Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A CEO, Commissioner and Ambassador walk in...

Tournament Players Club Louisiana
July 2007

, La.
(20 minutes from Downtown New Orleans)

Dear Family and Friends--

Norman has big eyes, the kind kids with something to believe in have. He’s 15, and I’ll bet he believes he can win the U.S. Open someday. Fantasies like these make kids great—and unaware of suits and slacks, shakes and waves, the day to days of grown-up business.

The PGA TOUR’s Commissioner, the CEO of Zurich Financial Services and the Former U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland addressed hundreds of Zurich Classic of New Orleans advocates and donors the other day. They announced the agreement to keep Zurich title sponsor of the professional tournament until 2010. Tournament organizers also announced that over400,000 will be given to charity from the 2007 event.

Chad, Chris and Norman are products of the First Tee program, whose mission is to give non-traditional junior golfers an opportunity to learn and play the game so many admire.

“Who has the best golf game?” I asked.

“I do,” they all said.

“We’ll have to see about that,” I said.

So Norman, Chris and Chad followed me to a hole on the green. “Ok, right here, six feet,” I said.

Chad, 10, was the sure underdog. He had a training set of clubs. Chris, 11, was also new to the game. But Norman? He dedicates his free time to golf.

Chad sinks his first, but goes one for three from six feet. Chris hits his first putt 12 feet, his second putt four feet, but nails the last.

Norman leaves his first two attempts short. “Oh man, I can’t lose to you kids,” he says. He makes his third attempt.

“Sudden death.” I say. “Oh yeah,” Chad says.

But Chad misses. Then Chris misses. Norman makes his putt with a “you’ve got a long way to go kids” smile on his face.

I gave them a wave and walked off the green. I had to do grown-up stuff. On the putting green, fantasy still rules. It’s the best thing about being young.

You can be a U.S. Open champion, someday.

Inside, suits and ties, microphones and cameras fixated on lottery-style checks and heartfelt words from a few very important people. A CEO, Commissioner and Ambassador--three dreams come true, I’m sure.

But they have to wear suits. And rarely get big trophies.



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