Column: Glenn Frey’s legacy extends to Aspen Junior Golf
January 25, 2016
Glenn Frey rocked. On stage and on the golf course.
His music still provides an indelible, enduring soundtrack for generations of us.
But his impact on a generation of young golfers in Aspen left an even more personal, lasting impression.
"Glenn (Frey) gets all the credit," said Doug Rohrbaugh, the former director of Aspen Junior Golf and now the head pro at Ironbridge Golf Club near Glenwood Springs. "It was the best thing for Aspen Junior Golf. He got heavily involved at a time when we needed it."
Rohrbaugh, one of Colorado's most decorated PGA club pros, recalled that Aspen Junior Golf was headed for a major transition when race driver Danny Sullivan moved out of town and ended his sponsorship of a benefit golf tournament for Aspen Junior Golf, an event that set the stage with PGA pros like Greg Norman and a mix of celebrities — local and beyond.
A member of the Aspen Junior Golf board knew Frey, and more importantly, knew of his incredible passion for golf.
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With some quick networking, Glenn Frey stepped in to sponsor a benefit golf tournament, not only for Aspen Junior Golf, but for his own local charity, the Aspen Grassroots Experience.
"Golf Kids Hosted by Glenn Frey" was launched with a long and successful run of raising money for two of the Frey family's Aspen favorites.
And when he signed on, according to Rohrbaugh, he was as relentless as a rock promoter on tour.
"This was a huge deal for him. He had a personal interest," Rohrbaugh said. "And Cindy, too. Cindy (Frey's wife) was just as much a part of it. They were always there and every bit involved."
Simply, Frey recruited stars and golfers with big checkbooks.
"Glenn gets all the credit for getting Tiger Woods to come to Aspen," Rohrbaugh said of Woods' still-talked-about golf rounds at the Aspen Junior Golf benefit.
At the height of his golfing glory, Tiger Woods made a pair of visits to Aspen to fulfill a promise he had made to Glenn Frey.
"Tiger was in his prime then. That was a major coup," Rohrbaugh said. "Everyone wanted a piece of him. But for us, it was huge."
Woods' presence alone raised $400,000 in two years for the charities as benefactors bid to play a round with Tiger Woods in Aspen.
Frey enticed Payne Stewart to play in Aspen, and John Daly.
His ability to draw the PGA stars and other celebrities wasn't happenstance or agent-to-agent scheduling.
Frey did the legwork, Rohrbaugh said, face to face.
Each year he was involved in the benefit golf tournament, Frey would visit two PGA tournaments during the season.
"He would go out on the driving range and talk to the pros … about coming to Aspen," Rohrbaugh said. "Face to face."
The strategy was uncanny, Rohrbaugh said.
"He knew it was hard to say no to Glenn Frey right to his face."
Of course, it didn't hurt that Frey himself was a practiced and skilled golfer, who specialized in fun days on the golf course.
"He enjoyed his golf," said Rohrbaugh, who played several rounds with the founding member of the Eagles. "For his 50th birthday, he hosted a golf tournament in Palm Springs. That tells you right there how much he enjoyed it."
Rohrbaugh said he would pinch himself to make sure he was wake when he was working with Glenn Frey on Aspen Junior Golf.
"Man, I grew up listening to the Eagles," Rohrbaugh said. "And here I am working alongside Glenn Frey."
Totally at ease with a microphone in hand standing in front of a crowd, Rohrbaugh said Frey had another talent.
"If he hadn't been a musician, I think the guy could have been a comedian," Rohrbaugh said.
His contributions to golf in the Roaring Fork Valley during his time here are remembered with a smile by golfers like Rohrbaugh who knew him.
"I have the utmost respect for what he did for us, for Aspen Junior Golf. It was … priceless."
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