Andy Reistetter Goes Back to College, Picking Up a Check for The First Tee!

The Hobart & William Smith Colleges were established in 1852 but its history goes back to 1817 with the Geneva Academy.

The Hobart & William Smith Colleges were established in 1852 but its history goes back to 1817 with the Geneva Academy. Photo Credit: H&WS via Google Images

First of all I want to thank Hobart and William Smith Colleges for their generous $750 donation to The First Tee on behalf of the ‘Journey to Olympic Golf.‘ Special thanks to Dean of Studies Rocco L. “Chip” Capraro who took an interest in the ‘Journey to Olympic Golf,‘ orchestrated this visit and thereby has helped me along the road to raising $100,000 for The First Tee organization that will ultimately benefit youth all around the world.

Secondly, to be named the John Henry Hobart Fellow in Residence and have the opportunity to visit campus, attend classes and interact with the students and faculty is a great honor and privilege. This is a dream come true for this self admitted inspiration seeker, voyageur and documentarian in golf and life. What an opportunity to learn from and exchange ideas with our world’s newest adult generation. I think it will be as inspirational as the autumn colors I will see for the first time in many years.

Why me, what do I have to share with these young folks?

Not really sure but I suspect it will be the inspiration in life from family, friends and people I have met along the way.

The beautiful and historic Hobart & William Smith Colleges overlooks Seneca Lake, one of Central New York's Finger Lakes.

The beautiful and historic Hobart & William Smith Colleges overlooks Seneca Lake, one of Central New York’s Finger Lakes. Photo Credit: H&WS via Google Images.

Contemplating these three shares…

1.  If you are inspired in life to do something just get started and the rest will take care of itself. If not it was not true inspiration or you did not prepare well enough, work hard enough or ask for help when you needed it. The ‘Journey to Olympic Golf” was a simple inspiration to combine the Olympic Spirit with the history and tradition of the game of golf to define “The Olympic Spirit of Golf,” something no one has experienced in 112 years. That inspiration turned into a 100-day, 14-country, 18,471-mile odyssey down through Mexico, Central and South America to the new Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Along the way, by pure luck and good fortune I met Paulina De Labra at the Fountain of Cibeles in Mexico City. Click here for the article and the video and let me know if, after reading, hearing and seeing Paulina, you have a different impression of the Olympics and what it means to be a human being.

2. Get out and see the world but more importantly interact with people that are different than you (and everyone is different). One of the most rewarding times on the ‘Journey to Olympic Golf‘ was pulling over in rural Guatemala and saying hello to a bunch of kids with a soccer ball. How they reacted to the golf club and balls I put in their hands gave me a new understanding of the joy possible within a game I have loved my whole life through. Click here for the article and don’t miss the soccer kids video.

3. I still haven’t arrived at my ultimate purpose in life, maybe you can help me figure it out a bit more during my campus visit. I am struck by the fact that when standing in a room my mind goes to the corners of the ceiling knowing that I know their precise location yet beyond that room we really have no idea how far space extends or how it could ever end. I am also struck by the fact that a day in my life is passing by all too fast and sooner than later I will be saying the same thing about my lifetime.

Somehow I think my ultimate purpose in life surprisingly has little to do with trying to explore a universe in a lifetime but more to do with exploring, accepting, loving and being compassionate to myself as a human being first and then every other human being I meet along the way. There is no doubt in my mind that liberal arts students with semesters abroad and worldwide internships and friendships are the key. When you wake up in the morning do you think of yourself as a citizen of the world? You and old folks like me that are apparently acting like children again are, in my opinion, the most lasting and meaningful way to making our world a better place. An easier place to find peace, joy and freedom, both within ourselves and outside ourselves in this world we all call home.

Thanks for having me to your home and thanks for the generous donation to The First Tee organization.

By the way if you, maybe after you land that dream job and have your student loans paid off, or your parents would like to make a donation to The First Tee click here for the link to do so! 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. I do not receive anything whatsoever from The First Tee.

