Legacy event honors two pillars of Colorado golf.
COLORADO SPRINGS–With their every word, three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin and 30-year PGA Professional Ann Finke showed why The First Tee of Pikes Peak chose to honor them during its 2015 Legacy Event.
The September 29 gathering, which filled The First Tee of Pikes Peak Learning Center with golfers from age five to 90, featured an intimate question-and-answer session moderated by Russ Miller, the PGA DIrector of Golf at The Broadmoor.
Asked to pick one of The First Tee's Nine Core Values, Irwin chose Respect and Finke selected Responsibility.
“Respect for your parents, your teachers, your peers–but you can't do that without first respecting yourself,” Irwin said. “If you don't have respect for yourself, how can you respect other people?”
For Finke, who has taught more than 38,000 lessons as Director of Golf Instruction at the Country Club of Colorado, Responsibility is inherent to golf. “You can't say, 'I'm a better golfer than so and so,' and then not take responsibility for not beating her. On that day, she was better than you.”
The two talked less about golf and more about life. Irwin credited last year's Legacy honoree, Dow Finsterwald, for his early success. “He took me under his wing and showed me how to conduct myself a professional,” Irwin said of the 1958 PGA Champion and longtime Head PGA Professional at The Broadmoor.
Asked if they had any regrets or could do one thing differently, both refused to take a mulligan.
Irwin did describe his infamous moment at the final round of the 1983 British Open.
After nearly holing a 20-footer on the 14th hole and not wanting to walk in his playing partner's line, he nonchalantly attempted to tap in his next putt and whiffed. “I went on to lose that event by one stroke,” Irwin told the crowd. “I don't regret it; it happened and I learned from it.”
“I probably learn more from my students than I teach them,” Finke said of the juniors who comprise more than half her lessons. “I look forward to going to work every day.”
She also stressed to the children in the audience to achieve balance between school, golf, other sports, faith and, above all, family.
Near the end of the session, after exchanging one inspiring tale after another, Irwin and Finke invited to the stage a number of boys and girls in The First Tee program—many of whom have also taken lessons on “Finke Hill.”
Irwin asked them about school and golf and if they would like to share anything with the group.
After a few shy moments, a number of them piped up with stories bubbling with the kind of pride and confidence that The First Tee promotes.
Talk about a Legacy.