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November 3, 2010

John Cook

Sean Elsbernd

Tim Finchem

Phil Ginsburg

Sandy Tatum


SEAN ELSBERND: It is an honor for me to be here representing the City when we consider all the many people for the City of County of San Francisco who are responsible for bringing us to this day, not the least of which would be the mayor - now I think we can call him lieutenant governor elect Newsom for all the great leadership.
Phil Ginsburg, our general manager of recs and parks. I haven't had a chance to see everybody. I just arrived. But certainly the men and women who maintain this course and all the great work they've done. Just to sit here representing all of them is quite an honor.
That said, it's even a bigger honor for me to sit here as a representative of the men and women, the boys and girls, who grew up playing this course. My first time here at Harding Park was 25 years ago. And those of you who were here then know the differences that have arrived on this wonderful golf course because of so many people.
To be here on this day recognizing this new chapter, the sign behind us, the new moniker for this wonderful course, TPC Harding Park, truly is a symbol of this next step in the relationship with the PGA.
I just left City Hall and the celebration of the World Champion San Francisco Giants. Everyone there is talking about the history of 53 years. Well, PGA relationship with Harding Park goes back even farther than that. The first tournament here was in the 40's. To see where we have come is truly a blessing for all the residents of San Francisco, all golfers in San Francisco.
I'm thrilled we've taken this next step. And no question the man who helped bring it here from the PGA side is PGA commissioner, and it's just great to welcome you back to San Francisco, Commissioner Finchem. Each time you're here it's like we have one great new piece of news for everything, so I'm looking forward to next year already.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, Sean. Let me just say that I experienced trying to get to a couple meetings this morning down in the city. (Laughter.) So based on what's happened in the United States over the last several months, I would like to start off by saying that now that the Giants have won the Series and the elections are over, we can get back to golf. (Laughter.) It's an exciting development. (Applause). We don't need negative ads on the PGA Tour.
You know, we have, as Sean alluded to, we have had a long history here in the Bay Area with PGA Tour golf going back decades. We've had a really strong partnership I think with the Bay Area and the City of San Francisco in the last 13 or 14 years.
And that sort of change began in 1997 when we announced the First Tee program in New York, Detroit, and Houston. The next night I was asked to come to a meeting here in the city with Sandy and Chuck Schwab and some other business leaders because they had an idea, which was to bring the First Tee program here, and to, in the process, create a facility.
To create the facility, the avenue was to rebuild Harding Park. And that began kind of a different road, and led to, of course, us playing the World Golf Championship here in '05; and then playing the Presidents Cup here in '09; and now the Schwab Cup here in '10.
It's kind of a neat week to be able to recognize Sandy today, and also to do it as part of the Schwab Cup, because they were two of the real leaders of bringing First Tee to where it is today.
Over the years, Sandy and the board of the First Tee has turned the First Tee effort in San Francisco into one of the great First Tee chapters around the country. Sean, I just want to say to you and to the mayor and the City of San Francisco, we thank you for your partnership. Sean has been at every step of the way a major force in bringing that partnership along.
Today's announcement relates to the management here at Harding Park. We're delighted to say - and I don't think it's a particular secret - but to officially say that the PGA Tour will be officially stepping in as the management entity for Harding Park. We'll provide management at cost; we will not accept any fees or profit margins for management.
Those dollars that are available when generated will be invested back into Harding to create and continue the quality of facility that was envisioned by Sandy and the City's leadership some years ago. We're pleased to be able to do that.
As far as the First Tee goes, the way this contract is structured, the PGA Tour is entitled to certain incentive bonuses based on the business side performance of the facility. I would also like to comment that those bonuses, if we're successful in attaining them, will be contributed back to the First Tee here in San Francisco.
I can assure that our team will be working just as hard to generate those bonuses for the First Tee as they would be if they were bonuses going to our own employees. We think this is a nice evolution of what's happened here with the best players in the world coming to play, with Harding Park getting on the world map again as it was in the '50s, the recognition of the facility, and now having a branded facility here as part of the TPC network, the PGA Tour, we think is a very special development.
I'll have a couple other things to say a little bit later in the program. We're delighted to have with us today our defending champion of the Schwab Cup, John Cook. As the defender, I'd just like to make a couple comments about John. I know everybody here knows that John Cook knows what a great player he is.
But the two comments I would like to make are John has been and continues to be instrumental in the First Tee in Ohio that he and his family helped create. He is a huge advocate of the First Tee and what it means to kids.
And then on another level, you know, from the perspective of the PGA Tour and golf as a professional sport, our image in our most important asset. John Cook is one of those players who year after year for decades now has contributed so much to that image.
As I introduce him, I would just like to I thank him for that and give you our defending champion here at the Charles Schwab Cup, John Cook.
JOHN COOK: Thank you, Tim, for the kind words. Golf does teach kids something. That's one thing that my family has instilled in me and my sister growing up. I was a SoCal country club kid, but I certainly recognize the benefits of public golf. Some of the best times I had was going down to Recreation Park in Long Beach and playing down there on a great little parks and recreation golf course.
A lot of our Southern Cal Junior Golf Association tournaments were conducted there at a lot of the public-owned or the city-owned golf courses. Griffith Park and some of the other great ones.
I know coming up here, we had a group of kids coming up here -- I'm going to date myself -- I'm going to say 35 years ago to go on a little mini tour of some of the Northern Cal tournaments. We played here in Harding Park and over in Livermore, and I forget where the other one was.
We certainly recognized what a great facility Harding Park was. I've got another connection there with Ken Venturi being my mentor from when I was just 14 years old. I know how big he was here in the Bay Area and a what he thought about Harding Park. We talked many, many times about the great facility here.
So we're very fortunate as the Champions Tour players to be here and conducting our Schwab Cup Championship here at a great facility. Couldn't be more happy to hear that the PGA Tour is going to be involved at TPC Harding Park. Having played many TPCs through the years and in tournaments actually playing pretty well in a few of 'em, I'm kind of a TPC guy. I had Memphis and Las Vegas. I've had some good runs.
The one thing I noticed going to these golf courses is the Tour's commitment to these facilities, the pride that they take in operating; the staff is first class. I know it won't be any different here at Harding Park. We as players are very fortunate to play some of the great places, and this is well-deserved for the Tour and for the City and the golf course. It is one of the top 3 or 4 in the country, and it just vaulted right up to -- Torrey Pines, Bethpage, and Harding Park will all be said in the same breath.
