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CONCESSION CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 29, 2014
TOM SPROUSE:Â My name is Tom Sprouse, and I'd like to welcome you to the captains press conference for the inaugural Concession Cup.Â We have a number of special guests with us today, starting with Mr. Bruce Cassidy Sr., owner of the beautiful Concession Golf Club, the most‑gracious host of this week's Concession Cup.Â Bruce, if I can please ask you to offer your thoughts on behalf of the club and discuss the goals and visions of the event.
BRUCE CASSIDY SR.:Â First, I want to thank everybody for coming and covering the event.Â Concession Golf Club opened early 2006.Â We acquired the golf club in 2009.Â As most of you probably know, the golf club is a Jack Nicklaus design with Tony Jacklin collaboration, and the members here at the club, I can tell you where they travel in the United States, they wear the Concession as a badge of honor with them.
The goal of acquiring the Concession Golf Club was we wanted to operate a first‑class facility of the membership and work towards honoring the names of the designers by hosting significant events.
Two years ago my son Bruce Jr. & Alan Pope took it upon themselves to try to identify a significant event, and after putting much time together and much discussion, it led them to Alan Fadel.Â The three of them, Alan, Alan and Bruce Jr came up with a concept called Concession Cup.Â The Concession Cup is designed to celebrate the true spirit of amateur golf competition.Â It's a Walker Cup style event with mid and senior amateurs involved.
Our goal of this event is to establish relationships with a club in Great Britain and Ireland to host the event every second year.Â We're hopeful in 2016 we'll have a club in place to do that.Â Then going forward the event would rotate every two years from the U.S. to Great Britain and Ireland.
I'd now like to introduce our honorary chairman, Paul Azinger.Â Thank you.
PAUL AZINGER:Â Thank you, Bruce.Â I appreciate that.Â I'm proud to serve as the honorary chairman of the inaugural Concession Cup, I really am.Â Bruce, thank you to you and your son, you built a heck of a facility here.Â The golf course is incredible.Â It's incredible every day, not just this week.Â It's incredible every day.
I think it was voted the best new golf course in the country a few years back, Jack, and you and Tony I know are proud of that.Â Tony continues to be an influence here.Â We've got a great superintendent.
But about this event, I think this event has all the ingredients to be something special, and when you have two iconic honorary captains like Jack and Tony, that's huge.Â As I think you all know, we have four worthwhile charities, the First Tee of Tampa and the First Tee of Sarasota Manatee are going to be the charities, as well as Orphan's Heart Foundation, which is close to my heart and the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, which obviously Jack and Barbara are really instrumental in.
I was really fortunate to be a part of a lot of match play events during my career.Â In some weird way it's probably redefined my career.Â I think this is going to be a great competition, and I look forward to it.Â Let's all have a great time and let these guys go at it.Â Tom?
TOM SPROUSE:Â Thank you, Paul.Â Now it is my pleasure to introduce the captains for the first playing of the Concession Cup.Â The inspiring amateur career of the U.S. captain Vinny Giles boasts numerous victories including the U.S.Amateur, British Amateur and U.S. Senior Amateur Championships.Â He has represented the United States as a player in four Walker Cup competitions and one as a captain.Â He was low amateur in the 1968 Masters tournament, 1973 U.S. Open Championship, and in three U.S. Senior Open Championships.Â Vinny is also a member of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Southern Golf Association Hall of Fame.Â The GB&I captain Garth McGimpsey is one of Northern Ireland's most decorated amateur golfer.Â He was the 1985 British Amateur champion, represented Great Britain and Ireland in five Walker Cup competitions, three as a player and two as a captain, and is one of the most respected men in amateur golf, receiving the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his service to the game.
Garth, can you please offer your personal thoughts on the inaugural Concession Cup, what it means to you as a player and a captain, the unique necessary of the format and your strategy for competition?
GARTH McGIMPSEY:Â First of all, delighted to be here.Â First as a player and as a captain.Â It's certainly not an easy job looking after 18 guys who don't know what color trousers to wear and what shirt to put on.Â But they're all coming together.
