“Balls in the Air with Charlie Rymer” Podcast Episode 7: Handling Charlie Rymer with Paul Graham

What’s it like to be Charlie Rymer’s agent? We went right to the source for the answer! Paul Graham joins Charlie on “Balls in the Air” to discuss being an agent in the professional golf space, his relationship with Hootie & The Blowfish, and much more!

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Charlie Rymer (00:16):

Hi and welcome in to another episode of Balls in the Air. I’m your host, Charlie Rymer. Now every week we have an episode of Balls in the Air and I’ll tell you we’ve got something really special or somebody really special. This week we couldn’t find something or somebody. So we went with my agent, Paul Graham. Hey Paul.

Paul Graham (00:37):

Hey Charlie. How are you?

Charlie Rymer (00:39):

He’s my favorite person in the whole world to mess with. We’ll get into that in a little bit, but in all seriousness folks, I’ve got a good friend in Atlanta. A young man who loves playing the game. He listens to a lot of podcasts and, and I was asking him the other day, “Hey, who would you like to hear from on the podcast?” He goes, “You know what? I hear a lot about sports agents and golfers agents. And I don’t really know what they do. Why don’t you get a really cool sports agent on?” And the coolest one I know is on our show. I’ve been fortunate to be with Paul going on 15 years now and our relationship’s well beyond a business relationship now. So, very good friends, really family. And so Paul, appreciate you coming on and let’s start right there, Paul. My friend, Randy, in Atlanta, he wants to know what an agent in golf does. So how do you go about, how do you even start to answer that question for a PGA TOUR player?

Paul Graham (01:38):

Well, first thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it. And I guess to go represent a player, it’s kind of difficult from the beginning because most guys who do it don’t really know anybody. So the best way I can do is just kind of tell you how I got started. As you know, Charlie, I spent about five years on the road with Hootie and the Blowfish.

Charlie Rymer (02:02):

Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t give that away. We’re going to get to that a little bit later, Paul. I mean, you know, this isn’t a normal quick, Charlie call, Hey, I got to go.

Paul Graham (02:10):

I got you.

Charlie Rymer (02:10):

You got to go talk to somebody important, but I just want big picture. When somebody thinks or hears that a player has an agent, what kind of things is that agent doing for the player? Are they out there every day every week, every month? Do they just sort of let them go. Just in general. What’s an agent’s role on a PGA TOUR player’s team?

Paul Graham (02:38):

Well, I would say that basically, if you look at the player himself being the company, the agent would basically be the CEO.

Charlie Rymer (02:49):


Paul Graham (02:49):

So he’s going to oversee every aspect of their career. Most of the players that are at a high level, they’re provided so many different amenities through their management company, that he’s just making sure that all those things are being taken care of. So guys who are A-list players, who are really at the top of their game, they’re getting daily sheets on where their hotel is, when their rides going to pick them up for their private plane. What the tail number is on the plane, when they’re going to arrive at their next event.

Paul Graham (03:21):

And I would say that as far as being at events, it’s normally on the days that they’re not actually playing golf because business usually gets done between that Monday and Wednesday part. Because there’re manufacturers still there on site because the manufacturers that are there basically leave on that Wednesday afternoon. And then obviously if a player is playing well, a lot of times guys will go out and watch him win. So they’ll see how things are going on a Saturday and maybe fly out. I’ve gone out to see one of my players hopefully win and they shoot 77 and I just took the trip for no reason, but it was still very fun.

Charlie Rymer (04:00):

Did you yell at him after that?

Paul Graham (04:02):

Yeah, I’d fired both of them after I left. So I talk a lot about like verticals within. Once you have talent that’s become larger, they create their own verticals. So all those verticals are like pockets of business that they’re end up doing. So within that, that manager has to fill in spaces for each of those verticals. Like they have to fill in a travel person, they’ll have to fill in a day to day person. A lot of players just want their agent to go get them money. They’re like, I don’t really care what you do. I don’t need all that other stuff. I just want you to go get me the best deals possible.