I was excited to hear about the partnership here, so very happy to be back and to hear that. Tim mentioned that my family is involved in the First Tee. We have been since pretty much day one. My sister has over 1000 students in her two First Tees that she is a part of, and my aunt is the director of the Buell Farm First Tee in Pennsylvania.
So the Cook family has believed in this junior, believes in teaching kids the right way to do things. That's all I ever learned, and that's what this game has taught me through the many, many years. So we have great experience there in the First Tee, and we're very happy this is going to be benefited through -- the various proceeds will be back right into it. So we understand that.
I see my old friend Sandy Tatum sitting here, and I just want to acknowledge him, how much Sandy has meant to the City, to the area here, and to golf in general. I don't know if you all know this, but I was fortunate enough to win the 1978 U.S. Amateur at Plainfield Country Club in New Jersey.
Sandy was the president of the USGA at the time and present me the trophy, which I did drop, by the way, and that's why the thing is bent. The top of it is bent. That was my doing. (Laughing.)
But Mr. Tatum and I go way, way back. Again, like Kenny, in this area, you know, Sandy has done so, so much for the area and golf in general. I just want to say congratulations, and as always, great to see you again.
I am back as defending champion. I'm proud to be that. You have to have a good year to come back and be a defending champion. You just don't get in by winning. You have to earn your way back.
We've done that, so I'm happy to be the defending champion here at Harding Park. Again, a great facility. We look forward to a great, great week. The weather is going to hold up wonderfully. The course will be good and the competition will be great. We've got some Hall of Famers and major championship winners here. I'm thrilled to be the defending champion.
Hopefully I won't go away quietly. Maybe we'll have another nice week like I had there at Sonoma. Never know who might be the champion at the end of the week. But thanks for having me. Congratulations to City of San Francisco and Harding Park and the PGA Tour on their partnership. It's going to be a long-lasting one. (Applause).
PHIL GINSBURG: Thanks, John, very much. We have a couple presentations to make here. Before we do that, for those of you who have heard Sandy speak, you know how eloquent he can be. Sandy is having some challenges with his vocal cords, and prepared a statement that he asked me to read. I can't possibly do justice to one of Sandy's statements, but I would like to share on his behalf the statements that he prepared.
When I saw Harding turn into a weed patch, I had the following reaction: It could not be allowed to happen. It would cost a lot of money to save, restore, and renovate. The best possible resource was the PGA Tour. Chuck Schwab, in yet another demonstration of if you want something done that matters, talk to Chuck, arranged a dinner meeting with Tim Finchem. The rest, in a sense, is history.
The Tour, with Tim's leadership, provided the premises for restoration and renovation process that did more than restore Harding. It realized the potential of a very, very special golf experience.
Two people were primarily responsible for managing to get the project through San Francisco's political world and arranging the financing, Michael Cohen, then a city attorney, and Willie Brown, then our mayor. What San Francisco has, therefore, is a priceless asset which provides a recreational resource that is the playing of this very special course in first rate condition available to San Francisco residents at an affordable fee.
With the Tour's management and marketing, a potential moneymaker, the economic impact of PGA Tour events such the American Express Championship, the Presidents Cup, and the Charles Schwab Cup. Facilities for the operation of a First Tee program which uses the attraction, an asset of learning to play golf to instill in young people, especially the underprivileged, the core values they will need to develop constructive lives.
Our experience with this program proves that it works, and that cumulatively we are going to put the lives of thousands of young people on the right track. Having the Tour take on management and marketing of this priceless asset provides us with the best possible resource for realizing its ultimate potential.
Thank you, Sandy Tatum. (Applause).
With that, for our first presentation, Commissioner Finchem.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: What I would like it do is David sort of understated his role in all this earlier. David manages a huge piece of PGA Tour business, a piece of which is all of our tournament players' club activities. He initiated and drove from the Tour's perspective this development that we're announcing today.
Sandy, you turn 90 this year, and we wanted to one way or the other figure out how to commemorate your commitment to golf over the years, and the PGA Tour. It's hard to do. We decided not to give you a bottle of wine. (Laughter.)
But, you know, your statement was a little bit off on the record, because you talked about us providing leadership. We sort of hung on while you drove the train. There were many times - and sometime when you all have time we'll tell you the whole story - but there were many times during this process with we thought Sandy was not going to be able to pull this off.
It went on for a long time. Sean was pushing. There were a lot people involved. But you had to have tenacity and commitment, and certainly a command of the art of persuasion. If there's any demonstration of having a command of the art of persuasion, getting Harding Park rebuilt was it.
So the PGA Tour policy board adopted a resolution that David has over there. I'll come down and hand it to you in a minute. Let me just read it. It's a resolution honoring Frank D. Tatum, Junior, whereas Frank D. Sandy Tatum, Junior has been a major force in developing and promoting the game of golf in San Francisco, California, across the country, and around the world. And whereas Sandy Tatum's specific contributions to the game of golf include service on the executive committee of the United States Gold Association, service as president of the United States Golf Association, champion of the redevelopment of Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco, which hosted the World Golf Championships, American Express in 2005, and the Presidents Cup in 2009, and establishing and maintaining the First Tee chapter in San Francisco, California.
And whereas the PGA Tour policy board would like to recognize Sandy Tatum on the occasion of his 90th birthday, now therefore be it resolved that the PGA Tour policy board hereby recognizes the great contributions of Sandy Tatum to the game of golf, and wishes him all the best on the occasion of his 90th birthday; and first resolve that the commissioner of the PGA Tour is hereby directed - that's me - to present a copy of this resolution suitably engraved to Sandy Tatum, which is that.
So congratulations, Sandy. (Applause).
SANDY TATUM: There is no possible way that I could begin to express what a (indiscernible) it has been for me to have been involved with this project and been involved with people like Sean and David and the PGA Tour, and to see it evolve as it has into this absolutely priceless asset.
I can't begin -- I cannot begin, and I won't try therefore, to tell you how I feel about this resolution. (Applause.)
SEAN ELSBERND: Sandy, we do have one more recognition for you. We have a recognition from the City and County of San Francisco. From the mayor, a proclamation. I'm not going to read through it all because there's an important fact that needs to be laid out here, Sandy.
Earlier today the mayor issued a proclamation to the San Francisco Giants declaring today San Francisco Giants' day. San Francisco Giants' Day.
You get Sandy Tatum Week, and I think that shows -- Giants haven't won a World Series their entire history and they got a day. This tells you the great contribution you've given to the City and County of San Francisco.
On behalf of the mayor, a proclamation declaring this week Sandy Tatum week. (Applause).
SANDY TATUM: That's how I feel about all of this: Wow. (Applause).
DAVE SENKO: Questions.

