The Bigger Picture

Irwin, in accepting Payne Stewart Award, encourages his fellow PGA Tour players and others to pay it forward like Payne did

By Gary Baines – 08/20/2019

University of Colorado and Boulder High School graduate Hale Irwin formally received the Payne Stewart Award on Tuesday in Atlanta, where the three-time U.S. Open champion gave a speech that was televised live on the Golf Channel.

Numerous top PGA Tour players — present and past — attended the award presentation, including Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey, Brandt Snedeker, Jay Haas, Peter Jacobsen, Tom Lehman, Hal Sutton and Brad Faxon, along with PGA Tour commissioner  Jay Monahan.

Irwin’s family — including wife Sally, son Steve and daughter Becky — were also in attendance.

The Payne Stewart Award goes to a professional golfer who best exemplifies Stewart’s values of character, charity and sportsmanship. Stewart, a longtime PGA Tour player who won three major championships, died in 1999 in an chartered jet tragedy. 

In his speech on Tuesday, Irwin used Stewart as an example of a person who truly embodied the values that his award espouses.

“We hear a lot about success,” Irwin said. “How do we define success? Is it money winnings? Tour rankings? Is it the zip code in which you live? Is it the brand of automobile that you drive? Maybe it’s the membership at the club you belong to? Could it be the number of trophies and titles? Who it is that we know? Maybe it’s what school did we attend? All those definitions of success. But what really tips your measure meter when it comes to that definition?

“I propose a better definition of success might include what we have done in our lives to help humanity by paying it forward or extending a helping hand to those in need or expanding the realm of positive thoughts or using just good common sense. (Those) might be some of the ingredients in that definition.”

Irwin both applauded and challenged current PGA Tour players in having a positive effect on those around them.

“We all can learn from the good deeds and positive accomplishments of those around us,” he said. “Many of you in this room, whether you know it or not, I’ve watched to see what I might learn from you — not only about the golf swing, but how you approach playing the game. Your people skills. You have to learn from this. If we can take these instances and take it with the physical and mental tools that we have, wouldn’t that bring about some positive results if we all applied ourselves appropriately?”

Among the previous recipients of the Payne Stewart Award are Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Nick Price, Ben Crenshaw, Davis Love III and Ernie Els.

To hear Irwin’s 13-minute speech from Tuesday evening, CLICK HERE

To hear, Irwin’s wife Sally, son Steve and daughter Becky talk about Hale and the Payne Stewart Award on Golf Channel, CLICK HERE.

To read an earlier story about Irwin being named the 2019 recipient, CLICK HERE.