Since 1959, I have closely followed Jerry West’s illustrious career. Next month, I will once again follow him to Pacific Palisades as a volunteer marshal at the 2013 Northern Trust Open at the legendary Riviera Country Club.

West’s imprint as the industrious and personable executive director of this annual PGA Tour stop in Los Angeles has been evident since he was appointed nearly three years ago: The gallery has grown, corporate support has risen, enthusiasm has soared and, who knows, maybe West can even lure Tiger Woods back to Brentwood.

Legions of sportswriters have described the Mountaineer and Laker great’s numerous leadership skills far better than I can. But, most pro golfers would do well to emulate just a few: West always appreciated and recognized his fans, big or small; no one worked more tirelessly to improve himself and his team; he cared deeply about the average Joe or Jane, and he never forgot about the least fortunate of us in society.

During the past 30 years, my wife and I have played a small part of the British Open, the TPC Championship, the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open, the Tournament of Champions and such links as La Quinta, Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach, Oakland Hills, Congressional, Sawgrass and Sherwood, but there is no place like Riviera and its fabled history. To say we have enjoyed the experience would be a gross understatement. And while change is an important part of organizational life (including that of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America) that must be embraced and channeled to constructive ends, some traditions are also important.

I fully understand that the tour is the pro golfer’s livelihood, and stellar performance equates with having sponsors and securing big purses. But it is also true that pro golfers are in the entertainment business and without the interest and support of thousands of spectators, their largesse would quickly evaporate. The classy West understood these facts as a professional basketball star, coach, general manager, adviser and now as L.A. golf executive.

Getting in swing

Our world has changed dramatically since Sept. 11 and the resulting enhanced security measures at sporting events (including those just implemented at the USC campus) are necessary. Understanding these restraints, I offer five recommendations to the PGA and their pro golfers in the hope they will thoughtfully consider West’s leadership skills for improving the fan experience, and the health and well-being of the game of golf beginning in February at storied Riviera:


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