Henry Picard: The Hershey Hurricane by Seamus McGee

Henry Picard: The Hershey Hurricane by Seamus McGee

Until I read this book, I had no idea who Henry Picard was. The book isn’t very long, but it opened my eyes to the impact this man had on the game of golf. If it wasn’t for Tim Ryan, author of Henry Picard – The Hershey Hurricane, I might never have had the chance to read it. My good friend John Graham also did a review of it on his blog… so the book is getting some serious attention. But I met Tim on Twitter, and he sent me a copy of the book. I was so impressed I wanted to learn more about him. The name Tim Ryan isn’t on the book, rather Seamus McGee… but I ask him about that in the interview! It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Tim Ryan, author of Henry Picard – The Hershey Hurricane.

We met online… on Twitter, to be specific. Ever think we will meet in person?

I don’t have a magic 8-ball, but if I did I bet it’d say, “It is decidedly so.”

What is the Pic book about?

The Hershey Hurricane is a sweet little piece of golf history about legendary wunderkind golfer Henry Picard. It is a Depression Era bio sketch and earned the title as Henry was dubbed the Hershey Hurricane by Grantland Rice because of his connection to Hershey Country Club and the philanthropic and thriving town of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The tight and tidy ditty is ripe with anecdotes from the legends of the game. There are a number of not so accomplished but still successful linksters included in the storyline of the book, too. In fact, the foreword was written by a great gentleman of the game named John Birmingham, a longtime member of Oakmont Country Club and Seminole Golf Club. “The Milkman” delivered insight into Henry and the project that is one of a kind.

Wait a second… your name is Tim Ryan but the author of the book is Seamus McGee. Why did you use a pen name for the book?

For starters, I mean, really, for those who know me or love me and have to look at me daily, well, I am the epitome of Seamus McGee! Seriously, long ago my golf group and good friends who called me Seamus or McGee or Seamus McGee all used to laugh when I’d tell them, “just wait till my first book comes out under the pen name Seamus McGee.” So, that’s part of it. The other side is the reality that I’ve been known to speak and scribblin’ in tidy rhymes. As in, “a heckuva shot I just hit off the tee, now let’s knock ‘er on the green, then go and get a three!”

Since you wrote a golf book, does that mean you play a lot of golf, too?

I used to work really hard at it, but not so much anymore. Some new equipment is surely in order, and I hope to go down to visit @golfgurutv this winter to get set up proper.

You also write for Tee Times Press. What is that?

Tee Times Press is a wonderful golf publication that gets distributed to a humongous population of golf courses throughout the great state of Minnesota. It is a monthly newspaper styled magazine, and I get the opportunity to write feature articles about golf courses plus a couple of 19th hole anthems. I also get to do the Reading the Green column, which is a book review section. I’m real excited about the lineup of books I get to review this season! TTP does an EXCELLENT job of promoting Minnesota golf, so it’s a pleasure to be a part of it.

People can buy the book on your website. How many copies of this thing have you sold?

I’m honored to report that The Hershey Hurricane will be picking up steam in Orlando on the way to Augusta!

You live in Minnesota. It gets cold there, right?

Most years you don’t see green grass from November through April, but we’ve been lucky this year. People were actually golfing in MN in January, 2012! A not so harsh winter, for sure, but it was -32 real feel this morning. We may be snowed in until May sometimes, but it’s a nice place when the weather cooperates.

You are pretty active on Twitter. What’s your secret to staying engaged with all your followers?

Be the ball, Danny.

Henry used to go by the nickname Pic.

Well, The Hershey Hurricane begins like this: “The correct pronunciation of Henry Gilford Picard’s last name was “Pea-cod.” Many people said it as Pea-Card, but the majority used “Pick-erd”. Friends of him, well, they called him “Pic.” The opportunity to consider Pic as a friend was a blessing.”