Q. Sean, I'll just ask what you I'm hearing from some of my readers, just how this will affect Harding Park, the change of management and the name. Obviously the management and marketing goes to the Tour, but will it affect the routing of the course, the rates, anything public golfers would like to know.
SEAN ELSBERND: All the impacts are simply positive. This means increased revenue for the First Tee, which right off the top is just a wonderful benefit. We've seen in the last year the expansion to (indiscernible) and the middle schoolers out there.
And then specifically to the course, to have the expertise of the PGA working in collaboration with the men and women who maintain this course, this is pure benefit. It's all upside. There's no downside for the golfers.

Q. This is for the commissioner. What's the future of Harding Park for this tournament, I guess? And then as far as the Schwab Cup goes, there hasn't been a lot of fluctuation in the final tournament of the year as far as crowning the champion. Do you see the current format staying the same, or is there a possibility of more I guess volatility in the points?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: To answer the first part of your question, we're here next year. And then between now and then we'll be evaluating how we did this year and talking about the future.
I'm not sure I understood the second part of your question.

Q. I think there's only been one person who wasn't leasing going into the final week of the season to win the Schwab Cup. Do you see that format staying the same, or will there be any reason to have more volatility like a FedExCup?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we look at it every year. We talk to the players about it. Thus far, we've haven't done a lot of change to it. But it's something we look at every year. I wouldn't anticipate necessarily anything, but...

Q. (No microphone.)
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, it's very similar week to week. These guys play almost all the weeks, and so theoretically then, because of that, where had a wide range of access on the PGA Tour, you had sort of the all the players playing against each other all year long.
Arguably, the build-up, the regular season should mean a lot. But it's a balance. One issue is what's fair that way, and another is what's most exciting at the end. It's something we'll continue to look at.

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