Tiger Woods Grants Fan Fan Farewell to Hometown Golf Academy Head

On Friday, the Tiger Woods Foundation honored Harvey Atchison, who is retiring as Director of the Golf Academy of America after 44 years.

“Through his wonderful legacy, you’ll be missed,” Tiger Woods wrote on Twitter.

Class act has given a lot to the game of golf. All of the good ol’ USGA, @PGATOUR, @MajorLeagueGolf and the Golf Academy of America owe a huge debt of gratitude for the job he’s done. His greatest legacy is you will be missed 🐸 #TrueGolfer — Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) October 3, 2015


Atchison, who’s 95 years old, is the first African-American professional golfer and manager who led the organization’s charitable efforts. His tenure is the longest in the history of the Academy, according to the golf website PGA.com.

One of the industry’s premier academies and golf facilities, the Academy moved from its first location in Buffalo, N.Y., to its current one in the Atlanta suburb of Riverdale, where most Academy members work and live.

Before becoming a golf course professional in 1946, Atchison served in the Army, which sent him to Europe to be with his father.

“[My dad] didn’t come home until after the war was over,” Atchison told Golf.com. “I went into the Army at 17 years old and didn’t go home until a week before my 21st birthday. … It was all just a kind of upward thing.”

Like many others, Atchison watched as the sport took off in the 1950s. While he played golf in junior tournaments in college, Atchison eventually decided to give it up to work for IBM.

“It just wasn’t for me,” he said. “Golf wasn’t my game.”

Yet the former American soldier never lost his love for the game. After his retirement, Atchison became the first black administrator at The Golf Club of Albany, a partnership between Woods and AT&T that is now owned by the world’s largest wireless company.

“I remember some days when I would walk off my golf course and go back to my office,” Atchison said of his early years at The Academy. “Some day I had to go down there [to Albany] and play off-the-cuff with another player. And the others would say, ‘That’s a little strange.’ Now I’m sitting there at The Golf Club and people ask, ‘How was it?’ It’s just a different mindset.”

For decades, Atchison has managed the career of Tiger Woods, serving as his agent and manager at AT&T. For the academies to thrive and attract many future professionals and household names, Atchison has helped lead the way.

Atchison and former Professional Golfers Association star Al Geiberger, whose career included 12 PGA Tour wins, contributed to the Tiger Woods Tutorial Academy, a national initiative to help young players be equipped with the knowledge and techniques necessary to become premier golfers.

In 1994, the academy partnered with Nike for a charitable program that allowed young professional golfers, including Vijay Singh, Tom Kite and Paul Azinger, to compete for a $50,000 scholarship.

For many on tour and in the amateur world, Atchison is the man responsible for the fact that the Academy and Woods are both considered two of the top four organizations in the industry.

“It’s his legacy. It’s his ideas,” Woods told Golf.com. “It’s people who have his vision and his dreams, and that’s what he’s done.”

To which Atchison added, “That’s what we’ve done. That’s what we’re going to do.”

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