“Innerviewed” by Ann Ligouri, An Amazing Lifetime Experience!!!

Here it is the “Innerview” by Ann Ligouri which was an amazing experience! It’s fun to be interviewed by someone who gets you and what you are trying to do. Definitely a combination of Golf, Travel, and TROML Baby! Her introduction says it all and is one of the nicest compliments of my life! Thanks Ann!

“Here to brighten up the morning is my good friend Andy Reistetter who is a travel extraordinaire and an explorer of places and people. Andy collects friends all over the world and deposits his smile and positive attitude along the way.”—Ann Ligouri

With Ann Ligouri under the Oak Tree at the 2016 Masters.

With Ann Ligouri under the Oak Tree at the 2016 Masters.

Looking forward to being ‘innerviewed’ by my friend, the incomparable Ann Liguori, on her radio show tomorrow Saturday morning at 9 am EST. You can hear ‘Sports Innerview with Ann Liguori’ LIVE from 9-10AM EST on www.peconicpublicbroadcasting.org & for those closer to The Hamptons, on WPPB 88.3 FM, Long Island’s only NPR affiliate. Each show is archived in the radio section of www.annliguori.com. Thinking we will be talking about Olympic Golf but who knows where a conversation with Ann will go! Who can tell where this picture was taken?  (Facebook Post with 1 pic, 10/21/16, Andy Reistetter).

Hmmm… Ann is quite the artist and so far has artistically dodged my attempts to interview her… stay tuned!!!

 

Miracles do happen in Rio de Janeiro, Just ask Renee & Philip Murdoch…

Renee Murdoch's personal testimony of her Miracle in Rio was moving and inspirational to say the least.

Renee Murdoch’s personal testimony of her Miracle in Rio was moving and inspirational to say the least.

Someone once said “there are no coincidences in life…” but I am not sure who said it or why. I gave up after trying to google the source for five minutes. The point being there are no coincidences in life this I believe.

So, as you might know I am flying to Rio in a few days to witness the historic return of golf to the Olympics. Actually this is not the real reason I am going to Rio or the first time I will be in Rio. Three years ago I set out on a “Journey to Olympic Golf,” a 14-country, 100-day, 18,471 mile odyssey to find out what the “Spirit of Olympic Golf” was and is going to be again. My plan was simple—visit the Olympic cities of Atlanta, St. Louis and Mexico City to find the “Spirit of the Olympics” and combine it with what I knew—the history and tradition of golf, to arrive at the Spirit of Olympic Golf.” This writer’s version is soon to be superseded by 60 men and 60 woman golfers and I am excited to be there to capture this unique Spirit!

If you are inspired by Renee Murdoch's story, every day is a beautiful day!

If you are inspired by Renee Murdoch’s story, every day is a beautiful day!

So, I was in my hometown a couple of weeks ago with a media credential covering the 10th annual Dick’s Sporting Goods Open at En Joie Golf Club. I was enjoying myself and asked a friend to recommend a good “Rock n Roll” church (my code name for an evangelical church) to attend on Sunday morning. She suggested Calvary Community Church in Johnson City. It was a beautiful Mass, I mean Service (sorry about that as I was raised a Catholic) and it ended with an invitation to hear a lady from Rio de Janeiro speak at 6 pm that evening.

Now is that a coincidence or what?

I was captivated by her story and knew I had to attend her talk at 6 pm even though the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open was scheduled to end at 7 pm.

Here was Renee Murdoch, a missionary and motivational speaker in Rio, where I was headed, and a wife and mother of four children. Along with her husband Philip, she pastors the four-campus Light to the Nations Church in Rio.

In October of 2012 Renee was attacked by a homeless man while she jogged on the beach in Barra de Tijuca where most of the Olympics will take place in Rio. The attack with a wooden fence post severely damaged her brain. After several weeks in a coma, six brain surgeries, one of which was a cranioplasty to reattach a portion of her skull that was removed stored at a bone bank. Despite all odds Renee is fully recovered and ministers across Brazil and the United States of America.

Renee listening as her husband Philip recounts her struggle in video verse by verse... pause and think about that for a moment...

Renee listening as her husband Philip recounts her struggle in video verse by verse… pause and think about that for a moment…

Her full recovery was not only one miracle but a series of twenty-three miracles from passers-by stopping the homeless man from beating on Renee’s head to an emergency physician on board an ambulance that arrived quickly to Renee preaching and ministering again after only 114 days. That’s less than four months after having a portion of her skull removed to reduce the swelling of her brain.

Her talk, like her book just published in June, was not only motivational but inspirational as well. The title of her book—”It’s a Beautiful Day, How to Overcome Unexpected Obstacles”—is an understatement if there ever was one. Written by Renee and Philip, with a chapter by their daughter Julia, this book not only chronicles Renee’s miraculous recovery but goes on to helping us realize our own “unimaginable opportunities,” and with God’s help along with our gratitude and forgiveness, take hold of our own Miracle in our own life.

TROML Baby!

The video was real time in Renee's recovery showing the power of prayer and faith not only on Renee but her family and all who hear her testimony.

