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.
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.”
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.”
“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.