MARTIN SENN
For Zurich CEO, work in New Orleans is 'about a lot more than writing a check.'


Martin Senn


Around New Orleans, where Zurich Insurance Group began sponsoring its PGA Tour event in 2005, shortly before Hurricane Katrina, Zurich's CEO is known for his year-round personal commitment to the charities supported by the event. It goes far beyond grip-and-grin photos for Senn, from the St. Bernard Parish home-building project, on which he has worked with employees and city residents, to the St. Michael Special School, where he was moved to tears by a school play honoring his company's 100 years of business in America. Senn believes in a corporation getting involved in communities "where it has customers, employees and stakeholders" and in golf as a platform for good works. An 18-handicapper who took up the game in his 20s, the Switzerland-based executive has since played around the world and especially enjoyed a recent seven-day holiday trip to the United Kingdom that put him on nine courses, including eight British Open venues. Of the school play, he says he was able to pull himself together before speaking only when his wife pointed out that although audience members were crying, all the kids were smiling. "I'm proud of the relationships we've built," he says. "It's about a lot more than writing a check. It's about bringing people together."
—Lisa Furlong

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MORE FROM THE BUSINESS WORLD

Tom Cousins

Memo to fans of HBO's "The Wire": Anyone depressed by the plight of America's inner cities can take heart from what has sprung from the real-estate developer's commitment to East Lake Golf Club, the Donald Ross gem in Atlanta. Rather than focus only on course restoration, Cousins established a foundation and partnered with the Atlanta Housing Authority to take a holistic approach to housing, education and recreation that revitalized a previously dormant and dangerous section of his city. With the support of Warren Buffett and the Purpose Built Communities organization on whose policy committee he sits, Cousins is hoping to take the approach national. Next stop? New Orleans.

Jim McGlothlin

Even as people debate the pros and cons of oil and gas as energy sources, no one questions what this lawyer-turned United Company chairman and CEO has accomplished for Mountain Mission School in his hometown of Grundy, Va. By bringing in The Big Three of Palmer, Player and Nicklaus for a 2010 one-day event at The Olde Farm, the club he built in nearby Bristol, McGlothlin raised more than $15 million for the residential educational institution that has helped more than 20,000 area kids. McGlothlin, long committed to feeding the hungry and improving educational opportunities, is engaged as co-chair of The First Tee's Campaign for 10 Million Young People, which has raised more than $106 million to attract 10 million young golfers to the game by 2017. Says his brother Tom: "He will get that done. No one is more passionate about golf. He'd play eight days a week if he could."

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FROM WASHINGTON

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)

There might be better golfers among Washington's power brokers, but none more passionate about the game and what it can accomplish—whether it's to build political relationships across the aisle or to raise money for worthy causes. The son of a preacher, Clyburn feared telling his father he wasn't going to follow in his footsteps but was inspired by his dad's response: "Sometimes it's better to see a sermon than to hear one." The civil-rights activist and former majority whip is a 12-handicapper at Santee Cooper Country Club and has hosted a charity event for more than two decades to fund college scholarships and an endowment at South Carolina State.

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FROM THE GRASS-ROOTS LEVEL

Connie Keiter

This lifelong golfer, who carries a 17.4 USGA Handicap Index at Hillcrest and Tamarisk, has, with her husband, George, been a significant donor to UCLA. They support causes as different as UCLA's cancer center and a chair named for her father in the school of architecture and urban design. She has also been something of a guardian angel for the women's golf team, for many years volunteering and playing in its annual benefit tournaments and donating directly to the team. Though recent rounds have been limited by health concerns, "Connie is hilarious to play with," says UCLA coach Carrie Forsyth. "She never minces words, and if you play too slow or talk during her swing, look out!"

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FROM MUSIC

Vince Gill

A golfer since age 7, growing up in Oklahoma City, where he has provided critical funding to the Special Care facility, the country-music star is the best amateur golfer among this group of golfers who give back. Gill has been called the "Guardian Angel" of junior golf in his adopted home state of Tennessee. The Vinny Pro-Celebrity Invitational he founded in 1993 has given millions to the Tennessee Golf Foundation, and his ongoing commitment to expanding opportunities on and off the course—including programs at Belmont University—has directly helped many students. Nashville's First Tee facility is home to The Vinny Links. Ben Bjork, who formerly played on the Vince Gill Junior Tour, was sustained by Gill's hospital visits during treatment for stomach cancer—and so inspired that he has launched his own music career.

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FROM THE GOLF INDUSTRY

Tom Fazio

One of America's preeminent golf-course architects can be counted among the golf industry's most charitable individuals as well, thanks to innovative fundraising approaches employed by his Tom Fazio Charities Fund. His Fazio Golf Tour charges a $450 membership fee (or $40 a month)to play any of nearly 500 Fazio-designed holes in the Southeast at a reduced rate, with a portion of the membership fee benefiting the fund. Sales of Fazio's book also support the fund. This father of six first got involved with at-risk kids in his North Carolina county by pulling them out of bed, feeding them breakfast, then transporting them to Saturday-morning basketball games in the 1990s. One former player now heads the Boys & Girls Clubs of Henderson County, which owes its existence to Fazio and his wife, Sue. The couple also supports local arts and theater projects.

December 2012

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