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Your Dinner is Served

The patrons kept Jim Furyk hopping as he bounced from table to table at his celebrity-server event in his native Pennsylvania.

June 30, 2011

By Laury Livsey, PGA TOUR Staff

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.—Tommy Gainey gingerly held a platter full of plates of mozzarella cheese and tomato appetizers with his left hand as he navigated his way through the crowd inside the restaurant. Gainey, a Darlington, S.C., native who now makes his home in Columbia, S.C., was wearing a Morton’s The Steakhouse apron over a black-and-red golf shirt with the word “GAMECOCKS” printed on the collar. As one of the “friends” at Celebrity Servers Night with Jim Furyk and Friends, Gainey had committed to “working” the event weeks before he knew who would be playing in a little something called the College World Series.


The South Carolina Gamecocks, the 2010 College World Series champs, were defending their title against the hated Florida Gators, and although Gainey graduated from Central Carolina Technical College in 1999, he’s all in with the Gamecocks. In the best-of-three series, South Carolina led 1-0 and was poised to wrap up the title with a win.


With that in mind, a restaurant patron approached Gainey and asked him about the game and would he be slipping away from his serving duties a bit early so he could watch on TV.


Gainey maneuvered the platter, reached into his pocket, grabbed his phone, looked at the clock and said, “They don’t start until 8 o’clock.” It was 7:35, and the tomato-mozzarella combo was the meal’s first course. He easily had at least two hours of work ahead of him helping serve the approximately 200 diners who had gathered.


“That’s OK,” Gainey said. “I can miss a couple hours of this game to be here at Morton’s to benefit the hospital. I’m just out here with Jim and a few of the other guys. This is a great cause, and I want to do whatever I can to help out in any way possible.”


“The hospital” the 10 PGA TOUR players and one caddie were assisting as they took time away from their day jobs to work as servers in the first-year event was Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia specifically and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in general. Besides Furyk and Gainey, the other servers were Ricky Barnes, Bobby Gates, Charley Hoffman, Billy Horschel, Spencer Levin, William McGirt, Webb Simpson and Scott Stallings, along with Furyk’s caddie, Mike “Fluff” Cowan.


Once they tied on their aprons, whatever the task, the players performed. They served salads, brought diners their steaks, freshened drinks and tried not to spill or drop anything.


As the second course began, Gainey emerged with three salads cradled on his left arm. The professional server assisting Gainey, Earle Cho, a nine-year Morton’s veteran, in a seemingly here’s-how-you-do-it nod, eased his way through the crowd with a left arm balancing six plates of salad.


“That’s why he’s the pro, and I’m the trainee,” Gainey conceded. Gainey did seem a bit chagrined, though, when he looked across the room and noticed Simpson one-arming four salads.


Meanwhile, Levin, who at first seemed a bit overwhelmed by the pace of the evening, soon settled in. “I’m a little out of my element here, but I’m picking it up kind of quick. You have to pay attention to everything that’s going on. You can’t mess around—like talking to a guy from pgatour.com when you’re supposed to be working,” Levin said, smiling. He appeared to be joking.


We think.


“It’s been good,” said Hoffman of the night, stopping for a moment to refill his tray with appetizers. “My foundation was thinking of doing something similar in either our Las Vegas (Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open) or San Diego (Farmers Insurance Open) events. I wanted to experience it and see if it was a good deal.”


Hoffman came away impressed if not a little amazed at what goes into the job he attempted to perform.


“At home, I’ll [cook on] the grill,” he continued, “but I’m not very good with the serving and the dishes part. Let’s face it. I’m pretty underqualified for this whole thing.”


The star of the night, however, was Furyk, who makes Children’s Miracle Network his primary charity focus and traded on his celebrity in Pennsylvania (he grew up in nearby Lancaster) to help raise funds and awareness.


“I appreciate all the community support and all the golf professionals who are here. I know we’re going to raise a bunch of money tonight,” Furyk said, with a white cloth draped over his left arm as he poured white wine while looking little like the 2010 FedExCup champion and everything like Morton’s on-staff sommelier.


Noticing his bottle was empty, Furyk quickly walked to get a new bottle of wine and was back to work. It was a little past 8 p.m. EDT, the first pitch in the College World Series scheduled for 8:05. The main course was about ready, the players in position to start serving—Gainey included.


“I’ve got a 3-year-old. I love kids, and this is all about the kids in the hospital, those who are less fortunate. They’ve got cancer. They’ve got all kinds of big worries they’ve got to deal with every day of their lives,” Gainey said. “I’m lucky to be in my position, where I’m healthy. Doing this is important. Missing the baseball game on TV? That’s very minor.”


And with that, Gainey headed toward the kitchen. Like his eight counterparts, it certainly didn’t take long for the golfers-cum-servers’ trepidation to dissipate. And although none of the 10 looked ready to switch careers, they acquitted themselves quite nicely, the punctuation of the evening coming when Hoffman, his signature long, blond hair in full display, held out his platter in the direction of a woman and said something that you really didn’t ever expect to hear coming from Charley Hoffman’s mouth:


“Tuna tartare, ma’am?”

 

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