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July 27, 2010

Jim Justice

Slugger White


JOHN BUSH: We'll get started. We have two very special guests joining us here at the Greenbrier Classic. We have the Greenbrier Resort owner, Jim Justice, and we also have PGA Tour director, Slugger White, who is from Beckley, West Virginia.
So we'll get started and just ask Mr. Justice to open up with a few comments about the week.
JIM JUSTICE: I don't think it can get much better from my standpoint. The players seem to be enjoying the course. There's lots and lots of people out there. PGA Tour people are constantly commenting on, you know, Jim, you know, we've get a lot people out here and everything.
Yesterday several of the players were saying, For a Monday Pro-Am we get this many people? And that's neat. The course is in great shape. Took a lot work to get there and everything, but we got it there.
I think we're just in store for a terrific week. We'll have a lot of fun. Maybe a lot of birdies; a lot of excitement. Gonna be a good week.
JOHN BUSH: Slugger, your state means an awful lot to you, and you're sitting next to a man who means equally as much to you. Just comment on what this week means to you.
SLUGGER WHITE: Well, we go back a long ways. We've been playing golf together since we were 10 and 12 years old. I used it beat him like he stole something, but...
JIM JUSTICE: Please don't start lying. Not in the first 25 words you start this lying. (Laughing.)
SLUGGER WHITE: No, he's been a special friend to me for a long, long time. When the purchase of the resort, of the Greenbrier -- I mean, we used to come here and play the state amateur every year. I think Jimmy said it best. It was like coming to Emerald City. It was fantastic. We were in awe of everything around here.
We had great times here. We both grew up in Beckley, Black Knight Country Club, and been playing golf together, like I said, for years and years and years. But it is very, very special.
JOHN BUSH: Go ahead and open it up to questions.

Q. So can we go back and, if you will, talk about, Mr. Justice, when you first heard the Buick Classic is going away and the idea pops in your head, I've heard that you were on the phone talking with Mr. White to see if you could get the wheels to this Greenbrier Classic going. Was it really that simple?
JIM JUSTICE: Well, it's probably a little more complicated than that. And I am really uncomfortable with you calling him Mr. White. (Laughing.) I mean, come on now. Mr. White? I mean, Jiminy.
But here's kind of what happened from my version, and it will be the truth part of the two people up here. Slugger called and said -- because Slugger and I, we were best, best friends. Really, I got to admit, Slugger probably got the long end of the stick in the times we played. And we played a lot.
There was times where I probably upset the apple cart, but Slugger was tough. He was a great player. But, you know, he called and he said -- when he heard the announcement that I bought the place, he said, Jimmy, what are you doing? I said, What do you mean, Slugger. He said, You bought the Greenbrier? Because it was really thought of as Emerald City to both of us.
And so then we talked for a good little while and exchanged and caught up on things and everything. I said, Slugger I'm not gonna let you go that easy. I gotta have a PGA event here. He said, Jimmy, that's a really tough nut to crack. I said, Tough nut to crack? I mean, Jiminy, give me a break. Look what we've already done.
So Slugger went on and introduced me to Rick George, and Rick has been just terrific, you know. And then one thing led to another, and the Buick Open people maybe got a little weak kneed.
You know, we were pretty aggressive to step up to the plate, because I felt like this was a shot to show the West Virginians -- or to show the world what West Virginians are all about.
So low and behold, we got it all put together. By the trust and really hard work by Rick George, Slugger, all the PGA Tour people, and maybe a little bit of me, too.

Q. Just a follow up. Slugger, can you talk about how it felt and how it kind of maybe fueled your sales pitch, if that's the right word, to bring this event to your home state, really right in your backyard? I guess if this is Emerald City, that makes Jim the wizard.
SLUGGER WHITE: No question he's behind the curtain. That's right.

Q. So how did that feel to be working to bring this event to your home state?
SLUGGER WHITE: You know, it's like West Virginia is so near and dear to Jimmy's heart. I mean, he just lives and breathes it. He's exactly right. We were getting ready to hang up, and he said, Hang on. Just by the way, I'd like to get an event up here. I said, Well, you may be talking to the right person.
I hung up the phone and called Rick and I said, Rick, I got a really good, good friend of mine, a close friend of mine, that just bought this America's resort. I said, you know, he'd really be interested in bringing an event up here.
It just so happened to coincide where Buick had just made their announcement that they were not gonna extend their contract. But, man, this is special. I mean, it's near and dear. I'm a west by God stand up and shout. It's where my roots are.
But he lives and breathes it. I left here many, many years ago and don't get back very often. But it's really good to be here.

