St. Andrews Legacy Opportunity in June 2014

St. Andrews Legacy

By Neil Thomson

Most of you remember Graham Proctor, the towering, 6ft 6in proprietor of the Deveron House – the B&B site where most of the American Ponce team stayed in St. Andrews in 2012.Well, Graham has reached out to me in a major way – with emails and transatlantic calls the past month.

He is the Founder of an organization called St. Andrews Legacy (  Its mission, at least in major part, is to raise funds and bring US (and allies) Veterans to St. Andrews to play golf and experience the magic.  It has already made profound positive rehabilitation effects on the vets.

My take is that St. Andrews Legacy – although not as established yet – has similarities to Wounded Warrior and/or Patriot Golf Day.

Graham hosted a group of veterans from the US and Canada last summer – at Deveron House – they played Old Course; Muirfield, etc – and he is making plans to host similar golf experiences again in the summer of 2014.

He has 4 American vets committed for June of 2014 (I believe he has Australian vets coming in July, 2014) – included in the US group is a double amputee and a Medal of Honor recipient from tour in Afghanistan.  I believe a couple of the guys are in Tacoma, WA and one who lives in San Antonio.  I am pretty sure all of them have been physically handicapped from their military service.

Anyway – Graham was so impacted by our group’s camaraderie and Love of the Game that he wants 4 of us to go over and play with the 4 American vets for their special experience!!!

He has four-balls already reserved for this additional able-bodied group – where the format would likely be a good mix of teams, combining able-bodied players with handicapped vets.  The offer is $5000 per golfer, which includes round-trip airfare; lodging; all golf; “most meals”; all ground transport while there.  Essentially, the group would take over the Deveron House.

Now, on top of that, he is asking that each of the 4 American players also is able to raise an additional $2500 per man – to cover the remaining funds for the vets.  [So, really this package commitment is $7500 per golfer – although, as Graham suggested you could organize a spring golf day / fundraiser to try and get others to help fund the $2500 portion].  For example, I would think some Richmond guys could host a spring scramble at CCV with proceeds going to cover some of that portion.  If you are able to raise some funds for the $2500 portion, then the additional $5K is not as daunting – since it includes airfare.


The likely 2014 itinerary, per Graham:

Saturday, 14th June –             Arrive, Dukes (PM)

15th June –                                Jubilee

16th June –                               Old Course

17th June –                               Crail

18th June –                               Kingsbarns, dinner St Andrews GC

19th June –                               Machrihanish

20th June –                              Machrihanish,

Saturday, 21st June –            Depart UK.



Please email me privately if you have serious interest in learning more about this opportunity.  It appears unique; memorable; and a fantastic way to support our troops who sacrificed so much.  And the golf of course is awesome –

For example, perhaps this could be the father-son trip you always wanted to do with your old man, or other family member?

Personally, I am unsure I can commit due to scheduling…but I want to do everything I can to help Graham on this and fill the 4 slots – and it is humbling he reached out to the Ponce.  Incidentally, he has other plans with St. Andrews Legacy – including some future golf events in Toronto, and something in the mix with PGA pro Johnson Wagner at Quail Hollow.  So, Graham has good reach with what he is trying to accomplish.  He is also open to our ideas on furthering his vision – and establishing your own significant involvement in a promising organization from the ground-up.


Here is a recent newsletter:

I have also copied an email from a vet who played over there last summer (they played in conjunction with the Sr. British Open / pro-am at Birkdale):


Dear Graham,

I wanted to pass along this short personal note of thanks for the exceptional event you orchestrated through St Andrews Legacy.  I realize I may repeat some of the words I provided during the final supper; however I don’t feel I could ever completely express my sincere gratitude for your unselfish commitment to help injured veterans, including myself.

When I spoke to you at the Open and stated that the past two days were the best form of rehab I have ever experienced, I was truly honest.  The road to recovery for most of the injured members is a life journey which will never end.  It is organizations such as St Andrews Legacy that can assist people along the way to accept their new normal in order to make the best out of life.  For me, while I stood on the 18th green at The Open Championship and met people like Jim McArthur, Fred Couples, Johnson Wagner, and of course Tiger Woods, I had an epiphany.  I would like to say it was a dream come true, but honestly, I could not have possibly dreamed of the opportunities which you provided the group.  It really instilled in me that anything is possible and to make the best of it.