The video was real time in Renee’s recovery showing the power of prayer and faith not only on Renee but her family and all who hear her testimony.

The media would lead us to believe these Olympics are doomed to failure due to crime, pollution and political instability in Brazil. The withdraw of several top golfers is disheartening. You might be thinking why on Earth would Andy go down to Rio, it’s too dangerous and he doesn’t even have a place to stay!

The reality that I have found in my 7-1/2 months during the last three winters in the Southern Hemisphere is that anything I have witnessed or heard about out there has or is happening right here at home too. Sad, but true.

Nearly two million women are assaulted each year in the United States, and more than half of women will be physically assaulted during their lifetime.

Where am I going with this?

It was an honor and an inspiring privilege to hear Renee's talk and meet her afterwards.

It was an honor and an inspiring privilege to hear Renee’s talk and meet her afterwards.

To Rio of course. To see my beloved game of golf be immersed in a worldly way, in a new way, with many other sports and to witness what will happen as both male and female golfers compete for an Olympic Golf Gold Medal.

What will the business of golf learn from golf being an Olympic Sport?

What will we learn from the catalytic combination of a challenging yet inspiring game of golf and the world acknowledged Spirit of the Olympics?

The Olympic Spirit of Golf is sure to emerge from Rio, perhaps in as a miraculous manner as the recovery of Renee Murdoch.

Paul Goydos continued his workmanlike round of golf around the En Joie Golf Course and went on to win the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open as I listened to an inspiring talk by Renee Powell.

A male and female golfer will be given an Olympic Golf Gold Medal and become the Champion Golfer of the World.

I’ll find a bed one way or another.

Maybe there are no coincidences in life…

I can't wait to be inspired by the return of Olympic Golf after a dormancy of 112 years!!

I can’t wait to be inspired by the return of Olympic Golf after a dormancy of 112 years!!

 

 

The Spirit of Golf & Life is Alive & Well at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open!

The 18th hole at En Joie looks like a mini Valley of Opportunity especially during the DSGO! Photo Credit: DSGO

The 18th hole at En Joie looks like a mini Valley of Opportunity especially during the DSGO! Photo Credit: DSGO

I grew up here in the Valley of Opportunity which was actually the valleys of two rivers—the Susquehanna and the Chenango—that merged and from where then city of Binghamton (1834), then Johnson City (1892), and finally Endicott (1906)—our Triple Cities! Most recently you may have been introduced to the Greater Binghamton Area, also known as Broome and Tioga Counties, in the 2014 romantic comedy movie The Rewrite starring Hugh Grant, Marisa Tomei, Allison Janney, and J.K. Simmons. It’s home to me in spirit and in reality for a quarter of a million people where the Spirit of Golf & Life is alive and well, as exemplified by this year’s 10th annual Dick’s Sporting Goods Open (DSGO) on the Champions Tour and previously by the 36 years of the PGA TOUR’s B.C. Open.

At the Johnny Hart breakfast picture pose with Mike Goodes, Tom Purtzer and David Marr (Left to Right).

At the Johnny Hart breakfast picture pose with Mike Goodes, Tom Purtzer and David Marr (Left to Right).

The spirit of the community is evident in the DSGO Thursday morning kickoff event—The Johnny Hart Memorial Christian Fellowship Breakfast. Professional golf in Broome County was named after the comic strip B.C., created by Johnny Hart, who was born and raised in Endicott. Johnny Hart’s B.C. characters were used in advertising the B.C. Open and linger on eternally in the atmosphere of the En Joie Golf Club, a municipal golf course, which hosts the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

For me personally the spirit of golf and life will forever be intertwined and associated with an inscription I received in Ben Hogan’s book—Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. Written in 1957 with Herbert Warren Wind, my older brother LP gave it to me as a gift when I was 11 years old and trying to learn everything I could to improve my golf game. More importantly he inscribed the book with the following: “Golf is a lot like life, the more you learn and understand about it, the easier it is to meet its challenge.” The challenge of golf, while appearing to be external in rough, bunkers and water hazards, is really internal in how we perceive those challenges and the strengths and weaknesses inherent in being a human being. Indeed, golf is the greatest game ever played.

The gravestone of Ernie Smith, with its PGA of America emblem, tells you where his heart lies. His wife Cornelia and he were a loving golf team up at Ely. No surprise their life longevity were exactly the same too!

The gravestone of Ernie Smith, with its PGA of America emblem, tells you where his heart lies. His wife Cornelia and he were a loving golf team up at Ely. No surprise their life longevity were exactly the same too!

From the club’s website: the En-Joie Golf Club first opened in 1927 under the original design of Ernie Smith. The golf course was originally built by George F. Johnson, the benevolent owner of the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company. Mr. Johnson loved the game of golf and couldn’t see any reason that his employees shouldn’t love it as well – except for the fact that they didn’t have any time to play. A problem that he resolved by building a golf course for them to enjoy. Mr. Johnson created the golf course as a place of recreation for his employees who worked at the local shoe factory in Endicott.

