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March 26, 2008

Robert Brown

Tim Finchem

Tommy Fonseca


TOMMY FONSECA: Good morning. My name is Tommy Fonseca, president of Fore!Kids Foundation, and I'd like to welcome each of you. This is a special week for us. It's a special week because it marks the 50th anniversary of the Fore!Kids Foundation, producing this PGA TOUR event here in New Orleans.
That just didn't happen by chance. It's been the work of many men and women over the years, many important partnerships, partnerships with the PGA TOUR, partnerships with title sponsors, and especially Zurich Financial Center. Zurich Financial has been a major part, currently probably the best title sponsor that anyone could have. More importantly, it's been a partnership with the local spectators and sponsors of our event.
Today we'd like to honor our 50th year, and today we have Garrett Shane, our founding father who started our tournament back in 1958 who's here with us today. We feel it's very important for us to recognize our past, the past work of the foundation, what we have done over the years to accomplish our mission to be a leading force for children's charities throughout the Gulf South.
We think it's important for us to reflect on what we've accomplished over the last 50 years. We've been blessed to give back more than $16 million to children's charities over that 50 years. We want this tradition to be our mission to continue for another 50 years. Today we're going to frame that. We're going to talk about not only the work that we have done but the work that is going on right now in Louisiana, and in a couple of moments we'll here from Robert Brown, who is the executive director of Gulf States section of the PGA of America, who will report to us what the golf industry actually means to New Orleans.
And again, after that, we will honor our partnerships, not only by what we've accomplished in the past, currently, but what the future of golf means to Louisiana. Now I'd like to call up Robert Brown to brief us on the golf industry here in Louisiana. Robert?
ROBERT BROWN: Thank you, Tommy. I have copies of the economic impact study that are in the back of the room if you'd like a copy when you leave. First of all, thank you for giving us the opportunity to be here today to present this openly.
The Louisiana Golf Economic Impact Study was commissioned by Golf 20/20 for the Louisiana Golf Alliance and prepared by SRI International. Golf 20/20 is a collaborative effort of many forces within the golf industry, the PGA TOUR, PGA of America, United States Golf Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association, United States Golf Association, amongst others, manufacturers, Golf Course Owners Association and the media. This Golf 20/20 is focused on the game and its future.
The Louisiana Golf Alliance commissioned this report and it's comprised of the Louisiana Golf Association, our representatives of the amateur body, the Louisiana Golf Course Superintendents Association, the Louisiana Turf Grass Association, the Audubon Golf Trail, and the Gulf States section of the PGA of America.
There are 165 golf courses in the state of Louisiana. The golf industry generated a total economic impact in 2006 of $810 million-plus. We are responsible for employing over 11,000 people with wage income in excess of $275,000.
The golf industry in Louisiana is comparable in size to the plastics packaging and processing industry, seafood preparation and processing industry and the oil and gas field machinery and equipment manufacturing industry. In 2006 our charitable giving was in excess of $23 million, so quite an impact there.
From a nationwide standpoint, the impact of golf is in excess of $76 billion, so we're doing our part here in Louisiana through events such as the PGA TOUR Zurich Classic of New Orleans. This week we also have the Nationwide Tour of Louisiana Open going on in Lafayette, so golf is thriving here in Louisiana and making its impact on our residents and on our tourism and our golfers. Thank you.
TOMMY FONSECA: The impact of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans of Louisiana equates to more than a $25 million annual economic impact to the region. It's just one way that the Fore!Kids Foundation in partnership with the PGA TOUR and Zurich Financial, that we're helping, especially now post-Katrina for New Orleans to recover.
At the Fore!Kids Foundation, we go to great lengths to incorporate all the flavors of New Orleans in our tournament. We're very proud of our heritage, our hospitality, our food and our music. We want this event not only to be a world-class PGA TOUR event, but we want it to be a world-class New Orleans event. And this event allows us to showcase to the world what we do as a foundation, what the tournament is about, and our partnership with Zurich, our partnership with the TOUR, and more importantly, our partnership with the city.
Collectively when we come together as a team we can accomplish great things. It started 50 years ago. It's here today, and we hope we have a bright future.
