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April 26, 2007
ANGELA ENRIGHT: I'm Angela, PR director, and we're happy to have J.J. here and Harrison, and they're working closely with D.A. on the TPC redesign. Any questions you have for them, please lead the way.
J.J. HENRY: First, it's obviously an honor to -- I think more importantly, if anything, when D.A. talked to Harrison and I, we wanted to do what's best obviously for the golf tournament, but more importantly, it's what would Byron want. And I think Harrison and I are -- we've both been on TOUR for a long time, Harrison lived in Dallas and myself in Fort Worth, and we're excited in the fact that, you know, basically to be another set of eyes for D.A. in any way we can help.
Originally D.A. called Harrison and I back in December and originally said do you guys mind coming out -- a couple weeks before Christmas, do you mind coming out and kind of maybe going over and kind of maybe getting your thoughts. For four or five hours we really enjoyed being out there and really tried to make the best of what's available out there.
Again, I think Harrison and I are extremely excited to be a part of this, and however we can help D.A. or if we can help talk it up and talk to other players, I think we want to make this tournament or bring back the tournament where it belongs, as one of the top events out here on Tour.
HARRISON FRAZAR: I think J.J. said it best, but we are both honored. To have the opportunity to be involved in something that has Mr. Nelson's name on it is -- for a West Texas boy and golfer and a fan of the traditions of the game, it's something that I can't really tell you how proud I am that they've asked.
But aside from personally, I think J.J. and I both feel as though -- he said it's what would Mr. Nelson want; it's what do we owe him I think is the better way to say that. He poured his heart and his soul into not only this golf tournament but into this community and to the Salesmanship Club and to charity and to the schools and to those kids. There was never anybody that he did not make friends with.
I think that we owe him, and I think that he deserves us to put every possible effort that we have to do what he would want us to do, and that's to make it as good a product and the best product that we can possibly make.
Q. Can you guys talk about, especially since you're both local, his kind of effect on you or relationship over the years? As local guys I'm sure you guys got more interaction with him.
HARRISON FRAZAR: I mean, I was born in Dallas but I grew up in Abilene and learned how to play golf in Abilene, and I can remember at 11 years old, Charlie Coody was the head pro at my club in Abilene, Fairway Oaks, and he called -- he was friends with my dad and called my dad and said, hey, where is Harrison, he needs to be up here, we've got a clinic going on; Byron Nelson is going to hit some balls for the members.
So dad went and rounded me up and put me on the golf cart and sent me up there, and he said, I don't know what's going on, but you need to go up there; Charlie said you need to go.
I got up there and Mr. Coody took me to the front. There must have been a couple hundred people there, and he put me right next to his shag bag where it sat there, and I'm guessing this is -- I was 11, so this is 24 years ago. He must have been upper 60s, maybe 70 at the time.
The presence of the man was overwhelming, his demeanor, his compassion and kindness to the people was fascinating. But I sat there basically six inches from where he was raking balls back and forth and talking while he was hitting shots.
I must have been this bright-eyed kid without a clue, and I think Charlie said, I'm going to put him here. My rookie year here when I played well, Mr. Nelson invited my wife and I out to spend the day with him out at his farm, and I was telling him that story, and he cut me off almost at the end, and he said, "I remember."
That was all of a sudden when I realized the outstanding personality of this person. He became at that point one of my idols and one of my heroes.
J.J. HENRY: I think really the last two words that Harrison said sums it up, idol, hero. In many ways he's far above the game of golf. Obviously I've always looked up to him and respected him for all his accomplishments and achievements on the golf course, but more importantly, and I think Harrison would probably agree, that you wouldn't find a better human being. What he's done obviously like Harrison mentioned for our community, for people less fortunate, is just -- I mean, here I am just 31 years old, hopefully still going forward with my golf career, but what he's done off the golf course I think is something that all people in general should really -- I mean, idol, hero, it's just incredible.
