A Christmas Angel

Through his overwhelming generosity, a longtime follower is changing lives, one golfer at a time

By Ryan French

I stared at my phone in disbelief, unsure how to respond. “I’m going to give him $15,000,” the text read in part. A longtime follower — let’s call him Robert — had heard about the plight of Alistair Docherty, a conditional member of the Korn Ferry Tour who was chasing Monday Qs in 2020. That can get expensive, and Docherty messaged me that if things didn’t go his way, the Monday in San Antonio would be his last one for some time. He was broke, to the point he was planning to spend that night in his car, unable to squeeze another dollar out of his maxed-out credit card. I tweeted to my followers asking for help. That’s when Robert reached out. The next thing I knew, he was sending Docherty the $15,000. “He gave me another chance at chasing my dreams,” Docherty says. “If I didn’t get that money, I might still be caddying.”

I have been working on an article about a player who had a meltdown on the LatinoAmerican Tour last week. The player called me on Wednesday. Although I have written several articles that require conversations like this, it’s always awkward. You are talking with someone who knows you are writing a not-so-flattering article about him. I conduct these interviews on speaker, which allows me to take notes while we talk. That’s when I received a text from Robert that said, “Let’s do something nice for Christmas. I’ll throw in $5,000 for some kids in need.” It made me pause during this holiday season, so I am telling this story instead of the one about the player meltdown. 

I have been lucky to meet so many amazing people through this account; Robert is among the best. Our conversations started through DMs on Twitter shortly after I started Monday Q Info in the summer of 2018. I learned he was supporting a longtime grinder who had Monday Q’d for a few Tour events. We quickly bonded over the trials and tribulations of the players I was covering. In 2019 Robert invited me to Butler National in suburban Chicago, where he was a member. I drove my 2012 Dodge Caravan onto the property, pulling quickly to the back of a lot filled with cars that had tires worth twice the value of my van. 

Robert and I had never met, though we had talked on the phone a few times and had communicated through text messages. I didn’t know what he looked like, but I didn’t expect him to be younger than me. After initial greetings, he put me at ease with a quick jab about my attire. “You knew you were coming here,” he said, “and that is the shirt you decided to wear?” 

We played with a couple of his friends, talked trash (the multiple drinks helped me loosen up), gambled, and discussed the future of Monday Q Info. I was in the early stages of trying to turn my venture into a business, and he offered advice. He told me he would connect me with his lawyer, who would help me get my logo trademarked and create an LLC. I figured it was the tequila talking. A couple of days later, he sent me his lawyer’s number. She talked me through the process, and at the end of the conversation, I sheepishly asked how much this was going to cost, knowing I couldn’t afford whatever she was about to tell me. “Robert is going to take care of it,” she said.

He continued to be beyond kind to me, offering advice, spending hours on the phone, and continuing to support players. In 2020 a pro friend of mine and I were scheduled to play with Robert at Butler, but he came down with Covid the day before our scheduled round. So Robert called the club and made sure we were all set. (I can’t imagine what an unaccompanied round at Butler costs!) We had caddies, and we ate and drank on Robert’s dime. In 2021 I hosted a party when an article of mine was published in Golf Digest, and I invited Robert and his wife. They had plans that night, but he treated everyone who had come in for the party to Butler to a round that morning. How do you thank someone for that? 

Last year Robert texted me to say he wanted to support a woman professional. We discussed how we would go about it. “I want my daughters to know that chasing their dreams isn’t always easy,” he said. We found a woman on the Epson Tour, and I set up a call between the two. Robert gave her $20,000. The one stipulation: The player had to talk with his daughters about her struggle. They talk often, and Robert says she texts him after most rounds. “He and his family have made a huge impact on my life and my career,” the player told me. “I will forever be grateful to them.” 

The list goes on. This year, a well-known player had to return to Q school and was out of money. Robert paid his $6,500 entry fee. Yet another player couldn’t afford to get to the second stage, so Robert gave him $1,000. 

He goes beyond golf with his generosity. One of his daughters has Alopecia, a condition that leads to sudden hair loss, and he is in the process of selling his business, partly to dedicate more time to helping children with the affliction. He already has spent millions on his endeavor. 

Now, because of Robert, I am taking that $5,000 and arranging for new clubs, clothes and shoes for kids who would never be able to afford them, giving them a Christmas they never could have dreamed of. 

Robert is a Christmas Angel. Happy Holidays, everyone.

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12 thoughts on “A Christmas Angel”

  1. Jesus, Ryan, it’s 1am here in Ireland and you’ve done it again… 😢
    “Robert” is an absolute gent.
    What a guy!
    Good on him and good luck to him and his family. 🙏🏻

  2. What a great read, congrats to Robert and Bulter National is a treat. Used to watch the PGA Tour stop there when I was growing up playing junior golf.

  3. Another amazing story and the incredible support of Robert. Particularly fond of his support for the LPGA player as a father of two daughters. Thanks!

  4. Ryan, I just love your work and that of the whole FPC!!! I myself was a grinder. All-American multiple years, but I struggled to get the necessary sponsorship $$$. So, this story about Robert’s generosity touched me a little bit extra.
    Thanks again for your work. I love listening to FPC podcasts while delivering for Meals on Wheels.

  5. In a year in which golf has largely been dominated by stories about how much the top end of the tree are making, thank you for this story, and thanks to “Robert”.

  6. You are tremendous, Ryan. Excellent writer, but even more impressive, you help us see the generally forgotten people who struggle at golf and life. I’m grateful to have your writing and speaking available to me. Merry Christmas and happy New Years to you and your family

  7. Such a nice story. As a father of a financially struggling recent college graduate who has had some success in his first 6 months as a professional- US Open qualifier, PGA Tour developmental tour winner, KFT conditional status holder for 2023 and a 2 time NCAA All American, the sacrifices that players go to to chase goals are tough. People like Robert, who help even a little bit make huge differences in not just opportunities given, but it gives a much needed “up” to keep going on and a desire to succeed to give back in the future.

  8. Thank you as always, Ryan.

    I so hope that some all the very well-remunerated top male golfers, who’ve been additionally rewarded this year will follow suit and support the strivers. Those entry fees are huge to regular folks but minuscule to the men at the top.

    I saved this piece to read after the new year and am so glad I did. What a pick-me-up — and what an inspiration Robert is. Huge thanks and best wishes to him on his goal to help those, like his daughter, who are coping with alopecia.

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