The Brown Bombers Green Legacy

By Rich LernerNovember 12, 2007, 5:00 pm
Judgment isnt a perfect science. There is no magic formula a computer can use to perfectly calculate the outcome of a decision. ' Jan Jaro.
At first glance, the name Jan Jaro might strike you as a high tech business titan from Norway offering insight into success. Hes merely a 9th grader from Jacksonville and a member of The First Tee.
Fear is inevitable. But I learned not to let the fear of failure interfere with my pursuit of dreams and goals. ' Kristen Red Horse.
Kristen Red Horse calls to mind perhaps a famous Native American philosopher. Shes a senior at New York University and also a member of The First Tee.
Powerful and radiant, both spoke before an audience of more than 600 last week at The Leaders and Achievers gala dinner to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of The First Tee in Jacksonville, Fla. PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem, the PGA of Americas Brian Whitcomb and Walter Driver of the U.S.G.A were among those spellbound.
Their organizations, along with Augusta National Golf Club, the LPGA and corporate entities like Shell Oil Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Coca-Cola, planted the financial seeds a decade ago with the hope of opening golfs doors to children who otherwise wouldnt have access.
Now its springtime for The First Tee, prettier than Central Park in May. Joe Louis Barrow, chief executive officer of The First Tee, beams like a grateful father. His own famous dad, were he here today, would undoubtedly be just as proud for he loved the game, too.
I spent my best time with him on the golf course because it was private, Louis Barrow recalled. No one could ask for his autograph; though, a restaurant was a different story.
Joe Louis, No. 1 on Ring Magazines list of the 100 greatest punchers of all time, won arguably the most important boxing match in history. Golf figured prominently in the outcome.
The son of an Alabama sharecropper and one of 11 children, Joe Louis was introduced to golf by Ed Sullivan, whod given an instructional book to Joes wife, Marva. When he finishes reading this Ill get him a set of clubs, the entertainer said.
Louis would become so fixated on the game that many people feel he lost to Max Schmelling in 1936 because he was more focused on golf than on preparing for the German heavyweight, who knocked out Louis in the 12th round at Yankee Stadium.
Said his trainer, Jack Blackburn, The muscles youre using on the golf course are not the muscles you need to beat Schmelling.
You can blame his loss to Schmelling on Ed Sullivan, jokes Louis Barrow, the son.
That, Louis Barrow feels, was his fathers most important fight because it taught him the importance of discipline. The 1938 rematch was the most famous.
With Nazi black boots marching across Europe, Louis-Schmelling II was framed as a clash of civilizations, a battle between good and evil, the free world versus Adolph Hitler. Over 76,000 packed Yankee Stadium. Millions more huddled around their radios.
Louis KOd Schmelling two minutes and four seconds into the first round. He became a national hero for blacks and whites, later a U.S. Army staff sergeant who fought 96 exhibitions for more than three million troops.
Sportswriter Jimmy Cannon said of Louis that hes a credit to his race'the human race.
Louis retired in 1949 after reigning as champ for 11 years. He fought 13 times in 1935 alone! The gloves off, Louis poured his energy into golf, carrying a four handicap and good enough to have once beaten a 16-year-old named Lee Elder for the UGA National Amateur Championship in 1951.
Louis reportedly lost big money on the golf course to hustlers like Smiley Quick. But he was also generous, helping black professionals like Bill Spiller, Teddy Rhodes, Howard Wheeler, Clyde Martin and Charlie Sifford make their way in a white mans sport.
Louis actually became the first African American to play in a PGA-sanctioned tournament at the 1952 San Diego Open, bringing his son into the sport along the way.
Id go visit dad in L.A. and wed play the Western Golf Course, where a number of blacks at the time played, Louis Barrow said. I remember playing with Althea Gibson and I couldnt believe how far she hit it.
Today, Louis Barrow oversees a First Tee program whose numbers impress like his fathers boxing records.
There are 257 facilities in 46 states and six countries. Ninety percent of the 257 facilities are on public ground.
The fact that a city council would provide land for golf speaks to their belief that were going to have a meaningful and lasting impact on the kids in their communities, explained Louis Barrow. That is a significant Tiger effect. Now these elected officials think golf is OK, because kids have interest and kids are interested because of Tiger.
Five-hundred thousand elementary students in 1,300 schools will have been introduced to golf through the National School Program by years end.
In Texas, for example, the Houston Golf Association/Shell Houston Open funded a program at Whispering Pines Elementary School. There are values they will learn in the program that will be with them for the rest of their lives, said Paul Parker, PE teacher at the school.
We have educators speaking to the value of golf added Louis Barrow.
By 2010, nearly 5,000 schools will reach more than two million kids. Thats in addition to the million-plus in the chapter facilities, meaning all told (equal) close to five million children, said Louis Barrow. There is a conscious effort to take golf to where kids are. Obviously when were in schools were reaching a lot of diverse kids and thats an exciting development in terms of golf becoming a sport for all kids.
The First Tee aims to teach youngsters the motion of the swing but more importantly expose them to the nine core values of the program. Its not a game improvement program, said Paul Giordano, who oversees some 2000 kids at Moshulu Park in the Bronx. Its a youth development program.
The nine core values are honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.
Not surprisingly, teachers want those core values in their homerooms, too.
Were positioning golf as more than a game, said Louis Barrow.
Studies at the University of Florida and the University of Virginia show that 76 percent of parents saw an increased level of confidence in their children as a result of their involvement in The First Tee. Fifty-two percent saw academic improvement.
Ninety percent of the kids in the Virginia study could specifically tell you where they were using what they had learned about respect in other aspects of their life, said Louis Barrow with obvious pride. That means they have a greater respect for their brothers and sisters, parents and teachers.
Were creating partnerships with individuals who previously had a very limited perspective as to what golf was. It was for men'elite, wealthy and white.
According to the PGA TOUR, the fastest growing fan base is African American and Hispanic American.
If we want to grow the game, cautions Louis Barrow, we have to increase the number of diverse players because traditional golfers as defined by white males and females are not a growing segment of the population. Its sheer demographics.
Twenty percent of First Tee participants are African American compared to six percent for all of golf. Eight percent are Hispanic Americans compared to five percent for the whole of golf. Fifty-four percent of First Tee participants are Caucasian. That number is 85 percent for all of golf. Thirty-three percent of First Tee participants are female versus 25 percent in the game at large.
Distinct among those, Kristen Red Horse went from aimless California teenager to full scholarship student at a prestigious American university. She recently spoke to members of Congress.
Last week she stood before a room full of people in Jacksonville and said in closing, Thank you for raising me and for caring about me as a person first and a golfer second.
Her timing and delivery were impeccable, like a perfect right hand from Joe Louis.
Email your thoughts to Rich Lerner
Related Links:
  • Rich Lerner's Archives
  • Getty Images

    McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

    Getty Images

    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.