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July 20, 2009
Biggest shrine to golfing heritage drives Scotsman across the pond
From SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY - By Paul Forsyth - July 19, 2009 - Link to Full Story
ALASTAIR Johnston would be lost without his library. When he is not traipsing about the planet on business, he is in the purpose-built extension to his American home, flicking through the pages of his latest acquisition.
The 61-year-old Scot, a director of Rangers and vice-chairman of IMG, the multi-national sports management company, has in the course of his globe-trotting career put together the biggest and best collection of golf books in the world, with more than 19,000 of them now under his roof. It is a priceless asset, an unparalleled historical document, not only of the ancient game, but of the country that produced it.
He and his books are firmly established in Pepper Pike, an affluent suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, but his fervent wish is to find a home for them in Scotland. "That's the plan," he says. "It's about the heritage of our country after all. As long as I am relatively active, I will continue to build it here, but I would like to make arrangements before I have gone. I want it to be in Scotland, and I want to provide for it financially. The people should be able to enjoy it, have access to it, look after and add to it."
Johnston returns to the country of his birth at least 10 times a year, as he has done for this week's Open Championship at Turnberry. He could have made a fortune already from the sale of his collection, but the hobby that started by accident, quickly became a passion and now consumes his leisure time still gives him enough enjoyment to make its value an irrelevance.
He is not prepared to put a price on it. "Across here, developers are building unique golf resorts all over the place, and I get some of them asking how much I want for the library. They would like to relocate it in their clubhouse, but in all honesty, I'm not interested. As long as I can enjoy shuffling around in there, it will be staying where it is. It's my way of relaxing. Arnold Palmer regrips his clubs; I potter around in my library."
Palmer is one of the reasons Johnston has been able to pursue his passion. The two have been close since 1977, when IMG founder Mark McCormack made him the player's business manager.
The Scottish lawyer who grew up on Glasgow's south side had famously asked McCormack for a job while stewarding in the 1968 Open at Carnoustie. After a brief internship in America, he returned with an armful of books on the world's greatest golfers.
Johnston was hooked. Within a few years, the interest had become a fascination, and later still an obsession, which he fed on business trips with IMG. "When I first took it really seriously, over 25 years ago, it was a case of going into a town, looking up the yellow pages and hunting down the antiquarian bookshops. I would go out for a jog, arrive all sweaty and disgusting with a satchel on my back, and return to my hotel with it full of books."
Johnston also has a home in Isleworth, Florida, where he is a neighbour, and business associate, of Tiger Woods. Once described as among the most powerful men in sport, the Scot knows plenty who dismiss his library as a trivial pursuit. "I have created something that is the best in the world, and I have friends who come from all over to see it, but there are others who couldn't give a damn. When they come to my house, they go straight to the bar."
Johnston acquires between 500 and 800 books every year. He claims to have more of them than the United States Golf Association, whose library in New Jersey uses his as "a marker". As well as books, he has everything from tournament programmes to instructional pamphlets and club histories. The extension, which he describes as consistent with the architecture of his contemporary home, has been designed in such a way as to maximise security. Given that natural light does the most damage, windows have been positioned accordingly, while glass cases protect the most valuable pieces from dust.
Rare artefacts include a letter written in 1680 by King James VI in which he extols the pleasures of golf to his niece, the Countess of Lichfield. He also has a copy of the 1457 Scottish Acts of Parliament, which provided the first mention of golf in print. One of his greatest finds is an original copy of The Goff, the first book devoted to golf, written by Thomas Mathison in 1743. "And it is an excellent copy," says Johnston. "A first edition. I only know of five or six first editions in the world, and mine is a very good copy, better than the British Museum's by the way."
He doesn't say what he paid for The Goff, but someone is reputed to have offered $100,000 for it in 2003. With even his bibliographies fetching four-figure sums at auction, Johnston could make a fortune from one-off sales, but he has no intention of doing so.
"I am in the fortunate position of having no reason to sell. I don't accumulate for the purpose of resale. It would be impossible for anyone to build this collection again, and my friends have prevailed on me not to break it up. It is the magnitude of it when congregated that makes it unique."
The book that means more to Johnston than any other is The Chronicles Of Golf, not because it covers every mention of the sport between 1457 and the mid-19th century, or because it amounts to an exhaustive social history, but because he wrote it himself, with the help of his late father, James. Together, they spent eight years writing and researching, without pay, a document that effectively cost Johnston junior his marriage.
