Jeff Purser, the executive director of the Toshiba Classic, maintains a busy and hectic life during the tournament, which is March 12-18 at the Newport Beach Country Club.
But Purser is used to the heavy schedule, and he and his staff have been getting ready well before the actual week ensues.
He took time out of his busy schedule to answer five questions before the Toshiba Classic began.
Question: What is the most unique feature from this 18th annual Toshiba Classic?
Answer: A few things are important.
First, we’ve moved a week later in the year, and of the four we have had in the past, it’s my favorite week out of the four various “calendar weeks” we have had. When we are the third week of March, we are the same as the opening weekend of the NCAA Championships. One might think that the NCAA would be a competitor and detriment to the tournament, but the truth is that it helps to create a wonderfully “charged” atmosphere with people enjoying the golf and following their favorite teams.
Second, the Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day, making the day very festive. We have a tremendous setup at our sports bar between No. 10 and 18 fairways with 60-inch Toshiba television walls ready to show basketball and the Toshiba Classic broadcast.
It is a tremendous field that will be among the best on the Champions Tour all year. So, all fans joining us will see a tremendous competition.
Question: When is the toughest day for work during the week and why?
Answer: The most challenging is Tuesday, because it starts very early for the community breakfast, and lasts until about 10 p.m. when the Pro-Am Pairings Party concludes. However, the time frame just makes it long, the stress is making certain that all of the pairings are done correctly, with specific times, pairings and sponsor needs all taken into consideration. This process literally takes a full week, and inevitably a major sponsor has changes, or a professional’s time changes, or something along those lines, and that one little change can lead to the need to modify up to 12 or so pairings. The pro-am is crucial to our success. Additionally, the operations team is working hard to finish all final details on the construction, go through final “walk through” of all the logistics with parking and bussing, security and other things.
Question: Why has Newport Beach and the Newport Beach Country Club been the home for the Toshiba Classic for so long?
Answer: It is an ideal spot for a Champions Tour tournament. Great traditional venue that the players love, and wonderful hotels and restaurants make this a spot that professionals enjoy. Operationally, while the site is small it remarkably has enough space and, in fact, an ideal layout for us to create a perfect atmosphere for hospitality and golf fans. Additionally, there is ample parking close by and the arteries that feed Newport Center make it convenient for golf fans to visit.
Question: What are some of the differences from working a PGA Tour event and a Champions Tour event?
Answer: Not a lot, truthfully. The largest difference is the size of the field, and managing the services and relationships with 80 Champions Tour players vs. 150 PGA Tour players is not only less cumbersome, but honestly a little easier because they don’t change as much from year to year. So, any given year I only have to meet and get acquainted with around 10 or so new players. The size and scope of our event is similar to many PGA Tour events, and so the operation is very comparable. Sponsorship sales, the main source of income for any tournament, is very similar in both environments. Each tournament in each market has its own set of resources and its own set of unique challenges, but the best events identify and capitalize on the resources and overcome any challenges.