I have come back with a huge boost in my life, thanks to you and your team.  My passion for golf has increased significantly and I’m inspired to make the most of it.  St Andrews Legacy is such a great initiative which has the potential to change many lives in good positive ways.  I will do my best on my end to promote the program to ensure sustainability for the long term (which we will discuss further in the coming weeks).

Graham, it was truly a great thing which you did and will continue to do for injured veterans.  You have proven that sacrifices will be honoured and wounded veterans are not alone in their battle.  Truly remarkable.  I have a good feeling that May 8th,  2013 marked the start of a long and prosperous relationship between Soldier On and St Andrews Legacy.  Two programs which get it.

All the best to you and your family,


J.M. Feyko
Soldier On | Sans limites


Thanks for your consideration of this –




Neil D. Thomson, Esq.



Jerry West Sends Inspirational Note to 2013 Champions’ Fallen Player

Just days before the 2013 Ponce De Leon Invitational was to begin, first year player Brooks Brown found himself laid up in the hospital after a boating accident, unable to play. His team substituted  Greenbrier Head Golf Pro Jamie Hamilton and the rest is history. West 44 won the tournament.  Check out this e-mail from “The Logo” to Brooks the Sunday before the tournament.


From: Karen West
Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2013 7:21 PM
To: Brooks Brown
Subject: Best of Luck!


Wishing you and team West 44 much success in the Greenbrier tournament.  I’m very flattered by the choice of your team name and I’m hoping that you enjoy your time at my second home, White Sulphur Springs, WV!

Very Sincerely,

Jerry West


The logo

Golf Channel’s Matt Ginella Talks Sea Island and the Ponce!


Gents –

Glad to see the The Ponce continues to get recognized / acknowledged by our F.O.P., Matt Ginella –

Sea Island made #3 on Matty G’s Best Buddies Trips, as featured on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive recently.  Perhaps some of you saw this already –

Please see attached video clip:

This January will mark 6 years since we were first Ambushed…and the impression still resonates!

Thanks Matt!

I hope everyone is doing well…

320 Days Until Ponce XII –



More Video: Ginella’s Top 10 Buddy Trip Destinations: (Courtesy Golf Channel’s Morning Drive)

1. Bandon Dunes  (PDL 2016?)

2. Pinehurst

3. Sea Island (PDL 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2014)

4. Pebble Beach

5. Austin

6. Kiawah Island

7. Greenbrier (PDL 2011 & 2013)

8. Scottsdale (PDL 2003 & 2006)

9. Myrtle Beach

10. Las Vegas

Merion Golf Weekend (October 5-6) Auction


Thought I would pass this along…

If you or any of your colleagues are interested in bidding on the Merion GC weekend golf package (Oct 5-6, 2013), please let me know.

Description is below.

All $ go to First Tee of Greater Charleston (tax-deductible).

Could be a great client outing, or special buddies trip up to Philadelphia…

The bidding is “open” now, and closes at end of The First Tee Kiawah Gala event (live action) tomorrow night (Friday, 9/6) about 9:30pm.  If you were interested in bidding now and trying to get it, there is a way to proxy in ongoing bids on Friday during the live action.

To submit a bid now, email Staci below with your contact info – and copy me on the email. (

Go Hoos,



The Merion Philadelphia Golf Trip info – this item is now officially open for bidding – starting at $3,000.  If you have friends, family, or colleagues not attending the event that would like to bid on this item, please feel free to forward the info.  The auctioneer will have the highest bid from the email auction in hand – at the live auction, the item will be awarded to whichever bid is highest whether it be someone in the room or from an email bid.

  • To bid:

o   Email Staci L. Bennett, Executive Director, The First Tee of Greater Charleston at

o   Include your first and last name, and max bid


 The Merion Weekend

  • On Saturday, October 5th, golf for 3 with a member at Medford Village Country Club, a private golf club just outside of downtown Philadelphia. Medford Village Country Club is ranked #3 for the most challenging course in the area for Private Clubs. Medford Village Country Club is an occasional host site for US Open Qualifying and PGA Qualifying for the Club Professionals.


  • On Sunday, October 6th, golf for 3 with a member at Merion Golf Club, host of five US opens, most recently in 2013. To all true golfers, the name conjures up stirring images. Merion’s East Course, always on everyone’s list of favorites, is a traditional golf club where history has been made time and time again. Merion Golf Club is ranked # 9 in the World Rankings. The package also includes lunch on the veranda at Merion Golf Club, a tour of the history in the Merion Clubhouse, and full use of Club Facilities at both courses.