His father, who had just retired, did most of the "donkey work", travelling back and forth from Glasgow to Edinburgh, where archivists helped him to trawl the vaults. His son had briefed him to follow the recommendation written by Scots poet Andrew Lang in 1890. It read: "A young man must do (the study] and he will be so ancient before he finishes the toil that he will scarce see the flag on the short hole at St Andrews from the tee."
Well, the Johnstons did all that and more, even if they weren't sure why. "I wondered that 1,000 times, but once I had decided to do it, I had to do it all. It has become a cult item for the people who care. I did several hundred in a limited edition, and they are still selling for $2,000-3.000 a time. I am immensely proud of it."
Posted by scurry at 03:50 PM
July 16, 2009
PALMER PRESENTS 2009 NATIONAL AVIATION HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE RUSSELL MEYER JR.
DAYTON, OH – Arnold Palmer is scheduled to present Russell W. Meyer Jr., retired Cessna Aircraft Company chairman and chief executive officer, at the 48th annual Enshrinement Dinner and Ceremony of the National Aviation Hall of Fame July 18th at the Dayton Convention Center.
A pilot himself, Palmer will fly to Dayton in his Cessna Citation X. Russ Meyer is one of Palmer’s closest friends, going back to the beginning of original IMG founder Mark McCormack’s association with Palmer. Meyer was a fellow lawyer with McCormack at the Cleveland law firm, Arter, Hadden, Wycoff and Van Dusen, where he handled some of Palmer's early appearances and all of his aviation needs. Arnold and Russ have shared a life-long passion for aviation from that time to date. Russ is one of Arnold’s trusted advisors in many business matters and the two men have played dozens of rounds of golf together.
In addition to Palmer, celebrities Nick Clooney and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Charles Precourt will also be serving as presenters at the event.
The 2009 inductees are: Eileen Collins, USAF test pilot and first female Shuttle commander; Russell Meyer, Jr., former Chairman and CEO of Cessna Aircraft Company; the late James M. Stewart, WWII bomber pilot, award winning actor and airpower advocate; the late Edward H. White, II, West Point grad,USAF test pilot, and Gemini and Apollo astronaut. Collins and Meyer will personally accept their honors. The daughter of Stewart and son and daughter of White will attend, accepting enshrinement on behalf of their late fathers.
The National Aviation Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization founded in Dayton in 1962 to honor America's air and space pioneers.
For more information, visit nationalaviation.org.
Posted by scurry at 04:17 PM
July 14, 2009
Greens Refurbishment On Course at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando
ORLANDO -- The golf course maintenance project which began this spring at Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge continues on schedule, with the course looking to fully re-open this October.
In May, Bay Hill began refurbishment work on its Championship Course, resulting in temporary closure of that course over the summer. While the primary focus of the project is to re-grass the greens, other key elements include the addition of a few more runoff areas and the elimination of some unnecessary bunkers in exchange for new sand traps which will be more visible from the tee areas.
While it sounds like a lofty project, members and players can rest assured they won't be seeing a complete transformation of the world-famous course. As Mr. Palmer indicated during the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard in March, the changes to the greens and undulations will be very subtle. Players can expect the look and routing of the course to be much the same as it was prior to maintenance. The overall goal of the project was not to completely alter the course, but rather elevate its architectural and aesthetic standards to the modern level one would expect from an Arnold Palmer designed course.
Efforts for this venture began well before excavators ever broke dirt on the first green at Bay Hill. "In November 2008, we created a test green near the end of the Charger range in which we planted seven different types of grass to determine which might be best suited for conditions at Bay Hill," explains Ray Easler, general manager at Bay Hill. "Of the seven, Emerald Dwarf was the top performer - in part because its longer root system allows it to be more resistant to ground pests, and its growth rate reduces the transition time between seasons."
The selected Emerald Dwarf was cultivated at Champion Turf Farms in Bay City, Texas, a company owned and operated by father-son team Morris and Mike Brown. This spring, Bay Hill's golf course superintendent John Anderson traveled to Texas to inspect the new turf firsthand and was more than pleased. "We were very impressed with the quality of the turf and the first-class operation of Champion Turf Farms. Morris and Mike have been extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and even committed to personally overseeing the installation of the Emerald sprigs at Bay Hill. We all look forward to seeing the final results of this project on the course."