Ernie Smith would go on to design a golf course for Binghamton that opened in 1933—the Ely Park Municipal Golf Course. Ely Park is a sporty golf course atop Mount Prospect that overlooks the valleys of the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers. Well ahead of his time, Smith, a consummate PGA Golf Professional built a par-3 course where junior golfers could learn to play golf in a fun and skillful manner. I was one of those junior golfers, learning to golf with my Dad on those little nine holes that average about 100 yards in length. When I was 14 I watched local pro Richie Karl make a 35-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole at En Joie to beat Australian Bruce Crampton in a playoff and win the 1974 B.C. Open.

The title to the Ely Park Golf Course history I am working on...

The title to the Ely Park Golf Course history I am working on…

The spirit of my life seems to revolve around the game of golf and growing up in those Valleys of Opportunity stretching beyond those ten miles separating the Ely Park and En Joie municipal golf clubs. So inspired by my experiences in golf and the game itself, three years ago I ventured out on a 100-day, 14-country, 18,471-mile ‘Journey to Olympic Golf.’ My goal was simple: to see the new Olympic Golf Course being built for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and along the way visit the Olympic cities of Atlanta, St. Louis and Mexico City. I wanted to extract the Spirit of the Olympics and combine it with the history and tradition of the game of golf and define the “Olympic Spirit of Golf,” a golfing experience no one, not even Hagen, Sarazen, and Jones or Hogan, Snead and Nelson or Palmer, Nicklaus, Trevino, Watson or Player ever experienced. That odyssey changed my life and my perspective of the game, soon to be the sport of golf.

The Olympic Golf Course is ready! Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Olympic Golf Course is ready! Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

That is why it grieves me so much that some of the best golfers in the world have chosen not to compete in the Olympic Golf Games that start in Rio in about a month. The younger kids like Rory McIlroy and Jason Day may be too young to get it. A guy like Adam Scott should know better. Certainly any golfer on the Champions Tour eligible to compete would get it, know better and represent their country in a heartbeat if so able to. But that is not the case.

Sadly there is no discussion or conversation on the resolution of any issues associated with competing in the Rio Olympic Games—namely the Zika Virus, Crime and Political Crisis.

Zika Virus? What about a Spiderman-like suit to wear that is impervious to a mosquito bite. The reverse to the 2010 Ryder Cup rain suit debacle. Technology to the rescue? Has anybody requested one or tried one on for functionality? In the Southern Hemisphere August is February. Are there really any concerns of mosquito bites in Florida during the winter months?

Crime? C’mon, have you read the newspapers in America recently? In Chicago, nearly 3,000 souls are shooting victims each year.

Embattled President of Brazil Dilma Roussef. Photo Credit: Google Images

Embattled President of Brazil Dilma Roussef. Photo Credit: Google Images

Political Crisis? Yes that is real, according to Peggy McInerny, the President of Brazil Dilma Roussef was removed from office, stepping down for a period of 180 days while an impeachment process proceeds on charges that she violated the country’s law on fiscal responsibility. Roussef is by no means the only politician in trouble. More than half the members of Congress are currently under investigation as part of a massive corruption scandal linked to the state oil and gas firm Petrobras. In Roussef’s place, Vice President Michel Temer is now at the helm and assembling a new government in what Roussef defiantly charges is a nonmilitary coup.

But it is in the best interest of Brazil, the city of Rio de Janeiro and all countries of the world to see a successful Summer Olympics in Rio’s wintertime. Is our political crisis any different? What leadership have our politicians demonstrated collectively against domestic mass violence and terrorism? Even amidst political uncertainty, security and order will likely be maintained in Rio during the Olympic Games.

Please understand that this perspective is the perspective of a regular guy so inspired by Olympic Golf to drive an old 1992 Infiniti M30 through Mexico and Central America all the way to Panama City, Panama. Then fly to Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and finally Brazil to walk the new Olympic Golf Course, at the time a well-designed golf course, with golf architect Gil Hanse. No security, no plan, no idea how to complete the ‘Journey to Olympic Golf.’ But I did and so can any golfer, given their resources and the support of the International Golf Foundation, the International Olympic Committee, and the PGA TOUR.

Vijay Singh in his first appearance at the DSGO!

Vijay Singh in his first appearance at the DSGO!

As for Vijay Singh’s excuse for not representing Fuji in the Olympics?

Per the PGA TOUR, Singh said the outbreak of the Zika virus, deemed an epidemic in Central and South America, was not a serious concern in skipping the Olympics, “but you don’t want to get it.”

Golfweek quoted Singh’s excuse as “The timing of it, you know, I have to focus over here (on the PGA Tour),” Singh told Golf Channel. “I would like to play the Olympics, but the Zika virus, you know, and all that crap.”

He’s right about one thing, it, including the reasons golfers have cited, is all a bunch of crap!

How many women have withdrawn? Maybe I am being sexist but aren’t they at the biggest risk when it comes to the very real Zika Virus pregnancy concerns and crime?

Olympic Golf returns after 112 years... a new Spirit of Olympic Golf will prevail... despite all the controversy and withdrawals!

Olympic Golf returns after 112 years… a new Spirit of Olympic Golf will prevail… despite all the controversy and withdrawals!

