Sunday, August 18, 2013

Goodbye to a Great Man

Seldom have I met a person I connected with as quickly as I did with Frank "Buddy" Seeling.  Maybe it was because he played football at Tulane and I coached college football 21 years. That gave us an initial common ground for communication. Those early conversations only opened the door to much deeper and meaningful sharing of thoughts and beliefs.

Early on I joked with Buddy about how he out-punted his coverage when he married Angele. Tragically we lost Buddy yesterday in a motorcycle accident in New Mexico. Buddy and Angele were pushed into a guard rail by a semi-truck while vacationing with friends. Angele had surgery yesterday and hopefully will be returning to New Orleans Monday. They were such a special couple! Our prayers are constantly being lifted up for Angele and the four children, Buster, Michael, Catherine, and Christopher.

What are the traits of a great man?  If it is to be a man of faith, Buddy was a great man.  If it is to be a  great husband, I certainly believe he was that.  If being a wonderful and loving Father, my conversations with Buddy indicated the depth of love he had for his children.

Sometimes the world judges people in a different way.  He was a great man in that way as well. He loved New Orleans!  He graduated from Archbishop Rummel High School.  Buddy then stayed home and went to Tulane on a football scholarship. He has had a successful business there.  He became very civic minded.

When I met Buddy it was at the home of Billy McGriff in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  Billy was hosting a party at The Player's Championship. He was president of the company that I negotiated Ben Crane's Zurich contract with.  Buddy was there as Chairman of the Fore!Kids Foundation which is the backbone of the @Zurich_Classic of New Orleans. My good friend, Dick Kearns of Zurich introduced us.  We had more fun laughing and talking.

One of the highlights of going to the Zurich Classic since then has been spending time with Buddy and Angele. The Fore!Kids Foundation continued to be a big part of Buddy and Angele's life even though he was no longer Chairman of the Board. We saw them at all of the functions and sneaked in quality time.

One important mention of the Fore!Kids Foundation.  It has raised over $23 million providing healthcare, education, and hope for over 200,000 kids each year. It is 100% for kids!

Several years ago Buddy headed a search committee charged with finding the person to run the Zurich Classic of NewOrleans. He hit a home run for the city of New Orleans. He persuaded one the most gifted and experience people in this country to come home to Ne Orleans. Steve Worthy was not only a native but went to LSU. He swallowed his Tulane pride and hired the best man. Steve had been running the highly successful AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am after doing the same thing at Jack Nicklaus Memorial Tournament.  Steve had also had great success with the USGA and deeply involved with the U.S. Open and most ventures sponsored by the USGA.

Buddy's smile was contagious, his warmth and genuineness were obvious, his love of family, city and country was proven.  You will be missed Buddy!

When Frank, "Buddy" arrived at the gates of heaven yesterday I believe he was greeted with, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Thursday, August 8, 2013

College Football vs Professional Golf

Most sports fanatics have a favorite sport. Managing Golfers for almost as long, 19 years, as I coached college football, 21 years, has given me quite a perspective to compare these two high profile sports. I have been blessed to be inside the arena and inside the ropes of the oblong ball and the dimpled ball.

What lessons have I learned?

There are many differences in the two sports. Football is a team sport. Professional golf is an individual sport. The fan support is more rabid in football. One can hardly hear the person next to you in huge football stadiums during the heat of the game. The quietness while a golfer is hitting or putting can be as quiet as grass growing. Football is brutal. Golf is a gentlemen's game. Football players run, tackle, throw, catch, block, lift heavy weights, and have every minute of every practice planned by coaches. There is no wasted time or movement. Golfers drive, hit irons chip, putt, lift lighter weights and basically make their own practice plans. They do have input from coaches and others about how to practice but it is still usually up to them. Football season is seasonal. Golf season is year-round. Successful football careers are much shorter than successful PGA Tour careers.

Football players at the intercollegiate level and professional Golfers both work and train all 12 months. It is well known how hard football players work. It is not well known how hard Golfers work. Contrary to popular belief, the life of a PGA Tour golfer is tough. The popular train of thought is, "PGA Tour Golfers show up, warm up, putt a little and play 18 holes of golf, period!" That thought falls so short of what these Golfers days are like. Early tee times call for rising between 4:00 and 5:00, departing for the course, stretching with trainer, eating, putting, going to range then back to putting green ( an hour and 10 minutes or so) before teeing off. The 18 holes on Thursday and Friday are usually about 5 hours. Lunch follows before going back to range and/or putting green for more work. These can often be 10-12 hour days. Weeks they are not on tour many times are even tougher. They work hard!

I miss the relationships you develop with your players as a football coach. My clients ( Golfers) as I manage their careers often become like family. That is always my goal. There are just fewer relationships in golf than in football when you coach more players.

My years in college football I ran across many intentional rules violations. This was the toughest part of college athletics for me. Golfers call rules violations on themselves. Where else does that happen? I genuinely love the honor and integrity that is at the very fabric of golf.

Finally, My 19 years in golf at this level has convinced me Golfers know less how to practice than any other professional athlete I am aware of. This is simply through observation. There are exceptions to this thought. Those who truly know how to practice generally have the most success.