Spotlight

William "Kelly" Elbin ' 79


When Kelly Elbin was 18, his father received a telephone call from the legendary golfer, Lee Trevino. His caddie was unavailable for an upcoming event, and Trevino needed a replacement to help him compete in the Ryder Cup at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. Trevino had gotten to know Kelly’s father, Max over the multiple decades that he spent as the head golf professional at Burning Tree Club in Bethesda. It’s where Kelly caddied for a dozen years, and it set him on a path that would consume most of his professional life. 

“The Ryder Cup is the most exciting event in golf because you’re playing for your country,” said Kelly. “There’s nothing else like it, and it was such an honor and thrill to caddie for Mr. Trevino, who was a dear friend of my Dad’s for years. Over those three magical days, I was surrounded by the world’s best players, and I hadn’t even started college yet! I’m sure Landon helped build my confidence and prepared me for that moment. It was both exciting and scary, yet I carried on with the encouragement of my parents. That experience really changed my life, in many ways.”  

Kelly always loved sports. He played baseball as a freshman at Landon, and today admits, “I wasn’t as good at baseball as I thought I was. I found myself popping out a lot, so I switched to golf my sophomore year and never looked back.”

Fast forward to 1983, when Kelly graduated from the University of Richmond and took a job as a sports reporter for The Montgomery Journal newspaper. That led him to ultimately serving as the editor of PGA Magazine. After gaining a broad experience in journalism, Kelly led the communications and marketing team for seven years at Softspikes, Inc., the plastic cleat company that defined the category for golf spikes with its name.

After working for Softspikes, Kelly moved to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and for the next 12 years headed up communications for the PGA and its nearly 29,000 professionals.  It was an incredible opportunity for Kelly, as he moderated globally televised post-game press conferences on the Golf Channel for the PGA Championships and the Ryder Cup. He sat next to the biggest names in golf – Tiger, Phil, and Rory, immediately following their dramatic wins and heartbreaking losses.

Now semi-retired and living in Palm Beach Gardens, Kelly enjoys writing his weekly “Monday Musings,” playing golf, and spending time with his two children, Megan (26) and Ryan (21).  Megan lives in South Bend, Indiana, but visits when she can.  Ryan, a student at Palm Beach State College, recently took a job working for a trucking and leasing company.  Kelly could not be prouder of his two children.  

Kelly thinks about his days at Landon with great fondness and commented that Lowell Davis was someone who influenced him growing up. “I’m a big fan of coaches. They offer a different outlet to students and serve as incredible mentors. Lowell Davis, Rob Bordley, Ed Sundt, Bob Wipfler and former Headmaster Hugh Riddleberger were very influential to me in my formative years. I owe them and Landon a lot."

“I’ll add that I think Jim Neill is doing a fantastic job at Landon.  I love what he’s doing by providing the kind of vision and leadership that will help grow Landon’s influence for years to come.”  

Kelly acknowledged that he was fortunate to attend Landon, and he remains supportive of the school to this day.  “My focus may have been golf, but I believe all of the sports I played there made me a well-rounded person. I learned teamwork and respect for my adversaries. Any time you are preparing young men to be well-rounded, upstanding citizens, you need to support that.  So, I recognize that and try to give back when asked. It allows me to celebrate the great people of Landon, the mission of the school, and its traditions.”  

Kelly always displayed a passion for writing, and that continues to this day. “Writing, playing golf, traveling, and I admit, solving crossword puzzles are now my main hobbies. I love golf, and I always will.  I’ve spent my entire life playing it, but I also love the creativity of writing, and finding the proper word or phrase that make for great storytelling. If you were to ask me about my favorite pastimes, not involving my kids, I would have to say it’s completing the Washington Post Crossword puzzle online and writing my “Monday Musings” blog on my Facebook page.”  

Modeled after the factoids that the late Larry King made famous over two decades in USA Today, “Monday Musings” covers current events with a heavy emphasis on sports coupled with a dash of the arts and pop culture. “I’ve developed various insights about the sports we love as well as the business side,” he said.” All of this tends to find its way into his Musings. Recently, he used his “Musings” to pay tribute to the late Pro Football Hall of Famer Sam Huff, whom Kelly sat next to for three seasons when he was the statistician for the Washington Redskins Radio Network.  

“I learned to write well at Landon, and I firmly believe that people want to be entertained and educated through good writing that appeals to their specific interests,” Kelly said. “I don’t write about politics because I want to attract as broad an audience as possible. It’s all about telling great stories that people can relate to. I love being able to do that. It’s in my blood.”

Kelly’s “Monday Musings” are an eclectic and creative series of posts. It’s certainly worth a read, a share, and a follow.