So far the four Americans to qualify—Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler have not withdrawn… yet… sad to have to even qualify that but the reality is we will have to wait and see who actually shows up to play in Rio.

The Olympics, in my opinion, is an opportunity for the players and the business of golf to learn something about themselves. But the first step to learning is to be willing and for golf that translates to being one of many sports in the Olympics versus being the dominant game in your own mind and in your own backyard. Let’s let go and see how the Olympics can impact golf!

No matter who the 60 men and 60 women will be to compete in the Olympic Golf Games in Rio, golf the game, the sport will be fine. It’s an amazing golf course with an amazing Olympic broadcast partner so golf will be nicely displayed to the world and we will see what the Olympic Spirit of Golf truly is.

Maybe we are all just still learning and growing in golf and life?

Back to competitive golf and the 2016 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open…

Player Quotes on the Olympic Spirit of Golf…

“When they announced that golf will be at the Olympics, I said ‘Hey, I want to get myself on that team,’ If you end up getting a medal that’s great, but to say I’m an Olympian, I think that’s a pretty proud thing to say,”—Lydia Ko (New Zealand)

“It will be a very special feeling. I have talked to other athletes about it already and it will be something completely new for me to be part of such a big team. I don’t know exactly how it is decided who carries the flag, but that would be the ultimate.”—Martin Kaymer (Germany)

“Being the first golfer to win a gold medal after such a long break will mean a lot to the athlete that wins it. You will always be recognized as the first one in the modern era to win an Olympic gold medal in golf. It would help in every part – both for golf in my country but also for myself.”—Martin Kaymer (Germany)

“(Winning an Olympic Golf Gold Medal) would be definitely up there. You can win a major four times a year, but an Olympic gold medal [happens] only once every four years. It would be very special to me.”—Martin Kaymer (Germany)

“I will be in Rio, have no plans for more children & averaged 70 last year. Ready to play if anymore withdrawals.”—Gary Player (South Africa, after Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, & Branden Grace withdrew)

Bubba Watson Already Feeling & Demonstrating the Spirit of Olympic Golf…

Suzanne Yost McCourt's artwork 'Journey to Olympic Golf.'

Suzanne Yost McCourt’s artwork ‘Journey to Olympic Golf.’

The Spirit of Olympic Golf… something nobody has felt or experienced in the last 112 years… In hopes of defining the “Spirit of Olympic Golf,” I took a 100-day, 14-country, 18,471-mile “Journey to Olympic Golf” to investigate, chronicle and share a combination of the Olympic Spirit and the History and Tradition of Golf. Here is my best guess  on what constitutes the soon to be born again “Spirit of Olympic Golf!”

CLICK here for the article: The Spirit of Olympic Golf, Soon to be Born Again…

As we get closer to that first Olympic Golf tee shot on Thursday, August 11th here are some more clues from the world’s best golfers on what it means to be a Olympian Golfer and what that “Spirit of Olympic Golf” truly is… from Bubba Watson—dedication, preparation & passion…

From Media Day for the TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP (June 20, 2016) courtesy of ASAP Sports:

Bubba Watson watches his putt on the eighth green during the second round of the 2013 Travelers Championship. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Fred Beckham

Bubba Watson watches his putt on the eighth green during the second round of the 2013 Travelers Championship. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Fred Beckham

NATHAN GRUBE (Tournament Director for the Travelers Championship): And then also Bubba, our two-time champion, is here back with us. It is never a given that your champion will come back for media day or defend your tournament. I’m going to say that.

And from the beginning — I’m going to tell you a quick story. From the beginning, Bubba has said, absolutely I’m coming back. And when all of a sudden there was rumblings going, I heard many commentators saying, oh, that’s unfortunately for Travelers because Bubba is going to be in the Olympics, there’s no way he’s going to play the week before, and you talk to Bubba and he goes, “I’m coming.” Later you talk to him, see him down the road in the fall at the other events when Andy (Besette, Executive VP & Chief Administrative Officer of The Travelers Companies, Inc.) and I are out there recruiting, Bubba, how’s your schedule look, and he goes, “Oh, I’m coming,” and never wavered once, from the beginning, that he was going to defend and he was going to be in the Olympics as an Olympian. We are very fortunate to have him do both of those.

Olympic Golf returns after 112 years... what defines the Spirit of Olympic Golf?

Olympic Golf returns after 112 years… what defines the Spirit of Olympic Golf?

MARK ROLFING (NBC Golf Analyst): It’s going to be an incredibly busy seven weeks between now and when you’re going to try and put your name on that trophy for a third time (2016 TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP ends Sunday, August 7th; Olympic Men’s Golf Competition on the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is scheduled for Thursday, August 11th through Sunday, August 14th). How are you going to manage and how have you to this point managed what’s going to be an incredibly busy, competitive time for you?

BUBBA WATSON (Defending 2015 & 2010 TRAVELERS Champion): We took that into consideration about the Olympics just throws the whole schedule off. One week throws the whole schedule off, how they had to do things. And I was fourth in the world for the last two years, so I knew I had a good shot at making the Olympic team, so we had to prepare for that. So leading up to the Masters, just after the Masters, we took a lot of time off. I wasn’t supposed to play Memorial, but I added it at the last minute, so that was going to be another time off.