We've had two good practice rounds, and the course is absolutely fantastic.Â You've got to really work your strategy out before you play, and I suppose that's a testament to the design of the course.Â It's in superb condition.
I'm really thrilled to be the captain of the team, and it's really amazing for me to be sitting beside two of my golfing heroes‑‑ sorry, three of my golfing heroes with Tony and Jack.Â They're just fantastic.Â I love them to bits.
Strategy, I've really only had to do foursomes so far.Â I've put all the Scots golfers together because nobody else can understand them.Â We've got two English guys who are a bit odd and a bit off the wall, so I'm putting them together.Â The best player, he's playing with me.
So it's been a bit of‑‑ I've really been getting to know our Mid‑Am section.Â I didn't really know too many of them so the last couple days I've been getting to know them and getting to know their strengths and work out how that's going to pair up with the seniors, who I do know well.
I think this event is all about renewing old friendships and trying to make some new friends.Â I know some of the American team, and it's been great to see the likes of Bob Lewis, who was my opposing Walker Cup captain 10 years ago.Â Bob and I were just saying, my God, where have the last 10 years gone?
I'd like to thank the Cassidys for letting us play their marvelous golf course.Â It's absolutely fantastic, and as I say, it's great to be here.
TOM SPROUSE:Â Vinny, can you offer your perspective, please, the unique necessary of this format and the strategy for your team, as well?
VINNY GILES:Â Garth has covered quite a bit of what this is all about.Â I also want to thank the Cassidys and Alan Fadel, who's a very close friend, and Alan Pope, because I've actually come over with Alan Fadel several times to work on some details, and they have put in a lot of tireless effort.Â The golf course is superb.Â It's in beautiful condition.
We asked them to speed up the greens a little bit.Â I hope a little bit was what they did, because they don't need much.Â But it's a wonderful golf course.
I think, also, that being the oldest person probably, Garth, on either team, I tried not to play, but Mr.Fadel insisted I play.Â I do know most of our players.Â I have a little different feeling about strategy than most, and Jack and Tony, who have captained more than one Ryder Cup team, probably feel differently.Â Other than some chemistry, if Tony's guys play well and Jack's guys don't, Tony's guys are going to win, and vice versa.Â When those guys show up 12 strong, if they're playing well, pretty good chance they're going to win.
I've tried to put the best guys out there with the most friendly pairings I can, and I think Garth is correct.Â Hopefully this is more about just good friendship than anything else.Â Peter Hedges is on their team and I played in the Walker Cup matches at Brookline in 1973.Â So we go way, way back.Â But at least he's playing as a Super Senior.Â They made me play as a Senior.
Wonderful event.Â I hope it'll be so successful that it will go on for years.Â We are really proud and happy to be here.Â I'm proud to be part of this team, and we appreciate all of you all being here, as well.Â Thank you.
TOM SPROUSE:Â Now I'd like to introduce two icons in the game, Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, the co‑designers of this golf course, and participants in the 1969 Concession, which if you can believe this year marks the 45th anniversary of that historic moment.Â Tony, can you please start by offering your thoughts on the golf course, the legacy of the Concession and your excitement to be a part of this event.
TONY JACKLIN:Â Well, yeah.Â This is actually the second Concession because when we decided to do this one, I had the idea and approached Jack with the developer to do it originally.Â I was actually happy to take a back seat.Â He's done 200 more golf courses around the world, you know.Â There's not much he doesn't know about golf course design.Â But immediately I said that, he said, no, no, if we're going to do it, we're going to do it together.Â He said that's the second Concession.
And in principle, really, we just agreed on generally what we wanted.Â We had a lovely piece of property to work with.Â We didn't want big greens.Â We wanted them to be testing.Â Basically common sense ruled the whole process.Â We had enough land to make the par‑3s go different directions, make it a challenging test, and I must say it turned out, for my point of view, exceptionally well, and we were very proud, of course, to get the Golf Digest Award in 2006 for the Best New Course in America.
