Champions amongst us
After a brief encounter with golf in my early years, I went nearly 20 years without picking up a golf club until I was 34. At that time (1983), I was the Deputy Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) with responsibilities for thousands of inmates and employees and nearly two dozen correctional institutions. It was great preparation for on-course rules work. Our DOC executive group of eight guys would meet once a week for a round of golf at a Phoenix muni. In those days, with no cell phones, we carried radios since we were required to be available 24/7. On the first tee, we designated one golfer as the “radio man” while the rest of us removed the batteries from our radios. We were technically in compliance with Department rules and still reachable, but who wants to hear a call about a maximum security escape while standing over a four-foot putt for birdie? The weekly competition to be the “champion prison golfer” was the perfect antidote to the stress of a difficult job.
In late 1983, our weekly golf outings took a hiatus as we had a special session of the Arizona legislature. We needed to build more prisons since we were housing inmates in tents because of the lack of prison beds. It was during that prison construction special session that I learned about concrete. America’s “Mr. Cement,” as you’ll discover in this issue, was Robert Lesley. Mr. Lesley may be unknown to many, but his contribution to golf, as Andy Mutch so wonderfully describes, puts him in the pantheon of the forebearers of our great game. I stand in awe of the energy and commitment of Mr. Lesley and the contributions he made, not only to golf, but to the Philadelphia community. This is a feeling I’m sure you will share as you learn about this remarkable man. This issue also reminds us that givers and contributors still populate the great game in our area. The work of people like Scott Yard and the jaw-dropping story of Juliana Merenda tells us that champions who use golf to improve our communities remain amongst us.
Of course, we cannot talk about champions without mentioning our anticipation of the 2018 BMW Championship at Aronimink. This is a special event for the Golf Association of Philadelphia. We have our leading GAP Sponsor BMW hosting one of the world’s most exciting golf championships at the superb Aronimink Golf Club, one of the four Association founding Member Clubs. I’ve been to the last five BMW Championships, and they are spectacular events. The opportunity to see a field of 70 of the world’s best golfers demonstrate their skills as they confront a Donald Ross gem in four days of competition is an event not to be missed. We have included an insert in this issue to help you connect to the BMW Championship. It’s a valuable guide although somewhat remiss in its failure to note the number of golf balls I’ve contributed to the pond in front of Aronimink’s 17th green.
As we head into the heart of the 2018 golf season, please remember our past president Bob Morey’s 1 MORE Campaign presented by Callaway Golf. We need to catch up on our rounds after some pretty difficult spring weather. As you play that one more round, remember (sometimes after a few errant swings) when you hit that perfect 7-iron to four feet of the cup, you can bask in that one shot feeling of being a champion. No other game will give you that.
Pars and Birdies,
T. Quinn Spitzer