At this time I'd like to ask Tim Finchem, Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, to join me, and we would like to say thank you to the TOUR. For the last 50 years some remarkable things have happened. We've raised a lot of money and helped a lot of children. The economic impact over those 50 years has been tremendous, and we just can't say thank you enough. Commissioner, I'd like to present you with this plaque as a token of our thanks.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you. Let me just thank the Fore!Kids Foundation and Zurich for their partnership and the people in this area for their hospitality, not only here but in Lafayette. We were in Lafayette last night at the Nationwide Tour. I hadn't been to Lafayette before, and that was an experience (laughter), and over the years the players have told me the reason that they make it one of their favorite stops on the Tour is because of the food, just like over here, and I didn't believe it to be as good as here, but it's pretty good (laughter).
You know, we're delighted to be here to recognize 50 great years of PGA TOUR golf in the New Orleans area and to recognize a great charitable history. I think everybody knows that the PGA TOUR is focused on professional golf, but a major part of our mission is impacting the communities where we play, over a billion dollars raised for charity over the years, $123 million last year, and we're headed to that $2 billion number I think by 2012 or '13.
The Fore!Kids Foundation has been a great example of what that means for people and what it means for the giving-back tradition of the PGA TOUR in this community. I'd also like to just reminisce for just a second on the activities since Katrina here in the area because we're so proud of the work of our players here, Kelly Gibson raising over a million dollars for the Feed the Relief program, David Toms up in Shreveport and his foundation raising over a million and a half dollars, Hal Sutton's foundation pitching in to help kids.
And then the golf organizations came together, same group that Mr. Brown talked about with regards to the people that populate the World Golf Foundation. All the major golf organizations have raised over $5 million to help out. So a lot of work was done.
The great thing, though, was that we struggled a little bit at first after Katrina by coming back right away and playing golf here, and having made the decision to do so, we couldn't be more pleased. We've got a very committed partner in Zurich. But for the foundation to raise almost $3 million since Katrina through this tournament says a lot to the country about New Orleans coming back.
And if you follow the history of our golf course here, where we had a few naysayers in the first year, then we made a few changes, and this year I haven't found a player out here yet that doesn't just think it's fantastic. So we're moving along with New Orleans, coming back and getting it just right, and we're pleased about that.
Also today we'd like to look to the future a little bit and the beginning of the next 50 years here in New Orleans. To do that we wanted to focus on the fact that Fore!Kids has under their umbrella the First Tee program here in New Orleans. As many of you know, the First Tee was started ten years ago, was designed to reach out with the game of golf to kids who historically had not had access to the game, particularly minority kids, inner city kids, kids who geographically or for socioeconomic reasons just hadn't had the ability to have some exposure to the game of golf.
Into that program, after several years, it became clear that what was really taking on around the country was the notion of teaching core values to kids by using the game of golf, and with that adjustment in the program, it really started to take off. 90 percent of the land that's sitting where our facilities sit, we have 270, 280 facilities around the country now, is land that was donated by counties and cities because the public sector of America recognizes the real impact this program has on kids.
We are so excited about what's happened with First Tee, and of course Katrina demolished the facilities for First Tee here, and we're delighted to announce a couple of things today. One, that the TPC of Louisiana has become an affiliate facility for the First Tee program here in New Orleans, with the use of the facilities here and the access to the golf course here for the kids. We think this is going to be a good shot in the arm for the development of First Tee here in New Orleans.
And then secondly, I think that you have to have money to make this program work, and we applaud the role of Fore!Kids in helping in that regard and shepherding this program.
We also recognize the continued commitment going forward of Zurich, and we look forward to those years. But we wanted to get things started in the right way today for that next 50 years, and I'd like to present a check for $200,000 to the First Tee of Louisiana to Judge Karen Roby to get that moving, and Judge, if you would come up and let me give you this check.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Judge, we hope this helps out a little bit.
JUDGE ROBY: It will certainly help our chapter. We currently have about 105 juniors playing at Brechtel on Saturdays. I'd like to invite our president up, Carlton Kirksey. We're working hard and we have several board members present here today, and we appreciate the support of the PGA TOUR, Fore!Kids and the golf community. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Let me just finish by saying we're delighted with the leadership of Bill Reinhart and Tommy with the Fore!Kids and the entire board, a great group of people here in New Orleans, and we look to a long relationship to help with Fore!Kids and the First Tee. Thank you.

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