On the Lip – In the Bahamas at the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational

By: Elisa Gaudet

The stars were out in full force day and night at the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational. Presented by One & Only Resorts, the event is held annually in January at the Ocean Club Golf Course in Paradise Island, Bahamas. With golf at the luxurious One & Only Ocean Club during the day and unbelievable parties at night at Atlantis, the 2005 event was off the charts.

The golf course, a Tom Weiskopf design, has a number of breathtaking holes that run parallel to white sands and turquoise waters. A slice off the tee is enough to send any golfer deep-sea fishing. One thing for sure is that celebrities love golf. So why this four-day, play-and-play weekend? Because it raised over $200,000 for the American Red Cross International efforts for the Tsunami as well as numerous other charities.

The format for the golf tournament involved two days of Celeb/Am and two days of Celeb/Celeb. The field of celebrities read like a “Who’s Who” of sports stars, and the competition intensified when the celebrities battled it out.

Among the sports stars and celebrities were Michael Jordan himself, Lawrence Taylor, Richard Dent, Johnny Bench, Hollywood Henderson, Rollie Fingers, Dr. J, Paul O’Neill, Marcus Allen, Aidan Quinn, Dan Jansen, Barry Bonds, John Smoltz, Boris Becker, Bryant Gumble, Charles Oakley, Stuart Scott, Lisa Dergan, Kenny G, Phil Gordon, Ahmad Rashad, Wayne Gretzky, Janet Jones, Vince Coleman, Brett Hull, Roger Clemens, Carson Daly, John McEnroe, Mia Hamm, Mario Lemieux and Tico Torres.


A three-way tie involving the teams of Hull/McEnroe, Gretzky/Rashad and Smoltz/Scott was broken when Hull made a 30-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole.

Here is what some of the celebrities – Hall-of-Fame catcher Johnny Bench, former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker, and Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres – had to say about golf.

Johnny Bench
Favorite Courses: Spyglass & Pine Valley
Handicap: 4
Dream Foursome: Fred Couples, Arnold Palmer, Bobby Knight

OTL: What is the correlation between baseball and golf?

As a catcher, managing the golf course is like calling a ball game, so you have to try to figure it out. You can’t get too far ahead like in baseball. Many times, I start thinking how I am going to get this guy out and think how to call the pitches two to three pitches ahead. In golf, I have to reverse the process and get back into thinking one shot at a time. Your eyes have to be still and mind focused on the ball and start visualizing the shots.

OTL: How and when did you start playing golf?

I grew up in a town of 600 people in Oklahoma. A kid moved into town and his father had a set of golf clubs. Wow, golf clubs. We went out in the back of a plowed field behind the cotton gin and hit balls out in the field. Then my dad started playing with his dad and I got to play a couple of times. Later, when I signed a bat contract with Louisville Slugger, they either gave you a set of clubs and a bag or $500. Everyone took the clubs. I got to spring training and had my clubs. We would finish for the day and some of the players asked if I wanted to play. If I were not in baseball, I would probably be president. I never set my sights low, but I guess as a kid in Oklahoma, I was going to be a pharmacist if I didn’t make it in professional baseball. I am so fortunate and so blessed that I have been able to achieve something, to dream, to aspire to be something and then achieve all of that, probably more than I could have ever imagined.

Boris Becker

Favorite Course: Old Course at St. Andrews
Handicap: 7
Dream Foursome: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Bernard Langer

OTL: What is the correlation between tennis and golf?

In both sports, there is a lot of hand-eye coordination; you have to have the right distance from the ball and concentration. Golf is the one sport after your professional career that you think you can be good at, and you realize you are not that good and get humbled very quickly.

Tico Torres

Favorite Course: St. Andrews
Handicap: 15
Dream Foursome: Tiger, Ernie Els, Gary Player, Nick Price

(If Torres had not been a drummer, he would have been a painter. Confident in his masculinity, Torres helped make the fashion scene hipper at the Michael Jordan event by wearing a hot pink polo. His own celebrity tournament in Boca Raton raises money for The Children’s Place at Home Safe.)

OTL: Most memorable golf experience?

First day I played golf was with Willie Nelson, he taught me in 1987. He owned his own golf course in Texas and we went out with a 7-iron and a putter.

OTL: What do you like most about the game?

The integrity. There are so few things in life left which have total integrity. If you cheat, you cheat yourself. I like the way it changes – there are so many variables. To some degree, it is spiritual.

Elisa Gaudet brings a wealth of entertainment and golf experience to Cybergolf. Elisa has spent the past several years in the golf industry in the U.S., Latin America and Spain. She worked for the PGA Tour and the Tour de las Americas before founding Executive Golf International, a golf marketing company that works with clients to develop strategies using golf as the medium. Often referred to as the Maria Bartiromo (a business analyst for CNBC) of golf, Elisa says: “Golf, as a marketing tool, has been around for years. It’s amazing how many new ways companies can align their brand with the golf market to reach their target audience. Our goal is to create alliances and establish cross-border relations.” Elisa also worked in the entertainment industry for over 10 years, including five in Los Angeles as a model and actress. She can be seen at many celebrity golf events and often gets the inside scoop from PGA Tour players. For more information about Elisa, visit her websites at www.onthelip.com or Executive Golf International www.execgolfintl.com.