Charlie Rymer (04:44):

Yeah. So I can figure out how to travel and how to get there and where to stay and all that sort of stuff. Maybe the player likes putting that together or player’s wife or partner likes putting that together and just go out and find a business. So I guess, what you’re saying there’s not a formula that works for every player. It’s building that relationship, figuring out what the player likes and doesn’t like, and moving on from there?

Paul Graham (05:08):

That’s correct. Yep. And a lot of those are developed through, some of them are developed through recruiting. A lot of the stuff that I’ve done in my career is basically, it was always done in personal relationships where somebody introduced me to somebody and then they just think I would work. And some of the relationships I’ve had worked and ones that I’m incredibly proud of. And then other ones work for the … it’s like work for the period of time that I was actually doing it. You know what I mean? Like, I’ll sign a guy and I’ll go, I know in my head, I’m not going to work with them for a long period of time in their career. And I know that I’m there just to take care of that part of their career. You know?

Charlie Rymer (05:47):

Yeah. You’re trying to get them from point B to point C.

Paul Graham (05:50):


Charlie Rymer (05:50):

And you sort of know that and the player knows that going into the situation, a lot of times.

Paul Graham (05:57):

Yeah, we don’t talk about it, but I mean, I personally feel, and I’m fine with it. At the beginning, I wasn’t really fine with it because I was like, “Oh, what?” But I understand what my role is. And I understand what I’m good at. So, I think as you get older, you start to accept the things you’re good at and the things you aren’t good at. And you just, kind of embraced the ones that you’re good at. So that’s what I do

Charlie Rymer (06:20):

The biggest part of playing on the PGA TOUR. And I’ve studied this a long time. I don’t think you’re going to disagree with me, is putting up some good numbers. The better the numbers would go up. The more money that comes in the bank, the more opportunity that comes in. But you have to balance that with the opportunities that you have. And I think probably the sexiest part of it, then people start digging into and they think about an agent is, what am I going to have in the bag? What kind of clubs am I going to play? What kind of ball am I going to play? So talk to me a little bit about that because there’re differences in equipment and equipment companies in particular on the golf ball side. How do you sort of balance that out?

Charlie Rymer (07:04):

And all the offers aren’t the same as well. I made a mistake very early before you were my agent. I chose to play a golf ball for a lot more money. And that ball was a little bit of a wild card. And versus one, that was going to be a lot less money, but I knew what I was going to get out of it. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have chased the dollars. Although at the time it seemed like, “yeah, that’s a lot of money. I’m going to take the chance. And I’m so good. I could, I could go out there and play with a granite rock.” That’s not necessarily the case. So that balance, if you maybe talk to us a little bit about that, might be interesting to listeners.

Paul Graham (07:43):

I love the term chasing the dollars. So, those are all things that, that term, you really don’t understand it unless you’re an agent or unless you’re a professional golfer. Even if you’re a professional musician. You go chase opportunities to be able to try to get paid. The first player that I started working with, I had two stints of being an agent. The first time I quit, because I didn’t like the way it was being done. The second time, the first guy that came in, I basically just had a checklist of questions I asked him. I said, “What equipment are you playing?” And he was playing something in particular, I forget what it was, but he said, “Man, I really love Hogan. I love always playing those Hogan Apex Irons, just love those irons.”

Paul Graham (08:32):

And three days before that a buddy of mine just got named president of Hogan Golf. He’s like, “If you ever have any players.” So I looked like a freaking genius.

Charlie Rymer (08:45):

Yeah. Well, as a matter of fact.

Paul Graham (08:48):

So, we had a deal right away. You know what I mean? But he told me the stuff, like I knew to ask the question. Like, what’s going to be the best to make you the best player? So that deal worked out great. I had another player came onto me and was going to sign with PING. And PING doesn’t have a golf ball, so that’s fine. But Charlie, you know better than if I asked you this question, you know the answer. What is PING really? And most manufacturers really care about in particular, the number one thing they all care about is the driver.

Charlie Rymer (09:17):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Graham (09:18):

Right? And when you think about PING, you think about their putters. I mean, they got the gold-

Charlie Rymer (09:25):

[crosstalk 00:09:25] Putters, irons, and then you start getting to the driver and the fairway metals. Yeah.

