Ever wonder what it is that tournament directors actually do, aside from being the main voice on the walkie-talkie? As Edward Toledano, tournament director for the Dogwood Invitational, can tell you, the job is anything but boring.
Toledano has been a member of Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta since 1993 and has volunteered for the tournament since 2000, when he was then the sponsorship director. Since then, he has helped continue to build the Dogwood Invitational into an elite amateur tournament that players hope to add to their schedules.
Here are six things you might not have known about a tournament director’s job, as told by Toledano.
1. It’s a big checklist. We begin the tournament planning in July, when we do a full debrief by all committee heads, and list ways in which we can improve and how we execute. We discuss everything from locations of volunteers on course spotting to the type of food that is served. We also review with the club staff all the aspects of service and running of events outside the tournament proper (Am-Am, practice round and sponsors event, junior clinic and long drive, members-players long drive on Friday night and the “Between the Tees” party that follows).
2. We want repeat customers/players. We review the field, how the course was set up and how the scoring went – all this in an effort to improve and smooth out the next year. Our biggest focus is to run a fun tournament that allows players to enjoy the elite competition on the course, while … enjoying the Southern hospitality that we have been known for. It is my belief that if we run a top-notch event that provides for the enjoyment and camaraderie to prevail, the competition of the best amateurs will shine, and bring them back to us year after year.
3. Preparation is key. We go into full-bore tournament prep in January, refining our Web site and reviewing the amateur player landscape. Our sponsorship sales begin in February and continue until mid-June. Volunteer registration kicks off in May, as does our media push for coverage. Golf course preparation begins in April. Invitations are sent to players in mid-March based upon rankings, major events won, prior play in the Dogwood and amateur record.
4. Odds and ends. We offer housing at our members’ homes for all players, and have nearly 50 of the 84 players accept. We have a tournament hotel as well. Our members become lifelong friends with many of the players (i.e., Ray Beaufils, now a pro on the Nationwide Tour is playing out of Druid Hills and stays with the family that housed him for the three years he played in the Dogwood). We also provide breakfast, lunch and two dinners for players during the week, have a junior exhibition clinic for our junior golfers where players put on an exhibition, host a junior long-drive event and have a members/players long drive and “cut” party (between the tees).
5. We like to help. Two other very important things (and perhaps the most unique): We are a charitable foundation and raise funds to support Atlanta Junior Golf and the Wayne Reynolds Scholarship Foundation. Atlanta Junior Golf holds over 100 tournaments in Atlanta from May until November for 1,200 junior golfers ages 9-16. The Reynolds Foundation provides college scholarships to junior golfers from the state of Georgia. Twenty-four recipients of the $12,000, four-year scholarship have been selected since 1994.
6. Lots of thank yous. I get to work with a great committee. I have chair people of invitations, media, player housing, qualifying, food and beverage, officials, entertainment and volunteers, tremendous staff support at Druid Hills, and a very supporting membership. It’s that collaborative team effort that makes our event great.