Bevy of birdies benefits East Lake Foundation

Three PGA TOUR players turned their good play into good deeds, participating in Birdies for East Lake (#birdiesforeastlake) to help raise $382,700 to support the work of the East Lake Foundation, which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year. Charley Hoffman, J.B. Holmes and Brandt Snedeker joined a longtime supporter of the foundation in pledging to make a donation for each birdie made during the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.

In addition, Alex Robertson and his wife, Alexandra, pledged to donate $1,000 per birdie made by the field of 28 players. Already the primary fundraiser for the East Lake Foundation, these additional contributions stemming from the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola will provide valuable resources to aid the foundation in efforts for holistic community redevelopment. This year, a total of 368 birdies were recorded at the TOUR Championship.

Alex Robertson serves as a board member of both the East Lake Foundation and Purpose Built Communities.

Snedeker said the work being done by the foundation was inspiring, and he was honored to give back.

“After being a champion here in 2012 and recognizing what the East Lake Foundation has done for the community, (participating in Birdies for East Lake) seemed like a very small gesture on my part that could raise some money and awareness for such a successful organization,” Snedeker said. “What they’ve been able to accomplish with the new charter school, it’s just phenomenal, and with Tom Cousins’ mission to take this model to the rest of the country, it’s just really special.”

“Something small like (making a donation per birdie), it was really easy for me to do, and I was glad I could donate to such a worthy cause.”

Hoffman said the resilience of the East Lake community is something to honor.

“I know how much this community has gone through, and I know how much work has gone into revamping this area,” said Hoffman. “I love coming back here whenever I can. I gave a little bit of money, I didn’t make a lot of birdies this week, but I tried.”

Holmes said he was impressed with how the foundation empowers the residents of East Lake to have success in life.

“If you can give people a chance so they can advance themselves, then I’m going to want to jump at that opportunity,” Holmes said. “It seems like a great organization that gives people opportunities, and if they want to take those opportunities they can go as far as they want to. Those are definitely the people you want to help out.”

This year’s Birdies for East Lake participants tallied a total of 39 birdies at the TOUR Championship:

  • Hoffman, who is participating on behalf of the Charley Hoffman Foundation, drained six birdies in the final round and finished with 12 total.
  • Holmes, who finished T8 in the 2015 TOUR Championship, tallied 15 birdies during the week.
  • Snedeker, the 2012 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and FedEx Cup winner, closed out his round with three birdies to finish with 12 total.

The Birdies for East Lake effort was started by PGA TOUR winner Brendon Todd. Last year, Todd tallied 14 birdies during his first appearance in the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and donated $500 for each of his birdies to the East Lake Foundation. A resident of Atlanta and former collegiate golfer at the University of Georgia, Todd donated $7,000 to support the mission and work of the foundation.

The East Lake Foundation collaborates with public and private organizations to provide tools that enable Atlanta’s East Lake residents to build a better future through its model for community revitalization which includes mixed-income housing, cradle-to-college education and community wellness. Net proceeds from the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola go to support the foundation and The First Tee of East Lake.

Chef Bill horizontal

Behind the Scenes with Executive Pastry Chef Bill Lipscomb

A year ago when Executive Pastry Chef Bill Lipscomb first started at East Lake Golf Club he couldn’t predict what the next 12 months would be like. As a former spectator at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, though, he at least had an idea of the excitement that tournament week brings.

“It’s been great. I have seen a lot, learned a lot. I’ve known about this place for ages. I’ve always been on the other side watching the tournament from the gallery but now I’m in the clubhouse.”

After holding previous positions at Atlanta staples like the Capital City Club and The Ritz-Carlton Downtown, Lipscomb is highly experienced, but has a chance to do more than just bake at East Lake Golf Club.

It’s been interesting because I continue to learn more and more about the East Lake Foundation. Every other week or so I’m learning about the Villages, Drew Charter School or The First Tee. If you’re not in the community you honestly don’t know about this stuff – how the Cousins family gives back and how it has benefitted so many.”

Lipscomb says tournament week is in a league of its own. Chef Bill sticks to “old reliables” like pound cake, chocolate mousse, crème brûlée and cheesecake – anything you can make in large quantities.

“It’s definitely intense because you always want to turn out good products, but a lot of times it’s the numbers. You honestly don’t know how many people will come through clubhouse. It’s a lot of mass production.”

As far as tips for surviving tournament week, he follows the same advice he taught his students at Le Cordon Bleu and the Art Institute of Atlanta when baking for a large event.

“Tournament week is not the week to experiment. When you have something solid – stick with it.”

