Clubhouse Chat: Travelers Championship Tournament Director, Nathan Grube
I had a chance to chat with Nathan Grube, Tournament Director of the Travelers Championship, recently to get his thoughts on the event, which is being held this week at the Tournament Players Club at River Highlands in Cromwell, Ct.
What new features have been added to The Travelers Championship this year?
We have really tried to continue to develop the things that have been working well the last few years. We have expanded our Military Appreciation activities and have added a baby shower this year for 40 military wives. We added a lunch session (in addition to the breakfast session) to Women’s Day due to demand. We are continuing our concert series events at the course with Javier Colon and KC and the Sunshine Band. We are bringing Michael Bolton and friends to a benefit concert at the Bushnell on Tuesday night of tournament week. We are re-working the entrance to make it more enjoyable for the fans this year from an aesthetic and service standpoint. Overall, we are trying to make the experience better every year for all of our constituents.
How excited are you and the rest of the staff and volunteers about the prospects for this year’s tournament?
There are many exciting aspects to the tournament this year that we are looking forward to.
Have the Fan Zone and concerts been successes?
Yes. The fans, corporate sponsors, media…everyone has really enjoyed this addition to the tournament. The Fan Zone provides so many unique opportunities for the golfer and non-golfer alike. It has made the tournament more enjoyable on many levels. The evolution of the concerts over the last few years has been something that everyone has enjoyed as well. I get just as many questions about what bands we have coming as I do about what players are coming.
What makes The Travelers one of the Tour’s favorite stops?
The simple answer is that there is no simple answer. It is 20 different things…how we treat the players, the caddies, the tour wives, their agents, the network broadcast teams, etc. It is attention to detail when it comes to relationships and the effort that we put into the seemingly small things. Our fans and volunteers deliver a message of appreciation and people feel good and welcomed when they are here.
Is the long-term status of the tournament secure?
Travelers has signed on through 2014 after an extension they signed in 2009. We are in a good place as an event with the amount of community support that we have built over the years in addition to Travelers as our title sponsor.
How important are the event’s volunteers?
Crucial. Vital. Could not run the event without them. With close to 4000 volunteers utilized for the week, it takes an army of people to put this event on. If we did not have them, we could not generate the dollars for charity that we do.
Given the economy and challenges other tournaments are facing, what have you, your staff, the state and others do to ensure a successful event?
Everyone understands that we cannot take anything for granted. We treat each year as if we have to earn our spot for next year as a tournament. The economy has also given us a chance to show how unique we are in that we are a professional sport that provides world class entertainment but we are donating everything we make back to charity. This business model has separated us from other investments in entertainment that companies are considering.
When do you start assembling each year’s field? Any surprises in store for fans in terms of players who might come this year?
We are always recruiting. We are on the road four to five times per year building relationships with players to see what we can do to have them play the Travelers Championship. Our field for 2012 is shaping up to be one of the best we have had. It should be a great show for the fans!