In addition to getting ready to cover her 20th consecutive Master Tournament, nationally renown sports radio and television talk show host Ann Liguori has been busy working on an exciting new partnership. Liguori collaborated with Dune Jewelry on a special collection of jewelry, The Hamptons Rope Collection, which is available online and at Hildreth’s in Southampton.
We caught up with Liguori to learn more about the beautiful line, her most memorable moments from The Masters, the 20th anniversary of the Ann Liguori Foundation Charity Golf Classic, and more.
Is this your first jewelry collaboration?
AL: Yes, I’m very excited! This is the first time that I’ve ever connected with a jewelry company and designer to create a collection. Holly’s very talented. It has that Hamptons sophistication.
Tell me a little bit about the collection.
AL: The Hamptons Rope Collection is a sophisticated design, handcrafted in sterling silver. Its Rope border adds nautical charm and symbolizes a connection to friends and family. The collection is created with sand from your favorite beach whether in The Hamptons or from anywhere around the world.
Everything is handcrafted and they get sand from people’s favorite beaches or other elements – it’s experiential jewelry. The concept is really fascinating and it has worked for Holly and Dune Jewelry. They have a sand bank from beaches all over the world, but if they don’t have the sand – say you pick your favorite beach in the Hamptons – you can always send them the sand. Sand is interesting because it’s different all over the world. At first, I thought how can sand be that different? But, when you go on their website and look at the samples, they’re all so different in color and texture. It’s a very special gift because if you want to remember your favorite beach on the East End of Long Island, or anywhere in the world, they’ll put that sand or that element in the jewelry. Say you want dried flowers from your wedding bouquet or you went on your honeymoon to Lake Como, they’ll put anything in that jewelry. Each piece is personalized and it’s just such a great keepsake from an experience or memory.
We decided to name it the Hamptons Rope Collection because I’ve lived in the Hamptons for many years and it just seems like it has that Hamptons style and sophistication.
How did you add your flair to the collection?
AL: It was really Holly that designed it and when she showed me different examples I picked it immediately because I thought the rope design really spoke to me, again going back to style and sophistication, it just looked Hamptonsish. So she designed it and I picked the one that I thought best fit my taste and my personality, and I named it. The Hamptons is close to my heart, I love the East End of Long Island. I think that people who have never visited the Hamptons can still appreciate the design and style of the Hamptons.
Do you have any favorite pieces?
AL: I love the necklace – the way it lays on your neck – and you can control the length of where it falls. I love the ring. I think it makes such a statement. The sand in my ring is from Westhampton Beach. We keep the boat at Conscience Point Marina and my necklace sand is from Peconic Bay. Every piece of jewelry has a different story to it.
You’ve got a busy couple of months coming up. First you’ll be covering your 20th straight Masters Tournament and then you’ve got your Charity Golf Classic, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
AL: Yes. It’s very exciting! The Masters is one of my favorite sporting events on the planet to cover. I can’t believe I’ve covered The Masters for 20 straight years for WFAN, and added CBS Sports Radio Network to the mix. I also host my show for WPPB, which airs every Saturday from 9 to 10. It’s very exciting for New Yorkers – it’s like spring is in the air in April. For all passionate golfers, The Masters is something you just don’t want to miss.
The charity golf classic is very exciting. This year were going to be at Atlantic Golf Club, the first time that we’re taking the tournament there. 20 straight years for that – that’s unbelievable. I feel like I’m 21, so I don’t know how that’s possible. I’m really proud of the team and the fundraising we’ve been able to do over the years, and supporting organizations that deal with cancer research, prevention and care. We do a lot in the world of mentorship as well. We just added a scholarship called the Champions Mentorship Scholarship for the Association of Women in Sports Media. It supports their program to mentor young women that are pursuing careers in sports media.
We’ve been doing another scholarship with the New York chapter of Women in Communications. They give that out every year at the Matrix Luncheon in April. They pick a woman in sports media from various colleges and award a scholarship. I mentor these women and they have all access. They can call me anytime, ask me any questions, career advice, I help them connect with people in the industry. Our recipients have been amazing and I really enjoy mentoring young people. Alison Waddington, she was the 2016 recipient, and she graduated in 2017. She’s from the Philadelphia area, and right out of college she got a job with the Philadelphia Eagles. She called me because she had a dilemma. She had been waiting and waiting and waiting to try and get a fulltime job with the Eagles. The Minnesota Vikings had invited her to do a paid internship with them. So it was a long process of what should I do? Bottom line is she stayed in Philadelphia, the Eagles offered her a fulltime job and voila, her first year with the Eagles they win the Super Bowl. The scholarship recipient for 2017 ended up getting a position – she’s still in school – going to the Olympics for NBC. The people Women in Communications pick have really been incredible. It’s fascinating to see their careers develop.
In regards to funding raised at the Classic, what are some of your proudest milestones?
AL: Some of my proudest moments are with the work we do with Kids Need More. Every August they do a camp on Shelter Island. Most years, when I’m in town, I bring members of my committee to the camp, which is for young people with cancer and their siblings. Melissa Firmes, she runs the foundation, and to watch her and her team make these young people with cancer, who are dealing with chemotherapy and all the horrors of having cancer, smile and bring so much fun with camp activities make it worthwhile. They’ve been a beneficiary of ours for a number of years. Melissa, to add a terribly, horrible ironic twist – she’s just an amazing women – she got diagnosed with leukemia. So she’s doing all this work and dealing with her own health issues. Our team is proud to be associated with her organization and she comes and speaks at our golf outing dinner every year when we get a progress report of not only all the great things that they’re doing, but of her health. It’s very inspiration to watch her helping others while she fights for her own health.