But yeah, I’ve been preparing on the time, how do I save the energy, get ready for this long stretch. So what I saw it as is this is a new season for me. I had the first part of the season, had a break, and now this is a new season.

The Olympic Rings are at home at Glen Echo CC and so was I!

The Olympic Rings are at home at Glen Echo CC and so was I as I kicked off the 2013 “Journey to Olympic Golf!”

Trying to prepare for this, and the no-brainer — there’s so many questions being asked, but the no-brainer was you’re defending champion; your dad got to see you win here; what it meant to my family; how good Travelers has been to us; how good Travelers has been to the TOUR; and then from the golf side of it, preparation for the Olympics. I don’t know what the preparation is going to be down there because it’s a new venue that just was built, so for practice and to knock rust off or whatever it is, I want to come here and try to win and defend my title and then fly to the Olympics.

So it was a no-brainer never to miss this. This was never coming off the schedule. We’ve always planned on being here. No matter what happened, I was going to be here. So I’m missing (the Olympic) opening ceremonies, and then I just found out, because I didn’t know the date, but I’m missing (the Olympic) closing ceremonies because it’s the week after our event, so I’m just going to fly in for the golf tournament and then fly out if I make it to the Olympics.

JTOG Day 60: From Panama to Colombia’s Karibana Resort!

Yesterday I took Torch out for one more drive around Panama City before leaving her with Diego Poma at the Infiniti dealership. Goodbye Torch, I love you!

Yesterday I took Torch out for one more drive around Panama City before leaving her with Diego Poma at the Infiniti dealership. Goodbye Torch, I love you!

Monday, December 9th was the first day I set foot on the South America continent. I was forced to leave Torch behind in Panama City due to mechanical problems (suspension) and the complicated logistics of taking her on a ferry across the Caribbean Sea to Colombia. I left her in the good hands of Diego Poma, the owner of the Infiniti dealership in Panama City. I am hopeful she will be restored and be cared for like the classic beauty she is!

CLICK here for JTOG Day 59: Saying Good Bye to Torch in Panama City, Panama

The Darian Gap connects Central & South America but you can not drive through it—only place in the world I encountered that!

The Darian Gap connects Central & South America but you can not drive through it—only place in the world I encountered that!

Traveling through the Panama City airport was a breeze—no baggage fees, no extra charges or hassles. It felt a little weird traveling without Torch. My golf bag weighed in at 10.35 kg and my roller bag was 20.40 kg. My backpack was fairly light. I shared a taxi to the airport with a nice American couple and asked them to take some of my golf books back to the States for me. She was for it and willing but he refused noting that they could be drugs! It was a “flat flight,” a total of 49 minutes at fairly low altitude and reminded me of one I was on between Oakland and San Francisco back in the corporate days.

The Darian Gap from above... I would like to return one day and drive through it!

The Darian Gap from above… I would like to return one day and drive through it!

Interesting enough we traveled low over the Darién Gap, a large swath of undeveloped swampland and forest. Consequently there is no road connection through the Darién Gap connecting North America with South America and it is the missing link of the Pan-American Highway. It was the main reason I was flying in the air to Colombia instead of traveling on the ground with Torch.

I thought it would be a good humanitarian story if I was able to drive through the Darién Gap which is reportedly subject to the presence and activities of the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has committed assassinations, kidnappings, and human rights violations during its decades-long insurgency against the Colombian government. I met President Andrés Pastrana Arango of Colombia at the La Reunion Resort in Guatemala. Since he negotiated with the FARC during his 1998-2002 presidency I was hoping he could support my Drive through the Darian Gap proposal but never heard back from him.

With Colombia's 30th President Andrés Pastrana Arango at Reunion Resort in Guatemala.

With Colombia’s 30th President Andrés Pastrana Arango at Reunion Resort in Guatemala.

Looking down over the Darian Gap, I also smiled when I thought back to meeting some NPR and CNN Espanol reporters at the Intercontinental in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I hadn’t realized that there was an election going on while I was there and then they told me there was a coup during the last one. They suggested I didn’t hang around to find out so I went out to Roatan and when I came back headed out of Dodge and went to Nicaragua.

What really made me laugh was when I told them about my Darian Gap idea. They thought I was crazy and I countered that they should write a story about the “Journey to Olympic Golf.” They said that they don’t do golf. Then I pressed that if something happened to me would they write something about it so my sons would know what happened. We went back and forth and finally they agreed that if something happened to me that they would at least submit something to their editors but no guarantee that it would be published.

My new friend & driver Roy waiting for me at the Cartagena Airport!

My new friend & driver Roy waiting for me at the Cartagena Airport!

