Ted Ryan being interviewed by The Golf Channel
Damon Hack and Charlie Rymer were live from a temporary stage adjacent to East Lake's famous sixth hole, one of the nation's first island par 3s. What a fantastic team to work with! Damon did the interview, and we discussed Coke’s long history with golf. I showed him one of our first sports-related ads from 1905 featuring a man and woman coming off the course.
Two of the key items I brought for the interview were an advertising display piece from the early 1950s featuring Ted Rhodes, the first African-American golfer to play in a PGA event. He appeared in a series of posters featuring athletes like Monte Irvin of the New York Giants, boxer Sugar Ray Robinson among others. The last was a photo of the “big three” of golfing. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were all paid endorsers for The Coca-Cola Company in the 1960s, but the three autographed a group photograph for our longtime Chairman Robert W. Woodruff. The photograph hangs in the special office museum we have for Woodruff at our Atlanta headquarters.
We also set up a mini golf exhibit on the driving range. The media attending the event could see some of our treasures as well as the beautifully restored Coca-Cola machine that will be giving to this year's TOUR Championship winner.
After we recorded the segment, we attended a news conference to highlight the upcoming TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Past winner Bill Haas called in from the Wyndham Championship and was jokingly asked which he preferred more, winning the $10 million or the vintage Coke machine. He was honestly compelled him to say the $10 million, but also noted the vintage machine has a prominent home in his "man cave."
One of the highlights of the morning for me was to hear from Alvin, a 10th grader at Drew Charter School Junior & Senior Academy. One of the focal points of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola is a charitable component benefiting the First Tee of East Lake and the East Lake Foundation. The support that the tournament and The Coca-Cola Company generate for these groups and the school are amazing. In hearing this young man speak, I was proud of my association with the event. The young man announced his attention to attend Emory University, my alma mater, and I'm sure he will excel!
Ted Ryan is director of heritage communications at The Coca-Cola Company.