Just like everyone else in the area, we were thrilled to be able to showcase all that this region has to offer – the beauty, the community spirit, the passionate support and so much more. We have been lucky enough to be a part of an event that for the last 10 years has been a platform for displaying those attributes, so we knew that having the U.S. Open here was just going to reinforce for a larger audience what we already knew to be true. Leading up to the event itself we worked closely with the local USGA representatives and put plans in place to cultivate new fans, volunteers, partners and sponsors… and we have already seen a positive impact in all of those areas. But ultimately what we are reminded of when the U.S. Open ends is that the Boeing Classic is here to stay! Our event is here every year, raising dollars and awareness for local charities, making community connections, giving back in so many ways to positively impact the lives of people in our region.
2. PGA Golfers are idols to many fans of the sport. The field of players at the Boeing Classic is always a big draw for spectators. Any word yet on confirmed entries?
The Boeing Classic continues to draw one of the best fields on the Champions Tour because the players truly enjoy all that we have to offer – a beautiful and challenging course, an amazing title sponsor in Boeing, large galleries of enthusiastic and supportive spectators and a volunteer staff who work tirelessly to take care of their needs and make them feel appreciated.
We of course always look forward to seeing our hometown hero, World Golf Hall of Fame member and fan favorite Fred Couples. He was in town in June during the U.S. Open and again went on record as saying it was his goal to win the Boeing Classic… so we’ll see if he can do it this year! 2010 Boeing Classic Champion Bernhard Langer continues to defy the odds and once again this year is putting in dominating performances on the Champions Tour. Mark O’Meara, who will be inducted in to the World Golf Hall of Fame this month, has always played well at the Boeing Classic and so he’ll be back to see if he break through after having to settle for second-place finishes in the last few years. We have a couple of new additions that fans will also be interested in, including Ian Woosnam and Lee Janzen. Other recognizable names include two-time Champion Tom Kite, Nick Price, Rocco Mediate, Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry, Jeff Sluman and the list goes on.
3. The Executive Women’s Day has made the schedule again this year. Though it isn’t a golf outing, it is becoming a mainstay for the Boeing Classic. Tell us what the event truly is. Any noteworthy attendees?
After launching the event in 2013, Executive Women’s Day at the Boeing Classic continues to grow and this year we are excited to add a new title sponsor in Astellas. The goal of the event – which will be held Tuesday, August 18th at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge – is to encourage networking, mentorship and financial literacy for female business leaders in our community as well as to generate social and business relationships in an exclusive and engaging forum. The day will begin with a panel discussion over breakfast, featuring dynamic local influencers including representatives from Boeing, Alaska Airlines, Seattle Chocolates and Virginia Mason Medical Center. After touring the grounds and taking photos, guests will be treated to lunch with a powerful key note speaker – trailblazing sports agent, Molly Fletcher. We’ll end the day with a networking opportunity where attendees are encouraged to make new friends and business contacts that will last beyond the one-day event. It’s a full day of activities and really a unique opportunity to connect and learn from women of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
4. Speaking of the schedule, the Pro-Am has owned two days of the schedule. How is that formatted?
The Korean Air Pro-Am is one of our biggest events of the week and provides a rare opportunity to play TPC Snoqualmie Ridge under Championship conditions with the Pros preparing to compete for the Boeing Classic trophy. The participants are mainly comprised of our biggest and most engaged corporate sponsors and every year the stories that are shared with me from their experience showcase why the Champions Tour is regarded as one of the most fan-friendly experiences in all of sports. You will see Pros adjusting amateurs’ grips and stances on the tee box… lining up shots in the fairway… helping to read putts… and celebrating with high-fives throughout the round. The event provides a connection, creates long-lasting relationships and turns casual observers in to true fans.