I liked Columbia the minute I arrived. Karibana, the golf resort I would be visiting just outside the ancient walled city of Cartagena sent a driver to pick me up. It’s always a nice welcome when there is a person with a sign that has your name on it. The Karibana Resort is now officially part of the PGA TOUR TPC golf network as the TPC Cartagena at Karibana.  Joseph Mildenberg and his family is the name behind Karibana. Since March 2015, Karibana has hosted two Web.com tournaments won by Andrew Landry and Brad Fritsch.

Having lunch with Joseph Mildenburg and General Manager Carlos Abuchaibe upon arrival at Karibana!

Having lunch with Joseph Mildenburg and General Manager Carlos Abuchaibe upon arrival at Karibana!

Joseph and the Mildenberg family could not have been nicer to me during my stay at Karibana and later in the week in Bogota. Great people with a love for golf and a passion to make Karibana one of the top golfing destinations in the world. At the time there was no hotel on site so they hosted me next door at the quite nice Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo by Occidental Hotels and Resorts. The hotel on site at Karibana will be a five-star, 270-room hotel managed by Conrad, Hilton’s luxury brand and is scheduled to open soon. It will include a 1,000-person convention center, meeting rooms, restaurants, a pool, world-class spa, and rooftop bar.

The 17th at TPC Cartagena at Karibana! Absolutely stunning & beautiful!

The 17th at TPC Cartagena at Karibana! Absolutely stunning & beautiful!

The day continued to get better and climaxed with a round on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at the TPC Cartagena at Karibana. The pictures in the photo gallery below does not do the course justice. It is so beautiful—sculptured and confined with graceful yet edgy at times white sand bunkers. The first nine meanders through a natural forest with six lakes while the second nine seeks and eventually finds the Caribbean Sea. The short par-3 17th is spectacular with the massive thatched roof beach club beyond the green and the Caribbean edging into play as well.

Dinner at Andante Allegro Vivace and a walk around Cartagena with Joseph and Carlos to complete an extraordinary day!

Dinner at Andante Allegro Vivace and a walk around Cartagena with Joseph and Carlos to complete an extraordinary day!

Actually the best and most historic part of the day was an evening ride into the ancient walled city of Cartagena for dinner at Andante Allegro Vivace with Joseph and his General Manager Carlos Abuchaibe. Actually the best and most historic part of the day was an evening ride into the ancient walled city of Cartagena for dinner at Andante Allegro Vivace with Joseph and his General Manager Carlos Abuchaibe. After a fine Italian dinner we walked around the streets of the designated UNESCO World Heritage Site which was founded in 1533.

My first day on the continent of South America could not have been better or more memorable!

Please enjoy the gallery of 47 pictures from throughout JTOG Day 60 and the 58 pictures in the second gallery from playing my first round at TPC Cartagena at Karibana with Joseph Mildenburg!

The 58 pictures from playing my first round at TPC Cartagena at Karibana with Joseph Mildenburg!

JTOG: The Spirit of Olympic Golf, Born Again, Rio 2016…

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The Olympic Rings are at home at Glen Echo CC and so was I!

The Olympic Rings are at home at Glen Echo CC and so was I!

I am back in St. Louis at the Union Station Hotel and Glen Echo CC, host to the 1904 World’s Fair and the Summer Olympics, on August 5th, 2015, exactly one year from the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Summer and Golf Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Nearly two years ago I came here with my knickers and hickory-shafted golf clubs to officially kick off the ‘Journey to Olympic Golf,’ a 100-day, 14-country, 18,471-mile odyssey from the 1904 Olympic Golf in St. Louis to the new Olympic Golf Course in Rio that will host Olympic Golf for the first time in 112 years.

Torch and I were ready for the "Journey to Olympic Golf" after a great farewell at TPC Sawgrass.

Torch and I were ready for the “Journey to Olympic Golf” after a great farewell at TPC Sawgrass.

Why?

Because the idea came to me as a creative journey to try to define something abstract and elusive as a feeling or an emotion, what defines the ‘Spirit of Olympic Golf,’ something that has not been experienced for 112 years.

How best to get to this new understanding?

Visit Olympic Cities—Atlanta, St. Louis and Mexico City along the way to the newest Olympic City of Rio to extract the spirit of the Olympics. Combine that with the history and tradition of golf, enhanced by first hand playing and investigative experience in those 14 countries along the way, to arrive at a new fundamental  definition of the ‘Spirit of Olympic Golf.’

Nearly two years into this quest, now with only one year remaining before that spirit will be experienced by 60 female and 60 male Golf Olympians from around the world, I am closer, but not yet there to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper.

The beautiful 15th at Glen Echo CC was pivotal in George Lyons' Olympic Golf triumph.

The beautiful 15th at Glen Echo CC was pivotal in George Lyons’ Olympic Golf triumph.

After reflecting back I point to the following three experiences of this “golf voyager and documentarian.”

The first experience to reference would be walking the fairways of Glen Echo CC, which are virtually the same as when the club hosted Olympic Golf in 1904. Only 75 golfers from two nations (3 from Canada & 72 from the United States) competed in a 36-hole stroke play qualifier with 32 golfers advancing to the 36-hole match play competition. Only one Canadian qualified for match play and he went on to win the Individual Men’s Gold Medal—George Lyon.