I think it will be a great test for these players.Â It's great to see them over here, from the UK and Ireland, and equally Vinny's team.Â I think it's a great match play golf course, and it's going to be fun for these fellows.Â More than anything, it'll create some tremendous memories from all the participants, I'm sure.Â I hope it turns out to be a real true celebration of amateur golf.
TOM SPROUSE:Â Jack?
JACK NICKLAUS:Â First of all, the putt that I gave Tony 25 years ago really wasn't very long.Â It was one that I should have given him anyway, but I got a lot of credit for it, so I'll accept it; thank you very much.
But that putt was probably like that, I guess, wouldn't you, Tony?
TONY JACKLIN:Â Yeah.
JACK NICKLAUS:Â Yeah, about that like, and straight up the hill, not a break in it, easy putt, and when Tony was‑‑ I made my putt, a four‑and‑a‑half footer.Â I tried to actually win the match in case you didn't know, and knocked about a 20‑footer about four‑and‑a‑half feet by the hole, and I left myself about a four‑and‑a‑half footer, slider, coming down the hill.Â I'm saying, oh, my gosh.Â My first Ryder Cup, last player on the golf course, and I said, I'd better make that putt, which somehow I made the putt, and I just reached over and said, I don't think Tony needs to putt that, and Tony and I have been good friends.Â We've played a lot of golf.
He had the best of me that day.Â He beat me in the morning with that short little putt you made at 17 of about 100 feet.Â But anyway, we've played a lot of golf together, and Tony was the reigning British Open champion at the time, and he was the hero in British golf, and I just felt like it was the right thing to do at the time, so I just reached down and picked up the thing, and said I don't think you'd ever miss this but I'm not going to give you the chance.
That started a bigger friendship with Tony and me, and when Tony came up with the idea of the Concession, he called me and said, Jack, I have this idea, and I said, you've got to be kidding.Â I said, you know, you think we're going to make a golf club out of that?Â You did a pretty good job, pal.
Tony did a lot of Ryder Cup stuff here on the property, a lot of things that carried over through the matches, and he's been the guy who's championed the Concession cause through all the last eight years and even actually before that, before we built the golf course.
Here we are today getting ready to start a significant event, one that I agree with both what everybody has said today and about trying to make sure this is an event that will continue, one that's good.Â It's good for golf, it's good for amateur golf, it's good for sportsmanship, camaraderie with the players.Â It's one that‑‑ I played in two Walker Cup matches.Â I loved them.Â I got my first taste of Britain at Muirfield in 1959, and got over there.Â Charley Coe was our captain on that match, and then I played in '61 at Seattle Golf Club, and Jack Westland was captain on that.
I enjoyed both of those matches.Â I made a lot of friends through those matches.Â You know, I'm sure a lot of fellows will do the same here.
I know you'll have a great competition.Â The golf course is in beautiful condition.Â It's a strong golf course.Â That's what we were asked to do was to have a strong golf course.Â Maybe a little stronger than need be for most average golfers, but then again, I always have a philosophy, if you do a golf course that's not very hard and pretty simple and everybody can play it easily, people will play it and they'll get done with it and say, gee, that was a lot of fun, where can I go play tomorrow.Â And here I think most people will play this golf course, gee, I had a lot of fun, boy that was difficult, what time can I get on here tomorrow.Â So they'll want to come back.Â And that's always the philosophy I've taken with a lot of golf courses.Â Certainly here you're not going to master this golf course.Â Nobody ever mastered the game of golf, nobody ever will, and you're certainly going to have your challenges here on this golf course.
I think it's a great match play golf course as Tony said, and I'm sure they'll have great matches and have a lot of fun, and thanks to you all for showing up and helping support it.Â Write a lot of good things about it because it's good for the game of golf.Â We need things today to support the game.Â Thank you.
TOM SPROUSE:Â Thank you, Jack.Â At this time I'd like to open it up for questions from the media for any of our special guests.
Q.Â Do you feel there's going to be kind of a Ryder Cup feel to what's happening here?
