Man, just got back from Mark Bryan’s Pro Am Jam down in Charleston, SC. I’ve made some great friends along the way and in the golf world some of my favorites.
Some of you know that about 15 years ago I was playing a lot of golf, had gotten to be pretty decent and wanted to go to “The Next Level”. Now for any of you golfers out there, what is that? It’s a great question because once you start getting better many have a tendency to see how good they really are. And what’s the dream?
Well, as a golfer I remember being a member of some private clubs and one of the first ones I joined, literally a week after I’d joined they asked if I was going to play in the Club Championship! I got SUPER nervous and pitifully said something like, “Are you kidding me? I’m not ready for THAT!”
I remember the club pro kind of laughing saying, “Ready? Of course you are… it’s FUN!” I’m thinking, “Fun? To join a private golf club, having never even established a handicap and having the courage to go out into this arena basically saying SURE! I can take you guys on!” Funny enough, when I look back, I’ve actually done that in some much bigger situations and environments… but golf is different! Right?
So anyway, I enter into the Club Championship SUPER nervous on day 1 and an amazing thing happened… of course I was a nervous wreck on the first tee but did my best to do what they all said, try and slow down, relax and trust…
Well, about 2 or 3 holes into the first day of the competition I noticed something very strange… I was comfortable… I was about to say calm but that would have been a major exaggeration… but I was definitely comfortable. Being in that environment felt *good* to me. Something in that setting made me slow down. It almost felt like it was kind of slow motion which REALLY helped the golf game. I wasn’t jumpy, swinging out of my shoes… it was eery.
The more I’d play in competition I’d feel it more and more. And the crazy thing is there would be times, and there were many, that I’d enter into some kind of competition not having *prepared* enough… like say I was playing to around a 6 or 7 handicap and I’d get into some kind of competition but hadn’t been playing much… I’d be freaking out a bit in my mind and then once in the game that feeling came back, of slowing down… of getting into a slow motion thing…
The next level was to get out on the “Celebrity Players Tour” which was a golf tour of mostly athletes with a few entertainers sprinkled in. I got myself out in it and on day one down in San Diego I found myself teeing off on day 1 of the first event with Gary Carter, (RIP… a good friend of mine), and Dwight Clark (The CATCH).
I woke up in a flop sweat early of the day of the 1st round… it was around 2 am… I was thinking, “Oh now you’ve done it! Look at you… you and your ego have gotten yourself out on this celebrity golf tour with guys like Carter, Clark, Jim McMahon, Ivan Lendl, Marcus Allen… LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE! You’re going to be exposed as a poser! A fraud!” and a thought went through my mind… and a thought I’d been having a lot at that point from reading the book “How To Stop Worrying And Start Living” by Dale Carnegie.
My thought was, “What’s the worst thing that can happen? You EMBARRASS yourself? You’ve already done that in front of MILLIONS of people! And you’re still standing here… alive. (see Chicago on Arsenio Hall for the embarrass yourself in front of millions of people).
I was able to go back to sleep and I woke up the next day and what do you think happened? Yes, nervous on the first tee but after the first tee shot, which I put right in the middle of the fairway, I settled in and that same feeling came back. The takeaway? I was thinking halfway through the round, “This is your home. You belong here.” And it was beautiful… I played some music that night… actually it was me and Alfonso Rebeiro at the piano singing away, and the relationship had started. Me with the Celebrity Players Tour.
I played in maybe a half dozen events and then the tour kind of went down for the count due to the economy.
Well, my good friend Lee Moore, who was the guy that brought the celebrities to the table, and I stayed in touch over the years and he told me they were starting to get that concept up and running again and asked if I would be interested in being a part of it. Are you kidding me? Of COURSE!
So we started talking about things… and he connected me with a gentleman named Frank Antonelli who has a company called “Empire Sports”. Frank does a lot of things but a handful of the events he runs are things like “Monday After The Masters” which is this incredible event which takes place, (give you one guess…), yes, the day after “The Masters”. I’d always heard about this so I was excited to get into that world.
The day after “The Masters” a handful of the PGA pros “The Masters” fly down to Myrtle Beach and play in this golf tournament and there is a big concert that night at House Of Blues in Myrtle Beach.
When I found out I’d gotten into that world this year I was ecstatic. But it gets BETTER!
My buddy Lee Moore told me that he and Frank were putting together an idea of a package of celebrities, Athletes and Entertainers, to build a new and improved Celebrity Players Tour type of presence.
