|Bill Huffman has been with Backspin The Golf Show since 1999, the same year he wrote the book "Arizona's Greatest Golf Courses.'' Bill was born in Iowa City, Iowa, graduated from City High School in 1969, and from the University of Iowa in 1973 (bachelor of general studies) and 1975 (masters degree in journalism).|
His first "real'' job was covering high school football for the San Antonio Express-News, where he eventually became the assistant sports editor.
From 1977-82 he was the copy desk chief/assistant sports editor of the Des Moines Register -- "The Big Peach.'' In the fall of 1982 he moved to Arizona as the copy desk chief of the Arizona Republic. In 1985 he became the assistant sports editor. Among his other accomplishments, Huffman served as the national president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association in 1995, and was a member of the executive committee of the Golf Writers Association of America from 1996-98.
The first major golf championship he covered was the 1988 U.S. Open at Brookline near Boston, and he has covered 48 majors and Ryder Cups since, including 20 Masters. He currently writes about golf for azgolf.org, the official website of the Arizona Golf Association, as well as publications like Arizona the State of Golf, Avid Golfer, Stratos, Luxury Resorts & Courses, and many more. He has three children -- Kristen, Sky and Meghan -- and lives in Tempe with his dogs Sampson and China and cats Jackson and Toby. He plays out of Whitefish Lake Golf Club in Montana, his "second home'' and favorite place on Earth.
|Prior to joining BackSpin The Golf Show, “the Man from Van’s, a.k.a. Rick Levy, had been involved in nearly every aspect of the sport, including, but not limited to, course management, golf course real estate and development, retail, advertising, manufacturing, competition and coaching (his boys).|
Growing up in the Northern California town of San Rafael, in Marin County, Rick began his golfing career at an early age playing such spectacular courses as Lake Merced and The Olympic Club in San Francisco. He played competitively as a junior in such tournaments as the 1976 USGA Junior Amateur Championship. He went on to play four years of college golf before graduating from San Diego State University in 1984, earning a degree in recreation management. Following college, Rick enjoyed a fine amateur career highlighted by playing in the 1982 U.S. Amateur and the 1983 British Amateur.
After a short-lived professional career on the former Hogan Tour, as well as competing in tournaments in Europe and South America, Rick was offered a job with The Golf Mart in San Diego in 1984. Rick has built a strong career with the company that has since created the parent company Worldwide Golf. Since then Worldwide Golf has acquired Roger Dunn Golf Shops and Vans Golf Shops. In 1997, Rick was given the opportunity to move out to Arizona to oversee operations of Van’s.
Worldwide Golf now owns and operates 40 golf retail stores. Rick has been with the company since they had their first store in 1984 and is now vice president of operations for Van’s Golf Shops. In the fall of 2001, Rick added a new dimension to his golf career when he was asked to join BackSpin the Golf Show as a host and partner. It’s been a thrill to be a part of such a dynamic team. Nowadays, Rick’s foursome is rounded out by his wife of 14 years, Natalie, and his sons, Clay and Kenny.
|Corey La Russo was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up in Pacific Palisades. He attended and graduated from Palisades High School and is the son of former NBA All-Star, the late Rudy La Russo (Lakers ’59-‘67, Warriors ’67-‘70, NBA All-Star ‘62, ‘63, ‘65, ‘68, ‘69). Corey has grown up around big-time sports, and also was an outstanding basketball player and golfer.|
By the time Corey graduated high school, he had dropped basketball and joined forces with Eric Monti at Hillcrest Country Club to focus on golf his high school career that included three L.A. City Championships and Corey was named to the first All-City team in all three years of competition. Following his senior year, Corey was named to the first team All-State Southern California Section and heavily recruited.
In 1985 Corey accepted an invitation from Wildcats Coach Rick LaRose to play at the University of Arizona. In Tucson, Corey played with Mike Springer, Larry Silveira, Robert Gamez and other great players while studying Media Arts. In 1991, Corey completed school and turned professional touring the world on different tours from ‘91 to ‘94, playing in Canada, South America and Asia as he attempted the PGA Tour Qualifying School three times unsuccessfully.
