Golfing Magazine Northeast caught up with Nathan Grube, the tournament director of the Travelers Championship, which will be played June 18-24 at Cromwell, Ct.ís Tournament Players Club at River Highlands. Grube is in his third year as tournament director and he couldnít be more excited about Travelersí commitment to the event and its place on the new PGA Fed Ex Cup schedule. GM: Is there a new buzz surrounding the tournament this year?
NG: Absolutely. This is my third year and Iíve never felt more excitement about the tournament among the fans, media and business community. Everyone knows that Travelers has made a major long-term commitment to the event and we will be here for the next four to six years. It has had a ripple affect and we have sponsors that we never had before come on board. GM: Youíve got a nice field lined up.
NG: We have the best field we have had in a long time. Phil Mickelson, V.J. Singh, Zach Johnson, Padraig Harrington and David Toms among others are coming and we havenít seen that caliber of field in quite a while. GM: Was Travelersí commitment a key.
NG: Definitely. We have a great golf course and a great tournament, but where we were on the calendar was keeping players away. Travelersí strong push demonstrated to the players that we are here to stay. GM: What about being a part of the Fed Ex Cup Series.
NG: There is no doubt that has helped, being between the U.S. Open and the British Open. Players are looking for points. I think a year from now we will be able to sit back and see how it affected playersí schedules and we will be a bit smarter about how to use the Fed Ex Cup. GM: Youíve said it is rare for a company like Travelers to be involved as a ďhometownĒ sponsor of a PGA Tour event.
NG: Yes. Itís an unbelievable asset. They have some 6,000 employees right in our backyard. Most tournaments are partnering with national or international companies and trying to figure out how to make it work. Travelers has a significant presence in Connecticut and that canít help but affect the quality of the tournament. GM: How many volunteers does it take to make the tournament a success?
NG: I donít know the total number but I do know we need 1,500 people per day to manage the event, between concessions, gallery control, marshals, apparel and finance, etc. Itís like running a little city every day. GM: Any changes fans should be aware of.
NG: We have another road built in conjunction with the new practice facility to allow access and egress into and out of the tournament grounds. We will be bringing people through a new main entrance that passes right by the new practice facility. The facility wonít be ready for this yearís tournament, but next year fans will pass right by the players who are there warming up or working on their games. GM: Do you get to watch a little of the golf?
NG: Usually on Friday afternoon I ask myself if Iíve even seen one shot hit. But I do try to get out and mix with the players, workers and fans and watch some of the tournament.