Message Mismatch: Make The Game More Fun, Speed up Play and Spend More Time Looking For Balls?


By Westray Battle

The recent campaign by the USGA, “While We’re Young” intended to speed up pace of play is great for the game.  Unfortunately, the recent golf course design trend to grow large areas of high fescue or “no mow” grass is directly at odds with improving pace of play or making the game more fun for most amateurs.

There is nothing more frustrating in golf than hitting a decent shot-say 10 yards off of the fairway—and not being able to find your ball because the fescue is so high. While U.S. Opens with brutal rough setups are legendary at courses like Shinnecock  Hills, these areas add significant time to searching for balls, increasing round times to five hours and significantly reduce the enjoyment of the game. Weekend amateurs most often do not have the benefit of forecaddies and thousands of spectators to help find their ball. What’s good for the U.S. Open is ludicrous for everyday golf.

Also, it is important to note that despite the rugged, high fescue at Shinnecock Hills, you can most often find your ball there. All too often, lesser courses overdo fescue in areas that are generally not out of play, and in addition, allow the fescue to layer over top of itself and create near certainty that the ball would be lost or unplayable.

These fescue areas provide a very scenic and natural look, reduce golf maintenance hours and costs, require less irrigation, increase natural habitat and require less pesticides. While these are all good things, it must be noted that that when overdone too close and too often to greens and fairways, it comes at a detrimental cost to the enjoyment and length of time playing the game. This ultimately drives new players from the game and is exactly the opposite type of measure we should be employing to our golf courses.

While we’re on the topic, I find this is the most widely misinterpreted rule in golf. Although people seem to understand that when they lose a ball, they are required to go back to “as nearly as possible” where they hit the original shot and take a one-shot penalty, people rarely do. (especially in the Ponce with higher handicappers.) With today’s push for faster rounds, it seems ridiculous to walk back over 200 yards to play again. Playing partners should encourage playing more provisional balls when the ball lands in these hard-to-find, high fescue grass areas.

After searching for five minutes and failing to find their ball, most players incorrectly treat the lost ball like a Red Lateral hazard and drop the ball with a penalty of one stroke. (So if they lost their drive, they are hitting 3.) This is preposterous. While playing in a recent tournament with a high single-digit handicapper, he did this routinely without guilt. This has become common practice.

I played last week with British Captain Dom Clive and in that same situation, (Drive lost out of bounds – no provisional – lost ball – walking) he would employ an elegant solution, and drop in the closest spot most likely where his ball was in the fescue and lay 3, hitting his 4th shot. (He assumed that he would have had to drop and re-play from the teeing ground and hit his third shot.) This also is against the rules of golf, but a much fairer solution than treating the lost ball like a lateral hazard.


We must encourage Golf Club Committees and Greens keepers to properly maintain these areas so it looks great, but is also playable and not too difficult to find your ball. (It should be fine and not layer over itself – this is the sign of too much fertilizer, water or poor species selection.)

We must urge the USGA to implement a rule, like Captain Clive’s solution, that creates a play without having to walk all the way back to the previous shot, killing pace of play.

In the meantime, we must suggest our playing partners to hit more provisional balls when they hit into hard-to-find fescue areas. I would also suggest that tournament chairmen explain proper procedures for lost balls so that everybody is playing under the same set of rules.


An Interesting Conversation about the problem on Golf Club Atlas: Is Tall Fescue Overdone?;wap2


Tips for Improving Pace Of Play


Improving pace of play: 5 entities that do it right


Read the Rules for Lost Balls

c. Ball Not Found Within Five Minutes

If a ball is lost as a result of not being found or identified as his by the player within five minutes after the player’s side or his or their caddies have begun to search for it, the player must play a ball, under penalty of one stroke, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5).


Leaving The Heartbreak Behind


By Westray Battle


Sometimes in an individual sport on the world’s greatest stages, a player will harness the weight of the rooting world on their shoulders and take the fans on an epic quest right to the brink of history and glory—only to be harshly dismissed as a mortal runner-up.

The loss is so devastating, so heart-stopping, so gut wrenching, that it is hard to let it go. I often have trouble sleeping after these epic near-misses, imagining how the competitors are coping with just how close they came to history. Sports reveal character in those difficult moments and I can’t get enough of watching, of sharing in the agony – the postgame interviews, the days that follow, if and when they surface afterwards. I can’t get enough of watching the Silver medal finisher in the Olympics, because if they came close but lost Gold, their reaction is as cruelly captivating as a car wreck.

