We CT golfers are a fortunate lot.
In addition to a wide variety of golf courses, our pretty little state has a popular governor by the name of Jodi Rell who is a passionate golfer.
And we have a company called Travelers that is committed to title sponsorship of the historic Travelers Championship, through 2014.
And when you consider that this year's defending champion at the Travelers is Stewart Cink, the PGA Tour's most prolific and popular Twitterer and an evangelist for promoting the game and connecting with fans on a grass roots level... well, you've got to think the nutmeg state must be located under a lucky star.
Yesterday, members of the golf media gathered at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT to hear Ms. Rell, Mr.Cink and others talk about the historic tournament and to get to know the venue and course.
Govenor Rell is the honorary chairwomen of the 2009 event and she spoke mainly of its economic impact to the region and the charities it benefits. She didn't talk about her own golf game, but I know a little something about that. I take lessons at Golf Quest in Brookfield where the Governor learned the game. In fact, I even heard rumor that the cracked practice mirror was the result of one of the Ms. Rell's errant shots. Now there's a governor I can relate to.
All of the net proceed from the Traveler's Championship are donated to charity and this charity aspect and was brought to life by Aaron Baral of West Hartford. He's young, smart and and a cancer survivor who spoke of his battle with something called T-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia and described how his optimism and energy were restored by his experience at a Hole-in-the-Wall-Gang Camp. That's one of the charities that benefits from the Travelers Championship. Aaron will attend UConn in the fall.
And then there was the affable, and easy going @stewartcink who I felt like I already knew from his frequent Twitter updates. A dedicated family man, Mr. Cink tweets on everything from his son's LaCrosse games to his wife @lisacink's birthday. Then there were the recent post about a flooded iphone. He's a PGA Tour pioneer when it comes to social media and especially Twitter. Jason Sobel of ESPN spoke to him about his serial Twitter use and how he engages with fans stays connected on the service.
That this defending champion flew up to Connecticut for the day to meet with tournament supporters and media...before heading down to Quail Hollow where he'll compete later this week...speaks volumes about his dedication, and he spoke frankly of his hope that other players will support more events and more actively bond with fans and sponsors.
After the press conference a crowd converged on @stewartcink so I didn't get to speak to him personally. If I had, I would have thanked him for thanked him for reaching out to supporters of the game and letting them know they don't go unnoticed.
The second half of the day was spent on the meandering fairways and unforgiving greens of beautiful TPC River Highlands, which proved extraordinarily challenging for @golfgirl...I mean... me. We played with Jason Page, who hosts the Black Page on ESPN Radio, and his producer. They were they supremely gracious. And Jason gave me some excellent assistance with reading those tricky greens.
Just yesterday tournament officials received confirmation that Sergio Garcia, Vijay Singh, Anthony Kim and Stuart Appleby are all in. With Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell already confirmed, the player field is shaping up quite nicely.
As a golf fan and third generation Connecticut-er you can be sure I'll be writing about this awesome tournament... and the people behind it... as it approaches.