You can check out, but you can never leave
Have you ever been out with good friends for a wonderful evening and looked at and realized, to your amazement, that it was already 2 a.m. – three hours past your bedtime? You realized that it wasn’t the six lite beers you consumed that caused you to lose track of time. It was the joy of being around great people who have enriched your life. That’s how I think of my three years as GAP president.
I was told early on that GAP was the best golf association in the United States, and I quickly drank the Kool-Aid. Who would want to be part of an organization, to paraphrase “A Prairie Home Companion,” that was just above average? Of course, we were No. 1. Eight years ago, I believed GAP was best as an article of faith. As I end my time as president, I now know it for certain. Saying you’re the best is a pretty arrogant claim, but GAP is something special, and what is special are the people of our organization.
In 2020, we navigated a horrible health crisis, but we knew that golf would be a major factor in helping people maintain their sanity under enormous stress. Not surprisingly, golf in GAP has had its greatest year ever. People are playing the game with a fervor not seen in decades. Our Member Clubs have been diligent in adhering to state and local guidelines to protect players’ health and safety while simultaneously giving their members and public golfers more access than they’ve ever had. GAP has maintained a majority of its schedule of competitions, including administering five events that are more than 100 years old, only through the support and generosity of our Member Clubs. LedgeRock, Old York Road, The 1912 Club and many other clubs have asked how they could support GAP, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I can assure you there are very few golf associations that can boast that type of Member Club support. GAP is No. 1 because of our Member Clubs.
GAP members have been a joy to me. Whether it be at Member Play Days, GAP Majors, our competitions, or events and seminars, I have met our GAP members who are in love with the game and anxious to offer their ideas and support. Our competitors exhibit a class that would be the envy of any organization. Every time I meet a GAP member, I leave the interaction feeling upbeat. I’d love to have a beer with every one of our GAP members, but time and my liver have run out. GAP is No. 1 because there are not better members anywhere than those in GAP.
Finally, at GAP we are blessed with the best leadership in golf. Our Executive Committee is comprised of people who don’t just come to a few meetings, but are on the course working tournaments, at meetings finding ways to offer more benefits to our members and shepherding the oldest state and regional golf association through turbulent times. Over my eight years, our Executive Committee has had to address many contentious and difficult issues. We’ve had some loud discussions but never had a vote that was not unanimous – not in eight years. We simply don’t have the deleterious politics that afflict some other golf organizations. These are my colleagues whom I love and admire.
While the Executive Committee members are the stewards of the heritage of GAP, our staff, led by Mark Peterson, is the soul of GAP. I’ve been a consultant for 45 years to many prestigious corporations. I’ll put our GAP staff up against any of theirs. Knowledge, dedication, warmth and enthusiasm are the hallmarks of our team. I wish I had known them early in my career. I would have stolen all of them even if there are Patriots and Cowboys fans in the group. GAP is No. 1 because of our staff and Executive Committee.
As I close, please accept my sincere thanks for the honor of being able to be part of the leadership of golf in our region. As Oscar Mestre takes the reins of leadership, the quality of GAP presidential golf will improve by at least 25 strokes – and we’ll get great leadership in the bargain. While I’m no longer in a leadership position, I intend to continue to volunteer at GAP events. As the rock group the Eagles would tell you in their famous song “Hotel California” – with GAP “you can check out, but you can never leave.”
Many thanks, and you’re all No. 1 in my book.
T. Quinn Spitzer