Falcons owner takes in Ryder Cup, plants two PGA Tour Superstores in Chicago area
On Friday, during a break at Medinah Country Club, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank explained all the reasons why golf is such a great outlet.
"I love playing. I love getting out. I love being out. I love the camaraderie, the social aspect of it," Blank told the Sun-Times. "You want to remove yourself from everything else, and walk around on beautiful golf course like this. It's a game you never conquer; I don't care if you're Phil or Tiger, or anybody.
"You're just never going to conquer it, which I like, by nature."
Blank is probably most recognizable as the co-founder of Home Depot and the owner of the Falcons, a franchise that's currently 3-0 and boasts an envious core that includes president Rich McKay, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan.
But, Blank applied the same rationale for taking over the PGA Tour Superstores as he did in buying the Falcons back in 2002.
"I was a season ticket holder of the Falcons when I retired in 2001. I'd go to the game and watch the up and down seasons. I said, 'I actually can sit here for the next 20 years of my life and complain about this team or actually try to buy it and fix it," Blank said. "With this business, it was the same mentality. I invested a lot and wasn't involved. I said there were so many things that could be done to fix it."
Blank is proud of the Superstores now, two of which opened in the Chicago area, one in Lombard and another Downers Grove. His golf stores are distinctive in that they're massive, usually at least 50,000 square feet, with a wide selection of apparel, equipment as well as services.
"I think we built a unique model in golf retailing today in America," Blank said. "The stores are doing extraordinary well."
He said seven to 10 more Superstores around the country could open within the next two years.
So how often does he play?
"Well, I would love to tell you once or twice a week. I should be able to," he said. "But I have six children, three grand children, and four businesses, and a foundation."
In fact, the Arthur M. Blank Foundation committed to donating $1 million to the First Tee, which teaches young people -- many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds -- life skills through golf instruction.
"I love the program," Blank said. "Quite honestly, golf is a vehicle but it's really secondary because most of these kids aren't going to be out here playing in the Ryder Cup."
Discipline. Honesty. Hard work.
"That carries over into their lives," Blank said. "That's what the First Tee does. It teaches them in a clean, fun setting.
"If they learn those values, that's the most important thing."
You can view a video of my interview with Blank here.
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