With rare exceptions, Larry DeFoor has been a regular at the Jaguars&39; annual sponsorship golf tournament.
The reasons, DeFoor said, are simple.
It&39;s more than weekday golf in the early days of summer. It&39;s a chance to get to know Jaguars coaches and – in normal years – players in a relaxed environment, and a chance to further establish a real connection with the franchise.
That long has been the spirit of the Jaguars&39; sponsors&39; golf event.
That certainly didn&39;t change Monday.
"It&39;s great to be out here and see some of the other sponsors we haven&39;t seen in a year, and talk to them," said DeFoor, the President of CopyFax Jacksonville. "It&39;s a nice relaxed environment and it&39;s great to see everyone."
DeFoor said he has played in the event all but two or three years since its inception.
"We occasionally play with a player," DeFoor said. "This year, we&39;re playing with a team scout. We just thoroughly enjoy it. It&39;s always been a great experience. Everyone&39;s so nice. I can&39;t say enough good things about it."
While there is extensive player participation most years, this year participation was limited to sponsors, coaches, scouts and team officials because of the ongoing NFL lockout.
"It&39;s always a good event – always a lot of fun," Greg Flowers of North Florida Sales said.
The Jaguars have held the event each year since their inception.
"We&39;re really focused on this type of interaction with both fans and sponsors," Jaguars Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing Macky Weaver said. "It&39;s important people realize the contributions the coaches and players make outside of what they do as it relates to having a professional football team. These people are members of churches and members of other social organizations.
"They&39;re parts of this community and this gives us an opportunity to humanize them to these people who only see them at a distance or in a game."
Jeff Weckback, Key Account Manager for Anheuser-Busch, said the tournament often serves as something of an early-season kickoff event for sponsors.
"It&39;s great for all of the different partners to show their support for the Jaguars on a local level," Weckback said. "It&39;s a good kickoff to hopefully the beginning of the season as well. You get to talk about some of the upcoming players and the upcoming schedule and things like that, so it kind of gets the buzz going in the community.
"Everybody you play with – and even the reception afterward – it gives you a chance to talk to the coaches and see what the upcoming season is all about."
David Anderson of Premier Beverage said while his favorite part of the event is an informal putting contest afterward, the entire event is a highlight.
"We have a blast," Anderson said. "It&39;s a great event that I wouldn&39;t miss. This is probably my seventh or eighth year doing it. I love this tournament. It&39;s a good event."
And while Weaver said the vibe of the tournament has a slightly different feel than some past seasons, the goal of the event remains the same.
"It&39;s obviously a little different this year than in the past, because typically we would have players here," Weaver said. "But first off, it is a great opportunity for our sponsors to get to know coaches on a person-to-person basis versus just seeing them on the sidelines.
"The main thing is the coaches and the players when they have been here have done a phenomenal job interacting with our sponsors. They understand the importance of what they contribute to making this thing successful. It&39;s really a neat event.
"It&39;s four and a half hours of one-on-one time with a coach or a player in the past, we just get tremendous feedback from it."