JACK NICKLAUS:Â I think it's a Walker Cup feel.Â I would think so.
Q.Â And is the other team excited about being here?
VINNY GILES:Â Well, we do have 10 former Walker Cup players on our team, but we also have eight who have never played Walker Cup.Â The idea of representing your country just really resonates, and that's a message I keep hearing, especially from the younger Mid‑Amateurs is how proud they are, and Jack will appreciate this.Â We have a young man who actually just won the Coleman on Saturday named Patrick Christovich from New Orleans, and they did a little piece with him in the Times‑Picayune or whatever the paper is down there.Â He said, "Well, I was hoping some day I might be able to represent my country, but I never thought I'd be on a team where Jack Nicklaus was the captain."
So that's the feeling.Â They're happy to be here.Â They're proud to be here, and they also understand there's a lot of goodwill involved and that we're not out here trying to irk people.Â We're too old to try to irk people.
Q.Â Just from Tony and Jack, what it means to both of you to have an event that is inspired by an event that happened 45 years ago.
TONY JACKLIN:Â Well, it's special.Â I mean, obviously we never thought that‑‑ first of all, 45 years ago, it was a wonderful gesture of Jack's to do what he did.Â I think we all pointed back to that as a moment of supreme sportsmanship.Â He always had a clear head when the rest of us were sort of a little bit fuzzy.Â But we never thought that‑‑ and it was an inspiration.
The development that I went to, I knew he was courting Jack to do a golf component for the Ritz‑Carlton, and I sat up in bed one night at 3:00 a.m., and I finished my senior career, and I was looking for stuff to do, and I thought, that's it.Â I thought, well, if they do more than one golf course, maybe they would consider doing a course called the Concession, and it sounded like a crazy idea.Â I took the picture to Jack of 18 green to the developer, and he loved it, he bought into it, the concept.
And of course when we started to have our first meetings about it with the marketing people, they all said, well, they'll think a Concession is a Concession stand, that you're selling hot dogs.
Of course we had to go through that and come out the other end there's a positive.Â There's a moment in time.
JACK NICKLAUS:Â The hot dogs were good.
TONY JACKLIN:Â But we had a lot of our members referring to it as Concessions with an S, like the hot dog stands, and I was very quick to remind, hang on, this is one moment in time, the Concession.
Anyway, once that hurdle was gotten over, the thing is growing now and it's in a very healthy state.Â The fact that we look back over the history of our friendship, I knew Jack three or four years before the Concession happened, we used to fish together and he was a generous host at his home often for my wife and I, you know, it came from an idea and we made it work.
It's terrific, and it's‑‑ the moment was worthy of recognition, and it's got it here and it'll be here for a very, very long time after we're gone.Â It gives me a warm feeling, and I'm sure he feels the same way.
JACK NICKLAUS:Â Yeah, I mean, if I hadn't given him that putt, we wouldn't be sitting here.Â (Laughter.)
Think of all the extra time we would have had.Â (Laughter.)
No, Tony made this happen.Â I can't say that I did.Â He and Kevin Daves came over to my place and sat down, said, we've got an idea, I want you to sit down and listen to this.Â Tony went through it and Kevin said I embrace it.Â We'll do the golf course, we'll do the thing.Â This is what we've got to do.Â Tony has got to carry out things involved with the Ryder Cup, and he's done a nice job with it, and he stayed with it.
We have obviously stayed with the golf course and want to make sure that neither ‑‑ Bruce has the golf course, whatever, that the golf course is done properly, and I think that it's used in its proper way, and I think an international competition such as we have here, the Walker Cup format, is very appropriate.
Q.Â For the captains, maybe just connect with what they were talking about, and will you talk to your teams?Â Obviously you have very experienced guys.Â Will you talk to them about the history of the Concession and how that is tied to the spirit of this competition?
