In 1981, the John R. Williams committee introduced an opportunity for members to play with contestant teams during their practice round on the day prior to the start of the event. In its current format, member teams play with amateur division teams and senior division teams on Wednesday afternoon. The “Wil-Am” tournament is followed by a casual dinner for all participants immediately after the completion of play.
Beginning in 2010, the committee began to enhance the Wil-Am day by bringing in a guest speaker. In each case, we endeavored to find a individuals with some inherent connection to the club. We started with John Feinstein, who had just written Moment of Glory about the major winners of 2003, including our own Shaun Micheel. From there we celebrated our 50th Williams with one of our past major champions, Curtis Strange. After Curtis we had Bill Harmon, brother of our long time head professional, Craig Harmon.
In 2014 we invited Tim Rosaforte. Tim had just received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism from the PGA of America and his first book, Heartbreak Hill, was about our '95 Ryder Cup. In 2015, and in honor of the 20th anniversary of Europe's stunning victory in '95, we had Nick Faldo as our guest speaker. We were thrilled to have 1971 Williams champion and 2-time US open champion, Andy North, join us as our guest in 2016. He was followed by Paul Azinger, the 17-time PGA tour winner who won the 1993 PGA Championship and was the winning captain at the 2008 Ryder Cup. In 2018 we had the pleasure of welcoming Golf Channel veteran, Rich Lerner. Our most recent speaker was Dan Hicks, lead play-by-play host for NBC Sports PGA Tour coverage.
The response to the Wil-Am in its current form from both the members and contestants has been overwhelmingly favorable, and the committee will continue to look to bring in major figures for future events.
*Other entrants may play a practice round on Wednesday morning, but must clear the East Course and West Course by 1:00 pm.