Bobby Long, a Greensboro businessman, is credited with helping save the PGA Tour stop in Greensboro a decade ago.
Long, chairman of the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation, convinced Wyndham to sponsor the PGA Tour event in Greensboro with a $25 million letter of credit. The Wyndham Championship has since been transformed in a move back to Sedgefield Country Club in large part to the vision of Long.
“When I heard the news that I was being inducted into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame I felt completely unworthy because basically my deal has been to be a cheerleader, and all these other people do the work, and do it in such a wonderful way,” Long said. “I am in awe of them, certainly not of me.”
Long, 62, stepped in to help one of the nation’s oldest PGA Tour events when no sponsor arose in 2007, helping form a regional coalition of business leaders that included support from not only the Greensboro area, but High Point and Winston-Salem.
“While the tournament name included the word ‘Greensboro’ since it was created in 1938, Bobby saw a bigger picture – an opportunity to use the Wyndham Championship to promote Piedmont Triad regionalism and market the metropolitan statistical area as a great place to live, work, expand or start a business,” said Wyndham Championship tournament director Mark Brazil. “As the regionalism effort began to gain footing, companies that would never have done so if it remained a Greensboro event began joining as tournament partners.”
The CBS Sports broadcast of the Wyndham Championship now reaches nearly a billion people in 225 countries in 32 different languages.
“Mark (Brazil) and his team are incredible, and have been relentless in everything,” said Long, who grew up playing golf at Alamance Country Club. “They really do all the work, but then look at the community leaders, because the old GGO was predominately Greensboro and now the vast majority of the money comes from outside of Greensboro. I can’t sing their praises enough.”
“The world gets a look into the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, and that kind of exposure of golf in the Carolinas is truly priceless,” added Brazil. “When Bobby saved our PGA Tour event, he also saved many charitable organizations that benefit from it each year. Had the tournament gone away, their donations would have followed.”
One such organization is The First Tee. Long is one of the top donors for The First Tee of the Triad and is perhaps THE major donor of the First Tee of Wilmington.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate, so think about these kids who don’t necessarily have the same access and opportunity like I did,” Long said. “It’s a wonderful thing to try to enable them to have the same chance I did. I was sort of born on third base by comparison. Why not try to give them a shot?”