Mike Hulbert tapping his heart to indicate what the "Olympic Spirit of Golf" means to him.

Mike Hulbert tapping his heart to indicate what the “Olympic Spirit of Golf” means to him.

The second contributory experience was from this (CLICK HERE) highlighted video interview with Champions Tour player Mike Hulbert. While many can and will argue that Olympic Golf is no more and probably much less than playing for one’s country in the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup, or even winning a Major Championship or THE PLAYERS Championship or a World Golf Championship (WGC) or a historically equivalent world-wide competition like the World Cup, I think Mike tapping his chest in a simple and genuine heartfelt gesture says it may be a whole lot more. One could start with the fact that 10,500 athletes from 205 countries will compete in the 2016 Olympics. Olympic Golf is different with an all-inclusive, world-wide, human spirit of which golf will only be a small contributing part. The ‘Olympic Spirit of Golf,’ I sense, is something bigger than golf and will define golf in a new and healthy way.

Suzanne Yost McCourt's artwork 'Journey to Olympic Golf.'

Suzanne Yost McCourt’s artwork ‘Journey to Olympic Golf.’

The third contributing experience has to be the artwork of Pebble Beach artist Suzanne Yost McCourt. Golf is in her genes as her father was a top-rank amateur from the Northwest that competed in the Masters at Augusta National and many Crosby’s on the Monterrey Peninsula. Only through the discovery of his golfing memorabilia long after his death was the ember of a golfing spirit reignited in her being that focused and transfixed her artistic genius to the game of golf. One example of what the ‘little girl in the red dress’ produced is this piece of artwork entitled ‘The Journey to Olympic Golf.’

Her neo-realism technique of art and documentation captured the essence of the 100-day, 14-couintry, 18,471-mile journey to Rio following the creative spirit through Olympic cities and around golf courses along the way. A sense of rediscovery, personal, sport and world-wide impactful is captured in the transformation of the hickory golfer to the modern golfer as the Olympic golf ball is teed up and swooshes from St. Louis to Rio. McCourt’s creation captures the essence of how far the game of golf has come in the last un-Olympic 112 years.

There is more to come. That Olympic golf ball is teed up and ready to soar on the Gil Hanse-Amy Alcott and around the world in one year when the first Olympic Golfer swings at it. Who knows what the impact on the game of golf will be?

In reality, these three contributions—the history and experience of Olympic Golf at Glen Echo CC, Mike Hulbert’s heartfelt gesture, and Suzanne Yost McCourt‘s artwork—capture the essence of the Olympics beyond the sports competition. This sentiment was well voiced by Paulina De Labra in this (CLICK HERE) highlighted Video Interview in Mexico City—any sport in the Olympics is as much about cultural and everyone that makes up our world community as it is about the sport. As Paulina says, “We are all only one kind of beings- human beings, defined by friendship and respect (of each other’s cultures). We are all the same with the right to create and to develop our dreams.”

Let’s dream, let’s let the ‘Spirit of Olympic Golf’ be born again. Let the Games of the XXXI Olympiad begin, in a year from now… and the ‘Spirit of Olympic Golf’ will materialize for sure!

Paulina De Labra articulated well in Mexcio City the spirit of the Olympics beyond the sports competitions.

Paulina De Labra articulated well in Mexcio City the spirit of the Olympics beyond the sports competitions.

With Suzanne Yost McCourt at the 2013 World Golf Hall of Fame Induction with her artwork of Inductee Ken Venturi.

With Suzanne Yost McCourt at the 2013 World Golf Hall of Fame Induction with her artwork of Inductee Ken Venturi.

Hickory golfers, including George Lyons, depicted in Suzanne Yost McCourt's artwork.

Hickory golfers, including George Lyons, depicted in Suzanne Yost McCourt’s artwork.

Looking for 100 New Friends in 100 Days…

PLEASE click here to make a donation to The First Tee.

Our journey in life is just that a living odyssey that changes from year-to-year, or even sometimes day-to-day. I am on a quest to raise $100,000 for The First Tee because I believe The First Tee organization best represents what the game of golf has meant to me and given to me in my life.

My older brother L.P. gave me the Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons book when I was 12 years old and inscribe it as follows: “Golf is a lot like life, the more you learn and understand about it, the easier it is to meet its challenge.” From that day on golf and life was different for me. Not only did I learn how to play golf better from reading that book, I learned that life is all about inspiration and doing your best no matter what.

I am looking for 100 new friends in the next 100 days to make a $100 donation (or any amount that you are able to make) to The First Tee. Each day I will be reliving the original “Journey to Olympic Golf” and hope to find a new friend in golf. Is that you? Please join me in giving back to the game we all love.

CLICK here to make a donation to The First Tee.

Please select ‘Andy Reistetter’s Journey to Olympic Golf’ on the drop-down menu for the question ‘What inspired you to make a gift today? This is for tracking purposes only, Andy does not receive any part of your donation or anything financially from The First Tee organization.

PLEASE click here to make a donation to The First Tee.

Thank You!

