Throughout the TOUR Championship, a team of student correspondents from Drew Charter School are providing their perspectives on the week. This piece is written by Asher McGee, an honors student and senior at Drew Charter School who is an all-region basketball player with hopes of playing at the collegiate level.
By Asher McGee
Few are given the opportunity that I was given, and even fewer get to meet arguably two of the greatest golfers of all time. On Wednesday, I got to meet Tiger Woods, and today, while walking through the parking lot, I ran into Phil Mickelson and got to talk to him a little bit. I find it funny because I mentioned in my last article that the two golfers that I heard about most growing up were Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson… I met both of them in one week.
The reason I was walking through the parking lot was I because I was on my way to go interview Chad Parker, the CEO of the East Lake Golf Club, and just so happened to see Phil getting out of his car and got to meet him. What stood out to me about him was that he asked me more questions than I asked him, which was kind of shocking because I thought I was supposed to be the one asking the questions. He seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say.
After speaking with Phil for a little bit and (of course taking pictures), we continued walking towards the East Lake Clubhouse to talk to Chad. As I entered the clubhouse, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of history in the room. I had to wait a couple minutes to interview Chad so I decided I would walk around the room and look at some of the history of the Club and historic golfer Bobby Jones. I was able to see items I only hear about on TV like the Ryder Cup trophy, as well the U.S. and British Open trophies among other things.
When I got to interview Chad in his office, I felt the need to do my best Anderson Cooper impression because he was obviously a busy man. When I was aware that he had been a part of the East Lake community for more than 20 years, I felt inclined to ask him about his perspective of the transformation of the community.
Being a Drew Charter student, I already have a little bit of information about how Drew started and what schools around here were like before Drew was here. I sometimes get to ask my teachers and administrators what the community used to be like. In his response, Chad described how when he first got involved they were still moving stuff around, but when the school got started he tutored students with the H.O.S.T.S program (which means Help One Student To Succeed). I got to ask him about how he thinks golf has impacted the community, specifically the school.
I informed him that our high school golf team has had a lot of success and a big part of that has come from the relationship that golf has always had with the school. To put it in his words, golf has been an “integral” part of the community and has been a part of it before the First Tee even came along. That conversation alone made me realize how big and complex Drew’s resources are. My school and community are unique in the fact that we have such a tremendous support system that allows me to do things like interview the CEO of the East Lake Golf Club, chat with Tiger Woods and bump into Phil Mickelson.
It gives me a feeling that I’m a part of something bigger than myself.
After sitting down and talking to Chad, I made my way back to the media center to go interview NBC reporter Jimmy Roberts. Like Chad, he was extremely busy. That’s one thing that I have noticed during my time at the TOUR Championship – here, whether you’re a reporter, golfer, or CEO, time is money and it’s not to be wasted.
After waiting a couple minutes, Jimmy Roberts came over to me and asked if I would like to ask him a couple questions, and of course I said yes! So, Jimmy and I went outside to find somewhere quiet where we could talk. I was impressed when he pointed out his own personal golf cart and said we could talk over there.
Jimmy Roberts may be one of the most genuine people I have met in my time at the TOUR Championship. He asked even more questions than Phil Mickelson, and before I got to even ask him a question, we talked for about five minutes about real stuff.
One thing about me, I can for the most part tell when someone is being real with me or not. While we were talking, not only did he ask me about my life, he told me about his. He talked about his youngest son and how he was an aspiring high school point guard. I appreciated that because he made me feel like he cared about me. Keep in mind, this was all before I actually interviewed him.
When I started asking him questions, the first thing I wanted to know was how he felt when interviewing big celebrities and athletes such as Tiger Woods. He responded by saying that he’s been doing this for a long time. He’s interviewed presidents and politicians and the more he’s talked to figures of that caliber, he’s become less starstruck. As I look back at it, he had a similar sense of calmness and confidence that Tiger Woods had in his press conference.
The next question that I would ask him would of course be about East Lake. I was curious to see what he thought about the major changes that have occurred in East Lake. The first thing that he did was compliment Tom Cousins. The way that he spoke about him, it was clear to me that he had a lot of respect for what Tom Cousins did. He even went as far to say that Tom Cousins may have been one of the best men he’s ever met. That’s high praise. Jimmy has met and interviewed some of the most influential and powerful people the world has ever seen.
After wrapping up the interview, shaking his hand, thanking him, and taking a picture, I began to walk up the stairs, and he asked me a few more questions.
“Hey Asher, how tall are you?”
I responded, “Six-foot-four and a half.”
This led to us talking about my basketball career, among other things. To say the least, I really appreciated him spending this time with me.
The people that I’ve met here at the TOUR Championship have been some of the nicest people I’ve met in my life, not to mention some of them are famous.
The totality of this experience has not only allowed me to get a closer look at the TOUR Championship, but it has also led to me doing some self-reflection. I now have the sense that I’m a part of something bigger than myself, and I have allies and mentors that I have yet to meet. Whether it’s Phil Mickelson, Catherine Woodling, or Danny Shoy, I’m very appreciative of all the people that I’ve met this week and hopefully I can return to the TOUR Championship sometime in the future.