Letter From the Executive Director: Chasing the Greats

A lot of people don’t get the appeal of golf. Even—shockingly—some members of my immediate family. But it has always been my thing. That’s why a nearly 5,000-word article on the now 100-year-old Texas Open, and the Longhorn legends who made history there, is like manna from heaven. Head here to read “Out of the Rough” by UT journalism professor Kevin Robbins.   

What is it about golf? Is it the scenery? The beer carts? Yes, and yes. But for me, it’s also the memories that have punctuated my entire life. I spent my formative years playing with my dad. We hit balls at the driving range when I was just 7 years old. Just me and him; no brothers and sisters. If we played an actual round, he had a rule that it couldn’t last any longer than three hours. No practice swings—tee it up and let’s go! Playing fast like that is a bit of a lost art. Later, in college, I played a ton at Morris Williams Public Golf Course back when the Austin airport was still at Mueller. I swear you could reach up and touch the planes as they came in overhead for a landing. Those are good memories.   

Off the course, the other great memories are of watching the greats that our state has produced: Byron Nelson (got to shake the man’s hand; the proof is above!), Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Jordan Spieth, and more. Robbins tells enthralling stories about many of my favorite golfers in this issue, and as I was reading it, something else I love about golf came into focus: It shows you who you are.   

If you are in the woods and the ball moves after you address it, you have to call the penalty on yourself. Personal accountability is a huge part of the sport. What links so many of our greatest golfers together is that they conduct themselves in a way that is beyond reproach. The greats who have emerged in the sport, and so many of the biggest names from Texas, are all about winning the right way. They’ve really set a high bar that reflects well on our state and our university. And that’s why I think it’s so popular in the business world. If someone cheats at golf, you should probably expect the same in your business relationship.   

With our state being such a breeding ground for the sport, it’s only appropriate that The University of Texas has hosted such greatness over the years. I could go on and on about UT’s outstanding women’s golf program as well, but I will save that for another letter. Crenshaw is legendary for his knowledge of the history and traditions of the sport. He is like a walking Wikipedia when it comes to golf. And he is an amazing putter. Kite has been the grinder—work, work, work. Leonard was the super Longhorn, and then you get to Spieth, who is the new standard-bearer for Texas golfers. It’s so exciting to watch him do his thing. They’re all gentlemen. They’re all sportsmen. They all make us Texans proud. 

When I was playing with my dad all those years ago, I didn’t realize the gift he was giving me. Golf has been the background to some of the best moments in my professional life, and it’s helped me grow into a more patient and sensible person. You can have 17 terrible holes and then birdie 18 and call it an awesome day. As the old saying goes: The worst day on the golf course is better than the best day in the office.  

Hook ’em, 

Chuck Harris
BBA ’86, Life Member
Executive Director, The Texas Exes 

Credit: Courtesy of Chuck Harris


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