That Damn Phone To His Ear

Communications at a PGA Tour event is crazy and essential.

Wyndham ChampionshipThis week I was fortunate to do double-duty at the Wyndham Championship: working as a Headquarters Chairman as well as a part-time media guy (thanks to Erik at The Sand Trap and to Rob Goodman at the Wyndham). I hear a lot and see a lot that happens backstage at a PGA Tour event. It probably isn’t a stretch to say that keeping track of everything requires a tenuous dance of thousands of people around the ropes that enclose our friendly neighborhood touring professionals.

Late Saturday afternoon I had the opportunity to hear a member of the “established” print media go ballistic to me. Now this fellow had no idea that I have been writing for The Sand Trap all week, nor would he have cared if I had told him. He was too busy being irate because a member of the tournament staff (those 12 people paid to work and to organize the Wyndham 52 weeks a year) didn’t (or couldn’t) answer his question at a particular moment in time.

There was some ribald language and something about doing a story on “what these people talk about on their phones all the time.” Well, I am scooping your story, because I know what they are talking about from 5am to the close of play each day!

Brush fires.

No, not the kind that were raging in Russia or California or wherever. The kind that pop up at large events like golf tournaments. Generators running low on diesel fuel. You know there needs to be electricity to power the air conditioning in the luxury boxes and to keep the scoreboards shining. Concession stands running out of ice. Volunteers that don’t know their assignment. Handicapped people needing to be shuttled to a specific hole from the front gate. Overflowing port-a-johns. Tickets that need to be at will-call immediately. Phone lines that aren’t working. Lost members of the media. Pro-am players that are late. Get the picture?

The staff members make the decisions that the leadmen and the chairs can carry out. It is like a little army that works like mad for one week a year. Is the synchronization always perfect? No. But it is pretty good because all of my friends who come out to see the event never notice any of the issues behind the scenes. Why not? Because of cell phones and radios. Fifteen plus radio channels keep certain areas like concessions, sponsor services, security, parking, and HQ all working at peak efficiency. A super-secret list of cell phones allows for rapid decision-making and problem solving in the midst of a golf event.

So, to say something ignorant about why staff members are always on the phone (they actually aren’t because I see them without their phones quite often in headquarters) is, well, ignorant. Oh, I forgot to mention dealing with things like transportation and lodging for PGA Tour players and their wives. All via mobile numbers.

I hope this helps to clarify that communication is absolutely essential during this kind of event that occurs over hundreds of acres. People should understand that their question, though important, might be coming in the midst of a crisis that has to be dealt with immediately.

It could actually be a security crisis that gets extinguished and nobody ever knows. It might be a medical crisis that gets resolved and a life is saved. Don’t ever assume that you have any idea what type of conversation is occurring during a PGA Tour event Mr. Media Man.

Stop. Think. Investigate. Isn’t that your job? Or could it be my job?

This article was written by Bryan Brendley, a friend and long-time reader of The Sand Trap.

1 thought on “That Damn Phone To His Ear”

  1. You gotta love these behind the scenes guys. Working at the PGA championship as a volunteer at 6:45 AM on monday morning everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off, but come the tournament rounds, place was running like clockwork, truly the unsung heroes behind the tour 🙂

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