By MATT LEVINS
Jim Grundberg had plenty of reason to celebrate when Zach Johnson won the Masters in 2007.
Not only did Johnson, a Cedar Rapids native win the tournament, but he used a putter from Grundberg's company to win it.
For Grundberg, who spent six years of his life in Burlington at a young age, helped another Iowa win one of the top golf tournaments in the world.
So while Iowans celebrated Johnson's historic win, there was another reason to be thankful.
For Grundberg, co-owner of SeeMore Putters, it was the biggest boost his company could have dreamed of.
"We bought the company a little over four years ago. The company has grown every year, all based around a very simple product with around a very common sense, simple technology. But it's funny because with Zach Johnson being from Iowa and I consider myself from Iowa," said Grundberg, who is back in Burlington for the first time in 40 years, showcasing SeeMore Putters at the Golfweek Conference Challenge at Spirit Hollow Golf Course. "I lived here in Burlington from the time I was four years old until I was 10 years old. I went to North Hill Elementary School, went to Burlington Grayhound football games and learned how to play golf at the Burlington Golf Club. I hadn't really recaptured my Iowa roots, and then all of a sudden Zach and I became good friends. When I found out this tournament, which we sponsor annually, was going to be in Burlington, I marked it on my calendar and have looked forward to it ever since."
Grundberg, the son of Art and Ruth Grundberg, came to Burlington in 1965 when Art became vice president of personnel at Benner Tea Company. Jim's two sisters, Susan and Julie, were born in Burlington. He also has a brother, Scott.
"My father took a job with Benner Tea Company. He traveled around the state. He would go to different offices, different grocery stores. I remember as a kid traveling around the state with him and we would go into grocery stores and check the produce. He couldn't go into a grocery store without checking the shelves," Grundberg recalled.
Jim Grundberg became friends with Harry Baxter, son of Harry and Elaine Baxter. On Saturday, Grundberg met up with the Baxters for lunch at the Baxters' home on North Hill. The memories came flowing back.
"We lived in an old mansion at 1015 North Fifth Street with widow's walk that you could see part of the river. We have a beautiful painting of that house that's gone with us through life. It's aT my dad's house right now. It was an important part of our history, Grundberg said. "I remember walking as a five-, six-, seven-year old, walking down North Hill to go have lunch with my buddy. Nowadays, a couple generations later, that just doesn't happen. We used to come home at night when the bell was rung and the sun started setting. It was a different era when I grew up here in Burlington, one of complete family and community."
Grundberg, after moving with his family to Arlington Heights in the Chicago area, ended up graduating from Stanford University, then achieved a degree marketing from Northwestern University.
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