A Passion for Golf
Five years ago, Shelly Haywood’s life was happy and uncomplicated. She was an assistant golf professional at Tucson Country Club, working for her husband, Michael. She was able to satisfy her competitive side on the West Coast Ladies Golf Tour. She was an avid cyclist, eventually hoping to compete in a triathlon. And she was “mother” to her two cats, Paws and Newman. It was when Haywood added coaching to her resume that she realized what she really wanted to do. She led the Rincon High School girls’ team to a third-place finish in the state championship and coached Andrea Ratigan to the individual title. “I’ve always wanted to coach,” Haywood said. “I have a degree in Professional Golf Management at New Mexico State. And coaching at the college level is the ultimate.” But Haywood was out of the college loop, when a simple phone call changed all of that. “Greg Allen [U of A women’s golf coach] needed an assistant. He called me one night and asked my advice. I recommended Shelly,” said Dennis Palmer, director of golf at the Tubac Golf Resort and a former Wildcat golfer. Allen checked Haywood out with U of A men’s coach Rick LaRose and received another strong recommendation. He hired Haywood “I didn’t know Greg,” Haywood said. It didn’t take Haywood long to make her mark in women’s collegiate golf. After her first year she was given the LPGA’s highest coaching honor, National Coach of the Year. And she was still an assistant coach. “That meant a lot because it was voted on by my peers,” Haywood said. “After the 2007 season, there were lots of changes in college golf,” Haywood said. “The Vanderbilt job opened up, and I knew Greg would like to go there because it was close to where he grew up.” Vanderbilt hired Allen and it didn’t take U of A athletic director Jim Livengood long to name Haywood as the successor. “He said he felt it was an obvious choice to promote from within,” Haywood said. “I know what is expected here. Arizona has always been a top-10 program. And I played against Annika [Sorenstam] and Leta [Lindley].”
In three years Haywood was now in charge of one of the premier programs in women’s college golf, one that had produced the two most dominant players on the LPGA Tour in the past decade, Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa, and had won two national titles. Before taking the head job, Haywood learned quickly that there are definite road bumps in the world of college coaching. She helped recruit Juliata Granada from Columbia, one of the top prospects worldwide. Before enrolling at U of A, Granada turned professional. She has earned more than $2 million and won a tournament on the LPGA Tour. The next year Haywood helped land Esther Choe from Scottsdale, the American Junior Golf Association’s Girl’s Player of the Year. In April, however, after competing on a sponsor’s exemption in the LPGA’s Nabisco Championship, Choe also turned pro. “What really hurt is that both told us their decision late so we couldn’t sign anyone else,” Haywood said. Last season, her first as U of A head coach, Haywood lost her No. 2 player, Andriana Zwanck, early in the season. Zwanck said she was homesick for her home country, Spain. The Wildcats, definitely a player short, still managed to qualify for the NCAA championships once again. “Our best finish was third,” Haywood said. “We had three opportunities to win. But Alison Walshe did win three times.” So what is Haywood’s coaching style? “I tell everyone that passion is my favorite word,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what you do, be passionate about it. I’ve learned not to be so intense. But I’m very competitive. I want to win.”