Ultimately, perspective tells us that the journey was what it was all about, despite the outcome. When the Gods take you to the gates of Heaven and then turn you aside at the last possible moment, this is the true test of the soul. We love and understand a little more about the human condition by watching these heroic, historic performances end in utter failure and disappointment. Because sports teaches us about life – that most of us will fail more often than we triumph- but we are better for having entered the arena than having watched from afar.

In Tom Watson’s case in 2009, the moment was heightened, because we knew that it could never happen again. At 59 years old, the stars had aligned that weekend at Turnberry, and we all knew Tom could never turn back the clock and put himself in that position again. But maybe just that one day, a 9-iron instead of an 8 on the final hole would have done it, one simple up and down from the fringe would have made history, but it was not to be as Stuart Cink would play the undeserving villain and win the anti-climactic playoff. After several sleepless nights, I was finally able to realize that it was really about the journey – not the result. For those four days in Scotland, Tom Watson had engendered himself to three generations of fans, had defined the word ‘class’, had made me want to be a better man, to work harder, reach higher, dream bigger and taught us all how to imagine and be children again. But just as fast – just as unflappable and a man of 40 years that he seemed for 72 holes – he looked tired, spent and much more like 70 years old in the playoff as Father Time had said, “Enough.”

For Phil Mickelson at Merion, it was the five other times he had finished second, when he had come so close to winning the Open that created the drama. It started in 1999 at Pinehurst, when as his first child was about to be born, he wore the beeper and said he would walk off the course in any situation if it went off.  Payne Steward would make three clutch putts on the last 3 holes, including a 25 footer on 16 and a 15 footer on 18 to win by one. Stewart grabbed his face and  told him famously “You’re going to be a father” after ripping his heart out. Stewart would die tragically in a plane crash just 4 months later.

Fast forward 14 years later and Phil flew home from San Diego for his daughter’s 8th grade graduation. (the same daughter who was born the day after the first heartbreak in 1999) He flies all night to arrive at the US Open at 4am for a 7am tee time and goes out and shoots 67 and takes the lead. The symmetry of it all on Father’s day, of what Payne Stewart taught him about fatherhood and the fragility of life, how to seize the opportunity and the moment, and the five previous second place finishes. When Mickelson holed out for an Eagle 2 on the 10th hole, it was his time, his destiny. He would wipe away all the memories at Pinehurst, Bethpage, Shinnecock and Winged Foot – who could forget 2006 at Winged Foot when par would have won the Open, but he said after a terrible double bogey, “I’m such an idiot.” But it was not to be – this would be like the rest – so close, but not quite- second again.

I attended my first PGA Tour event in 1995 at the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale. Phil Mickelson beat Justin Leonard in a three-hole playoff. After sprinting around the course that afternoon hopscotching from playoff hole to hole, I waited in-line and got Mickelson to sign my badge. Caught up in the moment after my first golf tournament, the excitement of the playoff and my 21 year-old exuberance, I asked Phil, “Ryder cup-like pressure and atmosphere out there today, huh Phil?” He smiled, signed my badge, and said, “No, not quite!”

The tournament ended on Saturday to accommodate Super Bowl XXX (Cowboys 27-Steelers 17 – Steelers’ first loss in a Super Bowl, Neil O’Donnell game losing interception to Larry Brown – heartbreak of a similar variety that solidified Bill Cowher’s vision quest, which unlike these tales would end happily ten years later in Super Bowl XL, when the Steelers would beat the Seahawks after reaching at least the AFC Championship game five other times without winning the title over the previous dozen years.

But what we cannot forget is that without the losses and the heartbreak, you can’t have the triumphs. How much less gratifying would the Red Sox World Series title in 2004 have meant without all those years since their last title in 1918. How much sweeter was it after they overcame their 3-0 ALCS lead and 4-3 deficit in the 9th inning of game 4 to their hated-rival Yankees?

We often witness children can often absorb defeat much easier than their parents and let it go far quicker. Almost symmetrically, it seems like an older Tom Watson could handle the loss better than Phil could. I wonder how long Phil will hold onto this recent heartbreak. At 43 years old now, I wonder how many chances Phil has left to win the Open? A man reveals his character in the face of adversity and I will keep dreaming of that Open with a different ending. But if we don’t get to watch that movie, we must embrace the experience, the journey, the moment.

