ABA Banking Journal - August 2011 - (Page 56)
First person | jim brown
4,000 miles for a round? No problem
For bankers who golf, a tale to make you a wee bit envious
Most golfers dream of making the
pilgrimage to Scotland to play the Old Course at St. Andrews where golf was first played. While there, they hope to have a look inside the 257-year-old Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Many in fact have made the trip and filled out the daily ballot (drawing) or waited at the starter’s box to have a chance to play the Old Course. Jim Brown, however, does the trip every year and doesn’t need to fill out a ballot. As a member of the “R&A,” he can make a tee time at the Old Course. The CEO of 142-year-old Hardin County Savings Bank in Eldora, Iowa, has been living this golfer’s dream since 2003. A lifelong Iowa banker Jim Brown on the 18th fairway of the Old Course in St. Andrews, with golfer, Brown became a member of the clubhouse of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, where he is a member, behind the “R&A” that year, and has travhim. Carts are still rare in Scotland, he says. “They like ‘walking golf’.” eled to Scotland each year since to As an R&A member Brown had play in the famous club’s Fall Meeting, a three-week tournament. the opportunity to serve as a course Every golfer reading this is wondering, “How do you become a member of marshal when the British Open was the R&A? Do you have to know someone?” Yes, you need a connection. held at the Old Course in 2005 and It probably doesn’t hurt to have Scottish blood, either, although it’s not 2010. Marshals help keep order— required. Brown’s paternal grandfather came from the Orkney Islands in and quiet—among the throngs of the far north of Scotland, and he still has family there. But it was a highfans. As a marshal, Brown has had a school classmate from Eldora that proved to be the key. She married a Scot chance to meet pros and their famiand emigrated to Scotland. Brown and his wife and the other couple have lies inside the R&A clubhouse. He remained friends and visit each other regularly. The husband is a member particularly remembers his meetof the R&A, and would invite Brown to play the Old Course when he came ings with Tom Watson and Arnold over. One year Brown asked if he could become an R&A member. The Palmer, and with Iowa native son answer was “yes,” which began a two-year process involving a proposal, a Zach Johnson. second, about 20 letters of support from members, and a wait in a “queue.” What is Brown’s best round at the “It has nothing to do with golf skills,” says Brown. “It’s more about your Old Course to date? Even par (72)— love for the game.” The club, he says, has 25 handicap golfers and “scratch” three birdies, three bogeys, 12 pars. golfers as members. (Scratch meaning 0 handicap—i.e. very good.) Brown’s “The weather is the biggest varihandicap is seven. able,” he says. If the wind is whipIn an interview, Brown corrected a couple of misconceptions. The R&A, ping off the North Sea, then a score he says, does not own the Old Course. It is one of seven local courses manin the 80s is good. — Bill Streeter aged by the St. Andrews Links Trust, all of them public. The other misconMore photos and additional details at ception is that women can’t play the course. The R&A is an all-male club, it’s http://tinyurl.com/R-Abanker true, but men and women have equal access to the Old Course, says Brown.
56 | ABA BANKING JOURNAL | august 2011
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