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March 30, 2012

Amy Alcott


THE MODERATOR:テつ With us today a very special guest, sheテや冱 a member of the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame, a three‑time winner here at Mission Hills Country Club, Amy Alcott.テつ Amy, welcome.
AMY ALCOTT:テつ Thank you.テつ Great to be here.

Q.テつ First of all, I know you're a Southern California person, but why are you actually here this week?
AMY ALCOTT:テつ Well, good morning, everyone.テつ I had a wonderful event out here on Sunday.テつ It was our second annual, actually, Fresh & Easy Charity Pro‑Am, where I brought back 18 of the great legends in women's golf.テつ The people that I get stopped all the time in airports by people saying we loved following you and Pat Bradley and Hollis Stacy and Betsy King, and all the great stars, Nancy Lopez, the list goes on.テつ What are they doing now?テつ And I get stopped constantly about that.
So I brought back in partnership with my friend, Tim Mason, the CEO of Fresh & Easy, we conceived an event together, which was a high‑end Pro‑Am that raises money for four Southern California charities two here in the Coachella Valley, two up in Los Angeles.
We had the first one last year that was very successful.テつ So we decided to build on that and even add to it.テつ So on Sunday, the amateurs got to play the Tournament course with an icon of women's golf.テつ Then on Tuesday, we introduced an event called the Fresh & Easy Kraft Foods Junior Legacy Challenge, which the key about that is I'm a big promoter of mentoring.テつ I love, and I think it's important to pass along your knowledge and expertise to young people.テつ I get asked all the time whether I do clinics or wherever I am passing along to another generation.
So this event was an icon of women's golf, prepared with a junior World Golfer, scratch golfer, and an 18‑hole best ball tournament.テつ We had that over on the Palmer course.テつ People seemed to really love it.
So for the future, we think we're on to something.テつ That was the main reason I was here in the desert and being here this week.
THE MODERATOR:テつ You are credited with the inaugural splash into the pond, now called Poppie's Pond.テつ How often do people bring that up to you?テつ Do you ever get sick of talking about that?
AMY ALCOTT:テつ Well, I had three of the young girls, the young juniors saying why did you jump in the lake?テつ I think it's something I had no idea that I was going to start such a tradition back in 1988.テつ But I guess I'm glad I did.
I'm still in close touch with the Russian judge that gave me a 10 for the jump.テつ The Latvian judge didn't like me too much.テつ But the water was very murky back in '88.
And I'm a big believer whether the young woman that wins the event this week, whether she does it or not, I'm a big believer in the young players in women's golf embracing their stardom.テつ This is the entertainment business.テつ I had no idea what an impact it would make, but I was pleased about that.テつ Always pleased.テつ It was fun.テつ It was just a moment of exuberation.
THE MODERATOR:テつ How special does it feel for you to know that you're a part of one of probably the biggest traditions probably on the LPGA?
AMY ALCOTT:テつ Well, I'm thrilled about it.テつ You know, it was funny.テつ On Leap Day, February 29th, I look at my emails, and I had 112 emails from people I didn't even know.テつ They said how could‑‑ well, I'm not going to say anything bad about the Golf Channel.テつ I watch it all the time.テつ But I guess the Golf Channel had the greatest leaps in the history of golf, and they didn't have my jump in there.
I was like, I didn't know what to say, because I didn't see it.テつ Then I got a copy of it, and basically I think they just showed Annika being pushed in the water.テつ So if I let my ego get involved, it would bother me.テつ But I think that my most special memory, if you can pull everything back was the leap in '91 with Dinah that really, that was an important thing for me and an emotional thing winning.
My mother had passed away, and jumping in with my caddie and Dinah, I think that was probably, next to my hole in one at Augusta on 16 that I had in 1999 and having Clint Eastwood sing to me that evening, that would probably‑‑ and probably the Hall of Fame, those were probably be some of my great memories in golf.
THE MODERATOR:テつ You've recently added one more memory, and that is being part of the Gil Hanse Design Team that won the bid to design the 2016 Olympic course in Rio De Janeiro.テつ Take us through that evolution of your partnership with Gil, and what it means to be part of something so big for the game of golf?
AMY ALCOTT:テつ Well, I, like everyone else saw that golf got passed in the Olympics in 2009.テつ My immediate thought was that's great, but does golf really need to be in the Olympics?テつ With all of the events in golf, the Walker Cup, the Solheim Cup, the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup, the Federation, I mean, you can go on about cups and things where people are able to showcase their talents.テつ I immediately thought.
Then as time went on I thought that would be really great.テつ I wonder what the criteria is going to be for the teams?テつ I thought it would be a really great thing.テつ As I thought more about it, I thought that the design team, given the Olympics and everything about reaching and stretching and amateur golf, and equality, that this is a golf course, if they didn't have one in Brazil, should be designed by a male/female team.
I had mentioned that to somebody that had some kind of pull in the whole thing, and they liked the idea and they wanted to talk with me more about it.テつ But then about a week or two later, I guess the idea had kind of gotten moved around.テつ You probably should keep thoughts to yourself.
I noticed that Jack Nicklaus had asked Annika to be on his team, and Lorena was going to do it with Greg.テつ I thought, huh, I probably should have kept that thought to myself.
But I thought, no worries, you know.テつ And through the course of the next couple of months I was at Los Angeles country club.テつ They were remodeling Los Angeles Country Club, and a friend of mine who is a writer, Fred Shackleford, said come on out and take a look at L.A. and see what we're doing.テつ I want you to meet Gil Hanse.
So I sat and had lunch with Gil, and drove around the course and discussed traditions, because I worked on two golf courses as a co-designer.テつ I love design.テつ I love the artistic nature of it, and the creative nature of it.