Paul Graham (09:28):

Yeah, yeah. But their drivers sell and putters sell. So he’s like, “Hey, I’m not into this putter, but I think I could.” Come on, it’s PING, I can get into a putter. Well, the guy just stopped playing a couple of years ago, but basically that was that whole thing. He went through 10 putters that year. And it was all because of the fact that he was on, at the time, I forget, you know the Korn Ferry TOUR equivalent. And it was all because they were paying him a little small fee. And he’s like, “Oh man, I need that money so I can go travel.” I think right now, if you can get corporate deals for your players, that match up who they are. If you can get corporate deals that also match up in anything they’re going to do in the philanthropic world, I think is important.

Paul Graham (10:22):

And if you can find equipment deals that are going to match in … obviously the corporate deal can replace the equipment deal. And then the player can become a free agent. That’s the perfect world, to play any irons they want, any clubs they want, whatever. But I think the advice that I would ever give to an agent or to a player is to say, remember by one shot you can make just as much money on by gaining one shot, than you want on whatever that deal is that you’re actually going to be put together. So before you put your signature on a piece of paper, make sure you can honor that contract and that’s whatever the amount of clubs they require you to play, whatever ball they require you to play or whatever the deal is. Don’t just say, “Oh, I’ll figure it out.” It’s your career, you have to take it seriously.

Charlie Rymer (11:14):

Yep. Because if you can’t get that ball in the hole, nothing else matters at all.

Paul Graham (11:18):

It doesn’t matter. Yeah, it doesn’t matter.

Charlie Rymer (11:20):

Nothing matters at all. Well, your firm, my firm, Empire Sports, small firm based in Charleston, South Carolina. You’ve got an office in Columbia, South Carolina. One of the things when I signed with you, which is gosh, I got to think it’s 15 years ago.

Paul Graham (11:39):

Yeah, about that.

Charlie Rymer (11:39):

Was, Paul, I need somebody to invest a little time in me and I needed to develop some things. And that’s one of the things that I’m most grateful for our friendship, and our business, and relationship is that you did invest some time on the front end. And my wife thinks it’s definitely paid off because I’ve kept her in new shoes for all these 15 years. Which has been nice, but it really has been a great team to be on.

Charlie Rymer (12:13):

And there’s a ton of trust there, but ultimately that’s what it comes down to. If you’re a PGA TOUR player, you’ve got to know that somebody has got your back and you can trust them. And to me, that’s the biggest element in having these long-term successful relationships, like you and I have been able to have, and a lot of golfers have been able to have with their agent. And, if you don’t have that trust and you don’t have equipment in your bag that you like, and you know you can play with, nothing else really matters. In my opinion.

Paul Graham (12:45):

Yeah, I agree. And our job is, this is very hard, it’s difficult for some guys to understand, but it’s very subservient. You know what I mean? I know you don’t look at me as being subservient, but if I go out to work for you and all I’m trying to do is think about what’s the best thing for Charlie. Then all those things are going to end up working out for me, because if I’m signing a player, that’s who I believe in. I want those things, I’m working for him. I know that you probably think of us more as equals or would never think of me that way or you might mess with me a little bit to make me think that way, but-

Charlie Rymer (13:25):

Would I mess with my agent? [crosstalk 00:13:29] We got plenty. We got hours to talk about all of the jokes I played on you.

Paul Graham (13:35):

Exactly, exactly. But you’re doing a job for somebody, you know what I mean? And you have to take that very seriously and understand that the job is not going to end up being about you. And if that’s what you expect in your life, then don’t become an agent. When I was in the music business before, that’s part of it too. Was like, you have to go be working for the guys that you’re working for. And if you do the things for them and make them feel comfortable, they’re going to perform well. And I always felt that I translated that exact same thing over into when I started working into golf. I took that same attitude where if I can get them feeling good about things and they feel comfortable around me and they know their world is being taken care of, then the rest of it is just them hitting golf shots.

