With the Deutsche Bank Championship returning to the TPC Boston in Norton, Mass. (Aug. 31-Sept. 3), we talked to tournament director Eric Baldwin about the championship. Here's the Q&A:
Q: Anything new going on this year that you want to let people know about? Can people still get tickets?
A: We have a lot of great things happening this year for our 10th anniversary, and tickets are still available on our website (dbchampionship.com, by phone at 877-TIX-4DBC, or by visiting any of the area Golf Town locations.
Tickets are going quickly, and we have experiences for everybody this year, including our new Rope Side Seating, Signature Sky Box, Champions Club, and Gosling's Dark 'n Stormy Terrace -- located next to the Wedgwood Club on the 17th Tee with views of the 18th green. We're very excited about what we are offering fans, from access and viewing perspectives.
Q: Tell people a little about the job of a tournament director? How busy are you during the actual tournament itself or is the real busy time in the lead-up?
A: Being a tournament director is like being the head of any company. I have the ultimate responsibility to make sure everything is running successfully on all levels -- from the spectator's experience to our sponsors, volunteers and operations crew. The job encompasses all of the roles and responsibilities that any independent business would take on, especially the need to wear many hats, so to speak.
Clearly the summer is a busy time for us. Not only are we getting the course ready, but we are starting our build for Championship weekend. The Championship itself is very busy -- we have to make sure our partners and fans are having a good time, interfacing with our sponsors and the PGA TOUR officials. My Championship week is as close to 24/7 as you can get, but I'm thrilled to be a part of such a great event -- especially in its 10th year.
Q: Favorite memory over the years from the DBC (can list more than one if you want)?
A: One of my favorite memories from the Championship was seeing Tiger win his fifth PGA TOUR event in a row back in 2006 -- it's so hard to win one event, let alone five in a row, and having him accomplish that here was really impressive to see. 2004 was also a memorable year for us, when Vijay Singh had his first of two victories here, which at the time dethroned Tiger to end his five-year run on top of the World Golf Rankings. I would also have to put 2009 up there. Steve Stricker played great golf and ended up taking the Championship, but we also had a very talented group of Juniors win our Pro-Am, which was thrilling.
Q: Which players are you really excited about this year? If you could only follow around one player this week, who would it be?
A: I am really excited to see Rory McIlroy play. He was not eligible last year, but now that he has his full-time U.S. PGA TOUR card, it's going to be fun following him. Rory is playing at such a high level right now, just coming off of a big PGA Championship victory, and should have huge crowds following him all week. He's a really fun, exciting young player to watch.
Q: Does having a local player (Keegan Bradley) in the upper-echelon of PGA Tour players help the tournament?
A: Having a local golfer like Keegan Bradley -- who is having a phenomenal second year on TOUR -- is great for the Championship. Being in a family of golfers like Keegan helps, especially in the New England area, and we have certainly seen an uptick in interest as a result of his strong season. It's great to see him play well, and we wish him the best. I'm sure he will have a little bit of a "home-court advantage" with the fans here throughout the week.
Q: Which holes are your favorites as a spectator?
A: The drivable par four 4th hole is always one of my favorites. It's well guarded, and really makes the players think about how aggressive they want to be. From a fan's perspective, the par three 11th is a great hole to watch from the hillside. Personally, I'm really excited to see how 18 plays this year, since there has been some significant work done to the green area. It should be a very dramatic finishing hole that may factor into who wins the Championship on Monday.
Q: We won't ask you to pick a winner (unless you want to), but give us a handful of players you think will be in the mix this week?
A: I think Tiger, Rory, Paddy Harrington, Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson will all be in the mix here. It's really tough to pick one, though. The quality of golf is so good these days, and it seems like everyone is playing at such a high level. But, based on past experiences, those are the guys on my short list that could be in the mix here.