Empowering deserving military families with educational support and opportunities.
The date was set back in March for the first ever FootJoy Ambassador Invitational: a time for 20 of our most loyal and passionate community members to meet their fellow FJ Ambassadors and to play golf at the storied Medinah Country Club. The 20 lucky Ambassadors came from all walks of life. Some were executives, some were students, and some were retired golf enthusiasts. Likewise, their ages crossed a wide spectrum, with 50 years separating the youngest from the "most experienced." They were from 14 different states across the country with several traveling over 1000 miles to attend. Ability levels ranged from having experience in professional events to missing the cut at a local club championship and weekend warriors. Despite all the differences, the common bond was forged through golf and a passion for FootJoy. While all the participants were familiar with each other's personalities and nuances from their countless discussion on the Community, the Ambassadors and FJ Staffers had never actually met in person. What would ensue, however, looked like long lost friends catching up after years apart. The camaraderie and admiration they shared for one another gave way to playful ribbing about the round at Medinah the next day. As FJ Ambassador, Mike Mondalek perfectly stated, "a group of 20 who never met before got together and, with barely an introduction to each other, acted as if we had been friends for many years. Golf was just a side note." This was the attitude of many of the Ambassadors - an opportunity to kick back and enjoy a good time amongst friends who just happen to be playing at Medinah CC the next day. As the night quickly vanished and turned to blue skies, it became time for the Ambassadors to lace up their FJ's and head to the course. As the host of the 2012 Ryder Cup matches, Medinah Country Club was the ideal destination to stage a similar match amongst the Ambassadors. Team ICON, clad in blue ProDry Pique shirts and captained by Chris Garrett teed off against Team DryJoys, wearing red shirts and led by Devin Gmitter. The front nine consisted of fourball matches and the back of individual match play with pairings announced on the bus to the course. Pleasantries aside, you could feel the competitive spirit of the participants start to take over. Arriving at the course, every Ambassador was a member for the day, walking the hallowed grounds of one of the finest courses this country has to offer. Some chose to warm up on the famous putting green in front of the majestic clubhouse; others headed to the range to shake off those first tee jitters; some chose to relax in the clubhouse, catch up on the Texas/Oklahoma score and soak in the ambiance. Leading off the event, from Team ICON, was 73-year-old "Dogloski" (Doug Skinner) who calmly placed his tee in the ground and striped one right up the middle like he has done many times before. Fades, draws, slices, and hooks were all present on the first tee but there were no egos here just a group of golfers ready to enjoy their round...and a lot of great looking golf shoes! As the rounds progressed, margins widened, others tightened but no one lost sight of the fact that this was more about meeting fellow ambassadors and being in the moment then playing their absolute best golf. The golf course was in immaculate condition allowing each player to feel like they were in the Ryder Cup themselves, albeit playing the course several hundred yards shorter then the professionals. It's rolling fairways, strategically place bunkers and slick greens made the course a joy for everyone to play and a place that no ambassador will ever forget. The par-3's provided some of the finest views on the course with three of the four playing over water from Lake Kadijah. Crossing the four bridges at holes 2, 13, 14 and 17 you realize most of the world's greatest players have walked the same path. It was one of these breathtaking par three's that delivered the shot of the weekend from the final group of the afternoon. Ironically, however, it was the only par three on the course that did not feature a carry over water - the 165 yard 8th hole. Following consultation with their caddy, Chris, who estimated the hole playing at 195 yards, "OUTIGER" (Tim Tiger) and Chris Garrett both hit laser like iron shots directly at the tucked pin, hidden by the late afternoon shadows; each thinking it could have been the absolute perfect shot that only happens to the most skilled, or luckiest, golfers. Chris felt his shot was maybe a bit long while "OUTIGER" thought his was just short. As the group approached the green, they could see only one ball near the pin, about 10 feet beyond. The excitement escalated as they all realized one must have gone in. It was the caddy who reached the hole first, having