By NICOLE PRUITT
Franklin County High School
John Hatcher Ferguson just returned from hanging out with some pretty heavy hitters.
They also happened to play some golf.
Ferguson was nominated by The First Tee Roanoke Valley to travel and play golf in Pebble Beach, CA with professional golfers as well as amateur golfing business men and women.
“I was fortunate enough to get nominated to go on this trip, and it was one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” said Ferguson.
The trip lasted three days and allowed Ferguson to play with a broad spectrum of golfers, including one of his idols, former Master’s Champion Larry Mize
“I was lucky enough to be paired with (him) during this trip, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. He helped bring out my best,” said Ferguson.
Mize and Ferguson played as a team for the three-day event.
“The first two days I played pretty well,” said Ferguson. “The third day, my partner and I didn’t play extremely well, but we did a good job working as a team,” he said.
Participants got to play with different influential figures every day. Ferguson played with many other amateurs at golf, but not amateurs at business.
“I played against several of the strongest, most influential people in the world such as Carl H. Lindner, III, (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Great American Property and Casualty Group); and Brad Blinn (Vice President of Goldman Sachs). I learned a lot about decision making and how the business world operates,” said Ferguson.
Another “most influential” figure was Condoleezza Rice.
“I got to play with Condoleezza Rice, and afterward she gave me her email and told me to stay in touch. She basically asked me what my plans were for college and to contact her if she could help me out in any way,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson and Condoleezza have emailed a few times since.
“I’ve contacted her a few times since the trip, and she’s been very helpful. We’ve discussed college and basically what I want to do with my future, it helps a lot knowing such an influential figure is helping me and giving me advice when it comes to my future,” said Ferguson.
As well as discussing his future, Ferguson also learned a lot about his game.
“One of the things that I can really take away from this experience are the tips I was given about my game. The pros found flaws that I didn’t realize I had involving my aim and strategy, and it’s helped me develop as a golfer,” said Ferguson.
While taking part in this three day trip, Ferguson missed the state tournament. Although participating in this event was a once in a lifetime experience, Ferguson says he wouldn’t trade playing with his team for anything.
“I wouldn’t say I regret taking part in this experience. The thing that I regret is not being able to play with my team. Riding the bus with the guys and playing with them, nothing can beat that. I really wish I had been able to do both, but I couldn’t and I missed out on making memories with my team, which is what I regret,” said Ferguson.
All in all, Ferguson did a good job competing during the trip. Together himself and Mize finished 11th overall, but Ferguson wouldn’t have minded last.
“I would have rather played with Larry Mize and finished dead last, than to have played with any other pro and won,” said Ferguson.