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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Coach Woodson's Las Vegas Invitational 2014

Woody’s Club
Coach Mike Woodson’s connection to golf runs deep as does his impact.

Story by Brian Hurlburt

Everybody knows Mike Woodson—NBA player and coach. Not as many people know about his passion for golf and his continuous willingness to help other people and support worthy causes. This summer, the minds and perception of people will shift gears and get to know the former New York Knicks coach when he hosts the inaugural Coach Woodson Las Vegas Invitational.

A celebrity golf event scheduled for July 20 through 22, 2014 at Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas and Southern Highlands Golf Club, The Coach Woodson Las Vegas Invitational will be the ultimate lifestyle destination during the annual NBA Summer League. At that time each year, the city is jumping—literally and figuratively—with NBA legends and current superstars. The Woodson tournament might turn into the place to be and be seen during the summer league. The event has a local flavor with former UNLV women’s golf star and “Big Break” alumna Seema Sadekar as the co-hostess.

“I am so excited to co-host this event in my sparkly city, it is going to be amazing,” said Sadekar, who was a golf student athlete at UNLV from 2003 until 2007. “What will set this event apart is not only our elegant hotel partner, Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas and our host course, Southern Highlands Golf Club—which I think is one of the best courses in the world—but also Coach Woodson, who is a dear friend and an amazing person dedicated to helping the Nations of Coaches and its mission.”

Woodson is a verified NBA legend having played in the league for 11 years before starting a long and successful coach career. He is one of those coaches who is admired by his peers and respected by players and coaches. Although the NBA is a business, and despite the fact that Woodson was let go as head coach of the Knicks earlier this year, he never wavered from his support of his inaugural event. “Woody” –as his friends call him—has played golf since his NBA playing days in the early eighties, and believes it is, indeed, the greatest game.

“There were only a few guys playing golf at that time, but we had to show up at golf tournaments in the summer to play and sign autographs,” remembers Woodson, a 15 handicap.  “After a few summers, golf became very intriguing to me. I liked what the sport offered and how it allowed me to meet and mingle with people. After two years of playing in summer tournaments, I started to take the game of golf more seriously. Then some of my teammates and other players in the league started to hack around. Guys like Eddie Johnson, Mark Aguirre, Herb Williams and others were playing quite a bit.”

Woodson loved the game so much that he created Woody’s Club in Houston, a junior golf program, which has given kids the opportunity to play golf, learn how to speak in the proper manner and present themselves in a positive way. Woodson hosted a tournament each year at his home club, Willow Fork Country Club, to raise money for the program. Some of the young athletes continued on to play college golf, having made Woody’s Club a positive impact on the lives of many Texas youth.

“I think golf is more challenging than any sport that I have experienced and I have played sports all my life,” says Woodson. “Golf is a mental game as well as a physical game and it offers a tremendous challenge. One day you will be on top but the next day you can be at the bottom. But what I like most is the professionalism of it. Playing golf gives you an opportunity to meet people and to get to know them a lot better after four hours on the course. To me, it’s a connection game. It connects people. I believe it’s the most beautiful game going—I really believe that.”

Flash forward to 2014 and Woodsonis taking Woody’s Club to the next level, Vegas style. The luxury golf and lifestyle event will bring friends, family and colleagues together off the court while showcasing the best of golf, fashion, celebrity and entertainment.

The Woodson Vegas event will raise money and awareness for Nations of Coaches, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission of helping create better coaches by sharing and vocalizing experiences. “Nations of Coaches is a place where a coach can go for support, whether it’s about the technical aspects of the game, help with a player problem or character guidance,” says Tommy Kyle, executive director. “Coach Mike Woodson has a lot of experience and is a natural leader within our organization.”

It looks like Woody’s Club will have a new Vegas sparkle this summer, and the gleam will shine on others in the most beautiful way.

For complete information about The Coach Woodson Las Vegas Invitational, visit Alongside Las Vegas’ own Seema Sadekar, confirmed for the event are ESPN host Jay Harris and R &B superstar Brian McKnight, who will perform at the Celebrity Welcome Party.     

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