Streelmans spearhead Tuscaloosa charity pro-am

Most weeks, Courtney Streelman is dedicated to the team cause and follows the road map as planned by her PGA Tour player husband, Kevin.

But this past week, she got to reverse the roles and call the travel schedule. That Kevin gladly went along with her audible is no surprise. It was, as is often the case within the PGA Tour world, a noble and charitable endeavor that prompted a stop in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on the way to this week’s tournament at Sea Island, Ga.

“We’re a big college football town, obviously,” Courtney said of her native Tuscaloosa, home to the Alabama Crimson Tide, “but we don’t have pro sports there, so it was great to bring so many PGA Tour pros to town.”

The two-day pro-am charity event was billed “Tee It Up For Tuscaloosa,” and proceeds will go to four local charities that have been established to help residents recover from the devastating tornadoes that ripped through town last April. Courtney Streelman wasn’t in Tuscaloosa that warm spring day, but from New Orleans, where Kevin was playing in the Zurich Classic, she called her parents just to check in. They told her that storms had hit the area in the morning and more were expected later in the day, but Courtney didn’t give it much more thought – at least until later that afternoon when her cell phone started going off.

“People kept texting me, asking, ‘Are your family and friends OK?’ ” she said. “I turned on the TV, and it was extremely scary. All the cell lines were down, so I couldn’t get ahold of my parents. My dad finally had to drive to a spot where he could call.”

Even after she discovered that her parents were OK, “I couldn’t stop watching the coverage,” Courtney said. “It choked me up.”

Two weeks later, with Kevin off to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for The Players Championship, Courtney went back to her hometown. “Through the years, we’ve seen a lot of footage of the damage storms do, but when it hits somewhere that’s so visible to you, it was personal.”

That weekend in May, Courtney Streelman felt an attachment to Tuscaloosa that was stronger than ever. More than that, she felt a kinship to people whom she had never met.

“Eighty percent of the volunteers had no connection to Tuscaloosa,” she said. “They were from all over. They took vacation time. They could have been at the beach somewhere, but they were there, helping. It sort of restored your faith in humanity.”

She did whatever was asked of her that weekend, whether it was one-on-one help or answering calls about clearing yards, putting new shingles on a roof, taking down trees.

Even when she left that weekend, Courtney Streelman thought of doing more for her hometown. Five months later, her efforts came to fruition, with an event that featured golf at Indian Hills Country Club, a dinner and an auction. Her husband was on hand, of course, and Kevin didn’t have to twist many arms to get colleagues to go along. So many of them rushed to the cause, some with strong ties to Alabama (Dicky Pride, Jason Dufner, Jason Bohn, Jerry Pate, Kris Blanks, Glen Day), but others like Mark Wilson, Michael Bradley, Robert Garrigus, Tom Gillis, Skip Kendall, Joel Edwards, Jeff Curl and Charlie Rymer pitched in because that’s sort of the mantra with the PGA Tour membership.

Once again, the Tuscaloosa community rose to the occasion, as more than 50 volunteers signed on to help with the golf and the dinner. Pride – like Courtney Streelman, a Tuscaloosa native – took on a huge role, as did Kevin Streelman and Bohn, a Georgia native but a former University of Alabama golf standout.

“Funny, but for such a small town, there seemed to be so many (golfers) who felt a connection,” Courtney said.

None more personal than hers.

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