jumped from the cart and sprinted to the hole, and alerted the group, and several groups within ear shot, that someone had just recorded an ace. Chris approached next, admittedly shaking with the potential of what may have just happened. Before he could confirm which ball was in the hole, "OUTIGER" was already cheering, realizing his shot rolled out and found a home in the bottom of the cup. Sure enough, Tim's Titleist Pro V1x #1 sat nestled in the hole for his first career hole in one! A perfect shot on a perfect day at one of the most famous golf courses in the world. News quickly spread ahead to the other groups who celebrated Tim's accomplishment all afternoon and in to the evening. Tim's euphoria was only escalated as he found out his Oklahoma Sooners had throttled the Texas Longhorns, 55-17, in the Red River Rivalry. After the final group putted out in darkness on #18, it was time to leave Medinah and head to a banquet dinner where we would tally scores and toast the contributions everyone has made to the weekend and the FJ Community. "OUTIGER" made voting for the shot of the day obsolete with his ace while "GoHokies" (Bobby Swain) shot the round of the day with a 76. "19hole" (Rick Ericson) hit the most interesting shot with a back hand wedge off the wall in front of the 17th green. Users like "TarHeel" (Randy Voss) were recognized for their expedited response to questions on the community while "Dogloski" was awarded for traveling the furthest distance to attend. "EMKelly0106" (Eric Kelly) was toasted as the community member with the most points and for participating in the event as official photographer since he could not compete due to a recent surgery. Fittingly, the matches ended in a tie. After mulling it over for a few moments, even the most competitive Ambassadors found this a fitting way for the day to conclude, every ambassador with an equal footing on a level playing field. Finally, on Sunday morning, the group of Ambassadors was given a sneak peek at some of the latest innovations from FootJoy, including products that will be launched in 2012 and beyond. The FJ Ambassadors are a special group. They are passionate, knowledgeable, insightful, caring and friendly. They take pride in the Community and in the contributions they've made in elevating this site within the industry. Join the conversation. Meet the FJ Ambassadors. They will welcome you with open arms.
Devin, not only got the golf game but has skills on the keyboard as well. Great job well written.
It was wonderful to be your playing pardner.
Wow. This montage of memories makes the whole event seem even more inspiring and fabulous. Reading through the words and looking at each picture brought back a flood of memories from the weekend.
Truth be told, each of the experiences was far greater for me, and this was truly one of the moments that will go down as something I will always treasure. It wasn't just the golf or being at Medinah. It was meeting friends face to face in an environment that was made possible by the generosity of FootJoy.
It gives new meaning to phrases like "Number 1 In...."
Great write-up. Great pics. Looks like everyone had a grand time. Hope to be in on the next go-round.
It was an amazing trip. I enjoyed ALL 6600 yards of my round. But the real question readers want to know is which team won beer pong in "Holley Suite" Friday night. Unfortunately, I "forgot" to keep score. :)
Thanks to Chris, Devon & all the FJ staff that helped with the trip and also to the members of Medinah for letting us enjoy a little "Ryder Spirit!"
What a well written piece summarizing this great experience...I still can't believe it has come and gone already but definitely recognize and appreciate what FJ did for us.
I'll confess... I just re-read that article. That hole in one story just doesn't get old. What an amazing event.
Nice update with the video - thank you for another way to relive the experience. I still can't express enough gratitude for the opportunity.
The addition of the video is a nice touch. again thanks for the opportunity to attend.
WOW,DEVIN. THE VIDEO MAKES A GREAT PIECE EVEN BETTER.
THANKS AGAIN TO THE FOOTJOY ORGANIZATION.
Love it!!!! Honored to be a part of the event, and the memories will never be forgotten!
New member here. Just wanted to say how impressive this trip must have been. Let's hope this achieves annual status in the future.
The video helps capture what a beautiful setting it really was and what an exceptional event....
Of course now there is a permanent record..... So it didn't really "stay in Chicago".....
Outstanding review of the weekend and the pics were great. I enjoyed seeing the course and all those who participated in the event.
Congratulations to everyone selected! It is a unique situation this day in age for a company to treat their loyal supporters the way FJ takes care of their own.