Charlie Rymer (14:27):

Well, 98%, 99% of the conversations that you and I have had. And I would assume it’s the same with most of the players that you’ve represented over the years. Pretty common stuff, dealing with business opportunities or how are we going to pull this off or pull that off. And it’s sort of fun to get involved in all of that, the business side of everything, but that 1% or 2%, those uncomfortable conversations. Where you have to tell me or a player that you represent, not what we want to hear, what we need to hear. Those are the tough times. And I’m not picking on anybody, but Justin Thomas just went through a tough time with his remarks at the tour out at Kapalua. And I know it turned their whole business side, upside down. That’s got to be one of the times, if you had to deal with something similar to that. And I know you’ve had some tough times with some players, myself included. That’s the part where that trust becomes really, really important. And maybe not the part of your job that’s a whole lot of fun, I wouldn’t think.

Paul Graham (15:40):

Yeah. Yeah. Those are tough. I mean, those are tough times but I guess from my early days, by having guys that I worked with that I realized that, if I wasn’t there and they made mistakes, all that focus is going to be on them. Everything’s going to be on them. So I’m trying to give them as many chances to succeed as possible. And I’ve never met Justin Thomas before, I’ve heard he’s a great guy.

Charlie Rymer (16:19):

Yeah, me too.

Paul Graham (16:20):

He made a mistake and it’s an understandable mistake. I think the sponsor’s reaction is understandable. And whether you believe in it or not, there’s two sides to it. I would think that he would understand the sponsor’s reaction too.

Charlie Rymer (16:39):


Paul Graham (16:39):

And that’s not really for us to debate it’s between the sponsor and for Justin Thomas. And how his agent ends up handling it, is really that listen. And when I’ve had situations where people that I know have made mistakes, we have to sit back and not respond to it a lot of times. Not just recognize the fact that we’ve made a mistake, but also give time to be able to heal that mistake and also learn from it internally. And we don’t have to sit there and proclaim that, hey, we’re this great changed person or whatever. We just have to kind of let our actions speak for themselves. And I feel like somebody like Justin Thomas from everything I heard, he’ll understand what the ramifications of comments like that are. And I think he’s going to be better for it. You know? And I know that it’s a lesson that needs to be learned and I feel bad for him.

Charlie Rymer (17:37):


Paul Graham (17:37):

But I truly believe that, that’s going to be the case.

Charlie Rymer (17:42):

Yeah. And I haven’t talked to Justin about it, but I’m sure he’s to the point, knowing his background that he’s looking at it as being able to be an example, moving forward, that people can look at and follow. And it’s neat for me to see the character shine through some of these players when they get in a situation that’s not very good. Now, I don’t know if I’ve talked to you about this, but I spent a day with Rory McIlroy at Bose headquarters, just outside of Boston. Bose, the audio company, B-O-S-E and the CEO there is a huge golf fan. And remember he signed Rory McIlroy and they’ve got a long-term relationship now. And I was waiting with the CEO for Rory to show up. We were shooting some PR type pieces and they’d asked me to host them. And the CEO tells me, he said, “A lot of people ask me why I jumped in with Rory McIlroy.” He said, “I’m the only golfer in the whole company.”

Charlie Rymer (18:52):

I said, “Well, I can understand that.” He said, but last year he said was the second year of a two year deal that we had with him. And there was a year where Rory didn’t play very well. And he said, “he personally, at the end of last year called me and he didn’t ask for an extension.” He told the CEO of Bose that, Bose didn’t get what they had paid for because Rory said, “he played poorly.” And he said, “I’d like to do a third year with no fee.” And I just thought that was just so cool. I mean, that’s the kind of player you want to deal with. And I think Justin Thomas is in that league too. He’ll figure things out, but doing the right thing, doing it the right way is something that’s really important as a player and as an agent, as a team together. And I think the people that do that and operate at that level end up having the most success on and off the golf course, long-term.

Paul Graham (19:54):

Yeah. Bose had a big factory right down here in Columbia. They really helped us out early days on the Hootie event the Monday After the Masters. So it’s been really good company. And actually early on those days, I was like, “Why don’t you all get into golf? It would be the perfect piece.”

Charlie Rymer (20:11):


Paul Graham (20:11):

And it was the same. The guy who ran that factory up there, he was the only golfer in the whole place up there.