GARTH McGIMPSEY:Â Yeah, very much so.Â We've had a couple of minutes together.Â I think when they were picked on the team, they would have done their research and looked up where the whole thing came from.Â I mean, I was a young 14 year old when the whole thing happened, and I'm not saying I can remember it, but I've looked back on the internet and I know Tony holed a 50‑footer on the 17th green the hole before.Â Isn't that right?
Yeah, so I think we're all aware of the tradition and the history that we're buying into here, and we're going to play it in a friendly but competitive spirit.
VINNY GILES:Â I think, Garth, that sums it up.Â Everybody knows‑‑ I say everybody.Â We've got guys on that team who weren't even close to born when Jack and Tony decided they had played enough golf and they didn't have to hit one more shot.
So much of this really goes back to me to the Walker Cup because that's where so many of us as amateurs sort of cut our teeth, and I think to be able to do this at another level, which is 25 to 55 and 55 and over, gives these guys who maybe never had a chance to see international competition, to see what a wonderful bunch of 18 guys are coming over that they're going to get to know and to enjoy just the whole ambiance of the whole week.
Q.Â Fast forward to today, 45 years after that gesture, can you imagine in today's golf environment and the players that we have someone having done the same thing today that you did 45 years ago, Jack?
JACK NICKLAUS:Â Can I imagine?Â Sure, why not.Â I mean, I look at‑‑ I've talked to most of the Ryder Cup captains through the years, and my captain wasn't all that excited about what I did.Â I think most of the players were fine, but Sam never liked to give anybody anything.Â Sam was the captain, Snead.
But he got over it, and so I've asked many of the captains of the past, and they've said‑‑ I said, what would you hope.Â He says, I would hope my players would look at it exactly the way you looked at it and do exactly the same thing.
I think what I did is I didn't make it a big deal at the time, but I think it's the right thing for the game of golf.Â I've always thought it's the right thing for the game of golf.Â I've always said that the Ryder Cup matches, the Walker Cup matches, the Presidents Cup matches are all about goodwill.Â The winner is the game of golf, and that's what this is all about.Â It's about the game of golf, growing the game and having two golfing bodies coming together for a friendly competition for bragging rights.Â That's what it's for.Â It's for bragging rights.
And I think that any time you have that kind of a thing, it's a neat thing, and I'm sure that Vinny or Garth, either one of them coming down to the end, if they had a similar situation, they might give a 40‑foot putt to give some recognition of that.Â But you understand what I'm saying.Â I think it's great for golf.
I didn't do it at that time, I just did it because I thought it was the right thing to do at that time.Â It just happened.
Anyway, I think if I ever‑‑ I think they're going to have a lot of fun.
Q.Â I think that's the difference between the game of golf as opposed to any other form of sport.
JACK NICKLAUS:Â Well, there's a lot of sports that I think you see some pretty good things happen.Â I just think that golf just happens to lend itself as an individual competition that actually comes down to when you're playing hole by hole that you end up on the 18th hole and usually end up having a one‑shot difference, you can do those kind of things.Â Not many other sports have that.Â Even tennis, which is one to one, you end up somebody has got to put away that last shot or something.Â You don't generally just hit the last shot and say, oh, well, we're just not going to hit that ball back.Â That just doesn't happen.
Q.Â I wanted to ask Jack and Tony, this story is about the Concession, but do you have any favorite things to tell about your amateur careers?
JACK NICKLAUS:Â I think Tony turned pro pretty early, didn't he?
TONY JACKLIN:Â I played some county golf in Northern England, but I turned pro when I was 17.Â I'd have liked to turn pro when I was 16.Â So I never had an amateur career.Â I never entered a national amateur event, so that didn't exist for me.Â I know Jack did.
JACK NICKLAUS:Â From my standpoint, amateur golf is the basis of everything that happened in my life.Â I qualified for my first USGA Junior when I was 13.Â I went to Southern Hills and played there.Â That's where I met Joe Dye, at the first tee, and my first event that I'm playing in, this is a long story, so guys, just go to sleep if you want.
