Originally Published on HFMA.org
THE BIRTH OF A CHILD CHANGES A MAN. FOR ONE HFMA MEMBER, AN IDEA INSPIRED BY HIS SON’S BIRTH EVENTUALLY CULMINATED IN A BOOK PUBLISHED EARLIER THIS YEAR.
In 2001, when Charles Acquisto’s son, Nick, was born, the new father decided to begin planning a special gift to give his son by his first birthday: advice from successful people to help guide him through life.
As a lifelong golfer, Acquisto, an associate attorney for Stephenson, Acquisto & Colman in Pleasanton, Calif., wrote longhand letters to some of the greats in the sport to see what advice they would offer to his son.
“It’s sort of an antiquated way of communication, but there is something far more personal about someone writing a letter; putting pen to paper shows a little bit of one’s personality and commitment of time to it,” says Acquisto, who is a former reporter for the Baltimore Sun and a member of HFMA’s Northern California Chapter.
The first handwritten response from Phil Michelson is still Acquisto’s emotional favorite among the 146 letters that he eventually received from a variety of people who had found success in golf. Other respondents include Tim Conway (“Dorf on Golf”), Alice Cooper (Golf Monster book), Michael O’Keefe (Danny Noonan from “Caddyshack”), and Harold Ramis (“Caddyshack” director).
“Always remember that character is destiny,” Ramis writes, in part. “So, be good and be happy.”
“Many of the letters focused not on how to hit the perfect drive or make a putt but on the crossover between the way you play golf and the way you navigate your way through life,” Acquisto says.
One of the longest letters was from Sir Nick Faldo, a former top-ranked golfer and a golf course architect, who encouraged Nick to devote time and energy to endeavors bigger than himself: “Not endeavors which will bring you material gain or earthly notoriety, but endeavors which impact the lives of others and leverage whatever skills, knowledge, and opportunities you have been given.”
In addition to serious guidance, the letters included many lighter notes, like one from David Feherty, a former professional golfer and broadcaster: “Be very nice to your little sister, as one day she will have friends in whom you are very interested. Remember, they will probably trust her advice.”
Acquisto eventually realized that others also might benefit from the letters. “If I was going to share these with the general public, then it would be for a benefit to a charity or a foundation, and the most obvious was First Tee because of the work they are doing to not just teach a sport but to teach young people character,” he says.
The First Tee program, a not-for-profit charity, provides learning facilities and education programs that promote character development to young people through the positive values emphasized in golf.
After Acquisto decided to publish the letters, it took seven years for him to find a publisher willing to pursue the project. A partnership with First Tee eventually helped garner interest in the book from publishers.
Acquisto is particularly excited that the book, Wisdom for a Young Golfer, was later released in a paperback version so kids could carry a copy with them and read the advice at their leisure.
“They can keep it by their desk or somewhere in their room when they are looking for a little motivation or advice,” Acquisto says.
“The hope is that this is something that will never go out of style because it’s not a fad diet book or methodology of how to play golf,” Acquisto says. “It’s just sound advice from some of the greatest who have ever been associated with the game.”.