Walker's Paws Pause
April 21, 2010
By Laury Livsey, PGA TOUR Staff
Following a practice round at the Verizon Heritage last week on Hilton Head Island, S.C., Jimmy and Erin Walker had a decision. They could either return to the house they had rented for the week and go see Divot, the couple’s toy fox terrier, or they could choose to leave Harbour Town Golf Links, drive about seven miles and visit, among others, Dallas, a shepherd-hound mix, or Mattador, part greyhound, part pointer and 100-percent, pure-bred excitable.
The Walkers chose the latter, arriving at the Hilton Head Human Association—essentially following the sounds of barking and the visions of wagging tails emanating from the several-acre facility at 10 Humane Drive on Hilton Head.
Spending time with Man’s Best Friend isn’t unusual for the Walkers, who have been married since 2005 when Jimmy met Erin while she was volunteering at a tournament her husband-to-be was playing in back during his Nationwide Tour days. The Walkers eventually added Divot to the family, and now the threesome travel the PGA TOUR circuit together—every week.
“Some people might think we’re crazy. But we stay in pet-friendly hotels, and we fly pet-friendly airlines,” Walker said.
But on this day, Divot had to wait for the “That’s a good girl” treatment when Mom and Dad got home. A stop at the HHHA, a Verizon Heritage benefiting charity, was first up for Jimmy and Erin. For years, the organization has participated in Birdies for Charity, where people pledge money based on the number of birdies at a tournament and then donate to the Humane Association.
“When [tournament organizers] called and said, ‘We hear you’re a pet lover,’ and they asked me if we would come out to the Humane Association for a visit, I thought, You know, that’s something I can really support,” Walker said. The walk through, where the couple visited approximately 100 dogs and cats up for adoption, helped the eight-year TOUR player better understand where charitable dollars the Verizon Heritage raises go.
“What tournaments do—what the PGA TOUR does for charity—is pretty neat. A lot of guys don’t know the things that go on, and I’m probably one who doesn’t know enough,” Walker said. “It’s neat that something we do on the golf course helps others. It’s great, and I’m glad we do it every week.”
“One of the biggest things is we participate in is Birdies for Charity. And as a non-profit, as with all non-profits, we have to find avenues to solicit funds. [Birdies for Charity] means tens of thousands of dollars to our organization and other organizations,” said Franny Gerthoffer, the HHHA executive director. “This is a big, big part of our yearly income. It’s very important for us to not only be an active participant, which we have been for years with Birdies for Charity, but to then spread the word to other organizations that this is something that everybody should participate in.”
Money generated by the tournament is used by the HHHA to spay, neuter and inoculate the cats and dogs housed at the no-kill facility. “The biggest thing we use the money for is to service all the animals that are here at the shelter, and we do full medical on them before we put them up for adoption,” added Gerthoffer. “We’re glad to do it, but the money we raise through the tournament—through Birdies for Charity—help us do that.”
“The TOUR is really good about giving back to the communities where we play, so it’s nice to get out and see what we’re all out here playing for,” Walker added.
Unfortunately for Walker, his Hilton Head Island week ended early. He missed the cut at the Verizon Heritage, but he did make six birdies to go to the grand total of 1,420 amassed by the players last week. “Every little bit helps,” Walker says.
Divot, meanwhile, didn’t seem to care what Walker shot. She was just glad to have him home.
To learn more about the Hilton Head Humane Association or to contribute, click here.
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