I walk up on the first tee, I'm first off the tee at 7:00 in the morning, and I'm playing a fellow named Stanley Zebrowski from upstate New York.Â I walked on the tee about 30 seconds before my starting time, and Joe Dye looked over to me and said, young man, 30 seconds later you'd be on the second tee one down.Â I'm a 13 year old kid, and Joe Dye was Mr.Golf at that time, and everybody respected him, and it happened to be that Colonel E.S. Reed from Louisville was the starter with him, and Colonel Reed looked like Colonel Sanders with the white suit on and the white beard and the whole bit.
I've never been late for a starting time because of Joe Dye.Â I qualified for the National Amateur in 1955 and went to the James River course at the Country Club of Virginia, which you've played a lot of golf at.
VINNY GILES:Â I'm a member there as a matter of fact.
JACK NICKLAUS:Â I would think.Â That's where I met Bobby Jones, who had been my hero as a youngster.Â That's where I met him, and he came and spoke at our banquet and told me he was going to come and watch the next 18.Â He watched me play as I went bogey, bogey, double bogey and ended up losing my match one down.
I won the Trans‑Miss when I was 18, and that got me onto the Walker Cup team.Â At that point in time, golf was just another sport to me.Â I was playing other sports, and I was like, gee, I must be one of the 12 best amateurs in the country if I'm going to get selected to the Walker Cup team.Â I remember going to my golf coach at Ohio State, Bob Kepler, and Kep said, congratulations on making the Walker Cup team.Â I said, I can't, that's golf season at Ohio State, my first year of being eligible to play at Ohio State.Â He goes, you're not going to Ohio State this spring, you're going to go play golf.Â You've made the international team, you can play golf next year.
Kep said, I got to play the North‑South, I got to go play the Masters, I got to go play the British Amateur, all because I was selected to a Walker Cup team, which is basically the counterpart of what we're talking about here.Â Got to go play Muirfield.Â There was four young guys that got to play Muirfield that year, and we were called the young lions, and that was Deane Beman, Tommy Aaron, Ward Wettlaufer, and I was the fourth.Â What a great experience to have your first international competition, and we were playing with Harvie Ward, Bud Taylor and Billy Joe Patton, Charlie Coe, Bill Hyndman, I probably have forgotten somebody here, Bill Campbell‑‑ I'm not sure Bill was on that team.Â He might have been.Â I don't think he was.
Anyway, what a great experience for a young guy.Â I mean, I ended up winning the U.S.Amateur that year, but it was because‑‑ and I got into the Masters because of playing the Walker Cup.
You know, that just sort of propelled my career.Â I won the National Amateur that year in '59 at Broadmoor.Â I had an eight‑footer at the last hole that to me defined whether I was going to be any good or not, and I didn't realize it at the time, but I had the 36th hole and I made this putt to beat Charlie Coe one up in an amateur tournament.Â That convinced me that I could compete at a big level and I could compete and beat somebody when the pressure was on.
All these things from amateur golf.
Q.Â At 18 years old?
JACK NICKLAUS:Â I was 19 at the time.Â The next year, Cherry Hills, I was 20 years old, could have won the U.S. Open, and I shot 39 the last nine holes to lose by two shots.Â I keep telling Arnold, if I hadn't shot 39, nobody would have heard of you.Â (Laughter.)
But if I had won that tournament, I think it would have been the worst thing that ever happened to me.Â Here I would have been a 20‑year old kid winning the biggest tournament in the world, and yet I wasn't ready to win.Â It was just as much like the problem Jordan Spieth would have had if he won the Masters.Â You get to the pinnacle at age 20, it's hard to keep growing and believe in your mind that you need to work.Â So it was the best thing that ever happened to me.Â All these things through amateur golf.
So I owe a great deal to amateur golf and to the game that allowed me to propel me into my professional career and the life I chose to lead.
I hope that answers your question.Â It was a little bit of a long answer but it was sort of my progression as I went through, and finally I got to where I won my second National Amateur and there really wasn't anything else I needed to prove in amateur golf.Â I wanted to be the best I could be in my sport, and the only way to do that was at that point in time to play against the professionals, and that's why I turned professional.
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