Eric Baldwin is a Vice President in the Golf Division at IMG, the world’s premier sports, entertainment and media company. In his role as vice president, Baldwin serves as the Championship Director for one of IMG’s premier events on the PGA Tour, the Deutsche Bank Championship. Under Baldwin’s leadership, the Deutsche Bank Championship became part of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup and has generated over $20 million for the Tiger Woods Foundation and other New England-based charities in its first 10 years. The Deutsche Bank Championship is the second of the four PGA Tour Playoff events.
What new features have been added to The Deutsche Bank Championship this year?
EB: We wanted to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Deutsche Bank Championship by giving our loyal fans new ways to experience the event. We came up with several great ideas that we are really excited about, mainly the new Champions Club—a spectator section that provides a perfect view of the 17th fairway of TPC Boston; the Signature Skybox–an open-air structure located on the signature hole of TPC Boston, the par-three 16th; Gosling’s Dark ‘n Stormy Terrace, located next to the Wedgwood Club on the 17th tee, with views of the 18th green; and a fan village is a nice addition to the 17th fairway, giving fans access to a variety of product services from our vendors. Those who purchase tickets at Boston-area Golf Town locations receive a voucher good for any competition day and access to our exclusive Golf Town viewing zone located on the 16th hole.
What continues to make The Deutsche Bank Championship one of the Tour’s best stops?
EB: There are many factors to this but ultimately it comes down to competition and the experience. The PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs is an integral part of the Championship, and the top 100 players in golf are guaranteed to be competing here every Labor Day weekend.
How important it is for the success of the tournament to be associated with the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs?
EB: We have always had great success with the Championship, even before the FedEx Cup was involved, but there is no denying that it has been taken to another level over the past few years. Through the creation of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the PGA Tour was able to get the top players in the world to play in four consecutive weeks—something that had never been done previously.
Do you feel the long-term status of the tournament is secure?
EB: We have been very fortunate to host this event for 10 years in New England, and it has been tremendously successful for Deutsche Bank and our other partners, as well as the fans in the area. It is our hope that we can continue this event for many more years.
How important are the event’s volunteers? How many are there?
EB: The volunteers—our “Blue Crew”—are the lifeblood of the Championship. Usually, we have anywhere from 1,600 to 1,800 volunteers in a given year. They help us deliver the world-class experience our fans have come to expect, and we truly couldn’t do it without them.
What must be done by you, your staff, the state and others to make sure we never lose this event or its role as a FedEx Cup Playoff event?
EB: As a staff and organizers, we need to continue to find ways to keep the tournament fresh and distinctive. We need to keep finding unique ways to make the Championship new and exciting for our spectators and sponsors year in and out. We need to deliver a positive message to more people about how much of an impact this event and the PGA Tour has had on New England.
Have you received solid support from fans and the business community through the years?
EB: Boston and the greater New England area is a tremendous sporting region. The fans are passionate, dedicated, knowledgeable, and arguably the best sports fans in the country. We have several partners that will be celebrating their 10th anniversary right along with us. The Tiger Woods Foundation is our organizing body, but we have also worked with several New England-focused charities over the years, such as the First Tee of Massachusetts, our work with the towns of Mansfield and Norton, and our relationship with various YMCA’s in the area.
Do you believe The Deutsche Bank Championship serves as an example for other PGA Tour tournaments?
EB: Absolutely. It started in our very first year, when we set our charity mark at $1.5 million. Every year, with help from Deutsche Bank and their commitment to the event, we have been able to create a special Championship applauded by players and the Tour—and as a result have generated over $20 million for charities over the last 10 years.