From the elevated tee on Cypress Point’s 17th hole, above Pacific waves roiling against the rugged
The sentiment captures what’s drawn Derr to a sport that’s humbling, exhilarating, “and at times can just plain drive you nuts.” A varsity tennis player at Cornell, he didn’t take up golf until the mid-1970s. “Tennis is great, but if you’ve seen one court you’ve seen them all,” he observes. “Every golf course is different and most are in gorgeous settings.”
Lured into golf by playing at business-related events, Derr got completely hooked when his wife Donna took up the sport. “About the last thing I want to talk about on a course is business,” says Derr, who has a 14 handicap and usually plays “couples golf” with Donna and their friends, and occasionally with other CEOs. “But the game does bring out the best and worst in people. After a round you’ve got a good idea if this is the kind of person you’d want to do business with.”
Though not the most difficult hole at
One of Derr’s finest golf moments came at the 17th during the 1990 AT&T pro-am. “My second shot hit the tree and dropped straight down,” he recalls. “But my pro partner, Duffy Waldorf, airmailed his second into the ocean. Now he’s counting on me, and my nerves are jingling.”
Derr somehow got on, two putted, and walked off with a bogey that yielded a net par. It may have been the only time, he concedes, “that I didn’t look around and appreciate that the 17th at
Cypress Point Golf Club
KEN DERR, CEO
Hole: 17th, par-four, 393 yards from the blue tees, 382 from the whites.
Hole Description: From an elevated tee the drive must carry an ocean inlet to a wide fairway with a dogleg right. Second shot must pass strategically located trees to an away-sloping green flanked with bunkers and ice-plant. Wind is often a factor.
Course Architect: Dr. Alister Mackenzie
Club Description: Designed in 1928 and widely considered MacKenzie’s best work, Cypress Point is frequently ranked among the world’s top five golf courses. Sand, sea, forest, and the varied terrain of a stunning locale make
San Francisco-based journalist Jay Stuller writes for numerous national magazines, including Smithsonian, Senior Golfer, and Men’s Journal.