Russ Ortiz has always held a deeply personal and sincere passion for helping others.
When Ortiz retired from Major League Baseball back in 2010, the former All-Star had amassed 113 wins over 12 seasons including a 21-win season in 2003 with the Atlanta Braves.
With his baseball career over, Ortiz looked for ways to combine his passion for helping others with his lifelong love for golf. Over a round of golf with a buddy in 2009, the idea for 2nd Guy Golf was born.
[quote_box_center]“2nd Guy Golf is a term I believe a lot of golfers know,” Ortiz says. “When you hit a bad shot, and throw down another ball, that next swing is always better. The 2nd guy is always better.”[/quote_box_center]
While 2nd Guy Golf definitely has some very sharp shirts, hats and accessory offerings, this isn’t your average apparel company, as it donates 100 percent of its net profits to charity.
[quote_box_center]“I made enough playing baseball,” Ortiz told me. “I wanted to build this brand around the core of who we are – passionate about golf and helping others.”[/quote_box_center]
I had the chance to catch up with Ortiz recently to ask him about his company, his faith, charity, and the challenges of creating and promoting your own brand.
JL: Given your background in professional baseball, what experiences from your playing days have you used?
RO: One thing I had to develop was thick skin. In the professional world, I have been able to deal with failure, harsh comments, and adversity that I knew our team would experience. I have brought that to the table with 2nd Guy Golf. My ability to be a fair and honest leader comes from the field and I have made it known that I will always be fair and upfront with my employees. In baseball, being on a team, you develop a trust and care for your teammates. The same goes here at 2nd Guy Golf. I care about my employees and I trust them wholeheartedly. In the MLB, you have to put on your big boy pants. In the business world, you must come to work with your big boy pants and be responsible for your work.
JL: You’ve said that you have always felt a sense of “responsibility” to help and serve others. What influences from your life do you feel instilled this in you?
RO: As a professional baseball player, I was taught from day one how important it was to be a positive impact with the platform baseball provides. As a Christian man, I’ve been able to follow my Lord’s lead in helping those in need; to show love for fellow man. That is a big responsibility to take on. But it’s something that has come easy to me. I really feel like the desire to give and help others is a gift from the Lord.
JL: Talk some more about the importance faith plays in your life.
RO: My faith is the most important part of my life. Throughout my playing career, my faith helped me during the successes and the failures. Knowing that God has given me the ability to throw a baseball well, and that he has placed me in positions to help others, brings me a ton of confidence. 2nd Guy Golf was birthed because of that same confidence in my abilities and the opportunities I have. When it comes to how faith plays a role in business, integrity, honesty, and respect are of utmost importance. That’s how we do business. Our partners, vendors, and customers are so important to us. They are VIP’s to us. And we will treat them that way.
JL: How are you promoting the 2nd Guy Golf brand on the Tours, as well as to other athletes and celebrities?
RO: We’ve already reached out and have given our product to other athletes and celebrities and Tour pros. That was on my radar right away. I’m happy to say we have gotten very positive responses. We have already signed four professional golfers – Sophia Sheridan (now retired), Jessi White (Symetra Tour), Marissa Steen (LPGA rookie, 2014 Symetra Player of the Year and No. 1 on money list), and Brian Cooper (PGA Latin America, former Big Break contestant). All of these pros not only love our gear, but also what we do with our proceeds. They all have a heart for their communities and to help and give back to others.
JL: Discuss the importance of finding the right balance between creating unique and innovative designs versus comfort and durability.
RO: I believe the design of the polo is the easy part. Aaron (Aaron Thew, Director of Apparel Design) is passionate about design. His creativity flows out onto the templates he creates. He has so many new, fresh designs that we are excited to put out into the market. The hard part is figuring out which fabric combinations to go with or what texture of fabric to use. We just don’t want to make a basic golf polo; we want it to stand out in design, feel, comfort, and performance.
JL: When did your passion for golf begin?
RO: My brother and I grew up in our grandparent’s home. Our grandpa played golf regularly. He was our father figure, so we wanted to do the things he did. So we got into golf around 12 years old. From then on I was hooked. It is such a hard sport, that I liked the challenge. In college and in my pro ball career is when I was able to play most and work on my game. Now I get to play on average once every 10 days. I take golf seriously but have a great time as well. I am currently a scratch golfer.
JL: Talk about the charities 2nd Guy Golf supports.
