• Getting to Know 2016 CSGA President Tom Morgan

    Posted on December 1st, 2015 No comments

    Tom Photo copy

    Tom Morgan could have easily ended up going down a completely different path.

    As it turned out, the one the Covina native ended up on was perfect.

    Following his graduation from UC Santa Barbara, the now 75-year-old Morgan first found himself on the Monterey Peninsula at Fort Ord. Previously an ROTC member at UC Santa Barbara, he’d spend two years at the former U.S. Army base.

    At the time, golf was an afterthought. While Morgan had played as a teen, he was more interested in writing about sports. So much so, that following his discharge from the Army, he was set to become a sportswriter for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

    It was then, however, that everything changed.

    Just prior to getting out of the Army, Morgan heard that the position of athletic business manager was open back at UC Santa Barbara. He’d apply for, and get that job instead.

    “I changed course at the 11th hour,” Morgan said. “Turned out, it was a fortunate series of events that led me to a very enjoyable career.”

    For Morgan, it was indeed just the start of it all.

    Five years after arriving back in Santa Barbara, he’d move to the offices of the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section, serving as assistant commissioner. It was during Morgan’s time at the CIF that the Southern California High School Golf Championship was founded.

    The winner of the inaugural 1972 championship was Craig Stadler, whom Morgan would later forge a strong friendship with in San Diego.

    For Morgan though, it was a working relationship that really got things rolling. While working on the formation of the CIF-SCGA  Championship, Morgan routinely met and talked with Newell Pinch, who at the time was the executive director of the Southern California Golf Association.

    Not too much later, Pinch notified Morgan that his assistant at the SCGA was leaving, and that the position was open.

    “That’s when it all really started for me,” Morgan said. “It became a wonderful 33-year career in the golf business.”

    After 10 years of working as an assistant to Pinch, Morgan made the move to San Diego, where he became the executive director of the Century Club of San Diego, which presents the PGA Tour event now known as the Farmers Insurance Open.

    In 1993, his last year as executive director of the Century Club, a youngster named Phil Mickelson won the tournament. Having been involved with junior golf in the Southern California region, Morgan wasn’t surprised to see Mickelson rise to the top.

    “I’d watched him come up as a junior,” Morgan said. “It was quite a send-off.”

    With Pinch retiring, that same year Morgan returned to the SCGA as executive director. Following his retirement from the SCGA in 2006, he’d serve as president of the International Association of Golf Administrators.

    But that’s not all of it. In between it all, Morgan also served in national and regional organizations including the USGA’s Regional Associations and Joe Dey Award Committees, golf advisory committees for the City and County of Los Angeles, the Southern California Section of the PGA and the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission.

    It’s safe to say that the path he ended up taking was the right one.

    And he’s still not done. This year, he’ll serve as president of the California Seniors Golf Association.

    “I cherish the friendships that I’ve made over the years,” said Morgan, who lives in Manhattan Beach with his wife, Toni, who he met while at UCSB. “Golf is full of good people.”

    Tom Morgan, being one of them.

    Recently, the 2016 CSGA president took a timeout for a quick Q&A session.

    What are you looking forward to as CSGA president?

    I’m looking forward to continuing the organization on the very positive path that it currently enjoys, with the help of my fellow Governors on the Board. We want to continue the good work that others have done before us.

    How did you first get started with golf?

    My father regularly played at Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills. His interest in the game got me interested. I was never very good. I always told everyone I was a golf administrator and not a player.

    What is your greatest golf memory or moment?

    I’m not sure I can pick just one. There have been so many I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy.

    Anything you would change with the game?

    I think the sport is on the right track in getting people interested. The work that is currently going on improving pace of play and making the game more inviting to all will pay off down the road. The national organizations are coming together  on this instead of trying to do it on their own, which is a good thing.

    What is your favorite course and why?

    My home course, Lakeside Golf Club. There are some great courses in the world that I have enjoyed playing, but Lakeside is dearest to my heart. It’s a wonderful layout and challenging and fun to play on a day in and day out basis.

    What courses are still on your wish list?

    I’ve been fortunate enough to play some really good ones. I’ve heard great things about Pine Valley and have never played it. So it would be Pine Valley.

    Who was your biggest golf influence?

    Probably Newell Pinch. He brought me into the golf business and taught me all the insights on amateur golf administration. It was my good fortune to be able to learn under him. That set the stage for the rest of my career.

    Does or did your business career intertwine with your golf game?

    Yes, it did. It’s fun to be able to continue to be involved with golf and some of those relationships continue now with the CSGA —both with friends in the north and south.

    Leave a reply