An original staff member reflects on 20 years of growth
When Earl Woods originally hired me in 1997, he called my house and said he had no idea what I would be doing. He just said he needed someone he could trust, so when could I start? I was ready for a change and knew the Woods family through my dad since 1980, so I quit my job in the medical field the next day. I took a leap of faith that the Tiger Woods Foundation was truly going to be a great new experience, but I had no idea that I would still be here 19 years later!
I have watched the foundation evolve from a few employees to more than 50 nationwide. I started out helping to organize junior golf clinics in various cities across the U.S., Mexico and Jamaica, where Tiger would introduce the game of golf to inner-city youth. As we grew, Tiger and Earl’s passion evolved and focused more on education, which turned into the development of the Tiger Woods Learning Center and classes focused on STEM programming. In 1999, Tiger was granted an offseason PGA TOUR-sanctioned event, known initially as the Williams World Challenge, where the top 18 players available in the Official World Golf Ranking were invited to compete. My job grew to research, negotiate and contract with all the host hotels for this event, as well as run the Pro-Am events, recruit the volunteers and handle all the logistics for the professional golfers. As our repertoire of events grew, I eventually relinquished the volunteer and Pro-Am responsibilities and took over many of the financial aspects for all of our events.
It has been an amazing experience to watch how far the Tiger Woods Foundation has come in the past 20 years! I have personally witnessed the sheer elation Tiger brings to people young and old, and I truly believe his greatest accomplishment is this foundation and the opportunities it provides. Some of my favorite memories are watching Tiger talk to kids at the clinics, answering their questions and genuinely listening to their responses. I also cherish the times I would go to the office and Earl would just sit down and strike up a conversation about life outside the office, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future of the foundation. Earl was a true visionary and deeply cared about helping people. He taught this to his son, and although Earl is missed by all of us that knew him, he lives on in Tiger.
Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.