Q: What is your emotional connection both to this tournament, which you were the first director of when it began as Deutchse Bank, and also knowing it’s the last time in this format?
A: This tournament is obviously very special to me, having served as executive director the first year, we had a great team but there was a lot of uncertainty with what we were creating. To think 16 years later, every time I come back here I’m just really proud of how big this event has become and how well it’s supported and how it’s become kind of an institution in New England. That has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the team of people involved in year one, all the volunteers. I walk around and I literally get emotional about some of these people because they’ve put 16 years of volunteer time making this what it is. Then you think of Deutsche Bank and now Dell and their enormous commitment. This golf course and facility, the way it’s been supported by players. The beauty of a golf event is it’s so dynamic, so many different people and constituents that contribute to it. The success it’s had, it’s raised $28 million, the impact it’s had on the community, and it’s now a Fed Ex Cup playoff event, I think anybody that has been involved with it should be proud.
Q: As a Boston area native, did you fight a little extra for Boston to be able to keep a PGA Tour event? How do you feel about it alternating with the New York market going forward?
A: I’ll always fight for Boston. Listen, my roots, having grown up here, having grown up in the area and obviously being involved in growing the tournament and seeing how successful it is, the decision doesn’t come down to me. You have a sponsor in Northern Trust who signed on to be in New York and when we came to them with the concept of rotation, they knew the beauty of this market and their leadership said, you know what, that’s a great idea . . . So then you go to the competition I’ve lived my whole life, which is New York and Boston and two of the greatest sports towns on the planet, and we realized that if you look at what we did with BMW several years ago [rotating through different cities], that we’re better off not picking one over the other, but taking two great markets that like to compete against each other, putting them in the first week and initiating our FedEx Cup playoffs in this manner. Then you say, we’re not going to have it every year, but you’re going to have it every other year and it’s going to be even more dramatic. When players come here, in two years, we’re going from 125 [players] to 70, 55 players are not going to be playing the following week.
Q: What has the response been to the changes in the tour schedule?
A: It’s been really positive. I think the reaction that is most telling is there are so many great events on the schedule, it’s going to be really hard to pick my schedule next year. Every tournament competes against every other tournament, that’s just the nature of this business. I think the competitive profile of every event is going to be raised. Being able to go, starting January, go Hawaii to the West Coast, leave the West Coast to Mexico on the way back to Florida, play four events consecutively in Florida, add a Midwest swing with the addition of tournaments in Detroit and Minnesota along side the John Deere Classic, player movements within each tournament and the sequencing of that is a really nice byproduct of that.
Q: How do you feel about the crop of young American golfers?
A: I think it brings tremendous excitement. You look at really the last five years and the consistent emergence of great young players, under the age of 25, and the fact that each year, including this one, a new one steps forward on the backs of others that have preceded him. And then you re-introduce Phil winning in Mexico, Tiger playing at a really high level, and this great question of now that these young players have emerged, how do they compete against the veterans and legends of the game? What’s so unique about this sport is that doesn’t have an end line to it, this is going to continue to play out over a long period of time.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment in your tenure so far?
A: The thing I’m most proud of is the thing I’m most excited about going forward, a combination of our athletes, our members and the way they compete, the values they convey, the same values that drive this game, honesty, integrity, respect, the way that they relate to fans, the way they’ve opened themselves up and are keenly interested in not just driving the Tour but in driving this game forward, how involve they are in our business. Those are things I take great pride in because that’s what enables our success. You’ve got to have that in this business. And it’s not administrators who do that. it’s the athletes, those out front. That, plus the organization I’m responsible for leading, we’ve got young, diverse, international employees, almost 1,000 now, and I just love being in that atmosphere. I absolutely feel that responsibility. I’ve always been someone who loves seeing people succeed and be challenged and know that they have great challenges in front of them but they bring their own unique perspectives to work every day.
Q: How would you voice your vision of the tour both in the short and long term?
A: I would say diversify and grow our fan base and celebrate and be prideful about what I think is the greatest sport in the world. Someone that doesn’t play I don’t understand because I think everyone should be exposed to it for its life skills, character development, the great challenge that it presents. I think if you look at that, and really are looking at fans, everything else I think will come out in the right way, will lead you to the right questions about the business.
Q: Do you still find time to play? Any good scores to report?
A: Yeah. I’m playing today, in the pro-am. I wish I could say yes, the golf hasn’t been too good lately.
Q: You say golf is the greatest sport, but you also played hockey. How did you manage both?
A: I played hockey through college [at Trinity]. But that’s where they both make sense together, because the minute you stop playing hockey [in New England] is the minute you start playing golf.