A couple of quotes speak to the condition better than I could:

“Tomorrow we will run faster and stretch our arms further….” – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt


These are my three most heartbreaking near-misses of the 21st Sporting Century.

Father Time

2009 British Open at Turnberry – 59 year old Tom Watson bogeyed the final hole on Sunday and would lose to Stuart Cink in a playoff, who was born two years before Tom won his first of six Claret jugs in 1975. One eight-foot putt was all that separated Watson from being the oldest majors champion, by 13 years – Jack Nicklaus, 46, at the Masters in 1986. “It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn’t it?” Watson said. “And it was almost. Almost. The dream almost came true.”

The White Whale

2009 Wimbledon Final when Roger Federer outlasted Andy Roddick in five sets, winning 16-14 in the epic fifth set. (longest Grand Slam final in history at over 4 hours and 77 games) Roddick would lose to Federer for the 3rd time in the Wimbledon final and 4th time in a major. (Wimbledon 2004, 2005, 2009 and US Open in 2006)

The Monkey on His Back

2013 – Phil Mickelson surrenders the lead of his long coveted US Open Title at Merion to Justin Rose on the back nine on Sunday. He had held the lead since the first round on Thursday only to finish second for a record 6th time since 1999.



I Love Watching You Play



Steve Henson’s piece from The Postgame from last year contains some great insight and advice.

Happy Father’s Day!



What Makes A Nightmare Sports Parent — And What Makes A Great One

By Steve Henson, February 15, 2012

Hundreds of college athletes were asked to think back: “What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?”

Their overwhelming response: “The ride home from games with my parents.”

The informal survey lasted three decades, initiated by two former longtime coaches who over time became staunch advocates for the player, for the adolescent, for the child. Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC are devoted to helping adults avoid becoming a nightmare sports parent, speaking at colleges, high schools and youth leagues to more than a million athletes, coaches and parents in the last 12 years.

Those same college athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame.

Their overwhelming response: “I love to watch you play.”

There it is, from the mouths of babes who grew up to become college and professional athletes. Whether your child is just beginning T-ball or is a travel-team soccer all-star or survived the cuts for the high school varsity, parents take heed.

The vast majority of dads and moms that make rides home from games miserable for their children do so inadvertently. They aren’t stereotypical horrendous sports parents, the ones who scream at referees, loudly second-guess coaches or berate their children. They are well-intentioned folks who can’t help but initiate conversation about the contest before the sweat has dried on their child’s uniform.

In the moments after a game, win or lose, kids desire distance. They make a rapid transition from athlete back to child. And they’d prefer if parents transitioned from spectator – or in many instances from coach – back to mom and dad. ASAP.

Brown, a high school and youth coach near Seattle for more than 30 years, says his research shows young athletes especially enjoy having their grandparents watch them perform.

“Overall, grandparents are more content than parents to simply enjoy watching the child participate,” he says. “Kids recognize that.”

A grandparent is more likely to offer a smile and a hug, say “I love watching you play,” and leave it at that.

Meanwhile a parent might blurt out …

“Why did you swing at that high pitch when we talked about laying off it?”

“Stay focused even when you are on the bench.”

“You didn’t hustle back to your position on defense.”

“You would have won if the ref would have called that obvious foul.”

“Your coach didn’t have the best team on the field when it mattered most.”

And on and on.

Sure, an element of truth might be evident in the remarks. But the young athlete doesn’t want to hear it immediately after the game. Not from a parent. Comments that undermine teammates, the coach or even officials run counter to everything the young player is taught. And instructional feedback was likely already mentioned by the coach.

“Let your child bring the game to you if they want to,” Brown says.

Brown and Miller, a longtime coach and college administrator, don’t consider themselves experts, but instead use their platform to convey to parents what three generations of young athletes have told them.

“Everything we teach came from me asking players questions,” Brown says. “When you have a trusting relationship with kids, you get honest answers. When you listen to young people speak from their heart, they offer a perspective that really resonates.”

So what’s the takeaway for parents?

“Sports is one of few places in a child’s life where a parent can say, ‘This is your thing,’ ” Miller says. “Athletics is one of the best ways for young people to take risks and deal with failure because the consequences aren’t fatal, they aren’t permanent. We’re talking about a game. So they usually don’t want or need a parent to rescue them when something goes wrong.