 

 

Olympic Golf Course Update: 12/3/14 (612 Days to Opening Ceremony)

Rio Olympic golf course progress update (video)

NBC Sports’ Nick Zaccardi posted an update on their ‘NBC Olympic Talk’ (Dec 1, 2014, 2:20 PM EST) with some video of Geoff Shackleford on “Morning Drive.”

YES, grass is growing and hopefully all legal disputes are behind us! Let the grass grow baby! It is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, good grass growing time and there is one more Spring time between now and the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio! Only 612 days to go! I can’t wait to find out what test event will be staged there this time next  year! I hope to take Gil Hanse up on his offer to return to Rio and play the new Olympic Golf Course!

I visited the Olympic Golf Course when it was still a sandbox on January 17th, 2014, albeit a well-designed one with a stunning championship golf course within the confines of the ocean and the main Avenida das Américas street in the Barra-Da-Tijuca. I met golf course architect Gil Hanse and his team of what I referred to as his ‘Merry Men’—Neil Cameron (from Scotland), Kyle Franz (from Albany, Oregon) and Ben Hillard (from Australia).

I remember them telling me that Ben Hillard was from the Sandbelt area of Melbourne and hearing comments that the new Olympic Golf Course would be similar to the great Sandbelt golf courses of Australia. Little did I know that, now nine months later, I have played four of the eight ‘Sandbelt Melbourne Classic Golf’ courses—Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Victoria and Metropolitan on the ‘Golf Journey to Australia.’

All I can say is I think the grass will grow, Gil’s design will come to a competitive and beautiful fruition, there will be tweaks from the text event and on August 5th, 2016 there will be golfers in the Opening Ceremony for the first time in 112 years.

Nobody living in this world (except junior golfers who played in the Youth Olympic Games held in Nanjing, China this past August) has played Olympic Golf. I am curious to learn what the ‘Olympic Spirit of Golf; is and how it will manifest itself in Rio in 2016, hence these Journeys to seek out more history and tradition of golf and learn more about the Olympic Spirit by visiting Olympic Cities (so far Atlanta 1996, Mexico City 1968, Rio 2016, Sydney 2000 and Melbourne 1956).

Grass is growing in Rio on the OGC, life is good, 612 days until Golf returns to the Olympics with a unique Spirit for sure!

Here are photographs from my time in the Sandbox to compare to those in the video:

With Gil Hanse on the OGC. Water hazard that comes into play on Nos. 2,3 & 5 in background.

With Gil Hanse on the OGC. Water hazard that comes into play on Nos. 2,3 & 5 in background.

Mounding around the first green on the Olympic Golf Course.

Mounding around the first green on the Olympic Golf Course.

With Kyle Franz (C) and Ben Hillard (R) on the new Olympic Golf Course in January 2014.

With Kyle Franz (C) and Ben Hillard (R) on the new Olympic Golf Course in January 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More details from the Nick Zaccardi post from ‘NBC Olympic Talk’ on NBCSportss.com:

Rio Olympic golf course construction is progressing with all but two of the fairways sprigged and grassed, course architect Gil Hanse said, according to Golf Channel’s Geoff Shackleford.

“It does seem likely that the course is now going to be finished,” Shackleford said on “Morning Drive.” “I’m going to say that very carefully.”

The course for the first Olympic golf tournaments since 1904 has seen delays, pushing back a planned Olympic test event tournament from one year before the Games to late 2015 or early 2016.

The course has the right amount of elevation change and will look amazing because it’s in the heart of the city, Shackleford said.

“Hopefully, by the time we get to the Olympics, it will all be forgotten, and the golf course will be the great golf course and test I think Gil is capable of producing,” he said.

Olivia Mehaffey to Play Youth Olympic Golf for Ireland

Olivia Mehaffey with her caddie in Morroco.

Olivia Mehaffey with her caddie in Morroco.

Rory McIlroy announced on June 18th that he will play for Ireland, not Great Britain, in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. But he won’t be the first to play Olympic Golf for Ireland, Olivia Mehaffey will as she tees it up in the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China in August.

Mehaffey set to break new ground in China.

Olivia Mehaffey will make history in China later this year as Ireland’s first female golfer at the Summer Youth Olympic Games.

The sport will make its debut in Nanjing during the August 16-28 tournament – the second Summer Youth Olympic Games – with the Scarva teenager selected thanks to Order of Merit rankings success.

The 16-year-old member of Tandragee Golf Club will compete across 54 holes in the singles then team up with Ireland’s male player for the team event. The overall entry field for Zhongshan International Golf Club is set at 64 players from 32 nations.

“It is such a wonderful honour and I am so excited,” she said. “We will spend some time first in Hong Kong to try and acclimatise then it is down to the real work in China.

“I also feel so proud to be the first female player to represent Ireland in golf.”

Mehaffey has domestic tournaments planned alongside events in Estonia and Slovenia as part of preparations for the China showpiece.

Photograph of Olivia Mehaffey with her appointed caddy in Morocco during the 16-year-old’s Ladies’ European Tour debut. The Scarva teenager will head off to China later this year for the Summer Youth Olympic Games.

Story & Photograph Courtesy of the Portadown Times. Portadown is a town in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.