Work at the course is being done in phases, typically three holes at a time, as to minimize the impact on the environment. While the Championship course isn't scheduled to re-open until October, the Charger course remains open throughout the entirety of the maintenance project. In addition, Bay Hill Golf Shop has arranged for special discounts at many area courses to accommodate its golf members.
About Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge
Located 20 minutes from downtown Orlando, Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge is the site of the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard PGA golf tournament. The 70-room property features a full-service spa, salon, fitness and aquatic center, 27 holes of golf, the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy, four dining locations, three lounges and 9,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space. For reservations or membership information, call (888) 422-9445 or (407) 876- 2429.
For more information:
Arlene Wright, Chisano Marketing Group, (407) 788-7070 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Leigh Anne Mace, Bay Hill Club & Lodge, at (407) 876-8003 or email@example.com
Posted by scurry at 09:16 AM
July 13, 2009
The Gavin Fitzgerald "Kids Fore Kids" Charity Golf Tournament
On Saturday, September 12th the Winter Park Country Club in Winter Park, FL. will be hosting a very unique and special charity golf event which will benefit the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Woman and Babies in Orlando, FL. In its second year, The Gavin Fitzgerald "Kids Fore Kids" Charity Golf Event is on a mission to get kids actively involved early in life to learn the fundamentals of giving. Their goal is to build a future of young philanthropist and help those in need. The idea of the event itself is kids raising money through playing golf for kids in need.
The tournament format is a 9 hole, four "Kid" team scramble. The teams will be a mix of children 4 to 17 years of age. Money will be raised in a variety of ways. The most unique way is through the children actively looking for individuals or corporations to sponsor them as they take part in the scramble on September 12th. To request a registration form e-mail Sondra Fitzgerald at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The "Kids Fore Kids" Foundation Inc. is also offering sponsorships to corporations or individuals who would like to help. E-mail Sondra Fitzgerald at email@example.com for more information.
If you take a moment to watch the following video from the Golf Channel's Golf Central you can see what an amazing impact Gavin and his event, in its inaugural year, made on helping the kids at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Woman and Babies in Orlando, FL.
It's a very special thing that Gavin is doing.
In order to make this years event a success once again, the "Kids Fore Kids" Foundation is seeking corporate monetary donations or tournament sponsorships, product donations to act as giveaways to the children participating or product donations to act as silent auction items to also raise funds.
If you are interested you can contact Winter Park Country Club Head Professional, Brendon Elliott at BrendonElliott@pga.com, Mr. Wesley Bishop with the Arnold Palmer Hospital at Wesley.Bishop@orlandohealth.com or Sondra Fitzgerald with the Kids Fore Kids Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the Kids Fore Kids Foundation and Event log onto: http://www.kidsforekids.com/home
BRENDON R. ELLIOTT
HEAD GOLF PROFESSIONAL
Winter Park Country Club
761 Old England Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789
GOLF SHOP: (407)599-3339
MAIN LINE: (407)599-3418
Posted by scurry at 11:07 AM
July 10, 2009
ARNOLD PALMER ATTENDS 2009 'So The World May Hear' AWARDS GALA
ST. PAUL, MN – Arnold Palmer is scheduled to attend the Starkey So the World May Hear Awards Gala Sunday July 12.
The gala supports the Starkey Hearing Foundation which started with a simple premise: “Alone we can’t do much. But, together we can change the world.”
With “So the World May Hear” as his goal, Starkey Hearing Foundation founder William F. Austin built an organization upon this vision.
Today the Foundation is sustained by the efforts of thousands of volunteers and donors around the world. Through generous support the foundation delivers more than 50,000 hearing aids annually through more than 100 hearing missions a year in countries stretching from the U.S. to Vietnam.
In addition to giving the gift of hearing, the Foundation promotes hearing health awareness while supporting research and education.
Celebrities Tony Bennett, Billy Crystal, Elton John and Gladys Knight will also be in attendance at the black-tie gala.
Posted by scurry at 04:52 PM
July 07, 2009
CNN Exclusive - Arnold Palmer: Olympics can revive golf
Arnold Palmer, one of the greatest players in the history of golf, has exclusively told CNN that the Olympic Games could help to revive the recession-hit sport.
