Kelly Slater Tees Off On Tour; Martin Potter Next ASP President?

Kelly Slater makes his first 2009 tour start this week. Granted it's the PGA Tour, not the ASP tour, but a tour start nonetheless. The ATT Pebble Beach Pro-Am gets under way on the Monterey Peninsula today, with practice rounds and celebrity elbow rubbing. Slater, along with golf partner and pro/am PGA Tour professional Pat Perez, will be teeing it up alongside celebrities such as Ray Romano, Justin Timberlake and Peyton Manning. Slater, who is an excellent golfer (3 handicap) and Perez, a winner on the PGA tour this year (Bob Hope Classic ) have proven to be a solid team, placing in the top 15 last year.

"It's been a great tournament for him (Perez), he's a great player there," said Slater. "As they say in those things (pro/ams) you have to 'ham and egg' it. (If) one guy has a bad hole, the other guy has to play well on that hole, and last year we did that. I didn't play that well, but I had a few phenomenal holes. As it turns out, last year, I was the low handicapper to make the cut."

Look for the entire week's coverage of the ATT Pebble Beach Pro/Am on the Golf Channel and CBS. Hopefully, like last year, we'll see Slater during the weekend rounds?

Speculation abounds regarding the replacement for soon-to-be retired ASP President Rabbit Bartholomew. The position would require a skillful combination of sport ambassador, athlete liaison, politician and the hard-nosed decision maker. A skill set that Bugs was seemingly born with. Brodie Carr, ASP CEO, is considering whether or not to fill the position at all, perhaps letting the ASP 2009 season move forward without a president. Understandable given the cost savings coupled with the very large shoes that one must fill.

However, given the large changes taking place within the next year (formats, vernacular, challenging economics), it would be wise to have a president in place. There's a lot of hope and change being tossed around on the ASP tour. The tour needs a beacon, a pillar. There's too much uncertainty, real or perceived, to move forward without a figurehead.

One factor is crucial: the incoming president must have the abiding respect and attention of the professional surfers themselves. He must be one of them. Rabbit, was not only one of them, it could be argued that he was their patriarch. When Wayne Bartholomew spoke about professional surfing there was a certain possessiveness. Pro surfing was his. He owned it, or at least a part of it, and you felt special because he was offering it to you –unconditionally, like the last good set wave at Kirra. Professional surfing was encoded in Rabbit's DNA. My gut feeling is that the position of ASP president must be filled by a former professional surfer. This position is not for a spin doctor or a lawyer or a marketing whiz. The position must go to somebody that has spilled blood and poured sweat within the confines of the competitive arena.

My short list, for Mr. Carr's consideration:
Martin Potter
Bruce Raymond
Peter Townend
Joey Buran
Mark Warren