On a personal note, I didn't really get a chance to know Mr. Nelson quite like Harrison did as far as -- but I will say this: I can remember my first event when I played here back in 2000 I think it was, 2001, and to walk up the 18th hole and to see him up there is just -- I mean, it's something I'll never forget.
Actually one other thing, right before the Ryder Cup team this year, right before we went over to the K Club, Mr. Nelson made us -- I want to say, from what I understand, it's actually the last thing he ever made in his wood shop, almost like these little tokens with kind of just a real sincere letter of just how great it was to represent your country and some of his reflections, and something obviously I'll have forever and something that's pretty close to my heart.
Q. It was like a medallion type of thing?
J.J. HENRY: It was like a rectangle.
Q. It had a Bible verse on it?
J.J. HENRY: Right, and it had a wonderful letter with it. Captain Lehman gave them to us right before we went over, and we carried them in our golf bags.
Q. You've already been involved in a golf course and obviously as your career goes on you guys would like to do other golf courses, but talk about how special this is to do a course in your backyard as opposed to just doing a course somewhere else like players do all the time.
J.J. HENRY: Well, I think Harrison and I will make a good mix for one because Harrison really likes to work the ball left to right and I kind of tend to work it right to left. So two sets of eyes a lot of times play different shots. D.A. always kind of joked about that.
But again, I've been on the TOUR now seven years. I know Harrison has been out there a couple years longer than I have. Again, to bring another set of eyes to, again, not to reiterate, but a great facility here, right basically smack dab in the middle of the metroplex, obviously a wonderful resort. I mean, it's a great place to come.
I've always loved to play here, and the crowds are usually some of the biggest crowds on TOUR with good weather. Again, we just want to be able to help any way we can and as much as we can. I think we're both excited to really jump in, and whatever we can do to help make this tournament or restore the tournament to where it belongs.
HARRISON FRAZAR: Nobody knows what the future holds, and I don't know what J.J.'s plans are, but I don't -- whenever I'm done playing golf, I have a passion, I have an interest in golf courses. I was very eager and wanted to be involved when D.A. and Steve redid Royal Oaks. D.A., I think, invited me to come out a couple of times. I think they tolerated my questions (laughter), my sometimes not-very-bright ideas.
But when I'm done playing golf, I want my second career to be involved in golf courses in some form and fashion at the construction site.
Anyways, I see it personally as I'm not ready to quit yet, so this is not a steppingstone. This is a chance to watch D.A. and Steve work and to see a first-rate property with a lot of horsepower, a lot of passion, a lot of heart and a lot of creativity and a lot of minds coming together to try to do the best thing possible we can for our product.
I think the sense of pride that I think we'll feel when it's over I think will be one thing. But also the knowledge and the information that we'll be able to gather from this will help us later down the road to -- whether it's even just being more sympathetic to the needs of our home courses or whether we decide to build more, or maybe we won't ride on the agronomists so hard sometimes. We'll learn more about drainage and grass types and what kind of trees work where and things like that.
The other great thing is I think J.J. and I, neither one of us are afraid to -- I don't want to pat myself on the back, I know he is, but both of us will tell you what we think, and I think that's -- I hope I'm not speaking too much out of hype here, D.A., but I think that's one of the reasons why he was excited about having us here, because like J.J. said, we're opposite players, but we're not afraid to tell you what we think. And he can listen to us go back and forth, and then he and Steve have a wonderful ability to go, okay, so what about that, and they can fit something in there that makes sense with what both of us are saying.
I think it'll be a good team, I really do.
J.J. HENRY: Let me say this, too, with D.A. in here. I'm going to toot his horn a little bit. Personally I've always looked up to D.A. I've gotten a chance to do a couple different outings for him over the years. I think everybody involved can have a -- couldn't have somebody better for taking on this project than D.A. I mean, his commitment to not only the community, to Mr. Nelson, I think that's the reason why really I want to be involved, and I'm sure Harrison is the same, is the fact that when we met out here in late December, it was always what would Mr. Nelson want.
