Mark McCumber (right) and David Lizzio share their Bible-based hope at this year's Players Championship at the famed TPC Sawgrass. [ JW.ORG ]

Former PGA Tour champion enjoys something greater than winning the players championship

The Players Championship, held each year at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, has been won by some of the most recognized names in the golf world –Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tiger Woods, Rory Mcllroy and Northeast Florida resident Mark McCumber.

This year, the 2023 Players Championship runs from March 7-12, and you may see McCumber – but he won’t have a golf club in his hands.

When he is not designing golf courses or working as a sports commentator, McCumber volunteers his time to share encouraging Bible messages. “Winning the Players Championship was extremely rewarding,” said McCumber, “but nothing compares with the joy I feel when getting the opportunity to share with others, as Jesus described it, the ‘Good News of God’s Kingdom.’”

If you dine at one of the many fine restaurants before or after the tournament, you may see McCumber, along with other volunteer Jehovah’s Witnesses, offering free Bible literature at portable carts around Sawgrass and the Ponte Verda Beach area.

“I truly love the opportunity to share with others what I’ve learned from the Bible and how it has helped me in my life,” said McCumber.

What does he do when someone recognizes him? “I usually just smile and say, ‘I guess you are a golfer too!’ It really just gives me the opportunity to start a discussion with someone with whom I share a mutual interest.” McCumber and Jehovah’s Witnesses have not participated in their public ministry until just recently due to the worldwide pandemic and their concern to keep everyone safe.

“We believe that the early decision to shut down all in-person activities for more than two years has saved many lives,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “We’re now ready and eager to reconnect with our neighbors once again – person-to-person, face-to-face.

It’s not the only way we preach, but it has historically been the most effective way to deliver our message of comfort and hope.” In response to the global decision to return to the public ministry, approximately 275 Jehovah’s Witnesses from dozens of congregations in Northeast Florida will be volunteering with 12 carts and 4 locations near hotels and beaches during the Players Championship.

Mike Davis, a local Jehovah’s Witness, is helping to coordinate the spiritual outreach.

“We’re here because we care about people. Many have experienced a lot of turmoil over the past few years and so we’re offering the hope of a better future. Who doesn’t enjoy hearing something positive and encouraging?”

McCumber said principles he learned from the Bible have helped him in his personal life and in playing golf.

“The Bible lists patience as a fruitage of God’s spirit. To be successful as a professional golfer you have to exercise patience, be able to take one shot at a time and handle the challenges that are presented. That is also true in our ministry. We need to be patient and kind with those we meet.”

Mobile displays of Bible-based literature have been part of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ public ministry in the U.S. since 2011. While “cart witnessing” began in large metropolitan areas around the world, the practice quickly spread to tens of thousands of smaller communities, becoming a fixture in rail and bus stations, airports, harbors and main streets.

To learn more about Jehovah’s Witnesses, their history, beliefs and activities, visit their official website, featuring content in more than 1,000 languages.