Charlie Rymer (20:18):


Paul Graham (20:20):

I mean, it’s a very similar situation where it’s like, that’s just not what they do.

Charlie Rymer (20:23):

So you had this great relationship with Bose and I never got any free headphones out of it? That’s what I’m finding out now?

Paul Graham (20:29):

This is before we started working together.

Charlie Rymer (20:30):

Oh, okay. I feel a little better about that.

Paul Graham (20:33):

Yeah. You should.

Charlie Rymer (20:34):

So, well, let’s dive into your story a little bit. It’s hard for me to realize this, but apparently you were a track athlete, at the University of South Carolina. What’d you do? Like javelin catching or something like that?

Paul Graham (20:47):

I tell my students don’t come back to me and say, “Hey, what’d you do, shot put or discus or something?” I said, “No, I just got fat. I don’t really know what to tell you.”

Charlie Rymer (20:59):

I can relate to that. You’re a runner though, right?

Paul Graham (21:01):

Yeah. I ran half mile, mile. And came here in 1984, my best friend and I came down, both got scholarships. We both went to the same high school.

Charlie Rymer (21:15):

In Maryland?

Paul Graham (21:16):

In Maryland, yeah. And we came down here and my freshman year, I got really sick. I got hepatitis.

Charlie Rymer (21:25):


Paul Graham (21:25):

And I went from … Charlie, I was like the same height I am now six feet. I weighed 135 pounds when I came to college. And after I had that, I weighed 125 pounds. Maybe even teetering on 120. I mean, it was bad.

Charlie Rymer (21:39):

I was 120 in the second grade. But you were fast though, right?

Paul Graham (21:46):

Yeah. Yeah. I could move.

Charlie Rymer (21:47):


Paul Graham (21:49):

Then the next year after I came back, I actually broke my leg, my sophomore year. So I was playing basketball. We had a workout and after the workout they were going to go lift weights. And I was like, “Dude, I don’t lift weights. I just run.” And I went to go play basketball with my boys. And last point of the game, I went up for a layup, came down and snapped my leg. And that was it. So I ended up spending five years at the University of South Carolina, as a result of the injuries.

Charlie Rymer (22:19):


Paul Graham (22:20):

Maybe a little bit to do with me, not paying attention during class.

Charlie Rymer (22:24):

I had five years at Georgia Tech without any injuries. But during that time period, you establish a relationship with some guys, some musicians that ended up doing pretty good for themselves. Isn’t that about when you met Darius and the guys and Hootie? Isn’t that about that time fame?

Paul Graham (22:45):

Yeah. Actually I was 17 when I went to college and the first two weeks of being at school, I met Darius. Who had not even met the other guys in the band yet.

Charlie Rymer (22:54):


Paul Graham (22:55):

And also during that time, my best friends were all soccer players and Soni played on the soccer team. So I knew Soni even before he was in the band at all. So what ended up happening is one of my closest friends still to this day, she was hanging out with this guy who played guitar in a band. And she’s like, “Hey, come with me to go see it.” And I have my cast on my leg. So we go up this place called Pappy’s and man, like everybody in there is just blasted. They’re hammered and the band’s up there playing and it’s not that great, but all their friends are coming up and singing.

Paul Graham (23:39):

And it’s mostly to the fact that just everybody’s had like 20 beers. So they’re just, you know, it’s hard to play good music when you’ve had 20 beers. But I remember when the drummer at the time came out from behind the kit and got behind a cello and they did Eleanor Rigby and Darius is Eleanor Rigby. And I was like, “Man, that’s pretty bad ass.” And the guitar player ended up being Mark Bryan, who is a good friend of yours as well. But Mark and I and Dean, who’s the bass player, we grew up like 10 minutes from each other and didn’t even know it.

Charlie Rymer (24:12):


Paul Graham (24:12):

So literally from that moment on, that was my friend group in college [crosstalk 00:24:19].

Charlie Rymer (24:18):

And that’s your freshman year?

Paul Graham (24:20):

That was my sophomore year.

Charlie Rymer (24:22):

Sophomore year?

