USGA: Tim Brown and “The Bus” Talk Golf At U.S. Senior Open Championship

Have you ever that that sixth sense to do something out of the blue? On Saturday, after my volunteer shift, something told me to check my email. I flip to my blog email account and there is a notice from the USGA. This what I saw.

MEDIA ADVISORY – U.S. Senior Open Honorary Chairmen Tim Brown and Jerome Bettis Available in Media Center at 4 p.m. on Saturday

Now in order to get from the main gate to the media tent it takes two buses, a car ride and another bus to get there. That means leaving through the Main Gate to Stepan Building, Stepan Building to the Joyce parking lot, get in my car drive and drive to Bulla lot, Bulla Lot to Gate 2. Now finding out the news at 3:05 PM, I knew it would be close. I make it to the media tent with 7 minutes to spare. Luckily Tim Brown was running 45 minutes late.

Tim Brown and “The Bus” Press Conference

TIm Brown and The Bus Photo By Dalton Tinklenberg Shake Down The Thunder Sports

Moderator Session with Tim Brown and Jerome Bettis

Opening Statement by the Moderator: “Welcome into the media center. It’s my pleasure to welcome in Jerome Bettis and Tim Brown, two Notre Dame legends and Pro Football Hall-of-Famers, both inducted in the Class of 2015, and both the Honorary Chairmen of this 40th U.S. Senior Open. First just want to get into how you both got into the game of golf, and what do you enjoy most about it?”

Jerome Bettis response: “For me it was a couple of my teammates in Pittsburgh, they convinced me — namely, Kordell Stewart convinced me to come out and play, and he beat up on me for a couple of years until I had said to myself I’m not going to lose anymore, and I started to work at my game. But not until I retired did I really start to get lessons and work towards my game.”

“So I have a love affair with golf now as a result of it because it’s the only really competition — only way we can compete as former athletes is on the golf course.”

Tim Brown response: “You know, for me, the only regret I have in my life is when I was 11 years old my elementary school principal came up to me and said, Tim, I’ve been watching you, you have great hand-eye coordination, and I want to teach you how to play golf. And I’m an inner city kid that grew up in Texas. I was like, this man done lost his mind. I’m not playing any golf. But that’s the only sports regret I have in my whole life.”

“I was a tennis player. That was my off-season sport. I tore my knee up my second year, and the Raiders wouldn’t let me play tennis anymore. So they told I could play golf, so that’s how I started playing golf in my mid-20s.”

“And like Jerome, you really don’t — well, our swing is not perfected, but for us, every year you end the year with a shoulder injury or a knee injury or whatever and you have to adapt your swing to that. So really not until I finished the game was I able to play golf the way I wanted to.”

Moderator question: Can anything you did on the football field help you on the golf course? Are there any similarities between the?

Tim Brown response: “I often say, if I played football the way I play golf, I would have been in the league about a year and a half because I make all kinds of dumb plays and dumb mental mistakes, and on the football field I was known for being a headsy guy.”

“I don’t know what it is. It’s something about that little white ball, you just want to kill it, but it can’t be killed. But in my mind I can kill it. It just keeps going on and on and on.”

Jerome Bettis response: “Probably the language is the only thing that correlates from golf to football, because golf is going to make you say some words you don’t really want to. But football does it, as well. And football is obviously you’re competing against other guys, and so you’ve got the war of words as well as the physicality of the game.”

“But I think that’s the only correlation because in football, physically you’re getting beat up, and golf is about mentally getting beat up.”

Moderator question: “It just shows you how good Stricker and Toms and Jerry Kelly really are. You guys spent a little bit of time with David Toms out on the Notre Dame football field. I think he threw a pass and then signed some autographs a little bit earlier. What have you heard from the players and the fans about their experience here at the Warren Course for the Senior Open?”

Jerome Bettis response: “Well, I just finished signing, and everything I heard was great. The one thing I heard more than anything was that they appreciated the people that was working here, that was doing everything, they just thought everything was so well run and well done.”

“So I don’t think it’s indicative of Notre Dame as much as it is the USGA. But I think Notre Dame is getting a lot of credit, when the USGA should get a lot of the credit with how this is being run.”

“But I just think it’s been a first-class experience, and I think all the fans have been saying that. But knowing who to really direct the first-class experience to.”

“So it’s been — in my experience, it’s been awesome to come here and to have an opportunity to mingle with some of the players to get a chance to chat with them. Throughout time I’ve gotten to know some of the guys, so to spend a little bit of time and have them here on campus, in essence, it’s neat.”

Tim Brown response: “Yeah, you know, this is the first time since I’ve been following golf that football and golf have really collided. You know, I think for it to be at the University of Notre Dame and for us to be doing things on the football field with David Toms and the helmets that they’re getting, the jerseys they’re getting, things of that nature, you’re finally seeing football and golf clashing, and I think everybody likes what they’ve seen.”

“I think the University of Notre Dame, I’ll give them a little credit. Jerome don’t want to give them any credit, but I’ll give them a little credit. I think this university has stood up to the test, and it’s shining big right now, I believe. Of course we know the USGA, they’re going to do great things all the time. We played with one of the USGA reps this morning, Fred Perpall, and they’re serious about what they’re doing, and you can tell that here.”

“I think from that standpoint it’s a beautiful thing, and I would hope the USGA would look at bringing another tournament here to the university relatively soon. I know things are already planned out, but as soon as possible because I think this university can handle it, and I think everybody really loved what they’ve seen so far. We’ve still got another day to go.”

Media Questions with Tim Brown and Jerome Bettis

Media question: “Jerome, maybe the one course that you had always wanted to play and finally did, just walk us through that experience for you.”