Q. And to see this day come to fruition, Mr. Justice...

Q. To see this day come to fruition and to have a brother from the state to help make this happen, it's got to be almost...
JIM JUSTICE: No, it's really good. It's really good. I mean, you can't imagine really how I feel. It's a lot emotions. But really and truly, to just think -- you know, you see, I'm the guy that's ate up with West Virginia and truly loves our state and believes in our people and think that we're a people that are caring and loving and warm.
Just think of our state. I mean, all the fabulous grandeur of our state and just the four beautiful seasons, the infrastructure, low crime rate, all those great things. And a lot of times, at the end of the day, we may be on the short end of the stick.
To be able to sit here with Slugger White, I mean, in all honestly, I don't tell him this, but, you know, when I was probably eight or nine and Slugger was 11 or 12 -- maybe I was ten and Slugger was 12 and he was shooting 71s and 72 at Black Knight Country Club, believe it or not, he was the guy we were all chasing.
To be able to sit here with him and to be able to do this to see all the greatness just unfolding, it's really an emotional time. It's a lot of the emotions going on. It's really good.

Q. Mr. Justice and Mr. White, just for some background here, do you remember how you met? When you met? And did it have anything to do with golf?
JIM JUSTICE: It was a terrible mistake. No. (Laughing.)
SLUGGER WHITE: Been trying to live this life forever.
JIM JUSTICE: I guess really, you know, golf and Black Knight Country Club really brought us together. Slugger would tell you that as kids, neither one of us could have afforded to come here.
But Slugger's dad was an athlete, and then my have dad took up golf. He played football at Purdue. Slugger's dad was a great boxer, too, of all things. My dad played some football for Perdue University and everything, good athlete, and they started playing golf together. All of a sudden we just kind of tagged along.
Then we started playing every day, and we probably ended up with the greatest golf team in the history of all-time. I mean, I don't know if you know this or not, but I've gone back and checked. We were 218 and 0 when we went to the state tournament. So, you know, we were a real golf team.
We had Slugger who went on to OU; I went to Tennessee, Bill Martin went to (indiscernible); Mike Luchini went to West Virginia, and Gary (indiscernible) did, too. So to think of a golf team, a high school golf team that ends up with those kind of players that went it those places and played, that's pretty impressive.
I don't really know exactly how we met, but Slugger really and truly was a mentor to me.
SLUGGER WHITE: I didn't think you would ever say something like that, Jimmy.
JIM JUSTICE: It's really hard, Slugger. I'm telling you, it's really, really dog tough.
SLUGGER WHITE: I know it is. The truth comes out every now and then.
JIM JUSTICE: Every now and then.
SLUGGER WHITE: That's right.

Q. Can you just tell a story about the other one, your favorite story from when you were growing up?
SLUGGER WHITE: I could, but I don't think we'll be able to print it.
SLUGGER WHITE: I know Jimmy can.
JIM JUSTICE: Okay, this is true. We played -- we literally, in the summer, played 54 holes a day. We would start at 8:00 in the morning and play till dark. We would carry our bags and probably were a nuisance to a lot of the members, but we played all day.
Slugger was really strong. I was really skinny, believe it or not. You know, I've blossomed a little bit. But, I mean, I was really thin and everything. Well, we were probably 13, maybe 12 and 14. At that time, both of us could shoot par. We could play. We really got -- I mean, I really probably played the best golf of my life from when I was 15 to 19.
But anyway, Slugger was strong and everything. I found a rock. It probably weighed about eight pounds. I put it in the bottom of Slugger's bag, and he carried it all day and everything. Carried it all day.
We got to the 18th hole, and Black Knight is hilly. I mean, it's up and down, up and down. He started to head up the last little hill, and I just said, Hey, Slugger, why don't you take that rock out of your bag?
He turned his clubs upside down, and fup, fup, fup, out rolls the rock. Well, I took off running, because I mean, he could have beat me like a dog. (Laughing.)
But, yeah, we had a lot of fun together. We really did.