It seemed like Gil and I kind of connected a lot on his minimalist design, his traditional design.テつ He likes George Thomas, Donald Ross kind of courses.テつ We just kind of connected.テつ As I left, I said two things.テつ I said if there's ever an opportunity to work with you on a remodel or restoration, I'd love to do that.テつ Number three, I don't know if you've thought about bidding on the golf course for the Olympics, and he looked at me.テつ He said, well, yeah, definitely.
I said, well, I'd love to be part of your design team.テつ I'd love to do that.
So last May he called me up and I did a remodel of him‑‑ not a remodel, but some consulting at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.テつ It's a beautiful golf course.テつ The LPGA Tour used to play there, and I think he was impressed by my ideas that I wasn't really out there to make the golf course better for women, although we were really working on resetting some tees, which have all kind of come to fruition.
But we talked about it more, and he said I'm going to bid on the Olympic course, but I'm going to do it under my own name.テつ Do you have a problem with that?テつ Meaning, kind of meaning, okay, it's going to be Gil Hanse design, and somewhere down in the first paragraph it will be Amy Alcott's name.
I thought, and I said that's fine.テつ Because I wasn't so sure even with him that they would be looking for star power.テつ We weren't so sure about that.テつ But we knew anybody who ended up getting the job to design the golf course in the Olympics would do a great job.
So we put in the bid as with our partner Owen Larkin of the Larkin Group, all under Gil Hanse Design, Amy Alcott and whatever.
Then the RFP came out, a request for proposal, and through a couple months through this process, he called me up and said, Amy, we are in the final eight.テつ You better start getting prepared to go to Rio.テつ Because we had been discussing‑‑ he hadn't even been down there.テつ Once he got down there we started talking about what the layout, what the initial thoughts, and what the academy would look like.テつ He wanted me very involved in the design of the academy.
So then we started talking about our actual presentation, and what it was going to be like.テつ We all marched down there the first part of February, and I felt like we made a stellar presentation.テつ I think it was an interesting room of people.テつ The whole group, the people from Brazil, Anthony Dawson, head of the International Golf Federation.テつ The room was very well‑represented.
We left thinking he talked about his minimalist philosophies.テつ He talked about that he would move down there, which I think was a big commitment to make.テつ You can't design a golf course from 4,000 miles away.テつ He talked about what he would do with the land.テつ How he and I would both interact.テつ How we've worked on the thoughts about the tees and even thought about doing some more forward tees.テつ Because as much as you're designing a golf course for the elite golfers of the world, you're going to leave ultimately a public golf course in the country where there are only a couple of golf courses in Rio.
Then my presentation was more about the legacy of golf.テつ I talked about how I grew up in Southern California, chipping and putting on my front lawn, putting into soup cans, watching the CBS golf classic, and shell's wonderful world of golf, and I was inspired by the game.
If golf can do that for me, if I can catch the bug for that, I can only imagine the kids in south America, and what this could leave behind, and what this would Open up.
It could open up caddie programs.テつ It could open up programs similar to the First Tee Program, and all the things that it could possibly do.
So we left, and our partner Owen Larkin spoke about sustainable design.テつ So we left feeling we had made a great presentation, and we, like all the other teams, sat and waited and heard that it had been postponed.テつ The decision had been postponed, but we were quietly optimistic.テつ We didn't come meetly know why, but we felt like we were the team.テつ I guess that positive energy was good.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Can you talk about what your involvement will be moving forward now?テつ How often you'll be there?テつ You talked about being very involved in the academy.
AMY ALCOTT:テつ Well, the first thing that will go on is a permitting process, and all the things that will have to be done.テつ I think he will be making a trip down there in the next few weeks to do that, to really get the ball on the road.テつ We probably, from my understanding, and I'm not quite sure, but it looks like we'll start getting underway in October moving some dirt around and kind of going in that.
I'll, of course, make a couple trips down there once we start moving dirt and dealing with all the nuances and all the discussion about ultimately once he gets on the tractor, all the things that I would add to the team and the academy, of course.テつ Because it's going to leave a first class, state‑of‑the‑art golf academy there, and the design of that I'll have a big influence in the design of that.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Shifting gears to a name on the LPGA that's been all year long at the top of the leaderboards.テつ Just any thoughts you have on Yani Tseng and the current run that she's on?
AMY ALCOTT:テつ Well, it's interesting.テつ There is a lot to the domino effect.テつ It's the players who are not playing well and want to be playing well.テつ They don't appreciate it when they are.
I think she's an amazing talent.テつ I think her focus, her mental strength and focus is pretty domineering now she's in contention every week she plays.テつ It's hard to compare generations.テつ When I came out on Tour, JoAnne Carner, and Kathy Whitworth, then it moved on to the '80s, with the six or seven of us, Alcott, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, we kept trading events during the '80s and 90's.テつ Then of course the Tour has gotten global.テつ You had great players from Sweden and Annika and Lorena, and this whole generation, and now the flood gates have truly opened for women's golf.
But I really feel that when you're playing well, you have to be just quietly confident.テつ Strikes me that she's a quite shy person.テつ I did talk to her in the clubhouse for a minute, and she seems in the zone, and that's a place where athletes want to be, desire to be, but it's very difficult to get there.テつ Great play puts you there.

