NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- Faith Tanner and her husband Larry had a dream. They were going to travel to every PGA Tour event in a season and work as volunteers. Together. But those plans tragically ended two years ago when Larry was diagnosed with a brain tumor and passed away soon afterward.
Yet Faith wanted something good to come out of it. So she chose to go through with it by herself this year.
"All of this has helped my heart," she said. "I'll always have a scar. But the scars are in honor of my husband. He was such a good man. So I wear it proudly.
"It's been a very healing process for me."
This week, Tanner will be at Aronimink Golf Club for the AT&T National, where she was scheduled to spend three days working in caddie services. At other tournaments she's been a hole marshal, television liaison, walked with groups to call in scores, spent time in the scoring tent and with security, even answered phones.
At the Memorial, she handled concessions. They made her the beer-tent cashier. So she started calling herself the Beer Babe.
"There's a job for everybody," Tanner reasons. "I tell people, 'I'm here. This is what I'm here for. Schedule me every day, all day.' Some of the events don't take me quite serious. Here, I'm only going to be working like three days. That's unusual."
She has her own website, www.pgatourvolunteer.com, on which she blogs about her experiences and posts photos. She travels in a Honda hybrid, paying her own expenses. At many stops she has stayed at people's houses to help defray costs. But this is a hotel week.
"People can be so generous," Tanner said. "I just can't tell you how that feels. I mean, five weeks in a row I was the guest of complete strangers who just took me in. They weren't strangers at the end. That's the great part of all this. They opened their homes to me. And their hearts.
"Doing this, for me, is very much a financial strain. I still have bills to pay. But I'm an optimist. I have faith, that I'll make it. I mean, that's my name.
"I had someone, she'd heard my story, search me out on the golf course and give me a $50 gas card. That was so touching, and also humbling. I'm a professional. I work for myself (as a real estate broker and appraiser). Life give you challenges. Maybe that's part of the journey, is the struggle. I'm spending my retirement fund to do this. I'm too young to retire."
The 56-year-old Tanner lives in the small town of Suttons Bay, Mich., which is about a six-hour drive northwest of Detroit.
"It's right on the bay, sugar-sand beaches, about 600 people," said Tanner, who was born and raised in Battle Creek. "Absolutely gorgeous. Very quaint. People don't understand. They think of Michigan one way only. But I love winter, the change of seasons. I like to ski.
"They don't deliver mail. You have to pick it up. It's a big social event."
She's only been back once since the journey began.
"It was kind of a spur of the moment thing," she said. "I had to go from Dallas to (Columbus, Ohio). I couldn't sleep. So I googled to see how far it was to go to my mom's house. Then, OK, how far to mine.
"I put flower on (Larry's) grave."
Several times during our conversation, her voice breaks off. It was her second marriage, his third. They would sit next to each other watching golf on TV. He died 1 day before their seventh anniversary.
"I was the stats person, on my Blackberry," she said. "Johnny Miller would say something, and I'd go right to the Internet. I was the one that loved the stories. I picked my (favorite) players by the stories.
"(Larry) played in a couple of leagues, probably two or three times a week. I play only with friends who will let me get away with not keeping score."
These days her constant companion is her ride, which she calls "Snowball." "It's a great companion," Tanner said. "It's neat." She's put 22,000 miles on the car already, and estimates it'll be around 35 before her travels are over. The couple had purchased a 38-foot trailer in anticipation of doing this, but it's just sitting at home.
"Once you get those things off the lot, you lose your butt," she explained. "You can't sell it for what I owe on it. What are you going to do?"
It didn't take long for folks at the PGA Tour to come across her story.
"My website started out as PGAvolunteer.com," Tanner said. "About the eighth event, they found me and introduced themselves. They said, 'We had a meeting about you.' My heart was pounding. They told me they loved what I was doing, but explained that it was the PGA Tour, not PGA. I guess I was naive . . .
"My mission statement is to promote volunteerism within PGA Tour events. I'm a sensitive person. I remember the first time (Larry) took me to a tournament (the Buick Open in 2007). It was so wonderful, my eyes teared up. It was just so exciting.
"I asked a volunteer how he got his job, and they told me to write down our name and phone number. Anyway, lo and behold, I didn't hear anything until the next spring. Then we ended up going to the (2008) Ryder Cup (in Louisville, Ky.).
"That's when we came up with the idea of doing this."
She's had her moments, both ways. The only thing she's saving is her badges. "That means something," Tanner said. "The stinking badges. If someone wants my hat, whatever, they can have it." Volunteers, by the way, have to purchase their uniforms. She's never asked for an autograph. In Baton Rouge, La., someone tried to get in her car when she stopped at a fast-food restaurant. "I haven't a clue," Tanner admitted. "But he finally did get in another white car. That was scary." And she's been lost. "My GPS sometimes takes me on wild goose chases." Did we mention that her hotels aren't all four-star rated?
"I try to let people know how unselfish volunteers are, how much they give up," Tanner said. "They literally give up a week's vacation to stand out in the sun ... It's volunteers that enable these events to donate so much money to charity. I'm trying to get other people to give their time. It's not just about the players. I can't start a foundation. But I can do this. And so can everyone else."