By Cam Huffman
Monte Ortel always saw himself as a college basketball coach. A Division II basketball player at Columbia Union College (now Washington Adventist University) in Takoma Park, Md., Ortel was majoring in physical education and taking all the necessary steps along that career path.
Then came an internship as part of the sports management graduate program at Slippery Rock University. Since sitting on the bench with Mike Krzyzewski at Duke wasn’t an option, he found a position with the 84 Lumber Classic in Farmington, Pa., and he was immediately hooked.
“I was bit by the bug,” said Ortel. “I fell in love with the PGA Tour and all the excitement that goes on behind the scenes to pull off a tournament every week.”
Ortel stuck with the new career path and on Tuesday he realized a different sort of dream when he was named the new director of The Greenbrier Classic.
“It’s a great opportunity, and I’m very excited,” said the father of two daughters, who lives in Lewisburg with his wife, Amber.
Ortel had been the assistant director of the event since January of 2010, and he’s confident that background will serve him well.
“Everything in an event gets tied back to operations,” he said. “I learned a lot the past few years. We have a great plan in place. It’s not like we’re recreating a wheel.”
The job, though, will be different. Ortel’s main focuses now will be on recruitment of sponsors and players.
Recruiting? Sounds a little like basketball.
“It’s not like recruiting a five-star athlete,” said Ortel. “It’s mainly just conversations. What we do is tell them how we’re different. We’re special. We have The Greenbrier Hotel right on site.”
Ortel explained that the recruiting efforts will pick up steam after The Masters, which will begin next week in Augusta, Ga. His main focus will be on landing some new faces that didn’t play in the first three years of the tournament.
“We look back at the past three years and the players that haven’t played and then see who is playing well,” said Ortel. “Once they get the experience, they want to come back. But we have to sell them on coming and giving us a chance.”
Both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, two of golf’s biggest names, played in the 2012 Greenbrier Classic. Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, Rory McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the world, and Rickie Fowler are three big names that have never made the trip to White Sulphur Springs.
Tickets for the 2013 Greenbrier Classic are available for $199, a cost that includes three practice rounds, four competition rounds, a Kenny Chesney concert and another concert to be announced at a later date. They can be purchased by visiting www.greenbrierclassic.com