Haywood hired former Wildcat Laura Myerscough as her lone assistant. And her husband, Michael, is now her volunteer assistant. “I’d hire him even if we weren’t married,” Shelly said. “I think he’s the best teacher in the city.” Michael Haywood, who was named Professional of the Year by the Southwest Section PGA in 2007, said he doesn’t mind working for his wife, which is a complete reversal of roles from the past decade. “One of my proudest moments was watching her create her own identity and her own vision,” Michael said. “She hasn’t held back. She’s implemented her own style, and she has a work ethic second to none. She’s a traditionalist by nature. She’s about success, and she’s going to succeed.” In her first full year as Arizona head coach, Shelly Haywood has proven she can recruit. Her freshman class lists two-time Kentucky state champion Nikki Koller; No.1-ranked Mexican junior amateur Margarita Ramos; No. 1 French junior amateur
Isabelle Boineau and Mesa Red Mountain High School’s Ashley Malaska, daughter of PGA professional Mike Malaska. “We recruited some really good kids, and they’re all great students with above a 3.8 grade point average,” Haywood said. “I think definitely we’ll be a top-20 team. People don’t realize how good we’re going to be.” U of A also returns Alexandra Llaneza, a sophomore who will compete for Mexico in the World Amateur Championship in Australia in October. She recently finished third in the Canadian Women’s Amateur. “The four I’ve signed all said their dream was to be at the University of Arizona,” Shelly said. “If I’ve got to convince a kid to come to school here, I’m not going to want them on my team.” Besides good grades and a desire to attend U of A, Haywood also looks for prospects who are multi-sport athletes. “I love kids that are athletic enough to play other sports,” she said. “And I love good putters.” Haywood said her best finish on the West Coast Ladies Tour was third place. “I’m still a good player,” she said. “Sometimes we have a match, Laura [Myerscough] and me against the girls. We can keep up.” Now 41, Haywood’s goal of eventually competing in a triathlon is on hold. She still cycles regularly. “But you have to swim, and I just hate it,” she admits.
On The Road with Bill Grove
By Bill Huffman
As the general manager of the TPC Scottsdale, Bill Grove is responsible for Arizona’s most well-known golf venue—the Stadium Course, “home of the FBR Open.’’ Grove, who works for the PGA Tour, also oversees one of the state’s most popular public tracts in the Champions Course, as well as serving as regional director for the TPC golf network in Louisiana, Nevada and Texas.
Known as one of the hardest working guys in golf, Grove was born in Virginia and grew up in North Carolina, where he graduated with a degree in industrial management from East Carolina University in Greenville. But somewhere along the line, the golf bug got in his blood, first as a player, and then as
After a brief stint selling computer systems, Grove jumped into his passion full-time, serving in various capacities at North/South Carolina clubs like Beachwood, Greenville, Willow Creek and the Country Club of North Carolina. In 1986, Grove founded his own management company—GroMark—and built his company’s portfolio to 13 courses throughout the Southeast before closing it.
Since 1992, Grove has worked for the PGA Tour, spending a little over a year at both the TPC Starr Pass in Tucson and the TPC at Eagle Trace in Florida. But the majority of his efforts—14 years’ worth—have been focused on the TPC Scottsdale, where he has polished the image of the Stadium Course while simultaneously spearheading a $10 million renovation of the Champions Course.
In the past year Grove also has found time to develop a partnership with the Arizona Golf Association. Along those lines, he has donated the Champions Course as the annual site of the AGA Champions Stroke Play.
Recently the 61-year-old “youngster’’ sat down with Arizona, The State of Golf for an in-depth question-and-answer session on what drives Bill Grove—besides his beloved Harley-Davidson motorcycle that he rides to work each day.
Q: Did you find golf or did golf find you?
A: I found golf. It was 1966, and I had just watched Arnold Palmer collapse on the last nine holes of the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club. Obviously, it left an impression. So I started playing golf. I believe it was my junior year in college, and one of my college roommates, Chuck Lemmons, got me going at a place called Ayden Country Club.
Q: What was it that got you hooked on the game?
A:The fact I couldn’t do it very well. I had been pretty good at other sports, but golf was really frustrating for me in the beginning. It just appealed to my competitive nature, which is still there. . . . Eventually, I tried to play [for a living], but I quickly found out I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. But that’s what got me into the golf business.
Q: Looking back, at the height of your game—competitively—what were you known for, and what kind of scores did you shoot?
A: The harder the course the better chance I had because my game was more about hitting fairways and greens. I actually won some section events in the Carolinas when I was younger, and I played a couple of times in the National Club Pro Championship. My best score, competitively, was a 68 at PGA National.
Q: Shifting gears here, what’s it like being in charge of Arizona’s most high-profile golf course?