RO: The first place we partnered with was the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. We provided meals to the cancer and blood disorder center for the first half of 2013 with our proceeds. The PCH center is where kids would go and get their treatments. Sometimes they were long and PCH would provide a meal for them.
Then we partnered with Feed My Starving Children. This is an organization that packages nutritious meals of protein, soy, vegetables and rice to help starving children, and sends them all over the world to feed hungry children. They have a packing facility here in Tempe, Ari., and soon to have one in Mesa. Our proceeds have been used to host two packing sessions which created roughly 35,000-to-40,000 meals. And also to help sponsor and participate in an event where 500,000 meals were packed in one day.
The new partnership we have is with Josie’s Angels. This is a rescue home for girls in the Philippines. They are safely removed from abusive situations in the squatter villages and given shelter, food, clothing and an education. Josie Long provides a safe place for them to have an opportunity to stop the cycle of abuse for these young girls. The cycle is to grow up in poverty, hardly any schooling if any, be abused, get pregnant at an early age and watch their children do the same.
JL: What do you think makes 2nd Guy Golf so unique?
RO: Our uniqueness is our mission with the 2nd Guy Golf brand. Giving all of our net proceeds to charity is a rarity in this business. Our new, fresh designs hopefully set us apart as well.
JL: What are the most difficult business challenges 2nd Guy Golf faces?
RO: Brand awareness is probably the most difficult hurdle to get over with any startup business. We are currently working with a team of people to do just that. So we are excited for what lies ahead. Another challenge is for people to trust that we in fact do give all our proceeds away because it is not the norm. People start businesses to make money. I started 2nd Guy Golf because of my passion for the game of golf and to impact people.
JL: Who is playing with you in your dream foursome and where are you teeing it up?
RO: Playing Augusta National with my brother, Will Clark (favorite MLB player) and John Elway (favorite NFL player).
JL: What’s your game like right now?
RO: I have worked my handicap to a zero. That has always been my goal. So I’m happy where my game is at right now. My strongest area is my wedge play. I have worked hard on that part. I have two golf holes with three tee boxes at my house from 85-to-105 yards so my wedges better be strong. I probably struggle with putting the most and having golf greens in back makes me look bad for not being a better putter.
JL: What’s in your bag?
RO: I play Ping. Love them. I have the G20 driver, G30 3-wood and rescues, S55 irons, TaylorMade 50 and 56 degree wedges and a 60 degree Ping wedge. Putter is a Ping Shea mallet. I only use Bridgestone B330 golf balls.
Mondays Off: How is the new PGA schedule looking? Gross golf bag cleaning story!
The new PGA schedule is out and how will so much major golf look in the fall. What golf gear would you buy with your stimulus check if you could blow it all on golf? Knudson has a gross story about cleaning out a golf bag.
Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below.
Tiger at the Masters: The 3 that got away
This time last year, Tiger Woods earned his fifth green jacket at the 2019 Masters, breaking a 14-year drought at Augusta National and completing a storybook career comeback (see Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters WITB here).
Between his 2005 and 2019 victories, Woods gave himself several chances to reclaim the green jacket, but for one reason or another, the championship continuously eluded the 15-time major winner.
Looking back on that drought, three years in particular stick out in my mind where Woods (being the ruthless closer that he is) could, and maybe should, have capitalized on massive opportunities.
A unique tournament broke out at the 2007 Masters with chilly and windy conditions meaning we would see an over-par score winning the event for the first time in a generation.
Unusually however was the fact that Tiger Woods had got himself into a fantastic position heading into the final day’s play—one stroke back of the lead and in the final group.
By the first hole on Sunday, Woods had a share of the lead. A couple of holes later, and he was the sole leader. But instead of the game’s greatest ever closer doing what he does best, we saw the first small chink in Tiger’s major armor.
Unable to keep up with the improved scoring on Sunday, Woods finished the championship two strokes behind Zach Johnson. It was the first time Woods lost a major in which he held the lead at some point in the final round.
Summing up after the round why things hadn’t turned out the way the entire golf world expected, Woods said
“Looking back over the week I basically blew this tournament with two rounds where I had bogey, bogey finishes. That’s 4-over in two holes. The last two holes, you just can’t afford to do that and win major championships.”
In one of the most exciting final rounds in Masters history, an electric front-nine charge from Woods coupled with a Rory McIlroy collapse saw the then 35-year-old tied for the lead heading into the back nine.