Paul Graham (24:22):

Their freshman year, Darius’ sophomore year. But that’s basically was my friend group in college and we had anywhere up to 50 people that we kind of hung out with. And that was just our group. We did everything together, spring breaks, lived together, all that stuff.

Charlie Rymer (24:39):

It sounds horrible.

Paul Graham (24:41):

Well, it was also before they were Hootie and the Blowfish.

Charlie Rymer (24:46):


Paul Graham (24:47):

So at that time, all we did was like tag along to be able to drink free beer and meet some more girls.

Charlie Rymer (24:52):


Paul Graham (24:53):

That’s all they were doing. And that’s all we were doing.

Charlie Rymer (24:54):

That’s why I said, that sounds horrible.

Paul Graham (24:55):

Yeah, it was a terrible life.

Charlie Rymer (24:58):

But they started coming together and having some success. And when I first became aware of Hootie and the Blowfish, all the guys love golf. And Gary McCord introduced me as the band got going. And it became clear that the guys loved golf. And they started spending a little time with some more players and developing relationships and really starting to get going. It always just seems like, and has continued to be a great relationship with golf. Darius, I know has worked as an ambassador for the PGA TOUR and has done a lot with a PGA TOUR. And what I want to get to is the Monday After the Masters, which started out as a gathering in, was it Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. I missed the first one and I miss one a few years ago. So I think I’ve probably been … there’ve been 30, 31 of the Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Ams now how many have we had?

Paul Graham (26:02):

Well, we’re going on the 27 years, but because of the last one being canceled were really on like our, no 27, 28th year.

Charlie Rymer (26:11):

  1. Yeah. So it’s been a lot of fun for me other than the first one. And one I missed a couple of years ago, when I was playing on PGA TOUR Champions event. I’ve been in every one of them either playing or covering it for television. And it’s just been amazing what that event has done in terms of bringing people together and raising money for the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation. Which I know you’re a board member of, but before we get a little bit farther along, maybe just talk about some of the things that all that money that’s been raised over the years has done, for folks here in South Carolina.

Paul Graham (26:47):

Well, I have a lot of moments in my life that I’m really proud of. I’ve got a handful of things that business-wise, I’m really pleased with. One being on the road with the band and them having that success was just an amazing piece. And after I finished being on the road, they basically asked me, “Hey, do you want to go run this golf tournament?”

Charlie Rymer (27:12):

And when you went on the road, you were the road manager for what, five, six, seven years for the band?

Paul Graham (27:17):

Five years. Yeah. From 93 to 98. And I remember Darius and I were going out to play golf, which was pretty much a daily thing. And he’s like, “Hey, we want you to go run our golf tournament.” And I was like, “All right, I’ve never done that before either. So I guess I’ll give it a shot.” So I went out to start doing this golf tournament basically by myself, but we had an incredible board, like we had a very active board and really established a cool event. And the very first year I did it, actually Tiger came the very first year we did it. So we had 12 or 15,000 people, something like that up here in Columbia seeing him play. And that was really an amazing day. And so from then on, there’s been so many different moments and so many things that have kind of defined the tournament itself. We’ve been lucky enough to have … I’ve cried twice at the tournament.

Paul Graham (28:17):

One is when BeBe Winans and Darius and we’re singing with Duncan Sheik playing guitar and doing Amazing Grace. And I happened to be walking by at the same time. And it just got me. And then the other time was when Arnold Palmer came and I was like a nice to see you and we got him all situated. I went into the trees and lost it, but I mean, moments like that, he was my hero. And I just was so pleased that he could come join us. We developed a great relationship with his company and with the folks down at Bay Hill. So that was really cool. But one of the things that ended up happening is that when the Monday After the Masters first got started, it was really focused on junior golf. It was started without the band.