In 1994 Corey turned his focus to creating BackSpin The Golf Show on KGME 1360, “The Game”. In 1996 Corey fell into the broadcasting world full time as the executive producer of “Femino on Sports” with talk show host Tony Femino. The show was one of the highest-rated programs of it’s time in Phoenix and allowed Corey the opportunity to get up close to players, coaches, and other sports personalities. While working, reporting, and hosting, Corey was given the opportunity to cover the 1997 Super Bowl in Tempe, Arizona, among other events.
In 1999, Corey left the “Femino On Sports” to work for a non-profit organization and return to competitive golf emcee-ing events and playing on the Western States Tour with a final attempt at PGA Tour Q-School. In 2000 with his father’s health on the decline, Corey dropped his interests in Phoenix to return to Los Angeles. He began partnering with his family interests in the investment banking world and International athlete representation.
Currently Corey hosts Backspin twice a week, is a representative for Nanko Investment Banking, and a sports agent with several players in the Italian Basketball League.
Gary Cruz is a former television sports anchor, play-by-play announcer, show host and public speaker for over 3 decades. During the course of his television career, Gary traveled the world for coverage of major sporting events which included Super Bowls, NBA Championships, World Series, College and Professional Football, PGA and U.S. Open championships and much more.
In 1989 he traveled to Melbourne, Australia to do play by play for the American Bowl College Classic featuring Colorado State University and Brigham Young University. His play by play travels took him to Sao Paulo, Brazil for a pay-per-view Mixed Martial Arts world wide telecast. Cruz has also traveled to Japan several times for pay-per-view telecasts of K-1 Champinship tournaments worldwide.
From 1990 to 1997 Gary hosted the L.A. Lakers Pre-Game show on KCAL TV Los Angeles, working with NBA broadcasting legend, Chick Hearn. Cruz's television Sportscasting career began in Denver, CO with stops in Los Angeles and Phoenix, AZ. Along the way he developed unique relationships with prominent athletes, entertainers, business leaders, politicians, major corporations and small businesses. His business resume includes part ownership in Morton-Apollo Travel, partnering with former NFL quarterback Craig Morton in the 1980's.
Gary's life after television has taken him to the world of marketing and public relations where he will use his interview, writing and public speaking skills to take his clients to the next level of personal and professional success. Working for charitable causes is extremely important to Cruz, who has been on state and national boards for The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, The Special Olympics and most recently with the Prostate On Site Project (POP).
COREY LA RUSSO @ YOUR EVENT
Since 1994, Corey La Russo has been announcing, hosting and raising money for Arizona-based charities with his golf and announcing talents. He has hosted hundreds of dinners, banquets, and golf tournaments to aid in the fund-raising of a particular event. In addition, Corey has generated over $500,000.00 dollars to events in the Valley for noble non-profit causes.
WHAT IS BEAT THE PRO AT MY EVENT?
Corey La Russo was a touring professional golfer for over ten years and still carries a scratch handicap. On a given par three hole during the tournament, Corey will play the hole from 20-40 yards farther than the foursome. Each player may wager $5-$20.(Usually $20 per team). He will hit first. If Corey puts his ball on the green, the players must then be closer to the hole with their shot to double the wager. If, by chance, Corey misses the green with his shot, the players must simply hit the green to win. When it is all of the shots have been hit, if Corey has the best shot, the team (usually playing a scramble format) can use his ball for their team shot and play from there.
WHAT IS ‘BEAT THE PRO’ ON BACKSPIN?
“Beat The Pro” is a weekly contest on Backspin sponsored by Van’s Golf Shops in Arizona. Our pro and co-host, Rick Levy, will pick a player who he thinks will win the PGA Tour event that week. The Backspin Boys will then ask three trivia questions on the program and the three winners will play against Rick. If any of the winners beat Rick’s pick, they will win a dozen balls of their choice at any of Van’s Golf Shops. If their player actually wins the tournament outright they get whatever money is in the pot (it builds $50 a week starting at $50) to spend at Vans. In addition, the Beat the Pro contest always has significantly more prizes to win during the four major championships – the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.