Q. Isn't is it kind of amazing to think about back then and what you're doing now?
SLUGGER WHITE: Totally. To go from where we were to this is just, it's unbelievable. I mean, it really is. Like I said, when Jimmy bought place, I called and said, Man, what the heck are you doing?
JIM JUSTICE: He didn't say "heck."
SLUGGER WHITE: I didn't. He said, Well, I bought the Greenbrier. It was just -- it's truly amazing.

Q. I have different questions for both of you. Jim, give me your comments on what you think you can do with this tournament, who you think you can attract to play it, and people like that. And then Slugger, I would like for you to comment about the golf course and the way it fits in with modern golf and how it would be different.
JIM JUSTICE: You asked me to go first? I've told the PGA Tour people this, and I mean it. I'm not gonna stop until they come to me and say, This is the best event that we have on the entire PGA Tour, maybe with the exception of the majors.
There's no way that I'm gonna -- they may have to do that now. It may be really difficult for them to do. But when this thing all unveils and everything, it's gonna be very special. I don't know that we're gonna knock it out of the park on Day One, but we're not gonna be far behind.
The course itself, I think really and truly it'll just be a matter of time as far as attracting everybody here. It's my hope that someday -- and I mentioned this to Rick just a little while ago -- he said, You got to walk before you take offer running.
It would be my hope that someday we could be sitting down and talking about the possibility of attracting a major or maybe a Presidents Cup or something like that here, because we're just gonna make it just that good. Really and truly, the players are gonna love it just that much and it's gonna be that good.
To get to that level, we may have to do some more length, you know, to increase -- back up some of the tees even a little more and do some work like that, but I'm prepared do it. So it's just a matter of -- you know, if you just say to yourself, I'm not gonna quit. This is gonna be a tremendous event this week, but I'm not gonna quit until they tell me it's the best of the best.
And so you just have a tough guy to deal with for a while.
SLUGGER WHITE: I think the golf course, the players are really gonna like the golf course a lot. Doesn't have a lot of the length, just a little over 7,000 yards, but it's so completely different. I mean, CB McDonald and Seth Raynor, I mean, these are names that are worldwide names. They're so famous. It's just really, really neat.
Neat I guess is, for lack of a better word, is what we're looking at. We're looking at fescue around the bunkers; we're looking at the greens with the biarritz; we're looking at the redans; we're looking at a lot of things that people don't see every day.
I know when we came up here with Rick and Tyler Dennis and myself, it was just so special. It didn't take us any time at all to say, This is where we need to be. I think Lester George did a great job bringing it back from the early 1930s -- or 1913?
SLUGGER WHITE: 1913. As far as the golf tournament goes, I tell you what, I haven't been around long, but I've been around a while. The presentation, look at this media center. Presentation takes a back seat to no one. He's got a great, great staff, Tim McNeely and Monte Ortel.
But what they've put together with all of Jim's people, with Jeff Kimmick (phonetic), it just goes on and on and on. Like I say, the presentation is fantastic.
JIM JUSTICE: Let me add one more thing to this. This is the part of the story that you guys wouldn't know, but when Slugger and Rick, I think -- and I don't know if, Tyler, you came with them on the first time they came -- but the first time they came, we went out -- you know, naturally to me, the right place to play this would have been the Greenbrier course because we played the Rogers Cup and the Solheim Cup there.
So they went out there and came back and said, Okay, we can do this here. I said, Great. They said, May need to add a little length here and there or tweak this or that and everything, but we can do this here.
Then they left. I said, Great. We're working. Everything is good. So then they came back and brought six people and went back out on the Greenbrier course.

Q. (No microphone.)
JIM JUSTICE: Oh, okay. But the next time they came, there's six of you that came. Out the Greenbrier course they went and everything. Well, I didn't go with 'em and everything because I sure don't want to horn in on that party and everything.
Then they came back and we had lunch. We were sitting right there at Slammin' Sammy's eating lunch. We ate lunch, and before the left, they turned and looked at me and said, Before we go, we would like to drive out on the Old White and just look out an everything, and then we're getting ready to leave.
Forty-five minutes later, Slugger and everybody is calling me saying, Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is where we wanted to be. This is the place we wanted to be. Then all the attention bowed to the Old White. They just hadn't seen it since all the renovations had been done.