5. The Boeing Classic has always been kid and family friendly. What can families look forward to this year?
It is an important aspect of our planning every year to continue to find ways to create an experience at the Boeing Classic that is all-inclusive and family-friendly. That’s why we offer free admission to kids 14-and-under with a paid adult, so that it’s an affordable option for families and so we can help to spur an interest in golf and create fans at an early age who will follow the game throughout their lives. We hear from many people who believe a golf event wouldn’t be appropriate for kids because of various rules and issues with noise.. . And that may be true in specific areas, but in general there are plenty of locations and opportunities when every member of a family can enjoy the experience.
Early in the week we host the Emirates Youth Clinic, which is held on Tuesday on the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge Driving Range and is free and open to the public. The one-hour clinic will be hosted by one of the Champions Tour Pros so whether it’s a participants first time swinging a club or they’re an avid junior golfer, everyone leave with a special experience – not to mention great takeaways provided by Emirates!
Another event that we are proud to keep growing is Saturday’s Family Day. We’ve created a special area above the 18th Green – centrally located to much of the best golf action – that includes interactive games, contests, local sports mascots, face painters and more. It’s an opportunity for families to participate in activities as a team or give the kids the chance to burn off some energy before heading out on the course. Now that’s a win-win!
6. Not only does the course at TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge take a turn with tournament changes, but the grounds become festive with activities, concessions, and viewing areas. What’s on offer at the Expo Village?
Since the Expo Village is every spectators’ first experience once they enter the event, it’s important that we have fun, interactive, value-added takeaways in the area that fans will enjoy… and this year the participating companies are really concentrating as well on the fan experience.
Once again Cadillac – the Official Vehicle of the Boeing Classic – will have their latest luxury cars on display for fans to get behind the wheel and see up close just how impressive they look and feel. Cadillac also offers great incentives for those who attend the Boeing Classic and then test drive a vehicle, so if you’re in the market for a new car this is a great time to look in to a Cadillac.
Alaska Airlines will have a big presence again this year with their Canyon Club Simulator. Fans who enter their booth can take a swing and see if they can make a shot over Bear’s Canyon on Hole 14 – where the Canyon Club is located – and if they don’t make it, they won’t lose a ball in the process (since it’s all done on the simulator).
Stryker – a medical technology company – is a new sponsor this year and will bring the Stryker Mobility Zone to the Boeing Classic. This interactive tent will feature orthopedic surgeons who will interact with fans and suggest possible medical options for joint pain.
And fans will be happy to hear that Emirates is back! The Emirates booth is one of the most popular because they have fantastic giveaways that spectators love, so if you’re looking for a nice souvenir from the day, make sure to stop by and see Emirates.
7. The Boeing Classic really begins on August 17th with the Seahawks, but then the tournament kick-off happens on August 21st. Where is the best place to see the iconic Boeing fly-over?
The flyover is a fan favorite and has become one of the most highly anticipated events of Tournament Week. This year’s flyover will feature a Korean Air 747-8. It’s amazing to see thousands of fans on site – crowding the hill above 18, packed in the 1st tee bleachers and out on the deck of the Clubhouse – to witness the most amazing start of any event on the Champions Tour. And in any of those locations, you are then in the perfect spots to watch as the first groups tee off on Hole 1 to officially begin the competition.
8. TPC Snoqualmie Ridge is challenging for all golfers, pro or not. If a spectator wants to really see one of the players show their best effort, what tees are going to provide the best show?
That’s really honestly one of the best aspects of the Boeing Classic… just how many opportunities there are to get up close and see great golf action and spectacular views. You can follow a specific group throughout their round, or settle in a comfortable spot and see several groups come through. The options are endless, but here are a few highlights:
No. 1 Tee – This is where the action starts and as I was just mentioning, is a perfect place to watch the Boeing flyover on Friday.
No. 9 Green – Just a short walk from the entry gate, this challenging par three requires Pros to carry their tee shot over water and bunkers. There are bleachers above the green for great viewing and comfortable seating and there’s also a great natural hill to settle in for a while if you want.