Q.テつ Talk a little about what you think you bring to this design as opposed to Gil?テつ What do you bring that he doesn't?
AMY ALCOTT:テつ I don't need to tell Gil anything.テつ He's a very fine young architect, and he's got enough work.テつ He's a very understated man who lets his work speak for himself.テつ I think we get along.テつ I think we have a good synergy.
I think he's very open to my thoughts and ideas.テつ If I say add a little more room to this green, possibly it would give you an extra pin placement.テつ How about doing a tee over here?テつ The flow of the golf course.テつ I think that we just work well together, and I think his partner, Jim Wagner, they do great work.
What I would add to it is an understanding of how women in this day and age, how far they hit the ball, how they hit the ball, and bringing in for many, many years, women's golf design or an average golf course.テつ Women have always thought themselves to be an afterthought.テつ A lot of these golf courses during the 1920s and '30s or whatever that are all being remodeled.テつ The women's tees, for example, are the forward tees.テつ I'm totally into generics, because I think a golf course needs to be played by length and not by go play the forward tees.テつ There are a lot of men that should be playing the forward tees, but you can't tell them that.
So I think you have to offer a variety of tee positions to make a short par‑4 playable for women and men, and bring in the trouble where you want to play it so it's not an afterthought.
I think I offer an experience and an understanding of that, and also from a standpoint of esthetics, I think I'm strong with esthetics.テつ How something should look, the nuances to add to particular hole or design.