“Once you as a parent are assured the team is a safe environment, release your child to the coach and to the game. That way all successes are theirs, all failures are theirs.”

And discussion on the ride home can be about a song on the radio or where to stop for a bite to eat. By the time you pull into the driveway, the relationship ought to have transformed from keenly interested spectator and athlete back to parent and child:

“We loved watching you play. … Now, how about that homework?”


Nearly 75 percent of kids who play organized sports quit by age 13. Some find that their skill level hits a plateau and the game is no longer fun. Others simply discover other interests. But too many promising young athletes turn away from sports because their parents become insufferable.

Even professional athletes can behave inappropriately when it comes to their children. David Beckham was recently ejected from a youth soccer field for questioning an official. New Orleans radio host Bobby Hebert, a former NFL quarterback, publicly dressed down LSU football coach Les Miles after Alabama defeated LSU in the BCS title game last month. Hebert was hardly unbiased: His son had recently lost his starting position at LSU.

Mom or dad, so loving and rational at home, can transform into an ogre at a game. A lot of kids internally reach the conclusion that if they quit the sport, maybe they’ll get their dad or mom back.

As a sports parent, this is what you don’t want to become. This is what you want to avoid:

• Overemphasizing sports at the expense of sportsmanship: The best athletes keep their emotions in check and perform at an even keel, win or lose. Parents demonstrative in showing displeasure during a contest are sending the wrong message. Encouragement is crucial — especially when things aren’t going well on the field.

• Having different goals than your child: Brown and Miller suggest jotting down a list of what you want for your child during their sport season. Your son or daughter can do the same. Vastly different lists are a red flag. Kids generally want to have fun, enjoy time with their friends, improve their skills and win. Parents who write down “getting a scholarship” or “making the All-Star team” probably need to adjust their goals. “Athletes say their parents believe their role on the team is larger than what the athlete knows it to be,” Miller says.

• Treating your child differently after a loss than a win: Almost all parents love their children the same regardless of the outcome of a game. Yet often their behavior conveys something else. “Many young athletes indicate that conversations with their parents after a game somehow make them feel as if their value as a person was tied to playing time or winning,” Brown says.

• Undermining the coach: Young athletes need a single instructional voice during games. That voice has to be the coach. Kids who listen to their parents yelling instruction from the stands or even glancing at their parents for approval from the field are distracted and can’t perform at a peak level. Second-guessing the coach on the ride home is just as insidious.

• Living your own athletic dream through your child: A sure sign is the parent taking credit when the child has done well. “We worked on that shot for weeks in the driveway,” or “You did it just like I showed you” Another symptom is when the outcome of a game means more to a parent than to the child. If you as a parent are still depressed by a loss when the child is already off playing with friends, remind yourself that it’s not your career and you have zero control over the outcome.


Let’s hear it for the parents who do it right. In many respects, Brown and Miller say, it’s easier to be an ideal sports parent than a nightmare. “It takes less effort,” Miller says. “Sit back and enjoy.” Here’s what to do:

• Cheer everybody on the team, not just your child: Parents should attend as many games as possible and be supportive, yet allow young athletes to find their own solutions. Don’t feel the need to come to their rescue at every crisis. Continue to make positive comments even when the team is struggling.

• Model appropriate behavior: Contrary to the old saying, children do as you do, not as you say. When a parent projects poise, control and confidence, the young athlete is likely to do the same. And when a parent doesn’t dwell on a tough loss, the young athlete will be enormously appreciative.

• Know what is suitable to discuss with the coach: The mental and physical treatment of your child is absolutely appropriate. So is seeking advice on ways to help your child improve. And if you are concerned about your child’s behavior in the team setting, bring that up with the coach. Taboo topics: Playing time, team strategy, and discussing team members other than your child.

• Know your role: Everyone at a game is either a player, a coach, an official or a spectator. “It’s wise to choose only one of those roles at a time,” Brown says. “Some adults have the false impression that by being in a crowd, they become anonymous. People behaving poorly cannot hide.” Here’s a clue: If your child seems embarrassed by you, clean up your act.

• Be a good listener and a great encourager: When your child is ready to talk about a game or has a question about the sport, be all ears. Then provide answers while being mindful of avoiding becoming a nightmare sports parent. Above all, be positive. Be your child’s biggest fan. “Good athletes learn better when they seek their own answers,” Brown says.

And, of course, don’t be sparing with those magic words: “I love watching you play.”


