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.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.