After back-to-back pars on the challenging 10th and 11th holes, Woods found the green on the 12th before it all slipped away. A disastrous three-putt was followed by a deflating five on the par-5 13th and an agonizing near-miss for birdie on 14.
In typical defiant fashion, Woods then flushed a long iron on the par-5 15th to give him five feet for eagle and what would have been the outright lead. But he couldn’t find the cup.
Directly following his round, a visibly miffed Woods said
“I should have shot an easy 3- or 4-under on the back nine and I only posted even. But I’m right there in the thick of it and a bunch of guys have a chance. We’ll see what happens.”
What happened was eventual champion Charl Schwartzel did what Woods said he should have done—shooting 4 under on the back to win his first major.
Luck, or lack of, is a contentious topic when it comes to sports fans, but at the 2013 Masters, Woods’ shocking fate played out as if those on Mount Olympus were orchestrating the tournament.
Woods entered the 2013 Masters as the World Number One, brimming with confidence having won three out of his first five tournaments to start the year.
By Friday afternoon, Woods had cruised into a share of the lead, before crisply striking a wedge on the par-5 15th as he hunted for another birdie.
In a cruel twist of fate, Woods’ ball struck the pin and ricocheted back into the water. “Royally cheated!” shouted on-course announcer David Feherty. Nobody could argue otherwise.
A subsequent “bad drop” turned a probable birdie into a triple-bogey placing Woods behind the proverbial 8-ball for the rest of the tournament. The game’s ultimate closer should have been in the lead with two rounds to play on a front-runner’s paradise of a course; instead, he was in chase-mode. (From 1991-2012, 19 of the 22 winners came from the final group).
Woods tried to rally over the weekend, but if he didn’t think the 2013 Masters was ill-fated for himself by Friday evening, then he would have been excused to do so on the eighth hole on Saturday.
Had Woods’ golf ball missed the pin at 15 on that hot and humid Spring afternoon in 2013, then he not only wins, but he likely wins going away.
The Wedge Guy: Power Leak No. 1: Your grip
One of the things I like the best is when a friend or stranger asks me to take a look at their swing to see if I can help them. I never get into the “lesson” business, because that is the domain of our golf staff at the club. But I have spent a lifetime in this game, and have studied the golf swing pretty relentlessly. I also have been blessed with a pretty good eye.
So, the other day, I was out hitting some balls in the afternoon, and a good friend from the club asked if I’d take a look at where he is losing power. Darrell is a big guy and a good player, but not nearly as long as you would think he’d be. He plays with the “big dog” money game, which has a few really big hitters that can be quite intimidating.
I’ve played with Darrell enough to know exactly where his power leaks were, so when he came out to the range, I watched him hit a few and dropped the first one on him.
“It’s your grip!”
He, like so many amateur golfers, was holding the club too far out on the end, and much too high in his palms — not low in the fingers like you should. I’ve always been of the opinion that the grip is the most important fundamental in the entire golf swing. Without a solid and fundamentally sound hold on the golf club, the rest of the swing cannot function at its best. Hogan thought it was so important, he dedicated a whole chapter of “Five Lessons” to the subject.
You’ll see the occasional pretty good scorer at the club with a funky grip, but you never see a bad grip on tour. The golfer who has mastered a great grip is the most teachable there is.
In my opinion, the grip is only ‘personal’ to a small degree. Whether you like to overlap, interlock or use the full finger grip (not baseball)…whether you like to rotate your hands a little stronger or weaker . . . the fundamentals are the same, and they aren’t negotiable.
The club has to be in your fingers to allow the “lag” that builds power, and to allow or even force the optimum release of the club through impact. The last three fingers of the left hand have to control the club so that it can be pulled through the impact zone. The right hand hold is limited to the curling of the two middle fingers around the grip, and neither set of forefingers and thumbs should be engaged much at all. One of the best drills for any golfer is to hit balls with the right forefinger and thumb totally disengaged from the grip. Google “Hogan grip photos” and study them!!!!!!
So, with the changes in the grip I had Darrell make, he immediately began ripping drivers 15-20 yards further downrange than he had. The ball flight and even sound of the ball off the driver was more impressive. So we went out to play a few holes to see what happened.
Historically, Darrell is only 5-10 yards longer than me at best, and sometimes I outdrive him. But not anymore!! On those five holes we played late that afternoon, he consistently flew it out there 20-25 yards past my best drives.
And that made us both really happy!
Next Tuesday, I’ll talk about the second in this series on Power Leaks.
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