One dessert you’ll find year-round, though, if you have the opportunity to visit the men’s or women’s locker rooms is ginger snaps. Those lucky enough to find themselves there tournament week will be able to sample a Bobby Jones favorite, straight from the recipe book that belonged to Jones’ mother.

“They’ve been putting them in the locker room since he played here and we’ve kept the tradition. I make them every week – typically a small batch.”

How many is that you wonder? “Oh about 800 cookies.”

Looks like Chef Bill has that mass production under control.

Leslie Morgan Portrait

Meet volunteer Leslie Morgan

Position: Hole 14 Marshall

Years Volunteering: Three

Occupation: Retired

What drives you to volunteer each year?

Love of the game; seeing all the players up close; for the good of the community; seeing all the joy of the spectators; and giving back for my blessings.

What’s your favorite part of being a volunteer?

The great relationship all the Hole 14 Marshals have and our hole captain Ellis Kilgore.

What’s your favorite memory as a volunteer?

Rory McIlroy hitting his drive into a spectator’s pocket in 2014 on my hole!


Life Skills Learned at The First Tee of East Lake

While golf is an integral part of The First Tee of East Lake, program graduate Darius Davis can assure it’s much more than that.

“The coaches at The First Tee mentored me in ways unimaginable,” said Davis.

Originally from the Kirkwood area, Davis got involved in The First Tee program at age 12. He regularly acknowledges what a blessing the program was in his life.

“The First Tee is known for their golf skills and life skills. Through the golf skills I was able to get my full ride scholarship to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. And life skills wise, of course they have the nine core values: courtesy, respect, judgement, responsibility, sportsmanship, confidence, honesty, integrity and perseverance. And those I’ve taken with me throughout my whole life.”

While The First Tee teaches many skills, one of the most useful Davis found – especially when going off to college – was the meet and greet skillset. It allowed him to meet new people and make connections that ultimately have led to more opportunities for his college and future professional career.

Davis notes his college scholarship as one of the best things that came out of his involvement with The First Tee, but he also had the chance to experience leadership and life skills academies across the country in places like Tennessee and Oregon.

His favorite memory, though, was hitting the ceremonial tee shot at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola two years ago.

“I can just recall the nerves I had standing up and about to hit a golf shot in front of all these people,” he said. “And I was absolutely nervous. I know I didn’t show it, but I was.”

Now he is studying at one of only 19 schools with the PGA Professional Golf Management Program and working toward his goal of becoming a head pro or teaching professional. In his spare time, he likes to give back to the The First Tee since it provided him with so much.

“I’ve mentored kids in my off days over at Charlie Yates Golf Course so they can see me and that will build momentum for them to try to strive and do the best they can for the future.”

East Lake Ground Breaking for East Lake Academy

Meet star student Roland Blanding

Grade: 11th

Age: 16

Who is your favorite teacher at Drew Charter School and why?

My favorite teacher is my AP U.S. History/World History/Human Geography teacher Ms. Jennifer Ferenczy. The knowledge and vigor that she brings to her craft makes being a student not just worth it, but a privilege.

What is your favorite subject?

My favorite subject is physics because I can see it in action in every moment of my life.

What is your favorite memory from Drew Charter School?

My favorite memory from Drew Charter School was planning a successful March Madness Basketball tournament at my school.

How has your experience at Drew Charter School prepared you for the future?

Drew has provided me with the social skills, business connections and basic understanding of economics that I need to succeed.

What do you plan to do when you graduate high school?

I plan on pursuing a business degree at Columbia University, then continuing my education at law school, to ultimately become a sports agent.

If applicable:

What has the game of golf taught you?

Golf has taught me integrity, and the real value of honestly in life as well as sports.

What does the TOUR Championship golf tournament mean to you?

The TOUR Championship is a massive economic activity that brings prosperity to the area, but to me, its greatest value lies in the competition itself. Just witnessing years of exertion, frustration and hope in the eyes of each competitor inspires me to grow and push myself every day to see if one day, I can be as proficient at my craft as the TOUR professionals are at theirs.

Angela Beng Portrait

Meet volunteer Angela Deng

Volunteer Position: Standard Bearer

Years Volunteering: Two

What drives you to volunteer each year?

Helping such a wonderful program for a great cause and meeting the best players in the world!

What’s your favorite part of being a volunteer?

Being able to be so close to the greatest golfers in the world.

What’s your favorite memory as a volunteer?

Being a standard bearer for Jordan Spieth in 2014.

East Lake Cup is next chapter in using golf to change the community

Golf Channel announced today that each of the semifinalist teams from the 2015 Division I NCAA Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships have committed to compete in the inaugural East Lake Cup match play championship, airing live on the network Nov. 2-3 at historic East Lake Golf Club.

