where they relaxed around the pool, played cards in the man room and donned their classic black tuxes for the wedding. It was befitting for the groom and his groomsmen to spend the morning in that room. Tom was in his glory.

The groomsmen celebrate!

Lindsay had asked me to spend the entire day at her side. Gladly accommodating, I was with my daughter-bride and her maids at theTPC Clubhouse that can be viewed from our back door. We had taken over the ladies locker room.The TPC staff lavished us with endless champagne and trays of light hors d’oeuvres and fruit and cheese as friends and relatives dropped in to make a delivery or offer help in some way. Margot, our friend and wedding photographer was busy snapping away while Andrea, the make-up artist and Grayzna, our hair stylist prepared the beautiful maids. All the while, Lindsay’s lace dress hung from the chandelier, awaiting the moment when she would don the one element that would set her apart from every other person at the wedding. That dress that had been kept secret from all but the bridesmaids and their Mothers for several months.

A tender moment captured

At one point there was a knock at the door. Audrey answered and In strolled Blake, Matt’s cousin and one of his Best Men holding a wrapped box and a letter. He handed Lindsay the gift and waited for her to open it, a camera for the honeymoon. Audrey read the letter from Matt aloud as we all melted! His words were touching and sweet and full of love. Blake gave Lindsay a hug and told her he would see her at the church and returned to groomsmen. Then Audrey left to deliver Matt’s special gift, a beautiful watch to remind him of the day and a letter full of love and promises.

The morning sun was peeking through puffy white clouds that turned a dark grey by noon. There had been big plans for The Lawn behind the TPC Clubhouse after the church ceremony and prior to the reception in the Ponte Vedra Grand Ballroom on the second floor of the Clubhouse a Spanish revival architecture building that although was built in 2009, appears to be hundreds of years old. There had been no rain for several weeks and there was no more than a twenty percent chance. But, around 12:30 the skies opened up and it poured for half an hour, just long enough to turn the lawn to a soggy green sponge. Certainly no place for a soft white bridal gown and maids in trailing yellow-gold bobbinette, not to mention the guests in those stylish stilettos. The wedding coordinator made the decision and informed the Father of the Bride there would be no hot air balloon champagne toasts or outdoor bar.The guitar player would join the harp player in the grand foyer and the bars and high boys set up on the gallery overlooking the foyer. It is written that a bit of rain on your wedding day will bring your marriage good luck.

Our floral designer, Liza Chung is an accomplished stylist and had outdone herself with Lindsay’s wedding design. The bridal bouquet and bridal party bouquets arrived in two huge baskets. Lindsay’s bouquet burst with blush peonies, creamy white roses, cala lillies and gentle cymbidium orchids. The blunt cut stems were tightly wound with cream colored ribbon held with pearl headed pins. The maids bouquets were a smaller version of Lindsay’s. Liza is truly an artist.

A white stretch limo would pick up the bride, myself and the maids after delivering the Groom, his future Father in Law and his groomsmen, that included Matt’s Father as best man to the church a short five minute drive away. As we waited for the limo to arrive Margot captured amazing images of Lindsay and the Bridesmaids and me around the picturesque clubhouse. The rain had freshened the air and we felt like we were floating on a cloud in anticipation. Visitors to the clubhouse stopped and smiled when they saw us. Who doesn’t like a wedding?

The Bride and her maids.

Liza and her “divas” motioned for us to come up the grand staircase and take a peek at the site of the reception. When we opened the door I could smell the flowers. The huge rustic iron chandeliers were draped with ropes of small pearls. The tables varied in design so as not to overstate. Some tables boasted four foot tall glass vessels filled with pearls and bursting over with huge sprays of blush peonies, roses and cymbidium orchids with the soft golden glow of waves of votives beneath. Other tables held glass blocks filled with glass gems and holding trails of cymbidium orchids and more votives. Some tables were centered with a collection of clear wine bottles topped with flickering tapers and more blush peonies, cream roses in bowls. In the middle of each table was a small wooden toy bi-plane with a gold number painted on it’s wings. The theme was flight and adventure in keeping with Matt’s proposal and the stunt plane. At the end of the dance floor was a smaller sweetheart table with crystal bowls brimming with peonies, roses, and orchids. The soft glow from the candles that covered the table was angelic. Two place settings set side by side where the bride and groom would eat their first meal together as husband and wife. When the doors were flung open welcoming everyone to the reception it would be magical.

The sweetheart table

Finally, our carriage arrived and the girls carefully stepped into the limo with their bouquets. Lindsay and I were the last to enter. Matt’s desire was coming to meet him at the beautiful church where they would speak their vows and begin the adventure of their lives as one. She was on her way to say….”I do”.

Dining and dancing to follow…

Dining and dancing to follow…

Matt and Lindsay had set the date, October 2nd, 2010. 10-2-10 we laughed. The next step was to determine how many guests we would invite. That would lead us to a very big decision-the reception site. Ponte Vedra beach is a small town and has only a few places that can accommodate over 200 guests. We needed to begin our selection process right away if they wanted to secure the date. We arranged a meeting with the wedding coordinator to at TPC of Sawgrass for the four of us to attend. This would be their very first step down the aisle.

Lindsay was certain her expectations and those of her Father for her wedding day were going to be a challenge.  She had always been the type of person who enjoyed simple things. And her Father let’s just say could be considered an…”over the top” kind of guy. Matthew seemed pleased with any decision that made Lindsay happy, and of course, made Tommy happy too.  I was stuck somewhere in the middle, explaining both sides and trying to keep everyone from killing each other. That was no simple task

After our meeting with TPC we knew we had started at the top of the list, the absolute greatest venue in the area.  It would be difficult to find any place that could accommodate our group and ever compare to the stately opulence of the 77,000 square foot Spanish Revival styled, world famous TPC Clubhouse. Plus, the people who worked at the club were like family to the Zitiello’s. The clubhouse literally sits in our backyard and has been the”home course” for our family AND is the sole reason we bought the lot and constructed our home here over 18 years ago. It was only fitting that our one and only daughter hold her wedding reception at the famed TPC of Sawgrass Clubhouse.  But, Lindsay wanted to proceed slowly.  She had to think about it.  And, that is a good thing!

During the meeting with the TPC staff we poured over the menus and discussed the possibilities. It was revealed that the bride and groom would receive some “perks”.  Special chiavari chairs, a honeymoon suite at the Sawgrass Marriott for the evening, AND a one year club membership!  Matt was sold!

After just two weeks Lindsay agreed there was no reason to look any further. It was decided, we would hold an epic reception at the TPC of Sawgrass Clubhouse on October 2, 2010 and a deposit was made to secure the date.