TOUR Wives aid storm victims during the Greenbrier Classic
July 6, 2012
By Doug Milne, PGA TOUR Staff
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.V.—The short drive west from Lewisburg, W.V., to here is but a seven-minute stroll. But if given time, it can seem like days. The sun cuts a circle through a perfect blue sky, as winding roads sway like swings. And then there are the mountains. Inimitably superb in size and scope, plush, pristine terrain stretches deep as a day is long. With an undisturbed, velvety-green glow, the landscape here sets a pace of minutes turning to hours and hours into days.
For the past seven days, however, the natural standard of serenity was uprooted by what no-one anticipated. But they felt it when it left as a quick-hitting storm rolled through doing its damage, and minutes had turned into days—agonizing days where virtually no-one was left unscathed.
This anomaly of a storm that plowed over and around the defining West Virginia mountains came without regard and left a swath of damage that cut to the heart. What it didn’t do was cut out the heart.
Sustained winds in excess of 80 mph combined with squalls of rain and lightning crippled a place affectionately known as “the sticks.” Thousands of trees, many decades old, were flicked from the ground with effortless ease. When the storm moved on, not much seemed clear.
Regionally, more than 500,000 people had no electricity and water service. Others were left without homes. In the immediate area surrounding the historic Greenbrier, site of this week’s Greenbrier Classic, 250,000 suffered the same fate. All had to deal with oppressively hot and humid conditions that settled in. Each day, the thermometers had triple-digit readings.
What had remained, though, was hope, and with it came help.
DeAnna Pettersson, wife of PGA TOUR professional Carl Pettersson, recalls her first images upon landing at the Lewisburg airport in anticipation of this week’s tournament. What she saw left her hollow. It was hard to not see the forest through the trees.
“There were lines everywhere,” she said. “People were in line for gas. There was so little of it. People were in lines for ice, water, such basic things we take for granted.”
As always, the overriding success of the Greenbrier Classic isn’t gauged by its strength of field but, rather, its strength of commitment. The resort’s commitment to the community in which it resides and thrives proved to be a resounding light in this town’s dire state of darkness.
In conjunction with the Greenbrier, members of the PGA TOUR Wives Association ventured into the community to spread a little of that hope and offer a lot of help. After all, this week, this is their community, too. The wives joined other volunteers to load trucks with ice, water and produce and then delivered the goods directly to those in need.
“We felt like it was important to come out and help out here today,” said DeAnna Pettersson. “There’s such a need in the community, and we’re just so thankful for all the hospitality that is shown at The Greenbrier Classic. We’ve been talking to a lot of the staff and volunteers, who themselves don’t even have power and water in their own homes.
“Despite that,” she continued, “they’re still coming out here to make this event so special for us. The least we felt we could do was come out and give back a little of our time.”
“We have to give total credit to the Greenbrier for putting all this together,” said Kelly Bettencourt, wife of Matt Bettencourt. ”They reached out to us, and we were thrilled to come out. Any time there’s a natural disaster, you have to act on the fly and pull things together as best you can. What the Greenbrier has put together made this such an easy thing for us to get involved with.”
Almost a week has passed since the derecho, a straight-line windstorm that typically arrives amid a band of severe thunderstorms, came through. While tremendous strides by the entire community has paid off, nearly 20,000 in this area remain without electricity and running water.
“The PGA TOUR is very fan and family friendly. This is what we like to do. We like to reach out and help others,” stressed DeAnna Pettersson.”It’s the right thing to do this week. We see that there’s a lot of need, and this is what we want to do.
“The tournament staff and volunteers, many of whom remain without power, are all smiles and so happy to have us here. But the honor is truly ours,” added Kelly Bettencourt. “We have air conditioning, power and water. So many of these people here aren’t going home to those same luxuries. But they’re still here and just as friendly as can be.”
That’s how it’s done, she’s told, in “the sticks.”
“It’s unfortunate that it happened at all, but especially during the tournament,” said First Energy Volunteer Coordinator Marc Troutman. ”I’m the only company man here, so my entire team is comprised of volunteers. I’ll take every extra hand I can get. So having the PGA TOUR wives here is a tremendous help. We really appreciate their time.”
It’s a funny thing about time. It can seemingly stand still for the slow, winding roads and deep breaths. But too, time can test. And now that a little time in West Virginia has passed, those impenetrable mountains are again reaching toward that perfect sun in that perfect sky. A spirit of pride and community, be it for one week a year or year-round, is equally incapable of penetration.
A storm can leave a mark. But the mark of hope and help that emerges through it all is an indelible one which stands every test of time.
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