The men’s division of the East Lake Cup will feature a rematch of the National Championship semifinals. The four participating teams include: reigning National Champions Louisiana State University (LSU); the University of Southern California (USC), who lost to LSU in the championship match; University of Georgia (UGA), two-time National Champions (1999 and 2005); and the University of Illinois, which is coming off a school-record eight tournament-win season.

“Golf Channel’s coverage of the NCAA golf championships has been tremendous and brought the excitement of college golf to a broader audience,” said LSU men’s golf coach Chuck Winstead. “We look forward to competing at East Lake Golf Club, one of golf’s storied venues.”

The 2015 National Championship winning Stanford University will headline a women’s division comprised of all four teams from the 2015 National Championship semifinals. That field also includes: 2015 championship runner-up Baylor University; Duke University, six-time National Champions, including 2014; and the University of Southern California (USC), which earned the No. 1 seed for both stroke and match play portions of the 2015 championships.

“We are very excited to partake in the first ever East Lake Cup,” said Stanford women’s golf coach Anne Walker. “Golf Channel has invested a lot of time and energy into college golf; we feel very fortunate to be able to benefit from its commitment. The four participating women’s teams are all very experienced, and the competition will no doubt make for great viewing.”

Teams for the East Lake Cup will compete on the championship golf course at East Lake Golf Club, home of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, the season-ending event of the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs. The East Lake Cup will benefit the East Lake Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to helping families build better lives and children reach their highest potential through its holistic approach to community revitalization incorporating mixed-income housing, cradle-to-college education and community wellness.

The East Lake Cup also will feature the Tom Cousins Award, a new annual recognition presented to an outstanding male and female golfer who exemplify the values of the East Lake Foundation: excels in academics, engaged in his or her community and has overcome adversity. This award is named for Tom Cousins, founder of the East Lake Foundation, which transformed a community in despair into a thriving neighborhood, now a national model for community redevelopment through Purpose Built Communities.

Two match-play tournaments will be hosted simultaneously at East Lake Golf Club for the women’s and men’s divisions. Monday, Nov. 2 will feature the semifinals and Tuesday, Nov. 3 the finals and consolation matches. Within both the semifinals and finals, the competing teams will pair five players in singles matches.

2015 EAST LAKE CUP SCHEDULE OF EVENTS (all times Eastern)

Monday, Nov. 2:

10 a.m.            Semifinal Matches Begin

2-5 p.m.           Golf Channel Live coverage

Tuesday, Nov. 3:

10 a.m.            Consolation Matches begin

11:45 a.m.       Championship Matches begin

2-5 p.m.           Golf Channel Live Coverage

General admission to the inaugural East Lake Cup is free on Monday, November 2 and Tuesday, November 3. Limited complimentary parking is available at East Lake Golf Club on a first come, first serve basis.

For more information about the East Lake Cup please visit the tournament website here. Stay connected with the championship on Twitter via @GolfChannel using hashtag #EastLakeCup.

Charlie Rymer reflects on East Lake

We went behind the scenes with Golf Channel’s popular show “Morning Drive” which is filming live at East Lake Golf Club throughout the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Charlie Rymer, one of the show’s hosts, is an alum of Georgia Tech, and he shared some of his memories of East Lake and reflected on the community’s remarkable transformation.

Meet star student Christopher Bass

Grade: 9th

Age: 13

Who is your favorite teacher at Drew Charter School and why?

My favorite teacher at Drew Charter School was my second teacher, Ms. Snyder, because she made the class interactive.

What is your favorite subject?

My favorite subject is History, because it makes me feel like I am in that certain time period that the teacher may discuss.

What is your favorite memory from Drew Charter School?

My favorite memory from Drew Charter School was in fourth grade when we had parties every month for our behavior throughout the month.

How has your experience at Drew Charter School prepared you for the future?

Drew Charter School has prepared me for my future well because I feel that I can be a successful leader when I grow up.

What do you plan to do when you graduate high school?

When I graduate high school, I would like to go to college and become an architectural engineer.

What has the game of golf taught you?

The game of golf has taught me life skills and being a great person.

What does the TOUR Championship golf tournament mean to you?

It means a lot to me because it allows me to watch a great game.

Sue Ridgeway Portrait

Meet Volunteer Sue Ridgeway

Years Volunteering: 9

Occupation: Retired GMAC

What drives you to volunteer each year?

I enjoy seeing all the final players and the excitement of the tournament.

What’s your favorite part of being a volunteer?

Working with all the great people who volunteer.

What’s your favorite memory as a volunteer?

The first year I worked I was on the green and Phil Mickelson walked by me and looked me in the eye and tipped his visor, and I knew I was hooked.