A: Scary. It’s the PGA Tour’s second-most high profile course outside of the TPC Sawgrass. Sometimes it’s just mind-boggling what can go on, so you have to pay attention.
Q: The pressure must be enormous to pull off the FBR Open. Who is more under the gun—you guys or the Thunderbirds, the civic organization that sponsors the event?
A: I don’t think of it as pressure, probably because we’ve done it so many times. I look at it more like a partnership [with the Thunderbirds], and I’mvery proud of that. The Thunderbirds do such a great job; we’re all in it together.
Q: You’re a pro, and the TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course is known as a pro’s course, but here you are helping out the Arizona Golf Association by donating your Champions Course for the Champions Stroke Play. Why?
A: When we came up with the name Champions, a concept was born where we wanted to reach out to the golf community, which ismostly amateurs rather than professionals. The idea was to draw the best amateurs here, develop amateur champions and build a model just like we did on the other side of the street at the Stadium Course for the FBR Open.
Q: What’s the feedback on the Champions Course?
A: Very, very positive, from both a local and nonresident standpoint. The aesthetics, the shot differences, the elevations, the fact that no two holes look alike. It’s just a really good blend of high-desert golf, and people love it.
Q: Could you see the Champions hosting other events in the future?
A: Oh, sure. Right now the AGA Champions Stroke Play is a perfect fit for this facility. But we always have interest in other events. When Ty Votaw worked for the LPGA we even talked about bringing that event [Safeway International] out here. The way we look at it, anything is possible.
Q: What are your thoughts on the AGA’s planned renovation of Papago Golf Course?
A: I think it’s awesome. Papago is such a great golf course, and it’s like adding another gem to this community. Being that it’s a public facility, that’s even a better reason [to renovate it]. It’s money well-spent.
Q: Do you ever see the day they’ll make more changes to the Stadium Course?
A: Actually, there’s a lot on the table right now. [Architect] Tom Weiskopf continues to offer his time and ideas. Whether they get developed or not depends on a lot of variables. The Stadium Course is really good right now, but we’re always trying to improve things and make it better
Q: You’re considered a very hard worker, a six-days-aweek grinder. Do you expect that from everybody that works for you?
A: I realized years ago that you can’t expect people to live up to your work standards, and that just happens to be mine. So you show themhow it’s done, and you find out that some just want it more than others. I guess that makes me “old school,” but it is my 39th season in the golf industry, and I do what makes me comfortable.
Q: If you hadn’t ended up in the golf industry, what would you be doing now?
A: Flying jets. To be able to control a jet, that’s powerful and liberating. It’s why I ride a motorcycle. Flying a jet would be like trying to control a golf ball. It’s hard to do . . . but I keep trying to figure it out.
Q: What kinds of bikes do you own?
A: I drive a ’97 Heritage Softail with 50,000 miles on it, and I used to drive a Sportster. I’ve been driving a Harley on and off since college.
Q: Do you think riding is a little dangerous?
A: Sure, but I’ve only had to lay it down once. It happened during last year’s FBR Open. Guy was speeding up an offramp, I saw him out of the corner of my eye, the SUV in front of me hit its breaks, and I let the motorcycle slide out from under me. I had my leathers on and scraped ’em up pretty good. Then I got up to see if everything was still there. I made a golf swing, and since I could still swing, I knew I was OK. . . . Riding a motorcycle has made me 10 times a better driver of an automobile. You learn to look out!
Q: Is this your last job, or do you still have other mountains to climb?
A: Personally, I think this is the last one, and I’m thankful for it because, from my view, I’ve never had to work a day in my life. To get up and drive my motorcycle to work every day, and then spend my day having fun with the people I work with, and we’re right here at these great golf courses on top of it, I can’t think of anything better than that. At the same time, there are a lot of things I still want to do outside of my job. I’d like to spend more time with my wife [Debria] and kids [sons Ian and Kyle, and daughter Kacey]. And I’d like to play more golf, and work out, and just “live right.”