I’m also proud of the work we do with St. Jude’s. We’ve been able to donate a lot of money to them every year. Everybody knows of St. Jude’s but a lot of people don’t realize the patients there don’t pay a cent and they do so much in terms of research. There’s a gentleman I know whose child has been at St. Jude’s for many, many years – had leukemia – and they came up with various protocols and treatments and he said for the first time in about seven years, he left St. Jude’s and is going to school. We connect with these people that have very personal stories. It makes me more eager to help because I know these people. Unfortunately I lost my dad to cancer when he was 63 and I was in college. A year later my brother, Jim, who was only 22 passed away from leukemia. I was just out of college and had lost my dad to cancer and my brother to leukemia within a year and a half. All of us have some kind of connection to it and in the early days when all this happened to me, I just knew I would one day get involved with raising awareness and money for the cause.
Not only will attendees have the chance to play a new course, they’ll also have the chance to pose with the US Open Championship Trophy.
AL: That’s a cool element. If you’re a golfer that’s really a lot of fun. The following week, the US Open at Shinnecock takes place, and the USGA goes on tour a couple weeks before with the trophy. We’re just honored their included our charity tournament as a venue to showcase the trophy. This is the same trophy all the winners throughout history have hoisted.
Circling back to The Masters, what are some of your favorite memories you have from covering?
AL: In 2004 when Phil Mickelson won The Masters and his first Major Championship. The talented lefty had been playing on the Tour for 12 years and it was his 47th Major start. He was 33-years-old and had experienced several heart-breaking losses, squandering opportunities to win a Major title.
On the final Sunday of the 2004 Masters, he and Ernie Els were battling it out. Phil got off to a rocky start – he was 2 over par thru 6 holes…But his back nine was magical. I’ll never forget it! Every time I went on the air on WFAN, Phil was dropping birdie putts and inching his way to pass Els. Phil made a 12-footer to birdie No. 12. He birdied the par-5, 13th from 20 feet. He almost holed the 14th, only one foot away for birdie there. He birdied 16 and then had to make an 18- footer for birdie on the 18th green to clinch it. He was playing with Chris DiMarco and as luck would have it, (or as the Golf Gods dictated) Chris’s putt was on the same line which Phil could learn from. All eyes were on Phil. His putt hung on the left lip, circled around the cup and dropped in! He jumped up two feet in the air with excitement and relief. There was hysteria everywhere. Phil finally got the monkey off his back. He won his first Major title, his first of three Green Jackets!
The following year, 2005 Masters, Tiger had a 1 shot lead against Chris DiMarco with three holes to play. He was going for his fourth Green Jacket. WFAN threw it to me for my LIVE report. Tiger had hit an 8-iron on the par 3, 16th which went left of the green and wound up in the fringe about fifty-feet from the hole. At the exact moment that the WFAN Anchor threw it to me for my report, I went on the air describing what became one of the most amazing and memorable shots in golf history. Tiger pitched the ball about 25 feet in the air, it lands on the green, breaks right and slowly tracks toward the hole. The ball hangs on the lip for almost two seconds, the NIKE swoosh of the ball visible to the millions watching all over he world. After the suspenseful hang time, the ball drops into the cup! What a moment. What a memory! What an opportunity to broadcast the call on LIVE radio! Tiger went on to beat DiMarco in the first hole of the play-off, dropping a 15 footer for birdie on the 18th. I will never forget the drama of that pitch-in on #16. I remember being pleased with my call despite the hysteria that erupted in the pressroom where I was broadcasting! It was difficult to contain my excitement on the air as the entire pressroom went crazy!
Other favorite memories at Augusta National include having the opportunity to play Augusta National three times, my most recent time just last year. All three times were the Monday after the final round of The Masters.
My very first time playing Augusta National, I’ll never forget my caddie. His full-time job was as an undertaker for a funeral parlor! I wasn’t sure what kind of message the Golf Gods were sending me. He was also an amazing caddie and knew the Augusta National greens like the back of his hand! I’ll never forget on the par 3, 12th, my tee shot landed pin high but rolled in the back right, green side bunker. The caddie went to the opposite side, in front of Rae’s Creek, squatted down and made a pretend-catcher’s mitt with his hands. He knew the chance of my hitting a perfect bunker shot from my lie would be tough and he figured the ball would be heading toward the water. He was right. I hit it perfectly in the palm of his hand! He saved me from losing a ball to Rae’s Creek! I followed that up with a par on the par, 5 13th, sinking a par putt from 8 feet after hitting a beautiful approach shot. The ball was either going in the hole or rolling all the way down to Rae’s Creek. Thank goodness it dropped smack right in the middle of the hole!
Every year also sticks out because with the credential I have you can have lunch in the clubhouse and that’s very special. Every year I try to take time and go into their historic clubhouse. It’s a very exciting week. A lot of big names in sports are there. The NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is a member. You see Jack Nicklaus. The whole world gathers at Augusta National. I saw a surfing champion that I interviewed one year. He kind of looked out of context but it just shows there’s so many people that are passionate about golf and if they can get a ticket they’re going to go.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
AL: I just signed a deal with Peakvision. They’re going to come to the golf event and gift glasses to every golfer. They’re gorgeous and the lenses are the best I’ve ever experienced in golf. They promote the lenses as very high clarity and zero distortion. For anybody that golfs, basically when you’re putting you don’t have to take your glasses off. It actually helps you read the grooves and contours of the greens better. Everywhere I go professional golfers know this brand and love the brand. I’m delighted they believed in me and my world so much that they wanted to be a part of it.
For more information about the 20th Annual Ann Liguori Foundation Charity Golf Classic on Monday, June 4, visit annliguori.com. For more information about The Dune Collection, visit dunejewelry.com.