Needless to say, the opportunity to consider Pic a friend IS a blessing. So, yes, he is often called Pic in the book. As in: “Pic picked Hagen’s pocket on his stumble to the vault.” The coolest part is when people who read it and didn’t know of Picard prior to beginning the book start to call him Pic by the time they’re done and we talk again. I refer to him as Mr. Picard quite often, as do and did those who worked with him as a student or employee.

How much research did you have to do to write this? Did you need the permission of his estate to write a book about him?

My part in the project is all pretty well covered in the last portion of the book. I’m a Christian and this has been a God led thing all the way!

Book aside, I bet you watch a lot of golf on TV. Who is your favorite player on the PGA TOUR?

You know, I’m one who watches majors, but that’s about it. I’m a fan of guys who play hard and are classy. Guys with balls and a lot of traits comparable to that of great champions like HG Picard. Lucas Glover, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar are 3 who fit the bill. Steve Stricker and Keegan Bradley are a couple of other guys who have it down pat. I’m pulling for a couple of underdogs who I’ll keep nameless for now so as not to jinx ‘em. Coincidentally, I do think someone from the fellowship of Christ followers on tour should start Tebowing after every birdie or Eagle! That would be beautiful!

Do you think Tiger will break Jack’s record?

Doesn’t matter what I think. Now fix me another drink! (Laughs. ) Mr. Woods will be back winning golf tournaments again in 2012 and beyond. To what degree he wins is a question well above my pay grade. I know Pic would pick him to roar back, and HG Picard had a way with picking winners.

There are a lot of PGA teaching professionals out there. What made Pic different? How did he raise the bar?

The answer to this is covered in book 1 and is/will really be dissected in book 2. An anecdote I’ve been told often is that his students and membership used to line up on the driving range JUST TO WATCH HIM TEACH! I’ve been told stories by people who knew him well that they used to go out and watch him play practice rounds just to learn from the man. And that was long after his competitive career had ended!

Do you think what Pic did for the game influenced some of the teachers out there today?

Yes, but most of them don’t even know it. That is one of the reasons I wrote The Hershey Hurricane. Many of the teaching principles that Henry Picard practiced are being taught to this day, but like he always said, he learned this from Alex Morrison. The point of book 1 was to showcase Pic as the great player he was, while touching on his skill as a teacher and PGA professional involved in the business of golf.

Let’s go back to the pen name… did you know there is a country music singer with the same name? I wonder if he has read the book!

I did know there is “another” Seamus McGee! I have thought of sending him a book, but am unsure if he is a golfer. Maybe if he sends me his latest CD I can send him a copy of The Hershey Hurricane?

How many pages are in the book?

113 edited from the original publication of 122 pages. Purposely and purposefully condensed.

Besides the website, where can someone buy a copy?

What we’re actually doing with the book is asking clubs to support it as a part of their tournament gift selection for the 2012 season. So, people should tell their PGA professional that they want her or him to support the “Pic book”. This is the most efficient way for us to get Pic’s name and story back in the mainstream of the game. We have a neat added value feature that I’m really excited about introducing throughout the year!

Plus, I’ve been blessed to have support from some wonderful PGA professionals who carry the book in their shop. It can be found at several clubs, including Plymouth Country Club in Massachusetts., Seminole Golf Club Florida, Canterbury Golf Club in Ohio, Interlachen Country Club, Deer Run, Cannon Golf Club, in Minnesota, Wisconsin’s Voyager Village, as well as through the South Carolina Golf Association. Some others, too, and I’m hopeful that list will grow exponentially over time whether by way of tournament gifts or being carried in pro shops. Golfers can always ask their pro to buy 10 copies to carry in their pro shop if it makes sense for them to do so.

That’s your first book… are you working on another one?

Next up is Pic book 2, and I’ll tell you about the others as they near completion. Have 2 ideas I’m zooming in on, but they have a long way to go.

On your website, I can buy multiple copies of the book. Why would someone buy more than one or two copies?

That is primarily with the thought of courses or corporations purchasing as t-gift for their outings. It really is the golf gift that “keeps on giving,” and hopefully people will be saying, “Hey, you read that Pic book yet?” for years to come.