Q: What other activities are you interested in?
A: Anything involving my family, my church and building my faith.
Q: What’s it like working for the PGA Tour? What’s your quick opinion of Commissioner Tim Finchem?
A: (The PGA Tour) always wants to do things at the very highest level, and I think you’re always inspired by the best to be the best. . . . Tim Finchem is underappreciated. But he is politically savvy and a great guy to work for.
Q: How could we make the game of golf better or more popular?
A: How are you measuring that? If it’s from TV ratings, I don’t think you can measure it. And sheer numbers (who play the game), I’m not sure about that, either. But if you’re measuring it by how many kids are coming to the game, and how much fun they’re having, I’ll buy that. The PGA of America is doing a good, consistent job with their programs, and we need to keep paying attention to the kids, because kids are the answer to your question.
Q: What is the future of golf?
A: I think the future of everything is a little clouded right now because of the economic situation we’re in, so it’s hard to predict. I don’t think golf is recession-proof, but it’s got an intangible you can’t beat. The great advantage golf has over other sports is that, for the average guy, he can’t go and put on Matt Leinhart’s jersey and go to Phoenix Stadium and throw a TD pass, or put on Steve Nash’s jersey and go make a basket at AmericaWest Arena. But he can come out to the TPC Scottsdale and wear the same clothes, play with the same equipment, and use the same locker rooms as the PGA Tour players who compete in the FBR Open. Golf is a lifetime sport, and as long as you’ve got guys like (Champions of Golf award winner) Tom Cunningham teaching kids to play golf, the game’s going to be okay.
Tom Cunningham – Forever Young
By Bill Huffman
Tom Cunningham has been the executive director of the Junior Golf Association of Arizona for the past 13 years. As one of state’s most influential people in the golf industry, Cunningham oversees 1,100 junior golf members with a total reach of up to 3,000 children annually. A long-time resident of Phoenix, Cunningham, 64, is both well-organized and well-respected by his peers, and the children who play under the JGAA banner think the world of him. Recently he sat down with Arizona, The State of Golf to answer some questions about his life and the vision behind the JGAA.
Q: What led you into golf?
A: I started playing a little bit when I was at West High School [in Phoenix], and a little less when I was at Arizona State.When I married my wife of 40 years, Dorothy, that’s when I started playing regularly. She was an avid golfer and we became members at Phoenix Country Club. That’s when I was playing a lot of golf.
Q: Who were the people that influenced your early life the most?
A: I think about that question a lot, because I lost my father when I was 24 and my mother when I was 26. I guess probably my father-inlaw, Frank Middleton, who had a company called the Standard Insurance Agency, where I worked for 20 years. It was a real family business. It was all in the family, so to speak.
Q: How did you make your way to executive director of the JGAA?
A: After I left the insurance company, I went to work for a bank here in town. At that time I also was completing my second term as president of the JGAA, which had become my passion. There was some turmoil in the JGAA at the time, so I took a temporary leave of absence from the bank the summer of 1994 to get things straightened out. Almost immediately, I discovered I loved working with kids, and here I am.
Q: How has the philosophy of the JGAA evolved in your 13 years?
A: My objective originally was to stabilize the organization and reinsert some discipline in our programs. I felt the tail was wagging the dog, and I wanted to bring back the etiquette and discipline that it needed to re-establish that respect factor. Today, we still stick to those basic principles, but promoting the game for all skill levels also is a big
part of that mission.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing the JGAA?
A: I hate to say this, but [eroding] family values. They’re just not as strong as they
once were. Sadly, kids get away with too much, but you have to have rules and discipline. For instance, they might not understand why they didn’t get to play
because they were five minutes late for their tee time. But eventually they learn how being late effects golf and their life.
Q: What are the most important lessons you teach junior golfers?
A: Respect, not only for the game of golf, but for the people who help run it.We not only encourage them to do things like fix ball marks and send thank-you notes, we also teach them how to give back through volunteer work. It’s not just about being respectful towards our staff; it’s also about going in and thanking the guy in the pro shop, too.
