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April 2019

Two Operators, Two Questions - Getting ready for the big show

Dan Elliott
Director of Golf
Forest Hills
Augusta, Georgia

Mike Spiller
Director of Golf
Bayonet and Blackhorse
Monterey, California

By Steve Eubanks

How Do You Plan For A Big, Worldwide Event In Your Town?

Dan Elliott: Masters week is our busiest week of the year, so we staff up, uniform up and make sure we’re putting on the best presentation we can. We do 1,300 rounds of golf in the six days (of Masters week), so we start the day earlier than normal.
One of the big things we do is brief the staff on the history of Forest Hills since our golf course was here before Augusta National. In fact, Bobby Jones played the Southeastern Open here in 1930 before going on to win the Grand Slam. It was while he was here that he saw the property that is now Augusta National. So, it’s important for the staff to know that so they can educate the customers.

Mike Spiller: We had a U.S. Open (at nearby Pebble Beach) in 2010, so we learned a lot from that. First, we have to make sure we have our rates calculated correctly and posted early. We also make sure all our staffing is in place. Then we get our retail in order so that we have the right product mix.
This year (when the U.S. Open returns to Pebble Beach in June) we’re doing a deal where you get lunch and a hat with your tee time. In 2010, we had about 350 rounds a day. I sent an email out in January telling our staff to let me know if there would be any problems or conflicts because we’re going to need all hands that week. 

What are the operating problems you encounter from having a big event nearby? 

Elliott: You have to understand that your staff is going to want to participate in the activities going on in town that week. So, you have to schedule properly to give your staff that opportunity, but also make sure your operations are covered.
I also warn the staff not to get too involved with customer requests for access to the tournament. A lot of people in here are looking for tickets. We warn the staff not to say, “Yeah, go down and stand on this corner,” or anything like that. We just tell folks that the Masters is the hardest ticket in sports to get and we don’t have access. 

Spiller: We’re collecting data from everybody booking – phone numbers and emails – and we plan to send traffic updates to everyone who has tee times during Open week. It might take two or three times longer than normal to get here during an Open. 
The other thing is weather. A lot of people think California is all sun and fun, but on the central coast it can be 60 degrees in June and with any wind, it will feel colder. So, it doesn’t hurt to send out a weather briefing.

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