Director of Athletics, Yale University
Interviewed on April 19, 2005 at Ray Tompkins House
Introduction by John Godley (5 mins)
Interview (23 mins)
Tom Beckett started playing golf after watching the San Francisco Giants baseball players (especially Willie Mays) hit balls at a driving range during their spring training. When he went to work at Stanford, he took lessons from the pro Larry O’Neil. He developed an “appreciation for the game and what a good course can do for a university community.”
When he came to Yale 11 years ago, he was shocked to find that the course he had heard so much about was “in such bad condition.” For a year he asked questions and studied. He found that the university was forcing the athletic department to “balance the books on the back of the golf course.” That was changed and an investment program in the course began along with the development of an alumni support base. It took the turnover of four superintendents in ten years before “we were blessed with a superstar.. miracle worker.. genius and visionary, Scott Ramsay.” What had been slowly coming together “then exploded,” resulting in a restored and beautiful course.
An endowment was created which will help ensure that these gains will not be lost. V.P. John Pepper, Scott & labor union leader John Proto have established the most successful labor-management environment in the university. And, he added, “the beauty of the course has empowered the workers.” All these elements came into play when we hosted the 2004 NCAA Eastern Regional tournament. It was a great success and the old style course stood to the best college players and their modern equipment. Only two of the final scores were under par. The winner Bill Haas was –2, whereas the other regional winners were –10 or more. Yale has been asked to bid for another Regional and possibly the National Championship. Other things for the future might be another nine holes, an expanded clubhouse, etc. He said finally, “along with the university and the alumni, I’m proud that my fingerprints are on the Yale golf course.”