Jerome Bettis response: “The one course I always wanted to play? There’s been a lot of those. Just about every one on the list. I became a member at Oakmont, and the first time I played there — obviously being a Pittsburgh Steeler, Oakmont is right there, I never played it when I was playing in Pittsburgh. I had always heard the stories about, oh, it’s going to eat you up. And so I was always like, oh, my game is not good enough, I don’t want to play there.”

“And then I got an opportunity to go to a SWAT event there, and I’m saying to myself, my game is good, I’m ready, I’m ready for it, and of course I went and got smacked down, and I was not ready for it.”

“But I’m a pain freak, so I joined. And so I said to myself, I am going to bring this course to its knees. I have not done that yet, but the first time I played it, I had a really good sense of what golf really is, because I wasn’t playing golf, and to see them play at a course like that, the pros, I mean, I got a better appreciation for the game and the humility of my golf game, as well.”

Media question“Tim, a lot of the players this week talked about just about everything about Notre Dame, the Golden Dome, the stadium. Is it weird to hear that because when you see these places it’s just kind of like home for you guys?”

Tim Brown response: “Yeah, it is, but there’s not one time when I drive down Notre Dame Avenue for the first time coming back that I don’t take a picture of it. I mean, I may have 50 pictures of that on my phone right now. Every time I come back here and I come down Notre Dame Avenue, I take a picture of the dome.”

“A couple weeks ago I was here for a golf tournament, and it was 3:00 in the morning and so foggy you couldn’t even see the dome, but I still took the picture. That never gets old to me.”

“I was standing out there today waiting on my car at the Morris Inn, and I was looking back, and I just had a little flashback of 30 years ago being on campus because, for both of us, it’s where it all started. Who knows, if things don’t go well here, maybe we don’t have the same career in the NFL. You just never know.”

So for me, that never gets old.

Media question: “Jerome and Tim, what does if mean for you guys to be honorary chairmen of this U.S. Senior Open?”

Jerome Bettis response: “It’s an amazing honor because they could have chosen a lot of other great players that have played at this university. To choose us to carry the mantle, if you will, for all of the former players who have played here with us, it was a tremendous honor and one that didn’t take lightly. So I really appreciate the opportunity, and it’s been more than I could have ever thought it was.”

Tim Brown response: “Well, I can tell you how big it was for me. I didn’t ask for money. That’s how big it was. This was like, whatever you guys want me to do, we’re in.”

“You know, the opportunity to link up with the USGA and to be a part of such a humongous historical event really was really overwhelming. It was one of those “Really? Come on, man, don’t be playing with me” type calls when I got the call.”

“I think from that standpoint, it’s just been awesome to be here and to be a part of this and to have your name associated with it, it’s just been a remarkable deal.”

Media question: “Not really golf-related, but curious, both your thoughts on the state of Notre Dame football right now.”

Jerome Bettis response: “You know what, I think it’s really in a good place. I think Coach Kelly has done an amazing job at being able to recruit from behind, so to speak. Obviously there was a couple schools that have been in the race for a national championship a lot more than Notre Dame has, and so that’s given them a competitive advantage.”

“So I think Coach Kelly has done an amazing job at recruiting kids that are right for Notre Dame but also have given us an opportunity to be competitive on a national stage.”

“I think that’s what it’s all about. I think the more we’re able to perform on a national stage, our players have a sense of what’s needed and what’s necessary to perform at the highest level, and I think that’s the one thing you need to see sometimes, and we’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to see that.”

“So hopefully this is the start of something really big. I think Coach Kelly is a great coach, and I think they’re going to take this momentum and build on it.”

Tim Brown Response: “Yeah, I think that when you look at what has happened over the last couple years, to see this team playing as well as they are is a very beautiful thing. You know, when I came here years ago, it was — I could care less about what happened on the football field. It was all about getting that Notre Dame degree and moving on, and certainly I know it’s a lot different now because it’s such a huge opportunity in the NFL to go and really set your life the way you would like it if you can make an NFL team, especially being a high draft pick.”

“But when you come here, you come here for 40 years, you’re not looking for — just to win a championship or whatever. You’re here because for the next 40 years, your life is going to be taken care of.”

“I could really care less what happens on the football field most of the time. I love the fact that they’re competing and they’re there, and when they’re there, I want them to really compete, unlike they did in Dallas at the Clemson game. But when Notre Dame is out there the way it is, it only makes — when the football team is out there the way it is, it only makes this university that much more special, and you’re going to get better kids, better athletes, the whole deal.”

“That’s the beautiful thing about the team playing as well as they are right now.”

Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question

Shake Down The Thunder Sports question: “With you guys here on campus, football-related, have you had a chance to sit down with some of the guys on the team and talk to them and kind of give them some motivation and just try and give them some guidance for the next season?”


Tim Brown response: “Man, them days are over. That’s not the way it goes anymore. I don’t think — Jerome can speak for himself. I’ve spoken to the team several times over the years, but it’s not a continuous thing. It’s not something that happens all the time.”

“The university knows, athletic department knows, the football team knows, if they ever want me to speak, they know where I am. But that’s just not something you’re called on to do.”

“And I can get it; I understand that. Jerome is younger than me. Probably there would be guys even younger than him coming back to speak to these guys at this particular point. But they know I’m here to support them, and that’s all I can do.”

Jerome Bettis response: “Yeah, for me it’s the same thing. This is not football season, obviously, so I haven’t seen any of the players or anything like that. But I think this is their time at — the calm before the storm, if you will.”

“Yeah, if they wanted me to speak, I would love to, but it’s one of those that they’ve got quite a few people to draw from and a lot of players that’s right now currently in the NFL. So if they need me, I’m available, but I don’t know if they do.”

Go Irish!☘🏈⛳⚡

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