Utah Championship News
5 questions with Utah Championship Tournament director Mike Smith
Monday, 13 September 2010 16:21
Mike Smith was in the trucking business 10 years ago when he decided to volunteer for the Buy.com Utah Classic golf tournament. He worked his way up to volunteer chairman and did such a good job that in 2005 he was named the national "Volunteer of the Year" by what was then called the Nationwide Tour. When Evan Byers left three years ago, Smith took over as Tournament Director, which is now his full-time job. This weekend, Smith talked with Deseret News writer Mike Sorensen about the Utah Championship tournament and his job.
Question: What are your main duties as tournament director?
Answer: "Meeting with sponsors, vendors, suppliers, various charities and working with other tournaments to see what they do to get the community more involved with their events. We're really trying to help make this even a bigger event than what it is."
Question: What are the biggest challenges?
Answer: "Obviously, the support of sponsors is critical to any event and particularly our event. Fortunately, the Utah Sports Commission has been a great support along with other great sponsors. Another challenge is trying to get more volunteer resources to take care of things going on during the tournament, such as walking scorers, standard bearers, transportation and security. We have close to 400 volunteers and in addition to that we also have the kids from West Ridge Academy, which is one of our charities, and they'll bring over 75 boys and girls that come out and work every day for us. They are invaluable in helping us put on this event."
Question: Isn't it difficult getting so many volunteers?
Answer: "It's a challenge for people to give up their days to come out and spend time. We try and make it as fun as possible. We've got a great caterer that prepares nice breakfasts and lunches each day. We put them in nice Antigua golf shirts with official Nationwide logos and hats, and they get to keep them. We've got a great barbeque for all the volunteers out by the pool on Saturday night, and we also have a volunteer appreciation golf outing here at Willow Creek in the spring. We hope they have a good time walking inside the ropes and getting up close to these future stars of the PGA Tour as well as present stars. We have such a strong field with PGA players that it's really an opportunity to be up close and watch these professionals play this game at the highest level we can see here."
Question: After some struggles with sponsorship of the tournament in recent years, how does the future of the tournament look?
Answer: "I think the tournament is growing. We're getting more spectators that are coming to see our event as the premier professional golf tournament in the state. But we certainly have challenges ahead of us. The economy is getting better and we're having great conversations with a lot of potential new sponsors as well as renewals of our present sponsors. That's really the key to the future of this event to keep building our sponsor base. We are looking for a title sponsor that wants to partner up with our event and the Nationwide Tour and have the opportunity to get their name out nationally and internationally."
Question: How is your golf game?
Answer: "I'm about a 6 handicap. I like to play a lot of different golf courses whenever I can. But I've found being in the golf business, I play less golf than I ever did."