Paul Graham (29:02):

And when they decided to go dive into Monday After the Masters, they really focused a lot on junior golf. So it helped establish junior golf as they came up. I think I actually, I’m on the board of the South Carolina Junior Golf Foundation and not the Hootie Foundation, but basically where our money is going to. And they helped and establish a lot of different programs that were going on. We helped build a First Tee facility and help pieces, kind of fill in. The guys ended up spending significant dollars on certain things. And then the next year literally it’d be like, “Oh, we need some more money or we need some more money.” So somewhere along the line, they got some advice about building an endowment within their foundation. And that endowment really what it did, was the idea was that they were going to be able to raise enough money that their children’s, children’s, children will be giving money out as a result of their foundation.

Paul Graham (30:07):

So, and listen, when that endowment started, you throw in a few $100,000, which is significant money, and then basically you just give away the interest. That’s the whole concept behind it. And they were like, “Hey, if we get X amount of millions of dollars, then we’ll be good.” And I think the number is, I think it’s almost $5 million now, somewhere $4 or $5 million. So they’ve been giving that money out as they’re going on and just building up the foundation. So our tournament’s a little bit different because normally a tournament is like the tournament and then there’s the foundation. Well, the tournament itself for us is, I mean, is the charity. And then the foundation is the kid gets the money. And so the band just chooses things. They come up and they’ll give money out, but they’ve always given money back to junior golf.

Charlie Rymer (31:01):

It’s always been a big part of it. Yeah.

Paul Graham (31:03):

Huge part of it. A lot of people don’t realize it. And part of the Hootie Foundation being established was the fact that we all got married and started to have kids. And there was the embarrassment of South Carolina being 49th in education. And that turns into also like, “Man, we really want to do something.” So a lot of it has to do with kids. Like we wanted to take away some stereotypes that golf had in itself. Which I think the band was an integral part of early on their careers. And then the other part of it was to be able to give back to things because we feel like golf does add an incredible dimension to young kids growth. And it gives them, a chance to be honest, it gives them integrity, all the things that we’ve heard about, but also there’re other things too that the band wants to do.

Paul Graham (31:59):

And the band wants to be a part of but it mostly gears around towards education. And basically in the whole essence of just helping people. They’ve always been like that. I mean, I remember we did a show in Raleigh, at the amphitheater in Raleigh and right around the Jimmy V Foundation. And Charlie, you may have played in the Jimmy V golf tournament.

Charlie Rymer (32:25):

I have, a couple times. Yep.

Paul Graham (32:26):

It became a really big thing. And they had really incredible guys because of Coach Valvano. And we went to that tournament, we got to play. I remember I played with Jim Boeheim. I got my second place trophy over here next to me, Charlie. And the band play that show that night, they sold more tickets than any band had ever sold at a show. And they gave that money away, to the Jimmy V Foundation.

Charlie Rymer (32:54):


Paul Graham (32:56):

They’ve always been that way. They’ve always had a desire to try to help people out. And that’s where their foundation kind of … It was an easy thing for them.

Charlie Rymer (33:09):

The state of South Carolina by population is not one of the biggest states. By heart, it is certainly one of the biggest states and golf actually is the largest industry in South Carolina, which is amazing. And to see the relationship that South Carolina has with this beloved band is really cool. And the huge role that you’ve played with the band and now with the Hootie event and the South Carolina Junior Golf Foundation, it’s really neat. So much good stuff going on here. And the event over all those years, a couple of different golf courses and Columbia came to Charleston at Kiawah for a few years. I believe now it’s found its permanent home here in Myrtle Beach, my home and where the show is based. And it wasn’t played early this year, but it will be played later this year. It’s a September date. Is that correct, Paul?

Paul Graham (34:03):

Yeah. We chose to push the April date back to September, just because we wanted to give the best efforts, our best efforts to be able to try to have a normal event.

Charlie Rymer (34:15):


Paul Graham (34:15):

As normal as possible. So we’re hoping that by that time we’ll be up. I mean, because our tournament, Charlie, you know by being there a million times. It’s not like if we were doing a golf tournament it’d be fine, people just show up and they go play golf. But golf for us in this scenario is the driving force behind the event. But it’s also almost become secondary. And fortunately, because we got four incredibly talented guys who are hosting it, you know what I mean?

Charlie Rymer (34:42):


Paul Graham (34:43):

Like I can have the greatest PGA TOUR player in the world hosting it, but all he can really do is play golf.