Do you ever do book signings?

I’ve signed Seamus McGee in just about every copy of The Hershey Hurricane that has gone out since the book was published in June, 2011, but I’m pumped to be doing a handful or more speeches and signings throughout the country this year. I’m most looking forward to two events. First is the the Wisconsin Golf Course Superintendents Association meeting at Trappers Turn Golf Club in the Wisconsin Dells. The superintendent at Trappers is Tod Blankenship, and the man is an extremely talented turfgrass specialist. He has been a HUGE supporter of growing the game of golf as a grass grower, and totally agrees with me that tapping into the history of the game is very important in every golf organization’s effort to continue growing the game we all treasure! And…

“The Hornblower” at Plymouth Country Club is going to be very special. This is where it all began for Henry Gilford Picard as a golfer, so I am honored to have an invite to the invitational. Joe Arsenault was extremely thoughtful and lobbied to adopt the “Henry Picard Award” to be given the low finishing high school player in the field. I’m pretty sure they call it the “Hahn Blowah” out in Plymouth, though.

What else do you do? When you aren’t writing… and playing golf, what do you do?

I actually work full-time in sales and marketing for www.plasticprinters.com They have been supportive of the book and we combined to add an added value item to it that makes a wise tee gift choice, as I mentioned earlier. I really enjoy caddying, and actually had the opportunity to loop for a mighty talented gentleman of the game at White Bear Yacht Club in 2011 MN State Amateur. The kid, Trevor Vandelac is a guy Pic would have known was going to be a champion. I slug it up and down the hills for his pops every now and again, too. If the elder would listen to his caddie like the youngster does, we would be a tearing up the MN Sr. PGA scene. Oh, and I play a little, too, and am involved with a great church in Woodbury, MN..

Has his family read the book?

I have received phone calls and emails from Pic’s best friends, upon their completion of the book. Beth Daniel loved it, and she was the one who introduced Henry Picard at his World Golf Hall of Fame induction, as she was a longtime student of HG Picard.

Let’s say I wanted to write a book. Where does that journey begin? What’s my first step?

Do you have an editor? That’s another part of the pen name. Basically, this was written and edited, and re-written and re-edited and proofread and edited, and re-written a total of 9 times between 7 different people. So, I suppose you could say that Seamus McGee is a 7 headed monster! The fact of book writing is that it can never be “perfect”. I wrestled with that, but another viewing of A Beautiful Mind convinced me that I better stop obsessing and realize my work on the project is done.

Looks like John Graham and Josh Boggs got a copy. How do you know those guys?

I followed @johngrahamgolf on Twitter to learn about AimPoint Technologies which was actually taught to me by my friend Matt Vandelac, PGA. I wanted to get a better idea of this #makeeverything phenomenon, so I followed John. Little did I know it would actually lead me to a bunch of superstar PGA pros, guys Pic would have rooted for, no doubt. People like @BoggsPGA @golfgurutv @jasonhelmangolf @sara_pga and so many others. And, of course YOU, Ricky!

Tim, thank you for your time today. It means a lot. I am stoked to share your story with my readers. In all of the interviews I always give the artist the last word. Go.

The non-profits and organizations we have partnered with get a substantial portion of the proceeds of the book, primarily www.huntershotline.com and South Carolina Golf Association. This has really been the aim since the journey first began, to let the proceeds do some good.

I’d love to sell a bunch of copies of it and the next book, because it would mean that the golf world would know about Henry Picard and his friends, mentors, and students. Donald Vinton, Frank Ford, Sr., Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Milton Hershey, Jack Grout, Johnny Revolta, Alex Morrison, Ben Hogan, John Birmingham, Jim Westbrook, Keith Marks, Kevin Prentice, Beth Daniel, and so many more who are featured in the book. Not to mention the references to famed designers/architects like Seth Raynor, Donald Ross, and Maurice McCarthy! Now get me another beer!