Now the thing that I LOVED about the “Celebrity Players Tour” was that it was REAL GOLF. Mano y mano. Back then there were no handicaps factored in so you HAD TO PLAY! And it attracted those who wanted to compete. Just try and imagine teeing off with Ivan Lendl, Dan Jansen, Marshall Holman and myself in a 2 man team competition. When you’re the guy carrying your team, (as I did on that first day of what I just described), it’s a rush that you can’t get anywhere else in golf. Sure, play in the local club championship and it’s quite a rush… but if you’re going at it with Rollie Fingers as your teammate against Ozzie Smith, John Starks and Jack O’Callahan, (which is what I did a few weeks ago at Dan Jansen’s event), that’s about as good as it gets as far as a competitive environment. Not so much the golfing ability, but these guys can play, but the mindset. The champion’s mindset.
In fact, we had taken it to the 17th hole in our competition and we had faltered. I put an approach shot about 5 to 6 feet from the hole with a very makable pretty flat putt, and we missed. We would have gone even, all square going into the 18th hole and as we were walking off the green Ozzie, (an opponent), was shaking his head and saying the most condescending voice, “Wow! I’ve never seen 3 more beautiful putts! Whoa… I mean those were gorgeous!” basically pointing out that we missed, and pretty much lost our match right there…
And I said to him, “You know what I love about playing with you guys is there is always this etiquette in friendly club golf that when you’re in a match you don’t want to with bad on the other person…” Well, I barely got the word *bad* out of my mouth and he’s shaking his head from side to side saying *no* in his gestures… and I finished by saying, “Out here it’s more like Of COURSE I wish bad on him! I hope he misses this putt by a mile!” and smiled and said, “ABSOLUTELY! You want to destroy the other person!” and I thought of the world they lived in…
Really? In the World Series someone hits a fly ball and the opposing team doesn’t hope it’s dropped?
So anyway, I digress… but I like to do that sometimes! The point being, THIS is how I love to play golf. I like to compete and I like to play against fierce competitors.
So these are the types of people I want in our world we’re building of athletes and entertainers for the new package we’re putting together.
I played in one of Frank Antonelli’s events a couple months ago up in the Seattle area for Russell Wilson… which was a blast! And I met a handful of new friends up there during the concert. Chris Barron – Lead Vocalist for Spin Doctors, Preston Pohl – Singer from “The Voice”, Mark Bryan – Guitar player for Hootie And The Blowfish and a bunch of other great artists. They told me how fun the “Pro Am Jam” event is that was coming up in Charleston, SC a couple months later and I was excited.
So that event just took place over Monday and Tuesday of this week. I went out with Danny Seraphine – Original Drummer for Chicago and Loren Gold – Keyboards for The Who and Roger Daltry’s solo band.
I have to say, when we got there and did our soundcheck I knew it was going to be massive. Danny, Loren and I got together at my house to work up “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “25 or 6 to 4” for the event and they both sounded awesome. It was especially great to hear Danny featured on “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” playing his signature fills where Keith Moon had done his on the record.
And to really drive the point home, Mark Bryan told us he was so excited to play that stuff with us and boy, he did. He had his Peter Townshend on BIGTIME! It was awesome!
One of the biggest rushes was to see all the talent that was there… Chris Barron, Preston Pohl, Edwin McCain, Ira Dean of Trick Pony, Mark Wills, etc. and so many more… FLIPPING OUT when we played these tunes. AND, when we were done, some of the guys I’d met up at Russel Wilson’s event, like Preston, came up and was saying, “Why didn’t you tell me you did that!!!!” haaaaaaaa. He heard me do “What Kind Of Man Would I Be” just piano and vocal at Russel’s event so didn’t know we ROCKED like that! I LOVED IT!
And most importantly I’m looking at the new crew. My new friends who love charity, music and golf. That’s my world.
So I’m checking in with my crew the next day, Lee Moore and Frank and it’s all coming together. Lee tells me he’s been hearing from Roger Clemens’s wife Debbie a bunch since we did the Dan Jansen event and they really want to be involved… I love it… and yes, I brought Roger up to the piano at Dan’s event and he and his wife sang “Rocket Man” with me.
So there it is everybody… you know me… the title of this blog post was about the event I just did but I gave so much backstory that some might have been thinking, “When are you going to get to the Pro Am Jam part?”
But now you know why… this is all set up to tell you about this incredible new world for me. To be able to take many of my passions and point my art, myself and my energies toward it. And yes, several of us connected and are shooting for writing some new material. Edwin McCain… forget about it! What a force of nature… Edwin and I talked a lot the last day about music, life, family, etc. that’s one of the first things I want to start writing some new music ideas to get to… I hope he digs what I come up with for him.
Chris Barron too… oh, and Mark Wills… he was telling me how Chicago 18 was an album he devoured… I thought he was just paying lip service until he started singing some of the deep cuts on the album! haaaaaa
Alright, I’ve chewed your ear off enough for now… just know… we’re putting the circus together and there will be some events you can come to, if you want to.
Oh, and I have to brag for a second here… I took one of the “Closest to the hole” prizes in the event!
Talk to you soon,