Q: How does teaching girls differ from teaching boys, and visa versa?
A: What I’ve found over the years is that girls tend to be a little more social about golf than boys. They like to hang out with each other more than the boys do and they’re not as consumed with scores. Boys on the other hand, are a lot more competitive at all levels, even at ages 8, 9 and 10. So you handle them accordingly.
Q: Has the First Tee been as successful as you originally thought it would be?
A: Initially, most of the focus of the First Tee was on getting as many kids in the game as possible, focusing on those who were underprivileged. Unfortunately, it was hard to grow that group because, for many, the game was too hard, or harder than they thought. Then they flipped that philosophy over to the core values of life, and it’s been a big success even if the numbers don’t reflect that yet. But now it’s about quality rather than
quantity, and one of the best at following that path is right here in Phoenix. The First Tee of Phoenix has been a big success.
Q: Are parents getting better or worse when it comes to their role in junior golf?
A: [Laughter] Well, that’s a good question. [More laughter] That’s very hard to answer.
I’ll say this: the biggest problems come from parents who don’t play golf but their kids do. So there’s a lot of explaining that goes on, and a lot of mixed messages. In most cases you just need to be patient.
Q: What’s your advice to parents who have a potential “future star?”
A: Let them be themselves. Let them enjoy the game and allow them to be as competitive as they want to be. Don’t be too quick moving them along, because it’s such a fine line. But if a kid has the talent and has already mastered what he or she needs to master at that level, I don’t mind seeing them moving up [in competition].
Q: Is junior golf growing like you thought it would?
A: It hasn’t quite recovered from 9-11; it really took a hit that year just like golf, in general. Today, there’s a lot more enthusiasm, and we are getting a lot of inquiries. It’s steady, and we’ve actually increased our membership every year for the last four years. The key to growth is accessibility and affordability, and making it as least intrusive as possible for the family. The way I look at it is, if we can get them on the course, they’ll have a good time.
Q: What do you gain the most satisfaction from when it comes to junior golf?
A: At the end of the day, when a kid comes up to me or someone else involved with a tournament or event and says, “Thank you,’’ or if they just mention how much they have enjoyed the day. The other day, Ted Purdy told me if it wasn’t for junior golf, he wouldn’t be where he is today. I’m sure he’s giving us more credit than we might deserve, but that’s a really nice thing to say.
Q: The Thunderbirds have always been a big part of your life. What’s that been like?
A: Being part of the Thunderbirds has been one of the best things about my life. I was active for five years, and I’ve been around for another 20 years doing whatever they needed help with. I’m so proud of the FBR Open, how it’s grown, and all we’ve done for charity. I am eternally grateful I was chosen to be a Thunderbird.
Q: How’s you golf game? Do you get to play much?
A: I did all that earlier in my life. I was a 4 [handicap] at one time, but today I’m an 8 and I can’t break 90. I’m not burned out, but with my job there are time constraints. Maybe when I retire I’ll get back to it. But even then it will probably only be nine holes. I’m not an 18-holer any more.
Q: What’s something that few people know about Tom Cunningham?
A: [Laughing] Well, I’m not an open book. That’s a tough one. I can’t think of any secrets because what you see is what you get. I guess if anything, I bite my tongue a lot. It’s gotten a lot shorter over the years. [More laughter]
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: Being married to my wife for 40 years, and raising our four boys, who all are a joy to be around. That my family loves being a family is very gratifying to me.We’re close; we’re tight. That’s a very comforting, satisfying feeling.
Q: How much longer to you plan to lead the JGAA?
A: We’re in the process of that [retirement] happening with the arrival of Sean Ferris, who will succeed me. I’d like to do the job for two or three more years if my health allows it. I’ve still got a few things to accomplish; mostly getting out JGAA’s message. When I leave I want people to know what the JGAA does, and that our message is clear.
