When I was in the playing and photographing the courses stage before I even began writing my book Louisiana Golfer’s Paradise: The Audubon Golf Trail, there was no doubt in my mind who I wanted to get to write the Foreword: David Toms. After all, he had designed Carter Plantation, one of the courses of the Trail, he was on “This is my Louisiana” advertisements for the state Office of Tourism with an alligator, he was an all-American golfer from LSU, and he is arguably the most successful professional Louisiana golfer ever, having won the PGA Championship in 2001 and having earned a total of 13 tour victories and more than $36 million. Beyond that, I knew that he was a HUGE LSU sports fanatic. That sealed the deal. My family and friends will tell you nothing ranks higher to me than LSU sports. The question was “how am I ever going to get him to do this?” We had never met each other; I had spent my career as a Clinical Chemist and Professor. There was no reason that we should have met. How was I, a nobody in the golfing or business world, going to get David Toms’ notice? Years ago, I never would have had the courage to even ask. But my advanced age tells me that if you want something bad enough, you should do what you can to try to get. Tomorrow may be too late. (This is the same principle that guided me to take action on realizing my dream of publishing.) So I wrote to the David Toms Foundation, and asked if he might be interested. They had me send a draft copy of the book and after many discussions my proposal was accepted. Erin Laney and Adam Young of the Foundation were so amazingly helpful in the long process. When I finally had my hands on a copy of the Foreword by David, I was ecstatic! He did a wonderful job. But I still had not met him, Erin, or Adam.
At the end of April, 2011, thanks to Jim Hutchinson, Melody Alijani, Steve Windham, and others, the State Office of Tourism accepted my plea to work with them in the Audubon Golf Trail booth at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans to help announce the impending arrival of my book. During the tournament, I was able to take off some time from the booth to follow David Toms around a little. He ended up finishing in a tie for 18th; however, I could tell that his game was about to explode and I told everybody I knew. He was pinpoint accurate on his drives and his irons were exceptional, especially his short irons. If he had been able to hole many of his shorter putts I believe he could have won the tournament. I know as a golfer that putting comes and goes. But with his beautiful putting stroke I believed that it wouldn’t be long before he would put it all together and explode.
I didn’t have to wait long. Two weeks later he hovered near the top but then took the lead in the third round of the Player’s Championship and held it until the last few holes on the last day. However, he made a spectacular long iron shot out of a divot on the 18th hole and sank a long putt to earn a playoff with KJ Choi. On the first playoff hole he barely missed a birdie which would have won the tournament. Unfortunately his putter failed him on the comeback putt to earn the victory for KJ.
Most people would have let that experience defeat them. But not David Toms. He stormed to an early two round lead with dual 62’s at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in Fort Worth the next week. A disappointing third round put others in contention, but David never let up and an eagle obtained by holing a wedge shot on #11 on the last day sealed his win. I wish I had been there. Even on TV, you could hear the gallery shouting L-S-U! L-S-U!
In early June, 2011, about ten days after David’s victory, I arranged a trip to the northern part of the state to bring copies of my book to the pro shops in the Audubon Golf Trail and to the David Toms Foundation office in Shreveport. I had just turned off I-49 toward Alexandria to visit OakWing Golf Club when I got a call from Erin Laney of the Foundation saying that David was in the office and I would be able to meet him. I scurried out of Alexandria without making my planned stop and arrived at the David Toms Foundation office two hours or so later shaking from head to tail. I was not disappointed. He was very busy answering well wishers about his recent victory but he took time out of his schedule to see me. I congratulated him, thanked him profusely, and gave him a couple finished copies of the book. We chatted briefly but I can say that David is gracious and a true gentleman. I was so excited and nervous about our meeting that I failed to ask for an autograph. But what a day!
So why do I root for David Toms. Selfishly, sure, his success can possibly help the sale of my book. But it’s more than that. How can you not root for someone who strikes the ball with such precision? How can you not root for someone who is such an ambassador for his community, his school, his state, and his nation? How can you not root for someone who is so family-oriented? How can you not root for such an LSU fan? I can’t. Geaux David!
Please support the David Toms Foundation. They do a wonderful job in providing programs for enhancement of self esteem and character in abused, underprivileged, and neglected children. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Louisiana Golfer’s Paradise: The Audubon Golf Trail will be donated to them. For more information visit their website at www.davidtoms.com. rt
© 2011 rt tulley