The Wolverine

January 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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She proved as active and interested in golf as her husband, and threw full support behind the donation to the golf center. "She loved golf," Ridder said. "It was a joint decision. She was the longtime golf captain here at Cypress Point. She ran the ladies golf program here for at least 10 years, up until she died. "She wanted to do something that would also benefit women's golf at Michigan. That's why the facility was the perfect avenue — it seemed to be something that would help both the men and the women." The Ridders were no strangers to supporting Michigan. They'd provided funds to the LS&A school, the medical facility for the athletic program, and the Yost facilities project. With golf, the giving involved an even greater hands-on approach. The notion of a college invitational at Cypress Point had been turned down before Ridder became president. When he rose to that position and spoke to the governing board at the club about it, wheels began turning. A club member, Andy Hunter, knew Conrad Ray, the golf coach at Stanford. Before long, those two and Ridder were plotting a way forward. Ridder didn't insist that Michigan be invited. But the others knew his roots and his passion for the Wolverines, and it seemed natural to include them in the formidable field of squads, including UCLA, Duke, Texas, USC, Georgia, Washington and host Stanford. "I was delighted they invited Michigan," Ridder said. "We had them all over for dinner. We paid for all the rooms for all the players. The weather was kind of disappointing. It was foggy, but it didn't seem to bother the players." In fact, club members raised $100,000 to put on the tournament, picking up expenses for the teams. Ridder got Charles Schwab, the investment mogul, to speak at the dinner put on for all of the teams. Ridder hosted the Wolverines in his home, while other club members with connections to the other various schools invited players and coaches in for dinner as well. "All of that was done with the approval of Conrad Ray, the coach of Stanford, who was making sure we were in full compliance with the NCAA rules," Ridder advised. "At dinner, I talked to them about Cypress Point, how it came to be built, how Alister MacKenzie decided to do certain holes a certain way. I talked about various things that have happened here at Cypress Point over the years." MacKenzie, the legendary golf architect, designed not only Cypress Point but the University of Michigan course as well. Cypress Point's president and resident club historian proved the perfect person to guide the Wolverines through a little of the past. The student-athletes are the future, Ridder knows, and he appreciated the glimpse he received of it. "I was struck by the quality of the young men and coaches in the golf program — polite, well-mannered," he said. "I was just impressed with the caliber of the people, aside from their golfing abilities. "Going forward, these are young men who will do well later in life. They'll be loyal to Michigan, just like I've been. That's one of the great things about Michigan. As opposed to so many other big-name institutions, Michigan seems to engender tremendous loyalty. I know of no university in this country where there is more loyalty from its graduates than Michigan." The Cypress Point president has proven his own point — over and over again. ❑ Golfers Will Improve In Years To Come Through Ridders' Generosity Michigan head golf coach Chris Whitten will never forget his first trip to meet up with U-M alum and Cypress Point president Tony Ridder at the famed golfing paradise. The then-Michigan assistant coach never made it to the first tee at Cypress Point. "I left, because my wife went into labor that morning in Detroit," Whitten recalled. "It was kind of a crazy thing. "I'll always remember, I birdied the 18th hole at Pebble Beach in the dark, slept in the clubhouse at Cypress, then got that call to have our first son delivered that next day, while the team stayed back and played Cypress with Tony." Ridder's late wife, Connie, assisted in Whitten's Ridder and his late wife, Connie, sudden change of plans. "Connie was the one who got me to the air- made a $500,000 contribution to port to get a car to get back to San Francisco," Michigan's $2.5 million Weisfeld Whitten recalled. "She helped me calm my Family Golf Center at the University Golf nerves and get me ready for the trip ahead. She of Michiganphoto Course. Tony ridder courtesy was obviously a special person. We all miss her." In fact, prior to her passing in August 2011, Connie Ridder and her husband gave Michigan golf an incredible leg up, donating half a million dollars to the building of a short-game area in Michigan's Weisfeld Family Golf Center. "That short-game area is probably the most useful tool we have," Whitten said. "We can find a way to make swings in the wintertime, but there's really no way to replicate putting, chipping and all the touch shots that are required for good scoring in golf. The Ridders made that possible for us, so we're competing on a much more level playing field with all those great teams that we saw in the tournament out there at Cypress." The Ridders' assistance proved invaluable beyond just funds, Whitten added. "At Michigan, they always talk about The Team, The Team, The Team," Whitten said. "It really doesn't even stop with the student-athletes. We meet people like the Ridders on the road, who form a bond with the team. Tony wasn't a golfer at Michigan, but he is a good player. "He was able to combine his love for golf with his love for Michigan. He found us, and he really is part of our team now. He gets regular updates about how we're doing, and asks about the guys, and even how they're doing after Michigan with their careers. That's pretty special." — John Borton January 2013    the wolverine  43

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