Planet Golf — 27 August 2012 by Jim Street
DeLancy — the face behind the Boeing

SNOQUALMIE, Wa. – To say the eighth Boeing Classic went off without a hitch would be inaccurate. But to say it was a typical, resounding success would be right on the money.

The only mulligan needed during the Champions Tour event came during Friday’s opening round, when Seattle native Fred Couples — the biggest draw in the field — hit his drive on the first hole and then had to be driven off the course in a golf cart because of a back injury.

No Freddy, no problem.

The weather was great. Attendance was an all-time high. And the competition generated by the best 50-and-over golfers in the world was magnificent.

As usual, the tournament went to a playoff — the fourth in eight years. Jay Don Blake (pictured above with Tournament Director Michelle DeLancy) won it on the second extra hole over Mark O’Meara.

This Boeing Classic gig is getting to be old hat for Michelle. She has been part of the team since its inception in 2005 and the go-to person for the past three years. Going forward, there are no plans to ride off on any golf cart anytime soon.

“I am enjoying what I’m doing,” she said. “I get to work with some amazing people.”

Women in golf became big news recently when Augusta National announced that it had invited two females – Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore – to join the previously all-male club. Both accepted and the closed doors swung open.

The Champions Tour has not been nearly as slow recognizing the talents of women like DeLancy, who is one of four female tournament directors on the tour.

Boeing Tournament Director Michelle DeLancy making the rounds at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge

As the Tournament Director, DeLancy is responsible for all areas of the tournament, including player relations, sales, marketing, communications and operations. She also manages the relationships with both the Champions Tour and beneficiary – Virginia Mason Medical Center.

During tournament week, there are more than 20 events, ranging from the Seahawks’ Rumble on the Ridge on Monday to the championship trophy presentation on Sunday.

The Boeing has become one of the most popular events on the tour – being selected as the coveted President’s Award recipient in 2010 and the Player’s Award in ’11.

“It is all about the team I work with,” said DeLancy, one of three full-time employees for the tournament. “I (got) to work with 1,035 volunteers (this year), more than we’ve ever had. A lot of them have been with the tournament as long as I have and we couldn’t do the things we do without them.”

The job comes with perks – and potential headaches.

She has a golf cart at her disposal at all times, although she would rather get from point “A” to point “B” by walking. There are two walkie-talkies attached to her belt at all times, along with a cellphone “that never stops ringing.”

Some of her best friends are professional golfers on the Champions Tour, many of whom she texts back-and-forth during the year. She also has many friends in the business community, relationships built on the corporate sponsorships developed around the Boeing Classic.

“The fun part of my job is just getting to be able to not feel the Boeing Classic is the same every year,” she said. “Last year we added Military Day. At the Canyon Club (14th hole) this year we added birdies for beers (half-price for 10 minutes).

“Our promotion is ‘Enjoy the Show.’ Not only do we want to have a successful tournament and have the people watch 81 guys play golf, but we want them to have a lot of fun.”

 

Stands offer great view at No. 18 at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge

Although planning for the “next” Boeing Classic is a year-round venture, the final few weeks leading up to the tournament are, shall we say, a bit hectic. The vendors set up their stations, the massive spectator stands are built, the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge course is readied and, last but not least, fingers are crossed.

“I would say the month leading up to the tournament is the most hectic,” she said. “Then the adrenaline takes over during the week of the tournament.”

DeLancy lives in downtown Seattle, but spends the week before and week of the tournament at a rented house near the golf course. No sense in commuting with such long hours on her schedule. She arrives at 4 a.m. on most tournament days and leaves around 9 p.m.

Now that the 2012 Boeing Classic is history, life returns to “normal” for the Washington State graduate.

“We’ll follow up with the sponsors, send notes to players thanking them for coming and clean up the course,” she said. “That will take us to the middle of September and then we’ll get started for next year.”

Vacation, perhaps?

“I’m going to the (Columbia) Gorge next weekend to see the Dave Matthews Band,” she said, “and then go to ‘Vegas for the Coug-UNLV game (on Sept. 14).  As a Coug, I try to go to one away game each season.”

Well, once a Coug, always a Coug.

And  a successful one at that.

 

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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