Q. Slugger, what did you see in the Old White that said, this is where we need to play the golf tournament?
SLUGGER WHITE: Golf. I saw golf out there. I saw it the way we kind of grew up. Little course that Jimmy and I grew up on, a little nine-hole golf course, it was right just there in front of you. I think we drove down three or four fairways and said, Boy, this is it right here. This is what it's all about. It just had a feel to it.

Q. Jim, I was just wondering with all that you've done to bring the tournament here and all, what will you be doing throughout this event? Will you get a chance to enjoy it?
JIM JUSTICE: I'm actually leaving this afternoon. I'm going fishing. (Laughter.) I really may go fishing this afternoon, to tell you the truth.
No, but I probably will be just out enjoying the people. You know, I love people, and I especially love little kids, just to see them happy and having a good time. You know, I just got to ride around in a golf cart with Rick George, and believe it or not, there's people coming up to me actually wanting an autograph. That's really pretty bizarre, to tell you the truth.
But it's really nice to see the people enjoying themselves and having a good time. That's everything to me. That's really just it. You know, I'm not interested in piling up a pile of gold and standing there staring at it.
I want this place to be profitable. To provide longevity, it has to be that. A business has to be that. At the same time, if it's profitable, what I'm hoping to be able to do is take the profit and do something else.
Because, again, not to become Reverend Jim, but I think that's what I'm supposed to be doing here. You know, I really believe that that's what I'm supposed to be doing.
And so, you know, I think if I pile up pile of gold and I just sat and stare in it or retire and whatever like that, to me, in my world, you know, I tell the Kunta Kinte story all the time. I say, In his life, he had a pretty tough go of it.
Well, in my world, I pile up a pile of gold and sit and stare at it, and the good Lord looks at me and says, I could have made you Kunta Kinte. I made you Jim Justice for a reason: To provide jobs and make things happen and everything else. That's what I believe. You know, I really enjoy the people.

Q. Jim, what do you hope the spectators that come here, what do you hope they take away? Also with the TV audience, maybe some for the first time being exposed to Greenbrier?
JIM JUSTICE: Well, I hope they take away the lot money, first of all. Because I need to tell you what we're doing on this. I haven't told you this.
We've got it set up now that if the pro makes a hole-in-one, we're giving away $1 million. We're giving $1 million: $250 to the pro and $750 goes to the charity. If a hole-in-one is made, everybody that's sitting in the stands gets $100 that's in the stands around 18. Every single person.
If the second hole-in-one is made, same kind of deal. $250 to the pro, $750 to the charities, but $500 goes to everybody in the stands.
If a third hole-in-one is made, $250 to the pro; $750 to charities; and $1000 to everybody in the stands. So everybody that's sitting in those stands, in those seats, they'll have a card. If they get up and leave or go to the bathroom, they lose their card. That's all there is to it.
I hope that will generate some real live excitement. There will be a lot of cheering going on for the pros and everything, and I hope they make a beaucoup of hole-in-ones, and I hope we have a lot of fun with it.
What I really hope they take away from the whole thing is just the little touch of happiness and a little touch of joy. Not necessarily that I got Davis Love's autograph or that I saw Jim Furyk make a long putt. I want them to get a little bit of the magic of the Greenbrier and West Virginia.
I was teasing -- I wasn't teasing about what we were doing about the hole-in-one. I was teasing about that I wanted to take away a bunch of money.
I do want 'em to win the money. That would be great. At the same time, I want 'em to be touched by the little bit of the moon dust of the Greenbrier in West Virginia.
SLUGGER WHITE: What he didn't tell you, that's three a day, 12 for the week is what he's giving away.
JIM JUSTICE: Three a day every day.
SLUGGER WHITE: So that's only $12 million. It's not a big deal.
JIM JUSTICE: It's more than $12 million. What I'm worried about is giving everybody in the stands 1000 bucks. You give everybody in the stands 1000 bucks three times, four times, that's $6.8 million to go in the stands. You know, you would have to have an armed guard out there.
It would be okay to make a couple hole-in-ones. Don't get carried away on me now.
SLUGGER WHITE: Well, we get a big funnel out there. We're going for an eight-inch cup now.
JOHN BUSH: Gentlemen, thank you for coming by and making this such a special event.

End of FastScripts

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