Tom Watson is the perfect ambassador for his hometown and for the game of golf

Tom Watson

There are lot’s of celebrities who give back to their hometown, and Tom Watson is one of the best.

Last month dozens of celebrities played in the Big Slick celebrity softball tourney at Kauffman Stadium and we saw many local celebrities take part in the charity event.

Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Rob Riggle, David Cook, Randy Flagler, Eric Stonestreet and many other donned Royals uniforms to entertain and raise money for the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center.

Former Kansas Citians Albert Pujols and Logan Morrison are pounding baseballs in the major leagues. We can even mention NBA legends Larry Drew, Ed Nealy and Earl Watson as local kids made good.

But PGA great Tom Watson may stands alone for his accomplishments on and off the course.

Simply put, golf is an individual effort where one athlete must outperform all others in tournaments as well as consistently performing year after year. After a successful amateur run, Watson entered the PGA in 1971 and has endured one of the more successful golf runs in history.

We all watched him nearly with the British Open in 2009, 26 years after his last run. He has eight majors to his credit, five-time leading money leader and a member of the PGA Hall of Fame in 1988.

With 39 tour wins and various other credits to his name, Tom Watson is one of the all-time great golfers, even though he was often in the shadows of Jack Nicklaus and various others.

But Watson is still a reflection of his home roots here in Kansas City and he means a lot to us in other realms on and off the course. He just isn’t a “local boy who has done good.”

He’s the perfect ambassador to our city and to the game of golf. For one thing, he led a free clinic for local golfers aged 10 to 17 with his Tom Watson Golf Academy.

He’s raised money for The First Tee Program and we all know that he hosted the annual Children’s Mercy Hospital Classic. His effort come from the heart and meant a lot to our city-especially the youth.

Somewhat forgotten by some, but what may be his biggest stand came in December 1990. Watson resigned from the Kansas City Country Club because Henry Bloch of H&R Block was not admitted as a member for being Jewish.

Tom learned to play the game on that very course, but stood his ground. While it wasn’t a popular choice, Tom made his point and rejoined five years later. To make a point on the very course you were raised on was a true testament to his character and passion for the respect of the game of golf.

Tom’s days of competing in the US Open and Masters are slowing becoming a collage of YouTube highlights. Most Kansas City sports fans watched Tom challenge and beat many of the greats during his run from the late 1970s to mid-1980s.

As an ambassador from KC to representing the game of golf, Tom Watson has meant more to the game that a lot of people may realize.

Every true golf fan will remember the honor paid to Tom at the British Open in 2015. Just look at the photos taken of him on the Swilcan Bridge – if you don’t know what that is — it’s worth a google search.

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Article by James Peuster

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