Q: What would you like your legacy to be?
A: That he was honest and treated people fairly, and what he did was always based on improving things and making things better. It’s never been about me; it’s always been about us. I’d like to be known as someone who gave way more than he took.
Davie Gilchrist – A Royal Visitor
By Ed Gowan
Every golfer knows that the game has ancient beginnings and traditions. Many today will still admit that’s an important aspect of golf, though the numbers of those who do are clearly declining.
But, especially for those privileged enough to enjoy the game in Scotland on occasion, a return to bygone days can bring very special experiences and memories.
During this past winter season, we were blessed to have one of golf ’s princes in town, sharing his vision and experience with a few, and now you. His name is David Gilchrist, from the neighborhood of St. Andrews, or more accurately, Kings Barns—just up the road. Davey, as his long-time Arizona friend, J. Michael Meadows calls him, is the Caddie Master at Kings Barns, a wonderful modern edition of Scottish links land golf.
A relationship with a real caddie is a dance, a melding of knowledge, golf skills (or lack thereof), strategic thinking, course analysis and, of course, humor. Don’t forget the humor. In fact, if you
don’t have a sense of humor, avoid Scottish caddies. They will know that, and you will find out, usually in a way that will have your fellow golfers reeling in guffaws.
Caddie stories have abounded for centuries, but like rules and happenings, there are always new ones to be told from nearly every round. Davey has a few. Some take the form of advice:
“It’s best to keep one’s mouth shut until the ball comes to rest,” he says, to keep your psychological controls strong.
“If you drop something, pick it up. A caddie carries clubs, he doesn’t baby-sit them.”
“Sand wedges are for sand only in Scotland,” referring to the normally rock-hard fairways, suited more to bump-and-run shots.
And one of the best lines after your opponent complains about your justplayed shot that gets inside his, “What did you hit, there?” Your caddie will defend you with, “Sir, this is a game of ‘How many?’ not ‘What with?!”
He also will share a story or two if you’re found to be friendly.
“One group played Kings Barns several days in a row, with three players taking caddies and the fourth pulling a trolley. The fourth player quickly gained a reputation for being cheap, as he would
ask the caddies throughout the round for advice, but forget to tip at the end of the day. On the third day, a particularly windy day, the group came to the 15th hole, a dogleg right par 3, close against the sea. In fact, the hole that day was far to the rear, making it mandatory to play over the rocky shore with a strong crosswind blowing out to sea.
“As the caddies were discussing the probable ‘playing club selection’—because in Scotland that’s the only thing that matters (yardage is only part of the equation)—the fourth player asked, ‘Well, boys, what do you think it is?’ Without any hesitation, one caddie replied, ‘Sir, why don’t you ask your Trolley?’ Point made.”
After one PGA Tour player had flung his driver some 60 yards ahead of the 14th tee after a tee shot, Davey reminded him, “Best to throw it forward so you can pick it up on your way to the next hole.”
Or the classic line used by all Scottish caddies when asked after an errant tee shot, “Caddie, what’s over there?” They respond,“Well, Sir, your ball for one thing! Never have been there myself before.”
On the suggestion of his club professional, Davey tried caddying several years ago “You’ll really fall in love with the game in a way you could never imagine.”
Within a few short months, his clubs were packed away, and 36-holes-a-day were the norm, carrying doubles. The money didn’t matter anymore; he had found his dream and home.
A few short years later, here we are in Phoenix with David Gilchrist, taking a few months off for R&R, golf, but still caddying at Phoenix CC. (By the way, a rusty game, his tenth round of the last year [played at Moon Valley], resulted in a reasonable score of 75.)
So, should you join the fortunate with a visit to the spectacular Kings Barns near St. Andrews, book yourself a starting time, and email the club with a request to have Davey Gilchrist “look after your caddie request—you’re a friend from Arizona." As Davey said, “If you love golf, you’re always my friend.” Don’t miss the chance, and say “hi” for the rest of us.
And, please bring us a new story!