I think D.A. has all his intentions and all those things that we respect the game and we respect Mr. Nelson and everything about this area, and I've always looked up to D.A., and I think there's nobody better to take on this project than D.A. and his team.
HARRISON FRAZAR: And I have to admit that there was a little piece of me that thought maybe it's not quite time to do this; maybe I'm not sure I want to do this. But what convinced me that I really needed to do it was the passion, that every time I would go to tell D.A. I'm not sure, I don't know, he spoke so passionately about it and cared so much that it made me want to be a part of it.
Q. J.J., you grew up playing a lot of the great courses in Connecticut and Westchester with all of the real classic architects, Tillinghast, et cetera. Are you going to take from that experience into this?
J.J. HENRY: Well, everybody -- when people talk about what kind of golf courses do I like, what really sticks out, I'm a big fan of that, obviously because I've grown up and may be accustomed to old-school-type traditional golf courses, obviously tree-lined, bunkered, that type of thing.
That being said, at the same time we have a piece of property here that I think we're all excited to make better, and I'm sure we're going to try to do all we can to enhance it in ways, maybe get some different feels and different looks that I think optically and visually that everyone will think -- again, are we going to be able to turn this specific piece of property into a Winged Foot or vice versa, I think you can't really compare apples to apples (sic).
But at the same time, we're both really excited about things. We met with D.A. I guess Tuesday afternoon, and heck, with the rain delay we were there for probably -- we were thinking maybe it was a 30-minute meeting. We were there for probably three and a half hours.
Again, we're excited in the fact that a set of eyes to help make this -- again, we have a lot of things in our favor, there's no question. I think we're all excited to make it that much better.
HARRISON FRAZAR: I don't think we can try to copy a golf course. You can't go play a bunch of golf courses in the Northeast and say, okay, this is what we want to build here. Grasses are different, climates are different, and the predominant thing that we have here that a lot of places don't have is wind. We've seen it here over three days; we've had wind blowing three different directions, the practice rounds and when the storms were coming in and then today.
What we've got to do is try to make sure that the golf course æsthetically to the players' eyes looks as receiving and as pleasant as possible, can play with varying winds, provide some run-up shots, bring back the possibility that guys can play a little bit of ground game when it gets hard and fast and wind is blowing a different direction, provide a lot of flexibility on tees so that specifically for this tournament our crew can go and set up the golf course so that rather than taking No. 3 that could play at 510, it's either 510 or 430. There's not a lot of options in between, and sometimes some of the options the tee boxes might be a little bit too small.
So by making the tee boxes very traditional, very pretty to look at and at the same time larger, we can make the golf course play a lot of different ways. So I think that's one of the main challenges, as well as making bunkering that's going to stand out more so that we can see it. It will define the golf course better. It'll give guys better ideas about where they want to go, and they're going to know where they don't want to go. There's going to be risk-reward.
J.J. HENRY: I think just add a lot of variety, too.
HARRISON FRAZAR: And just add a lot of variety to what you see. We talked about we're going to have draw holes, draw tee shots, fade holes, fade tee shots, and then some greens shaped left to right, so that really no one player will have an advantage. We'll try to make the penalties the same at 275 as they are at 325 so guys can't sit there and wail it down there as hard as they can and hit wedges on the green, try to bring some strategic thought on the golf course, pin placements with manicuring and a new drainage system and things like that. It'll be an entirely different feel.
Q. I've seen those up in the locker room this week, some of the renderings of what you're looking at. What kind of feedback have you gotten? When the players that you compete with look at that, what has been the overwhelming feedback, and is there any one or two holes that they look at and say, yeah, that's great, or needs more work, or what kind of feedback are you getting this week?
HARRISON FRAZAR: I think when we had our meeting on Tuesday a couple players popped in and they were very pleased and very excited about it, and the ones that have looked at it, I haven't heard anything negative.