No. 10 Tee – Next to the green at No. 9 is the 10th tee box, which also has bleacher seating and allows fans to view players as they tee off and take on their tricky approach shots. With double tee times on holes one and 10, this is a great place to catch the action. And be sure to grab a burger and beer at Ivars 19th Hole located adjacent to the 10th tee box.
No. 13 Green to No. 14 Tee – If you want to venture out on to the course, this is a great place to catch a lot of action within a short distance. Here you can watch the par three, 13th as well as No. 14, Bear’s Canyon – plus we’re again building a Beer Garden in this area so that you don’t even have to leave your spot to get a cold drink or something to eat.
The Alaska Airlines Canyon Club – No. 14 Green to No. 18 Tee – The Alaska Airlines Canyon Club
at the Boeing Classic provides one of the most exciting vantage points at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. It’s a risk-reward hole like no other and provides great drama, impressive views and extra perks – like Birdies for Beer. Every time a Pro makes a birdie on 14 it’s half-off beers for the next ten minutes, so when you hear a roar come from the Canyon Club, you’ll know why! Then just off the back of the tent, it’s a perfect perch to watch players tee off on 18. So really, you get two great experiences for the price of one. I should also mention that fans who have an Alaska Airlines Signature Visa will receive free entry in to the Canyon Club, so if you haven’t already make sure to sign up for the card and Alaska Airlines will have you covered!
No. 18 – The crowd funnels together late in the afternoon all along the dramatic par five. With hospitality and corporate seating on either side of the fairway and natural hillside seating behind the green, the stage is set for spectacular viewing of the finishing hole. The scene that is offered for fans sitting on the hill just below the club house was voted as the PGA TOUR’s Champions Tour “Best View from the Clubhouse”.
9. The Boeing Classic is a top-tier event in Golf, with awards to prove it! However, the cost for the event doesn’t seem ridiculous given the quality. How is it possible to keep the cost down?
I feel very lucky to have the amount of support we do in so many areas, which is truly what makes the Boeing Classic a community-focused event committed to giving back to the people in our region. Sponsors play a significant role and our partnership with Boeing is at the heart of what has made us so successful in developing and cultivating corporate relationships. Our volunteers are dedicated and loyal ambassadors who pay for the experience to volunteer, which allows us to keep expenses low and drives dollars back to local charities. We also have tremendous marketing partners – who are committed to helping raise awareness and drive attendance – and vendors – whose hard work helps to create a first-class fan experience. It’s honestly overwhelming at times to think of how many individuals and organizations have a vested interest in supporting this event.
10. The team of volunteers that it takes to provide an amazing tournament can’t go without praise. 10 years later, what has the Boeing Classic staff learned about its volunteers?
Plain and simple, this event wouldn’t exist without the incredible team of volunteers we have. The contributions they make have such an important impact on our guests and on behalf of our community and is a critical component of our success over the last 10 years. We continue to be impressed by all they do… and with 80% of volunteers continuing to return each year, we like to think that the experience is a positive one for them as well.
11. The Boeing Classic has been a win for the Seattle area community for so many years now. What is the cumulative dollar amount that beneficiaries have received in all these years?
Ten years ago, the Boeing Classic was the newest sporting event in Seattle and on the Champions Tour. No PGA TOUR event had been held in Washington State since 2002’s WGC-NEC Invitational at Sahalee and the Northwest community was waiting in anticipation for the next big opportunity to welcome and support big-time golf in this region.
Today, the tournament proudly stands as the region’s premier annual golf event and has raised more than $5 million for Greater Seattle charities. Again this year, proceeds from the Boeing Classic will directly benefit the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason. BRI is an international leader in immune system and autoimmune disease research and is one of the few research institutes in the world dedicated to discovering causes and cures to eliminate autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and many others.
For more information about The Boeing Classic please visit www.boeingclassic.com
*Interview conducted by Kelly Handley