I am willing to do most anything!

PS- here is what I submitted to Dean Capraro when I first learned of being considered for this opportunity:

Andy’s Personal Statement:

“While I am simultaneously flattered and humbled to be even faintly considered to be a candidate for this award, please think of your decision in terms of the inspiring charity—The First Tee—that will be my designated charity should I be named this year’s Hobart Fellow.

Since its inception in 1997, the First Tee organization has impacted more than 10 million young people:  in 2012 FT announced a new goal to reach another 10 million by 2017.

I myself grew up in a “First Tee-like,” environment before there was such an organization and without realizing how much it shaped my life and who I am today. Growing up in Binghamton, New York I was fortunate to benefit from great parents– interested and interesting parents, caring and constructive coaches, and the par-3 golf course up at Ely Park Municipal Golf Course that encouraged junior golfers to give golf a go.  The First Tee extends similar opportunities to much less fortunate children across the nation.

While I was educated at a large public institution (SUNY Buffalo, BS Chemical Engineering, 1981), I acquired an independent liberal arts and mindful perspective through my MBA at Pepperdine University and my son’s education at Beloit College. “Freely Ye Receive, Freely Ye Give,” was Pepperdine’s motto.  I believe the mind and the whole person educated and experienced at Hobart and William Smith and schools like it is a beautiful thing.

If given the opportunity, here are some thoughts that come to my mind while envisioning myself immersed in your campus life for a few days and engaging your students both inside and outside the classroom:

I think of the beauty of the campus and its people, the vibrant atmosphere of students walking from class to class learning about the world and themselves. I like to walk eastward and sit on one of those benches overlooking Seneca Lake and take in the view and feel its beauty.

I wonder what Hobart and William Smith students are like today, what is on their minds and what is in their hearts. They have grown up in a different world than me. From my son’s Beloit College 2019 Mindset List, two things I know about college freshmen: Since they have been on the planet, Google has always been there, in its founding words, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible” and the announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents. I know my son’s liberal arts education has made me think differently. I wonder how today’s Hobart and William Smith students will change the world tomorrow.

I hope to share with them in some small way how much my parents inspired me by their hard work and open mindedness that through education their children could become better people with better lives, not just bigger homes than themselves. My parents gave more than they received in life. What more can we ask of any human being?

I hope to share in some small way how much I love life and the game of golf. I see them as intermingled from the day when I was 12 and my older brother gave me the Ben Hogan Five Modern Lessons book and inscribed it “To my brother Andy, Golf is a lot like life, the more you understand and learn about it, the easier it is to meet its challenges.” Boy has that perspective has helped me a lot both on the golf course and in life.

I hope to share in some small way how my life transitioned from success in Corporate America to pursuing my passion for golf and life. A producer at the Golf Channel called me “a golf voyager and documentarian” while I call myself an “inspiration seeker.” If my process is to always learn, be open-minded and to seek inspiration then my life outcomes will surely take care of themselves.

As I hope to share these things with Hobart and William Smith students I will look at their faces and into their eyes to connect with them and see if they are connecting with me. Have I shared too much, have I paused to give them time to express themselves? I don’t learn much when I am talking. I hope to listen a great deal too and learn, if given the opportunity, how this experience will impact my life.

Finally, I hope to share in some small way how much I feel that I am a citizen of the world when I wake up in the morning. Yes I am American and patriotic and thankful to be a citizen of the freest nation in the world and proud of it. But having spent six months recently traveling through Mexico, Central & South America, Australia and New Zealand and previously in Europe, I feel different now about life, the world and who I am. As Paula De Labra shared in Mexico City—“in the world we are only one kind of humans, we are human beings, all the same with the right to create, to be friends and to develop our dreams.”

If awarded, being the Hobart and William Smith John Henry Hobart Fellow in Residence, to benefit The First Tee, would be one of those dreams coming true for me.

Andy Reistetter