The one thing that stands out is people just -- when they see No. 18 and what the concept is that we have for 18 and 17 --
Q. The water feature?
HARRISON FRAZAR: 17 with the tee boxes and the grandstands and the boxes and the luxury suites and then the tee box change on 18 with the water feature moving up, that's a very exciting feeling that the players are giving us.
One of the best compliments that I've had all week were from the rules officials. They've studied it because they're the ones that have to go out and set the golf course up for us to go play, and they are very excited and very fired up about the possibilities that they're going to be able to give us over the next 20, 25, 30 years.
Q. How important will it be -- you guys are out there week after week, in terms of convincing guys to come back, and especially given the conditions this year? It's pretty urgent, isn't it?
J.J. HENRY: You know, again, I think obviously Harrison and I have been out on the TOUR enough where I'd like to think that we know virtually everybody on TOUR to an extent where we feel comfortable enough talking to them a little bit.
Again, we can't say that, hey, so and so, come play this tournament or else. But at the same time, we can for sure be kind of like -- somebody can kind of talk up the event and talk about what we're doing or how we're making it better, how we're improving it and I think a lot of these neat things.
I think it'll almost speak for itself when all is said and done. Let's be honest, we've got a wonderful hotel, facility here. When we redo the golf course to championship caliber, which I think is what we're set out to do, I don't think you can find a better venue that has basically everything right here for families, for players, for everybody. I mean, it's -- again, I think it's an ideal situation from kind of start to finish for everything.
HARRISON FRAZAR: And I think that the responsibility does lie with the players to a certain degree. We have a lot of options. I don't mean this negatively. Our TOUR has done a fantastic job of providing us with 40-some odd playing opportunities every week, and while we hold a certain sense of pride in this tournament, you know, to everybody else, this is a Wachovia or a -- this is another step on the road.
So what we have to do is try to make them feel like they want to come here. We've got to make it so that they know that, man, not only are the Salesmanship Club going to treat them great, the people at the Four Seasons are going to treat them great, but man, they've got a great golf course to play. We don't know how quickly that's going to happen.
J.J. and I can help the first year, and it's going to come -- a lot of guys are going to come up and say what are you doing to such-and-such hole, and as we explain to them what we're doing and how we're changing, what we're doing, that might be enough to get them to go, oh, that sounds pretty cool, I'd like to give it a shot.
Can we go to Tiger and say, hey, we've really improved, can you come back and play? Is he going to listen? I don't know. But after he hears some of the guys play after it's done and they go back and go, man, this thing is really good, that's how it's really going to get built back. It's going to be word of mouth from all the players and it's going to be the -- the responsibility lies somewhat on the media. Some of it lies on the TOUR itself to do everything they can to give this tournament all the credit that it's due.
J.J. HENRY: And let's be honest. It's the Byron Nelson. I don't know about Harrison, but everybody always asks me, tell me your dream foursome, and Byron Nelson is always at the top of my list. Not to reiterate what we've talked about, about not only what he's done on the golf course but what kind of a person he is, I'd go play in a hayfield somewhere if Byron Nelson were playing.
Q. J.J., one of the unique things about this tournament was always it was back-to-back with Colonial, and now with them separated do you think that hurt a little bit for some guys that might stay over back-to-back weeks?
J.J. HENRY: Well, I guess that remains to be seen, but I look at it as a positive to be honest with you. I think it's an opportunity for the entire metroplex to see -- not so much, well, I live in Dallas so I'll go to the Nelson and not Colonial and vice versa. Now you've got guys coming from all over the area, the fact that they're four or five weeks apart. You might kind of get overloaded with golf from a two-week standpoint and now we have maybe five weeks in between.
I think from a crowd standpoint, from kind of the excitement throughout the entire metroplex, I think it's positive.
Again, we'll have to wait and see how things shake out from the entire field, but I think going forward it's going to be a positive, I really do.
End of FastScripts