The last year has flown by for me. As I sit here and reminisce I am astounded at the opportunities I was given, the people I’ve met and the special moments that working for PJS offered me in 2012.
Our year started with finding a new host venue for the 2012 Umpqua Bank Challenge. Ultimately the decision was made to move to The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Aloha, Ore. Having played The Reserve courses and attended a few JELD-WEN Tradition’s, I was naturally excited about the venue. What I didn’t know at the time was what an incredible staff The Reserve had on hand. The team of Mike Turner (Director of Agronomy), Chris Rogers, (Director of Golf), and Brad Flores (Tournament Director) along with their entire crew never failed us. It seemed like whatever event, tournament, activation or outing we needed, their strong cast of characters fit the bill to perfection. It was an astounding collaboration and a wonderful experience for me both personally and professionally.
Another highlight for me this year was the opportunity to attend the U.S. Open in San Francisco to work on fleet management, hospitality and player relations for Lexus. This was the first major championship I’ve experienced in person after working in golf for many years. It was a great experience to see the operations aspect firsthand as well as all the other behind-the-scenes aspects that go into producing a high caliber championship event.
Throughout my week at The Olympic Club, I had a myriad of rare experiences, but two stand out the most. The first was during my drive with Natalie Gulbis… We were on our way to her autograph session at the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion and our golf cart broke down about 200 yards from our final destination. Natalie, her agent and my fellow PJS-er, Angela Norton, went ahead to the autograph session while I stayed behind to call for help. About twenty minutes later a mechanic showed up. The mechanic was exactly who you would expect in a situation like this – a gruff sort of guy, but as nice as could be and just happy to be at the U.S. Open! Instead of a regular tow truck or even just a normal cart with tools, he pulled up to me in this hybrid version of the two (see below). He backed right up to me at about 40 mph, jacked up the front corner of the golf cart, peeled off the tire, put on a new one (like I’m Dale Earnhardt making a pit stop), and I was on my way! This doesn’t happen at The Albertsons Boise Open, folks – only at big time championship events!
My second U.S. Open highlight was my afternoon with Huey Lewis. During a practice round, Peter (Jacobsen, of course) asked if I was available to pick up a friend of his (Huey Lewis) and bring him to the course. Mr. Lewis confirmed about an hour later and requested that I pick him up at San Francisco Golf Club, about a mile away. I had explained that security was really tight in the surrounding businesses areas (to deter parking for the U.S. Open), so I asked if we might want to meet a little further away. When I arrived he had every car door open and was completely distraught. He couldn’t find the keys to his car, so we couldn’t leave. For the next 30 minutes we pulled out every item and searched his car high and low. After looking thru briefcases, dry cleaning, the center console (full of tapes, seriously, cassette tapes) I had finally given up my concern about our illegal parking situation. And for some strange reason he thought my name was Ed, so he kept saying “Ed, I can’t leave. We need to call AAA.” While I wasn’t exactly sure how AAA would be better at finding keys than the two of us, I finally asked if he minded if I dug around the car a little deeper. After receiving his blessing it took about 30 seconds before I found them on the floor board below the steering wheel. I’ve never seen someone so relieved to find anything! We exchanged an emphatic high five and were finally off to The Olympic Club. We spent the next couple of hours trying to get a hold of Peter, who was caught up filming his “Jake’s Takes” segment for NBC. This downtime meant snack time for Huey, so we made our way to a concession stand, which involved a photo with literally every person we passed (where he graciously obliged to every request). After two chicken sandwiches and a hot dog, Huey asked “Ed, are you hungry? Let me get you something?!” No thanks, I said. We proceeded to the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion, and were met with more photos requests, more fan stops, more comments by passerbyers asking “are you who I think you are?” After shaking hands, signing autographs and taking more pictures amongst the wave of surrounding people we finally made it. And Peter arrived soon after where he scooped Huey up and headed off to check out the NBC compound. What a whirlwind!
A couple of other highlights to mention from the year…
At the Umpqua Bank Challenge we brought in the Travis Mathew Awesome Tour Truck. The thing was a monster so we had a hard time moving the truck to the Driving Range at The Reserve. As if it was no big deal, Gabe (the South Course Superintendent), grabs a chain saw and proceeds to just cut down a few trees standing in the way. Make way for the Awesome Tour!
My final ultimate memory of the year was the Nike America Coaches Conference. This was an annual meeting for all of the retail management officials (Head Coaches as they are called) for Nike stores across the country. After hours of brainstorming, PJS created a football combine-style event for more than 350 participants. The event was a hit with both our staff and the execs over at Nike, and though it was a little outside the box for us, what was most important was that everyone involved (at every level) had a blast! And, once again, the fun was due in large part to the great people over a Nike, specifically the fantastic team of Terry Trebelhorn and Kendall Potter.
With 2012 coming to a close I’m anxiously awaiting the adventures of 2013. I’m looking forward to the experiences and the cast of characters that I’m sure to meet in Ponte Vedra Beach for the Players Championship, Merion for the U.S. Open or Sebonack for the U.S. Women’s Open.