A Win for the Ages…and the Aged


By Neil D. Thomson

Two of the coolest aspects of being a sports fan are: (1) routinely, sports produces live, unscripted drama that Hollywood and reality television could never invent and never match; and (2) every so often a moment in sports becomes a constellation of life lessons and values, so much so that the moment itself transcends sports into something even greater and more profound.

This is a story about perseverance and about the old guy winning.

For approximately two and a half minutes at Belmont Park on June 7, 2013 we had one of those transcendent moments.  Enter the Brooklyn Handicap – a Grade II $200,000 thoroughbred race and Friday’s undercard to the following day’s Belmont Stakes.  Like the famous Triple Crown main event, the Brooklyn is a grueling mile-and-a-half race – but unlike the Belmont, it is not limited to only three year-olds.  The Brooklyn is open to three year-olds and up.  Enter Calidoscopio, a ten year-old bay from Argentina.  Yes, 10.  Trained by Mike Pupye and ridden by Aaron Gryder, he went off at middling 7-1 odds.

Calidoscopio was best known for winning the Breeders Cup Marathon last fall at Santa Anita – where he closed late to win after making a late charge.  But earlier this year, Calidoscopio finished fifth at the Tokyo City Handicap back at Santa Anita, and he entered the Brooklyn under the radar.  After all, a ten year old horse had never before won a graded stakes race on dirt.  Never.  Until June 7, 2013.

It wasn’t just that this old-timer won the race though – it is how he won the race.  From 22+ lengths back going into the final half-mile, Calidoscopio is not even on the wide angle lens through much of the race!!!…And then…

What makes it even better is that it was an undercard; it was in the slop; the grandstands were mostly empty – and here comes this unheralded ten-year old Argentine!  To me, Calidoscopio’s hard charge to win this race evokes the essence of sports and competition.  This was not overhyped and fabricated.  This was not the main event.  Rather, this was a deep cut.  A gem.  It occurred at a time, place and circumstance least expected.  This was a horse who persevered and refused to quit; this was a jockey who knew exactly when to press – a jockey who learned of Calidoscopio’s rare ability to wait and lurk – and then charge! – similar to what he did at the Breeders Cup Marathon.  Calidoscopio’s achievement was not for the mass media; not for the hype of it – but he achieved it for the most pure reasons of all in sport: because he loves to compete, even if not many are there to witness it.  It probably won’t win an ESPY, but that is fine and maybe even better.

This was the aging Jimmy Connors at the ’91 Open six-shooting past Krickstein.

This was the aging Billy Chapel reaching back for One More Day of Summer to deliver the perfect game at Yankee Stadium.

This was the perfect race.  Yes, the Argentine in the slop!

I hope you enjoy this clip (courtesy of Daily Racing Form) as much as I do:

Congrats, Calidoscopio –  Happy Father’s Day !


Neil D. Thomson is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Ponce De Leon.


Unsportsmanlike Conduct – 15 yards?

Clay postcard 2013

After Wes’ 7 & 5 singles victory over Clay on June 1st at Ponce XI, one might consider this postcard spiking the football….nah!



ESPN: Oakey “A Catalyst” for Deerfield Lacrosse Juggernaut


Six Deerfield Academy graduates have played in the Ponce, including Wes Battle, Chris Harrick, LT Thompson, Adam Sichol, Kirk Bedell and Henry Oakey.

While Henry is getting set for his 3rd Ponce in just 16 days, ESPN wrote a great piece about the 14 DA alums playing or coaching on the 16 teams that make up the field of this year’s NCAA Lacrosse tournament. Deerfield Coach Chip Davis credits Henry with igniting the tradition on the 1993 and 1994 DA squads, where he suited up with Thompson and Battle for the Big Green. Check it out….

ESPN: Deerfield Lax Continues Tradition of Excellance – May 11, 2013

The Beginning: Every elite program has a defining period when it makes its ascension to the top and remains there.

Davis attributes much of the start of Deerfield’s reign at the top to a midfielder out of Charlottesville, Va. named Henry Oakey. Oakey came to Deerfield in 1993 and would go on to star at the University of Virginia and graduate with a National Championship (1999).

“He was one of those kids who I would consider a catalyst,” Davis recalled. “I felt like ever since he got to Deerfield we have not had a losing season. We had three good years in the mid 1990’s where we only lost two games a year and since about 2000 we have been at the top of the league each year. “