Q.テつ You've been a big part of this tournament and someone else with a big association here is Judy Rankin.テつ Could you talk about her how she is as a broadcaster and human being, Judy?
AMY ALCOTT:テつ Judy, I played against Judy very early in my career when I said that there were players that were at the forefront that‑‑ I turned pro at 18, so I was immediately out here playing against women that could have been my mother back in 1975.テつ Judy Rankin was one of them.テつ Kathy Whitworth, JoAnne Carner, Sandra Palmer, Sandra Post, Marlene Hagge, these were players of that generation.
I think one of the things that I remember and found very interesting was at one of the Hall of Fame inductions back after I had been inducted in '99 with Seve and Lloyd Mangrum was the year I went back and Judy Rankin was put into the veterans category.テつ It's always interesting to hear player's speeches like what motivated them.テつ She talked a little bit about her father.
I didn't know Judy.テつ I only competed against her, so she was always a serious golfer, a serious player.テつ But she talked about her father, but she also talked about in essence, thank God broadcasting, the opportunity to do broadcasting came along.テつ Because as she said quote unquote, it's kept her close to a game that she really never liked very much.テつ Her father kind of pushed her into it.テつ I don't want to quote her on that, but you can speak to her about it.
But she grew to love it.テつ She grew to love it more after she removed herself as a full‑time player.テつ I thought that was an interesting statement that she made.
I internalized that, because I had parents that didn't play golf.テつ My mother passed away not knowing the difference between a 9‑iron and a putt, and all the drive and desire to play golf came from me.テつ So I didn't have parents like that.テつ But it was like she said she grew to appreciate and love a game more doing broadcasting so she could stay close to the game.テつ I don't know if that answers your question.

Q.テつ As someone who did turn pro at 18, what advice would you give to 17, 18‑year‑old girls now who are trying to decide whether college is worth their while or whether they should just get out and play against the pros?
AMY ALCOTT:テつ I was prior title 9, and I had one scholarship opportunity to go to Dartmouth and play on the men's golf team, and I had no idea where Dartmouth was.テつ Somebody said it was NewHampshire, and the minute I heard it was cold there, I passed on that.
But as my teacher called me a little race horse and I was ready at 18 to go out, I didn't know if I was ready in 1975, but I had nowhere to go and I loved to play and compete.
I think that the players for the longest time I was one of the youngest players winning at 18 or on my 19th birthday to win an LPGA tournament.テつ As time has gone on, you had Paula Creamer win early, you had young Jessica Korda win a few weeks ago.テつ There is a whole generation there, and Michelle Wie, these players are getting younger and younger.
I think if they're mentally and physically prepared to go out and give it a shot and they're really sharp with their game, they should go do it.テつ But it has to be for all the right reasons.
I always tell young players don't do it because you have some dream of standing on the 18th green to get a check from Dinah Shore.テつ Do it because you erally want to compete, and you feel it in your heart because not everybody's meant to do this for a living.テつ It takes a certain disposition and everything else.
I think some of my oldest friends from the LPGA who were never really that successful who I stay in touch with are glad they gave it a shot and glad they gave it a shot young.
But I think you have to know it inside you.テつ It's not something your teacher or your father or some dream of monetary gain or whatever is out there.テつ You've got to want to work at it, and you've got to want to eat, breathe, and sleep it because that's what it takes to be great.

Q.テつ At that age, do you know if you have the right disposition for the Tour?
AMY ALCOTT:テつ That's a very good question.テつ I think desire is huge, passion for it, if you have the passion.テつ All I'm saying is I think if it's coming from you, that's what's important.
Getting used to the lifestyle out here, you know, I used to stay in private homes and eat at McDonald's and the pressures.テつ I was telling somebody the other day I had 15 people put up $1,000 apiece for me to go out and start on the LPGA Tour when I was an 18‑year‑old kid.テつ It was a two‑year deal.
Most people sponsor somebody thinking we'll never get our money back, and I had some‑‑ Dean Martin was one of my original sponsors, and I felt this tremendous pressure and obligation because of the way I was raised to pay these people back.
And I learned a lot about life and a lot about business because that first year I set a career earnings mark for a rookie of $26,000. テつI was able to pay the 15‑‑ I played a whole year for $15,000.テつ I couldn't play five events for $15,000 now.
I think I felt an obligation.テつ So a lot of these young players maybe don't have that obligation or maybe they do.テつ But I think if it's your controlling desire and passion, you feel like you have the game‑‑ but it can't be somebody else's dream.テつ It has to be your dream.
You have to understand that you're going to deal with the life out here, and the highs and lows and the slumps and everything else.
Sometimes it's better that you don't even know anything.テつ Ignorance is bliss.テつ I used to say that sometimes.テつ Some of the greatest golfers maybe aren't the smartest.テつ They don't know where the trouble is.
THE MODERATOR:テつ We'd like to thank you for coming in.テつ Congratulations on a fantastic career, and best of luck in your next endeavor.
AMY ALCOTT:テつ Thanks for having me here.テつ I'm thrilled about it.

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