Gregory T. McLaughlin, Class of 1999
President & CEO of the Tiger Woods Corporation and Foundation
Gregory McLaughlin currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Tiger Woods Corporation, which is comprised of the Tiger Woods Event Corporation and the Tiger Woods Foundation. He is responsible for the development and creation of the Event Corporations signature fundraising events, including PGA Tour events such as the Deutsche Bank Championship, the AT&T National, the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge and the Tiger Woods Invitational. He also created the Foundation’s two unique domestic and international college-access charitable programs for underserved youth in all stages of academic life: the Tiger Woods Learning Centers and the Earl Woods Scholarship Program. McLaughlin oversees a staff of more than 2,000 and is responsible for managing an annual budget of $50 million with total corporate assets in excess of $150 million. He is also currently a member of the Board of Directors of Realty Income Corporation and is Chairman of the Compensation Committee and a member of the Audit and Strategic Planning Committees.
Prior to joining the Tiger Woods Corporation in 1999, McLaughlin served twelve years as Vice President, Business Development for several organizations that directed PGA Tour events, including the Western Golf Association (known today as the BMW Championship) in Chicago and the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce (known today as the Northern Trust Open) in Los Angeles.
What were you like as a law student?
Focused. I attended law school as a night student, working full-time and attending class 3-4 nights a week. It was difficult and taxing on my work and home life. Our two children were under the age of 10, so the support of my wife and children was the only way I was able to make it through the four-years and do as well as I did.
Who was your favorite professor at Chicago-Kent? What was your favorite class?
I had many favorite classes. My first introduction to Kent was with Professor Sonia Green - Legal Writing I. She was a Russian immigrant who had attended and received her undergraduate, graduate and law degree from University of Chicago. She was a phenomenal person and a great teacher who I had later for a great class - Conflicts of Law. Additional favorites were Professor Brill – Torts; Professor Eglit – Constitutional Law & Remedies; and Trademarks.
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Anything associated with the business of sports.
Who is your favorite US Supreme Court Justice (living or deceased)?
I never paid close attention to the Supreme Court beyond the various news reports before I attended Law School. Now, I follow every big case that is scheduled to appear before the high court and consider the impact it will have on our society. John Roberts is probably my favorite. He is a moderate who leans on the conservative side. My wife attended an event with Sandra Day O’Connor and her personal story is quite amazing.
Describe your career path. What steps did you take to get to where you are currently?
I graduated from Ohio State University in 1983 and accepted a Sales & Marketing position with Harris Corporation in Phoenix, Arizona. I was later promoted to manage the Los Angeles region where I became a volunteer for the Los Angeles Open – a PGA TOUR golf tournament. I interviewed and was hired as the full-time Tournament Director for this event in 1988 and subsequently had the foresight to grant Tiger Woods, a very young southern California amateur golf phenom, an exemption to compete in the Tournament when he was 16-years of age – his first PGA Tour appearance. I then moved to Chicago in 1993 to manage another PGA TOUR event (Western Open) where I attended Chicago-Kent Law School beginning in 1995. In 1999, I returned to Los Angeles, California to head up the newly formed Tiger Woods Corporation and Foundation. I have been the President & CEO now for 15-years.
What was the greatest challenge you have faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
The last five-years have been very difficult in light of the global financial crisis that began in 2008. Corporate sponsorships were reduced and/or eliminated from most events and individual philanthropic giving drastically shrunk. We were affected like all sports properties and charitable Foundations, but we were able to endure the most difficult period with great support for many dedicated partners. Our organization continues to work hard to add value for our sponsors and donors so we are able to fulfill our goals and commitments.
What would people find most surprising about you?
I have produced and promoted countless musical concerts for acts such as the Eagles, Sting, Prince, Bon Jovi, Christina Aguilera and Van Halen to name a few.
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
I have had some amazing opportunities and I am proud of the many things I have been able to accomplish. I have established strategic partnerships with C-Suite executives and various high net worth individuals that has generated over $500 million in revenue and sponsorships for the Tiger Woods Corporation while also leading two successful capital raising campaigns generating $50m for the Corporation’s expansion. I also have successfully marketed and managed over 100 public and private events involving military, sports and music to 5+ million attendees while creating highly profitable national sports and entertainment properties from inception including: Deutsche Bank Championship – Boston; AT&T National – Washington, D.C.; World Challenge – Los Angeles; Tiger Woods Invitational @ Pebble Beach – Monterey; Tiger Jam Benefit Concert – Las Vegas; and Block Party Festival – Anaheim.
I have also created all of the Tiger Woods Foundation’s charitable program initiatives including Tiger Woods Learning Centers – California, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, & Florida – Innovative learning facilities focused on programs that improve aptitude in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (“STEM”); Earl Woods Scholarship Program – National college scholarship program for first-generation students who are matriculating at Harvard, Georgetown, Berkeley, UCLA and countless other major universities and colleges; and Developed $5 million educational program with international corporate partners and Non-Governmental Organizations (“NGO”) in China, Thailand & Korea focused on sports, education and youth development that served over 100,000 youth in five-years. In total, we have reached over 10 million young people in 17-years.
What does your future hold?
I hope to work until I am at least 70 years of age. I would like to walk the Camino de Santiago Trail with my wife and bike across the United States.
What does it mean to you to be one of Chicago-Kent’s 125 Alumni of Distinction?
Having attended law school as a night student in my mid 30’s and pursuing a non-traditional legal career, it is a great honor to be recognized as one of Chicago-Kent’s Alumni of Distinction. Chicago-Kent has graduated so many talented lawyers that it is very humbling to me to be recognized by the Law School in this way.
What advice would you give to young attorneys just starting out today?
Not having practiced law, but having a daughter who is a 2L at Georgetown Law and having mentored countless others, I would advise anyone who enters the legal profession to find what your passion is in law and vigorously pursue that passion. Don’t settle for anything - regardless of the reasons and make sure that you are excited to get out of bed every day and go to work.
How did Chicago-Kent prepare you for your present success?
Law School taught me how to be a better reader and a much better writer. I learned how to more effectively communicate (both written and verbal) in a very succinct way.
How would you persuade a potential student to attend Chicago-Kent?
There were six law schools in the greater Chicago area and only four that provided night schools. I selected Chicago-Kent based on the quality of the overall facility, its technology innovations, depth of faculty and unique curriculum. Entering law school 10+ years post college and as a young adult, I found the administration, staff and educators extremely focused and supportive of its student body and their subsequent success. Chicago-Kent provides not only a great student environment; it also exposes you to one of the finest legal markets in the country. There are a lot of great law schools, but I couldn’t imagine a more supportive law school environment in the country.