Stadion Classic & Regions Tradition

Today I finished a wonderful week that took me from Athens, Georgia to Birmingham, Alabama. Starting on Monday at the Nationwide Stadion Classic, I played with Dr. Michael Adams, President of my alma matter, The University of Georgia, which was a real treat. It’s not too often you get to hear from the top dawg, expounding on all the wonderful growth at UGA over the past ten years. Recently Dr. Adams has put 1.5 billion dollars into infrastructure with only 300 million dollars in debt, which results in income producing real estate. On top of that,

Dr. Adams has raised over 100 million dollars each of the past five years, which is added onto the 650 million dollars raised for the UGA Archway To Excellence Fund. All of these efforts have helped UGA become a very prominent public university in the United States, along with the major research that has taken place.

With Dr. Adams contract being up for renewal for an additional five years I would say that the university will renew his contract. More importantly I pray that Dr. Adams will want to continue the stupendous work that he has begun, and bring his brilliant career to a wonderful conclusion at UGA.  Quite extraordinary! Oh I forgot, he also started a medical school along with an engineering school.   This May will be the completion of the first graduating class at the medical school, which is going to be a great asset to the state, but also, for the University because of the large Federal grants that the school can now vie for.

The Athens Classic hosted by Stadion/Tim Chapman the Chairman and founder of this 8 billion dollar money management company, has truly forged a great partnership. With all the infrastructure of the University, from food services, which was voted #1 last year for all universities, to all the volunteers, staff, and alumni, Stadion will take this tournament to the highest levels on any tour. Georgia is the only university that owns a PGA Tour tournament, which has outstanding synergies for raising lots of charity dollars for the local community. I was proud to Co-Host with Bubba Watson, who brought so much enthusiasm to the community, especially since he won The Zurich Classic in New Orleans just last week. I was hoping to have a driving contest with him, however, it was probably good for me since he has hit some of the longest tee shots in the history of the tour. What is truly special for all juniors looking to make it to the PGA Tour, Georgia’s tournament allows two spots for its team members, which lead to UGA Senior and three time All-American, Russell Henley winning the tournament.

My son John, who will be attending UGA this fall was with me, had a wonderful time as the Commissioner of his Fantasy Football league meeting A. J. Green, and Mathew Stafford. Being able to report first hand that Stafford’s shoulder is in tip top shape really made his week. Also, all the celebrities were so nice to engage the press along with playing in the Monday Pro-Am, especially, A. J. Green due to the uncertainty of his NFL contract, in which he was drafted just a few days before.

Onto Birmingham for the Regions Tradition which is our first major. Birmingham holds a special place in the history of Civil Rights. It has come a long way from the Freedom Riders attacks on Mother’s Day in 1961, along with the four beautiful children that were bombed at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963.  For the golf world, Shoal Creek is symbolic for the changes that took place right after the 1990 PGA Championship where all the ruling bodies of golf adopted policies that disallowed discriminatory clubs from hosting golf events.  I’m so proud of all the major golf associations that have come together to make the golfing world a better place, for all Americans to have fun around our great sport.  Shoal Creek has set a wonderful example of how to go about making our world a better place, through adopting and changing with the times of not discriminating with regard to race, sex, religion, or national origin.   Mike Thompson, the founders son, was so generous with all the guests, sponsors, and players, which made the week really special for me and my family. Condoleezza Rice is a member of Shoal Creek, and was the Honorary Chair of the Regions Tradition this past week.  Consequently, on Mother’s Day I was moved by all the changes that have taken place in our country, and am so proud of how far we all have come through the courage and strength of our nation.  I’m so thankful that Shoal Creek and the PGA Tour have forged a wonderful relationship for the future; it’s better for golf and the local communities that we visit, but most importantly it makes our country stronger.  If you are ever fortunate enough to play Shoal Creek, I think you’ll enjoy one of Jack Nicklaus’ finest designs. The course has just the right amount of challenge, within a beautiful setting, which will leave you with the desire to play it again.  I’m off for a few weeks preparing for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, so until later play well.