Charlie Rymer (34:48):

Yeah, exactly. You can’t-

Paul Graham (34:49):

With these guys you can get up and jam and play, and have fun.

Charlie Rymer (34:50):

Right and have all their buddies come in and play. And it’s truly an amazing event. It’s the largest single day fundraiser in South Carolina I’m told every year. And for our listeners, it’s fully subscribed. If you want to play in it, it’s tough to get a spot, but it’s always a lot of fun to come out and watch all the celebrities play. And if you get a chance to be able to go and watch the concert. And Paul, congratulations, all the great work you’ve done with that event. I can’t wait to get to September to get back to the event.

Charlie Rymer (35:26):

I want to finish Paul, a little bit about what you’re doing now, along with being an agent and managing some cool events. You’re actually teaching at the University of South Carolina and you’re teaching in the sports and entertainment department, teaching some undergrad classes. I’ve had a chance to talk with you about that a little bit. You keep telling me that you’re going to let me come up and talk to one of your classes, but I don’t get that invite. I hope I get to come up sometime and talk to one of your classes. I’m going to tell them some Paul Graham stories, but tell me a little bit about how much you enjoy that experience, being able to help shape young lives.

Paul Graham (35:59):

Yeah, so these two guys who I don’t know called me and said, “Hey, you want to come have lunch?” They were from the university and their sports entertainment department. And basically at that time, asked me if I’d be interested in being an adjunct professor. And at that time, I kind of had to look up what the word adjunct meant. And I went home and I was like, I’m not really sure I want to do this because I just wasn’t that great a student, like, I didn’t think of myself as being very academic, you know? So-

Charlie Rymer (36:27):

Did I ever tell you what I made in public speaking at Georgia Tech?

Paul Graham (36:31):


Charlie Rymer (36:32):

I made a D in public speak at Georgia Tech.

Paul Graham (36:36):

[inaudible 00:36:36] where you are.

Charlie Rymer (36:36):

So thank the big man upstairs that poor academic performance in college still lets you do some cool things down the road.

Paul Graham (36:47):

Yeah. Yeah. So when I went home and talked to my wife about it, she was like, “You’re kidding me. You’d be great at this. Go ahead and do it.” So literally within the first two classes I was hooked and I taught basically a class. And then after a few years it was going so well, I went ahead and got my master’s and then became part of their faculty as a result of getting a master’s. So now that I’m doing that, I work with a great company called Empire Sports as you mentioned before and my bosses there and my whole team has been amazing in supporting me in this piece. And the university does the same because I can come and talk about things that I’m experiencing at work, in a sport and entertainment school and those kids just love it.

Paul Graham (37:34):

Like they just think it’s amazing. And I have a student today who I talked to, who’s doing a podcast and he’s doing it with another kid on sports. And they started ended up doing a video. They ended up doing actually a show. And I was like, listen, I got to have you talk to one of my clients. I mean, literally it was this morning. So the sports and entertainment department there is one of the best, if not the best in the country. And we have amazing people. Part of my piece is trying to help on the entertainment side as well as obviously the golf side. But sports has been fairly commonplace within the education piece there that they’re really looking to try to kind of build up the entertainment end of things. So that’s kind of what I’m doing and it’s been awesome.

Charlie Rymer (38:30):

That’s got to be a ton of fun. Knowing you as well as I do, you got to really enjoy getting to go in and spend time with those kids. Paul Graham, or as I call him “Super Agent” Paul Graham with Empire Sports. My longtime agent more important than my longtime friend. I’ve enjoyed our last 15 years together. And I’m looking forward to the next 15 or however much longer you’ll put up with me. And I appreciate you coming on the show today.

Paul Graham (38:55):

Charlie, keep up the good work, man. Thanks a lot. And I couldn’t be happier to have you as my client.

Charlie Rymer (39:01):

Yeah, I feel the same way Paul. Paul Graham folks, we appreciate you joining us for this episode of Balls in the Air. We’ll see you. And you’ll be able to hear us again next week for another cool episode of Balls in the Air. In the meantime, I remind everyone to listen and subscribe wherever they find podcasts. We appreciate you being with us.