The Jaguars Den towers high above the 17th tee at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course, in a posh corner of the course where it takes a lot more than just knowing somebody to gain admission.


There, where the beer is free and pretty cheerleaders greet you at the door, Jacksonville’s NFL team is doing business. Players mingle with current and prospective customers of the Jaguars with one of the most iconic holes on the planet serving as a backdrop.

One flat-screen television in the chalet — it’s too ritzy to call it a luxury box — is tuned to The Players Championship, the other to the NFL Draft. But mostly, invited guests and celebrities spend a perfect Saturday afternoon watching golf and exemplifying North Florida’s ability to be a big-time player in the world of sports and entertainment.

The Jaguars, The Players and PGA Tour have created a unique working relationship to promote Jacksonville. Their collective thought is, if one does well, all will benefit.

“We’re all really serious to grow the regional appeal,” Jaguars team president Mark Lamping said.

Although the Jaguars have spent months preparing for the draft, Lamping spent a portion of his time at the golf course. Selecting players is what others do in the organization. His time is better spent nurturing the football team’s corporate partners. In fact, many business meetings this week have been held at the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse, not at EverBank Field.

“The tournament is too great an opportunity not to take advantage of it,” Lamping said.

Once football season rolls around, it will be Lamping’s turn to be a gracious host. The PGA Tour owns a skybox at EverBank, and it has become a popular way for the Tour to entertain its sponsors, current and potential, in a different kind of stadium-like atmosphere.

“Jaguar games are the things our customers want to see,” PGA Tour executive vice president Ty Votaw said. “This is a unique situation that benefits everyone. Jacksonville is a rare American city.”

And much like the football players who attend The Players, either as a fan or a guest at the Jaguars Den, golfers often spend Sunday afternoons on the other side of the ropes, sitting elbow-to-elbow with other fans who are passionate about their football.

“I think it’s cool,” said Pittsburgh Steelers season-ticket holder, Jaguars fan and Tour player Jim Furyk. “It’s obviously good for the Tour because the NFL is such a great avenue. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. In the fall, I’m always parked in front of the television. I understand the entertainment aspect of it. This works great in the corporate world for all of us.”

The Tour and Jaguars clearly are comfortable working together. Along with The Players, they feed off each other’s strength without any suggestion of a power play.

“High tide raises all ships,” Lamping said.

The PGA Tour and The Players are comfortable exchanging stages. Not only do they have luxury boxes at both places, Jaguars players often are seen wandering the property during the tournament. And during games, Tour players compete in a closest-to-the-pin contest with the Jaguars’ mascot, Jaxson de Ville.

Strangely enough, the mascot has as many close shots as the pros.

“I hit a terrible shot,” Furyk said about losing to the costumed cat. “It’s pretty incredible what he can do in the suit.”

Other Tour players who’ve hit shots from the deck near the Budweiser Zone include Bud Cauley, David Lingmerth, Jonas Blixt, Mark McCumber, Billy Horschel and Matt Kuchar.

Jaguars players are regulars at The Players 17th Hole Charity function a few weeks before the tournament. Retired quarterback Mark Brunell is a former winner. Retired tackle Tony Boselli is the defending champion.

During Saturday’s third round of The Players, quarterbacks Chad Henne and Ricky Stanzi, offensive tackle Austin Pasztor, wide receiver Jeremy Ebert and linebacker Paul Posluszny were all huddled around the 17th hole. All signed autographs.

“I got to play here last year in the Jaguars tournament, and I hit the [17th ] green,” Henne said. “It rolled back to the fringe, but I still made a par. It’s fun to watch other guys do it now. What I like is it’s not uptight here. It’s a joy to be out here.”

Kicker Josh Scobee has been a regular and volunteer at The Players.

Jaxson de Ville did a parody video promoting the clear bag policy for The Players. Scobee was part of a video to promote carpooling to the tournament.

Rarely have two sports, each so diverse from the other, worked as one on the same week. Whether it be soft spikes, polo shirts and golf claps at The Players or flip-flops, teal jerseys and the wave at a Jaguars game, the combined goal never changes — to make Jacksonville an elite sports and entertainment town.


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