Q & A with The Boeing Classic’s Tournament Director Michelle Delancy

by Kelly Handley

Golf fanatics- it is that time of year again.  The Boeing Classic.

Every sport has its big event.  Football? Super Bowl.  Hockey?  Stanley Cup.  Baseball?  World Series.  But we lucky golfers don’t have the build-up to an over-the-top championship, nor do we have to struggle with the post-season blues.  Golf is a year-round sport and we get to relish in one tournament after another, especially in the peak seasons of spring and summer.  Play as much or as little as you want- that is your choice.  However, give your clubs the week off and turn your attention to the Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge August 22 through August 28.

It is a treat to have such a well-run tournament on an annual basis in Washington State.  The field of players is never disappointing and the course is inspiring.    Fred Couples, Mark O’ Meara, Fred Funk and 2010 Boeing Classic Champion Bernhard Langer will be back this year to take on the challenges that TPC Snoqualmie Ridge has to offer. An added bonus is that the Boeing Classic is accessible to those who want to watch a major tournament live.  No need to enter your name into a lottery, scour eBay or request tickets two years in advance.   Tickets and sponsorships are available and you are invited.

With tremendous effort from all parties involved, it is expected that the Boeing Classic will be better than last year’s tournament, though last year’s event was flawless.  Last year records were broken with 78,000 fans attending pre-tournament practice rounds and events as well as the two days of play leading up to the Championship Round.  The Boeing Classic received the Champions Tour President’s Award for 2010, earning high praise for its impact on charitable causes as well as hosting a phenomenal tournament on the heels of the U.S. Senior Open just weeks earlier at nearby Sahalee Country Club.

Eager to know what the Boeing Classic has in store for we enthusiasts and the community at large, Michelle Delancy, Tournament Director of the Boeing Classic, gave me the inside scoop.

Golf Today (GT): The Boeing Classic attracts great talent.  What is it that draws the field of players to the event?

Michelle Delancy (MD): We are fortunate to have a great field each year. The players love the golf course, the great views of the Cascades, great weather, and the large crowds that the Tour players usually only see at Tour major events. The Boeing Classic is an event that players don’t want to miss.  The community really embraces the players each year and our volunteers take such great care of them.

GT: The community benefits from major tournaments like The Boeing Classic.  Not only does the local economy get a boost, but so do local charities. Who are the designated charities for 2011?

MD: Over the past six years the Boeing Classic has raised over $3.2 million for Virginia Mason Medical Center and additional Greater Seattle Charities.  The 2011 designated charities include the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason Medical Center, The First Tee of Greater Seattle, Encompass, and The Nutrition and Fitness for Life program at Virginia Mason Medical Center.

GT: Who is the major beneficiary this year?  What role do they play in the community?

MD: In 2011, the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason Medical Center (BRI) will be the main beneficiary of the Boeing Classic for the second consecutive year. BRI is an international leader in immune system and autoimmune system research translating discoveries to real life applications. BRI is one of the few research institutes in the world dedicated to finding causes and cures to eliminate autoimmune diseases including Type 1 diabetes, arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma and many others.

GT: The Seattle Seahawks have been long-time supporters of the tournament.  Tell us about their involvement this year.

MD: The Seattle Seahawks have been a great Community Partner since day one of the Boeing Classic.  They continue to support the tournament in many ways including hosting the Best Draw Party on the Champions Tour at Qwest Field.

The Seahawks are the new title sponsor of the shared hospitality suite on the 18th Green, The Seahawks Club at the Boeing Classic. The Seahawks Club is a place for the ultimate sports fan. This luxury skybox sits on No. 18 green and is complete with lounge areas, a sun deck and flat screen TVs.  Champions Tour professionals will stop by to greet fans and sign autographs throughout the weekend along with guest appearances from Seahawks players and NFL Alumni.  Food and beverage in the Seahawks Club are complimentary with purchase of a Seahawks Club ticket. Individual tickets are $150/day. Corporate tables in the Seahawks Club are also available for purchase.

In addition, the Seahawks will continue to host the Boeing Classic Monday event, the Seahawks Rumble at the Ridge. Amateurs will join Seattle Seahawks Ring of Honor inductees, NFL Hall of Famers and local and national celebrities for a round of golf at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. Current commitments include Kenny Mayne, Don James, Mike Haynes, Dave Kreig, Steve Largent, Lynn Swann, Kenny Easley and Ray Pinney.

GT: The kids’ clinic and Pro-Am are mainstays on the tournament’s schedule.  What other features can attendees look forward to?

Planning is underway for a Boeing jet to make the annual Friday morning flyover at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, heading up the 18th fairway and over the Clubhouse at 11:20 a.m. on Friday, August 26, 2011. With the jet flying a couple thousand feet overhead, the fly by is a fan favorite and has become a staple to kicking off the first day of tournament play.

The Boeing Classic will host its first Military Appreciation Day on Championship Sunday, August 28. Military and their families will receive free admission into the tournament and will be hosted in a hospitality tent. A military flyover is scheduled to take place to kick off the final round of the Boeing Classic. Military appreciation will be acknowledged with the presence of a color guard, military personnel announcing players on the first tee and military personnel as honorary observers.

The Canyon Club Party Pass is more accessible to all spectators. The Canyon Club hospitality suite is located on the 448 -yard par four 14th signature hole. With 80 vertical feet in elevation drop from tee to green, the horseshoe shape fairway can be dramatically shortened with a risky tee shot over Bear’s Canyon. Spectators can watch their favorite Champions Tour professionals take the risk, or lay it up from the Canyon Club on 14 green, and then watch them again from the back sun deck of the Canyon Club, as they tee off on 18. A free beverage (beer, wine or soda) is included in the ticket price and upgraded food and beverage options are available for purchase.  Canyon Club tickets are $15/day and are in addition to a general admission pass.

GT: With the Boeing Classic being such a desirable event to attend, businesses can reach a huge audience by sponsoring the tournament.  What do sponsors gain in return?

MD: Sponsors receive a variety of benefits through sponsorship of the Boeing Classic. The tournament presents the opportunity to gain exposure in front of an audience of over 75,000 northwest golf fans. It’s unique to find such a concentrated group of this desirable demographic anywhere else in the northwest.

Exposure to great local business leaders is also a benefit of involvement with the Boeing Classic. Support and participation from executives at Boeing, the Seattle Seahawks, and Virginia Mason Medical Center make the Boeing Classic week of events an interactive networking experience for all participants.

Sponsors have the chance to activate client entertainment opportunities with hospitality skyboxes, Pro-Am playing spots or with clinics led by Champions Tour professionals. Employee appreciation can also be achieved with general admissions tickets, expo village booths or with hospitality tents. Customized objectives can be achieved while supporting a great beneficiary like the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason Medical Center.

GT:  What should spectators bring with them?

MD: Spectators should bring comfortable walking shoes and sunscreen. Cameras, food and beverage, and folding chairs are not permitted.

GT: How do visitors get tickets?

MD: Spectators can purchase tickets online at BoeingClassic.com or purchase tickets at the Boeing Classic admissions gate during tournament week. (August 22 through28, 2011)

For more information about the Boeing Classic, including spectator hotel options, go to www.BoeingClassic.com.  Looking to catch the competition on television?   The Golf Channel will be airing the Boeing Classic August 27-29.  Check local listings for times.