Friday, May 15, 2009

The Byron Preview, Part 2 - The Salesmanship Club

When you talk about an organization with a somewhat odd or ambiguous name it's sometimes best to start with the name itself, or it might be more of a distraction than anything. This is definitely the case with The Salesmanship Club in Dallas, who puts on The HP Byron Nelson Championship every year. SALESMANSHIP The Salesmanship Club in Dallas was founded in 1920. At that time the focus in business was on sales, but in a much more general and broad term than merely getting someone to buy your product. "Salesman's News", for instance, was not a magazine strictly about selling, but a "National Educational and Inspirational Magazine". The book "The science and art of salesmanship" (by Simon Robert Hoover, 1916) states that "Everyone has something to sell, and his ability to market his commodity or services often determines the measure of his success". When a group of Dallas men felt the need to formalize an organization based on their desire to serve the community the name came very naturally to them. EARLY HISTORY Between 1921 and 1943 the Club ran a summer camp for indigent children on Bachman Lake in Dallas. In 1943 the camp was closed due to a polio epidemic that hit Texas, and the Club took the opportunity to re-evaluate it's future. The Club went in a different direction with their next facility, and in 1946 they opened a new camp. This one was year-round and residential, and focused on the therapeutic needs of troubled children. In the 1970s the scope of focus was widened to include meeting the needs of the campers' families, which resulted in much more efficient therapy.. This step in turn drove the creation of the Club's outpatient therapy programs which serves troubled children and their families who live at home. In the 1980s and 1990s the Club launched a day treatment school for kids with significant emotional difficulties, which eventually turned into the J Erik Jonsson Community School, which is a private and accredited elementary school for inner-city, at-risk children. From a fund raising point of view the Club worked with Golden Gloves boxing and various football games. For a long time the first pre-season Cowboys game was used to raise funds for the organization. CURRENT FOCUS The Salesmanship Club today focuses their work in three directions: Education, Therapy, and Sharing. They provide educational opportunities to children who may otherwise fall off the grid, and utilize family-based therapy methods to make sure that not only are the kids getting the education they need but their families will be able to provide a more stable environment for them to flourish in. The Club also reaches out by providing training opportunities to education and therapy professionals in other organizations, and there's a lot of sharing of experiences with other fund raising groups and the organizers of other golf tournaments.
The members are very passionate and dedicated to the work the Club does, and they're always looking to improve. "One of the core values of the Salesmanship Club is innovation. Our members continually challenge us to come up with new and better ways to help kids and families." says Kent Skipper, CEO of The Salesmanship Club. Today the Club has 600 members and an annual budget of about $9.5 million. It employs 100 people to run their charities, and another dozen to put on The Byron (with generous assistance from the members and other volunteers). It has three locations in the Dallas area, and their facilities touch 8,000 lives directly. THE BYRON Over it's history The Byron Nelson Championship has helped raise over $107 million to charities, which is the most of any golf tournament on the PGA Tour. When HP bought EDS they also took over the sponsoring responsibilities of the golf tournament, and the match between HP and The Salesmanship Club has proven to be a very good fit. "HP is turning out to be a great partner because of their tremendous commitment to innovation and to supporting effective approaches in education such as our lab school in Oak Cliff," Mr. Skipper explains, and he continues: "In addition to their sponsorship of the tournament HP has been very generous in providing hardware to our educational facilities." HP, in turn, has committed to sponsoring the tournament through 2014, which is a significant statement in a time when other tournaments are falling by the wayside. Over the past few years they have instituted significant changes not only to the course the tournament is played on but to the fan experience as a whole.
The HP Byron Nelson Championship is played May 21 through May 24 2009 at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas outside Dallas, TX. The tournament is affectionately called "The Byron", and it's put on by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. The first installment in this series of preview articles was about Byron Nelson himself. Many thanks to Mr. Kent Skipper for taking time out of his busy schedule to contribute to the writing of this article.

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