By Wendy Holdren
Monte Ortel, assistant tournament director for The Greenbrier Classic, joined the Beckley Rotary Tuesday to give Rotarians a “behind the scenes” look at what it takes to make the event successful.
“Many people don’t realize the overall organization and everything that goes into a PGA TOUR,” Ortel said.
He said the process is a year-round ordeal from pre-planning to activation to wrap-up.
What many people don’t see behind the scenes include sales, marketing and operations.
Sponsorship sales, as well as ticket sales, play a huge role in the event, Ortel said.
“Before 2010, it was unheard of to have a concert series with a PGA TOUR event.”
He said his wife would not buy tickets to a golf event, but she would to go see Kenny Chesney.
“We were able to tie-in a demographic that wouldn’t typically be associated with professional golf.”
Additionally, marketing is essential for an event of this magnitude. Ortel said the marketing committee has to study the demographic, driving times and other factors that may affect who will attend the event.
Finally, operations, which is where Ortel got started with tournaments, is like “building a temporary mini-city.”
Right now, Old White is empty, but in just a few months, every bolt, every security guard, and every parking space will be in place.
From scaffolding and carpet to signs and generators, Ortel said the building starts May 1 and continues through the week before the event.
Another essential piece of the PGA TOUR puzzle is the volunteers. Ortel said there are usually between 1,800 and 2,000 volunteers each year.
“It’s huge for someone to volunteer a minimum of two days of their time to work at a PGA TOUR event. We want them to know they’re appreciated.”
Part of the planning process also takes the golfers; families into consideration.
Ortel said the wives would be interested in the pools, spa and horseback riding at The Greenbrier.
“We want to make it a family atmosphere. Everything about the event has to be appealing to the players.”
He said unlike many sporting events, the PGA TOUR works to raise money for charities.
Over the past three years, over $3.2 million has been donated to charities through The Greenbrier Classic.
In addition to helping out charities, Ortel said the event substantially impacts local economy.
“Not only here in Beckley, but as far as Roanoke, hundreds of thousands of people will be coming to stay for a week, eating, getting gas and possibly buying apparel.”
He said tourism is simply through the roof.
“The direct and indirect impact is huge. We see millions of dollars just for having this event and it benefits everyone in this room.”
Ortel said 156 PGA TOUR professionals will take part in the event, and both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have shown a strong interest in returning.
“I anticipate them both returning. They have made strong indications they will be back.”
Kenny Chesney is set to headline the July 4 concert, but the other concert is to be determined, Ortel said.
He said attendance at The Greenbrier PGA TOUR is in the top 20 percent for tournament attendance.
Due to the derecho last summer, attendance took a bit of a hit, but he anticipates the July 4 week attendance will be a great turnout.
He wrapped up the presentation with a few trivia questions and gave away a Callaway hat and a framed, pin flag signed by the 2012 tournament winner.