The AT&T – A Team Effort
It’s important to take the time to acknowledge the people around us who really make a difference. The team of individuals that operate our two golf courses and the NCGA are extraordinary. I’ve known this for many years, but it really hit me during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February, held for the 17th consecutive year at Poppy Hills.
The forecast going in to the week was grim. Superintendent Manny Sousa, his assistant Kregg Bush and crew had been preparing the course for several weeks. The fairways were dry, the greens smooth and fast and the bunkers a perfect consistency. The course was ready to handle the forecasted 1”- 4” of rain. Somehow we made it through Thursday and Friday with no problems and no delays despite angry skies. When Saturday morning rolled around and there was standing water in the fairways at 6:00 am, the stress level raised a few notches. The skies parted at 7:00 am the mowers went out and after play was concluded it rained harder than it had all week. Thank you Manny, Kregg and crew for an exceptional job on the golf course day in and day out.
Moving inside, if you’ve ever had breakfast or lunch at Poppy Hills, you’ve experienced friendly service, fair prices and healthy portions. Food and beverage manager Jonathan Saguil and his assistant Anthony Del Rosario provided quality service and food for several thousand people during the event. Marc Valone, food and beverage manager at Poppy Ridge and his assistant Amy Curtis took two days out of their busy schedules to help ensure a consistent flow of seating in the restaurant. Every guest was more than satisfied and complimentary of the food service at Poppy Hills. Thank you Jonathan, Anthony and staff.
Coordinating golf operations staff for the Pro-Am is no simple task either. Head Professional Justin Williams and supervisor Art Kerrick were responsible for setting up the driving range for contestants, distributing golf carts to tournament volunteers, staffing the golf shop and two merchandise tents, providing security for the parking lot, setting up signage around the facility, managing more than 50 employees and volunteers daily and being at the beck and call of thousands of spectators. Despite the inclement weather, merchandise displays were excellent and service was even better. Thank you Justin, Art and staff.
The location of our facility is unique. The staff at Poppy Hills, Poppy Ridge and the NCGA have very different functions but operate as one team. Never before had I witnessed such a successful team effort during the Pro-Am. Literally every NCGA employee and numerous Poppy Ridge employees made an effort to drop their normal responsibilities to ensure a smooth operation. Whether working security in the parking lot, greeting corporate hospitality guests, folding shirts in the pro shop or bussing tables in the restaurant, each person played an integral role.
Overall, it’s a very special week for many people. The tournament will distribute more than $6 million to charity in 2007, the PGA Tour players and celebrities get to play in the most desirable golf location in the world and the employees and volunteers put in 16-hour days but are rewarded with getting a front row seat to see their favorite stars.
On the Wednesday evening prior to the first round of play, the celebrities put on a show named the “Tee-Off Party to payback the volunteers for their hard work during the week. This event puts the volunteers in the right frame of mind before four long days of golf. When Kenny G and Joe Grandsen played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” I couldn’t help but think about our two lost legends, Paul Porter and John Zoller. Reflecting back on the week, I’m certain the two of them had smiles on their faces as they watched years of mentoring come to fruition. I’m pretty sure that they were also responsible for the break in the weather.