Arthur Blank, who co-founded The Home Depot and is the owner of the Atlanta Falcons football team, recently donated $1 million to become a trustee of The First Tee. Blank began by joking that he may not be Bubba Watson but he was glad to be on Morning Drive.
He plays about 30-40 rounds per year and when he is in Atlanta, he plays at East Lake Golf Club although he plays much of his yearly golf outside of Atlanta. He is involved with The First Tee through his foundation and a few years ago he purchased the PGA TOUR Superstores. Through that purchase, he learned a lot more about golf and about The First Tee. When he saw the positive impact of The First Tee on so many children, he felt very inspired to get involved and he is very proud to be involved with The First Tee through his family foundation.
Big problems facing children in the United States include trying to increase the high school graduation rate and trying to reduce the childhood obesity epidemic. The First Tee does great work to try to achieve those and other goals but the current economic situation has been very challenging to not only The First Tee but also the game of golf as a whole. If The First Tee is going to be able to continue helping children, the game of golf has to be strong as well.
The lessons that are taught in golf are lessons that will really help people from all walks of life and of all ages. If children are not exposed to learning these life lessons, they will not be as productive and mature as they need to be in order to be successful in what is a very challenging world.
There are 12 PGA TOUR Superstores that are 50-70,000 square feet each which is incredibly large for a store in this business. It is not only the breadth and depth of what they sell, but also the features of the store including men’s and women’s professional teachers and club-fitting that have made these stores very successful. The service aspect of helping customers understand how to use what they are selling is similar to what was so crucial to the success of The Home Depot.
The first Home Depot was started in Atlanta in 1979 and in that first year they lost half of their startup money. They kept listening to their customers and tried to improve the stores based on those suggestions. Eventually, they opened more stores in Florida and were about to take their company public in 1981. They had a couple of lean years but they believed in their stores and their philosophy and they were able to grow although they worked very hard not to build too many stores because that would result in higher quantity but lower quality. That same philosophy is used with the PGA TOUR Superstores in that they only open 2-3 new stores per year in part to maintain a high level of quality.
He has had great fun running The Home Depot and the Atlanta Falcons. To be able to run just one of them would be great for anyone’s lifetime. The values and principles behind the success of the Atlanta Falcons are in many cases very similar to that of The Home Depot. Looking back over his career, he could not think of many other ways to do things that give him great pride.
Johnny Miller built a golf course for him at his Mountain Sky Guest Ranch called the Rising Sun Golf Course in Montana. He asked Johnny Miller, Davis Love III, Tom Fazio, and Tom Weiskopf to design the course and all four said yes. It was wonderful to work with Johnny Miller in large part because they were able to develop a great relationship with each other.