Many golfers are quick to tell you they learned golf from their father, grandfather or father-in-law. Golf has a long tradition of being introduced in family circles and being passed down from one generation to another. Fathers and father figures continue to be an influential component as to why people play golf. As Father's Day is upon us and most people are looking for a gift for dad it is apparent that dads around the world have been giving the gift of golf for centuries. Fifteen of the 32 CEOs interviewed forTwo Good Rounds Titans: Leaders in Industry & Golfcited their father as introducing them to golf.
Michael Pascucci who started Oxford Resource Partners amassed a fortune large enough to build Sebonack Golf Club in Long Island, NY. Mr. Pascucci credits his father as giving him his first introduction to golf. "My first memory of golf is when I was six years old and seeing my dad get up at 4 a.m. and leave by 5 a.m. to play golf at a public course on his only day off from work," says Pascucci. His father, Ralph, a landscape contractor for Levitt & Sons, had caddied at the Engineers Club on Long Island and played well enough to become a scratch golfer.
"We only played once together because I did not take to golf right away as I was playing football at the time. He did teach me the basics like how to hold the club, the proper grip and body alignment as far as the ball position in relation to your body."
Mr. Pascucci is the father of four (three boys and one girl) and grandfather of 11, all of which have been introduced to golf. There is an annual family grudge match for family bragging rights and Pascucci is quick to note while he and his son Ralph lost to his son-in-law, TEB and other son, Chris this year they did win the year prior.
Jack Nicklaus has always said he was encouraged by his father to play golf but never pushed. When asked who introduced his father to the game Nicklaus replied, "You know in all these years no one has ever asked me that question. I don't know as both my grandfathers worked on the railroad and it would not have been through them." Jack Grout, his longtime golf coach, was like a second father to him and had a very strong influence on his golf game. Speaking at the opening of the Jack Nicklaus room at the USGA Museum Nicklaus said he could have won as many as 25 major championships but it would have meant sacrificing his close relationship with his family. "The importance of my legacy is not on the golf course. It's what my life has been," Nicklaus said. "Golf was a game. My family was my life. I always treated golf as a game, never anything else. To have a family that is close is really special."
Although Peter Ueberroth had caddied a Burlingame C.C. and Los Altos C.C. in California he actually learned to play golf from his father-in-law when he was in his mid-20's. Ueberroth notes, "He used to take me out regularly to play at the Recreation Park Golf Club in Long Beach, CA." Ueberroth is credited with brokering the purchase of Pebble Beach from a Japanese company and notes this as his greatest business achievement. "We structured it so it can never be sold. Future generations will have the same experience," Ueberroth said. The purchase of 5,300 acres, a highway known as 17 Mile Drive, four golf courses, three hotels (The Pebble Beach Company) along with partners Arnold Palmer, Richard Ferris, Clint Eastwood, William Perocchi and GE Pension, offered limited partnership interests with the understanding that the plan was to never again sell Pebble Beach Company to another ownership group. Had fate been different and Ueberroth not been introduced to golf there is no telling how things would have turned out.
Gregg Tryhus of Grayhawk Development remembers when he was eight years old watching his father win a match to become the North Dakota State amateur championship. "I snuck over to the course as my parents originally determined I was too young to be out there," says Tryhus. He credits his father with teaching him how to play the game, particularly how to score by focusing on his short game. As most of us know the lessons we learn from our parents extend far beyond practical measures and spill into philosophy and a larger sense of self. Tryhus is no exception and notes: "The life lesson I learned from my father was that the game is a reflection of who you are. Accept the consequences, good or bad, and move on. Don't let your emotions go too high and certainly don't accept defeat by letting them go too low." And while he taught his two sons to play golf he notes it wasn't until they met some of his more famous friends that they determined it was actually cool to play golf.
One of the great advantages of golf is the ability to truly spend time and interact with those you are playing with and given the beautiful landscape of golf courses many indelible memories are made by golfing families. Recalling some of his fondest memories of golfing with his children Tryhus notes, "Letting them drive the cart sitting on my lap, take an occasional swing, then run over to roll down slopes on the sides of several fairways. Playing together in father son events and walking the fairways near sunset while on vacation in Hawaii with my wife and boys when they were 10 and 12 years old."
A heartfelt "thank you" to every father or father figure that has introduced their child or any child to the game of golf. The results are the backbone of this sport and industry as a whole. And as any golfer will tell you this is far greater than a game.