With golf being hit hard by the recent downturn in the global economy, Palmer believes the sport needs all the help it can get if it is to come out the other side of the recession.
Palmer said: "The downturn in the economy has affected many golf clubs and I hope we've reached the bottom on that.
"It is probably being felt most severely in America. I'd like to see that stop and for players to return to the golf course. It's tough right now but I'm sure things will improve.
"Golf has changed so much from when I turned professional. My main goal was always to increase the awareness of golf and that has happened.
"In places like India, China, Japan and South and Central America, people are becoming avid golf fans because the climate is perfect for the game."
"Golf is now an international competition and it is bringing people in from all around the world."
"But if golf gets accepted by the Olympic Committee it would be a wonderful thing for the continuing growth of the game. Bringing people together on the course is one of the most important things we can do."
It has been over a century since golf was an official Olympic sport, with George Lyon of Canada claiming the last gold medal in 1904.
Read the full story at CNN
Posted by scurry at 11:30 AM
July 06, 2009
PALMER ATTENDS THE FIRST 'FREE TO THE PUBLIC' CHAMPIONS TOUR EVENT
Arnold Palmer will be attending the 3M Championship — held July 10-12 at the Tournament Players Club (TPC) Twin Cities in Blaine, an Arnold Palmer designed course — which is offering free admission, parking and shuttles to the public.
"Giving back is the right thing to do," said Hollis Cavner, tournament director. "We've received such tremendous support from fans and corporate partners over the past 17 years. We are thrilled that we have an opportunity to say thank you and provide this free gift to golf fans."
"It's very exciting that the 3M Championship is giving golf fans the opportunity to see this great event for free." said Palmer. He adds, "I also hope this offer will introduce some new people to golf as well."
Joining Palmer for the annual 2009 Greats of Golf Challenge Saturday, July 11th and Sunday July 12th will be some of his contemporaries Chi Chi Rodriguez, Lee Trevino, Billy Casper, Gene Littler, Miller Barber, Tony Jacklin, Charles Coody and Don January.
The Greats of Golf Challenge Presented by Post-it Brand Products is a two-day tournament that features nine PGA Champions Tour professionals playing in a three-person scramble format.
The 3M Championship consistently ranks as one of the top Champions Tour events for crowds and charitable giving. Last year, the 3M Championship was voted the No.1 event on the Champions Tour by the players, earning the coveted Champions Tour Players Award.
Posted by scurry at 02:09 PM
July 01, 2009
PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER INDUCTED INTO WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower has been voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2009. Eisenhower was selected in the Lifetime Achievement Category for his genuine love for the sport of golf and his role in popularizing the game after the second world war. He will become the first President to enter the Hall when he is inducted posthumously on Nov. 2 at the World Golf Village in St Augustine, Florida.
During the 60's Eisenhower and Palmer became friends out of mutual admiration and respect for one another. Both Eisenhower and Palmer hailed from ‘blue collar’ backgrounds—Eisenhower as the progeny of Mid-west farming ‘stock’ from Kansas and Palmer as the son of Latrobe’s professional and course superintendent—which perhaps explains the affinity they clearly felt for each other.
"One would be hard pressed to find any single person who did more to popularize the game of golf, not only in the United States but throughout the world, than President Eisenhower," Arnold Palmer said in a statement on Friday. "His visibility, coupled with his passion for the game, were the inspiration for literally millions of people picking up the game for the first time. Those involved in golf today owe him a great debt of gratitude," added Palmer.
The Arnie and Ike relationship goes on to this day with the Palmer Prostate Center at Eisenhower Luci Curci Cancer Center located in the heart of the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs California. The Coachella Valley is where their desert connections converged with another friend, Bob Hope, making many headlines that ultimately led to popularizing the game.
The number of Americans who played golf doubled while Eisenhower was in office from 1953 to 1961, according to "First Off The Tee," a book on U.S. presidents who played golf.
Eisenhower will be inducted along with two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain, former PGA champion Lanny Wadkins and Christy O'Connor of Ireland.
Eisenhower joins a very short list of Hall of Famers who never played competitively, such as Bob Hope and Dinah Shore.
Posted by scurry at 03:30 PM