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Kapalua event to be run by committee in 2012

September 12, 2011 - Robert Collias
The PGA Tour said it needed a full-time executive director for the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions back in late June, when Mark Rolfing stepped away from his one-year-plus role as event organizer.

A month later, Rolfing spoke exclusively to The Maui News about what had transpired.

Now, 10 weeks after being told that a person devoted to running the tournament all of the time was needed, we are told by the tour in a conference call that it will be done by committee for a story that we had Saturday (the only daily news outlet in the state to have it, btw).

Due to space limitations, my latest story was necessarily trimmed. For anyone who wants to read the full version, here it is:

After stating 10 weeks ago that it needed a "24-7" executive director, PGA Tour officials said in a conference call on Friday that the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course will be run by committee.

The announcement in June that the event needed a full-time executive director was given as the reason why 2011 tournament organizer Mark Rolfing, a Kapalua resident and television golf analyst, stepped down from his position.

The Mark and Debi Rolfing Foundation came in midway through 2010 as the tournament host for the 2011 event held in January, but was notified in June by the tour that a new charitable organization would be created and put in place for the 2012 event that is slated for Jan. 6-9.

"A couple of months ago I had said that we were in the process of transitioning from the Mark and Debi Rolfing Foundation and a new management structure," Ty Votaw, the tour's executive vice president for communications and international affairs, said. "We have a couple of updates in that regard."

Andy Pazder, the Tour's executive vice president/chief of operations, is coordinating the transition for the tour.

"We are forever grateful for them doing that, for their terrific work," Pazder said of the Rolfings' foundation. "Our long-term plan was always to create a permanent host organization, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit host organization. We are in the process of doing that, which involves creating a board of directors."

The board will include representatives from the tour and Hyundai and "business and community leaders on the island," Pazder said. "We are steaming down that road quickly. It is a lengthy application process where the IRS gets your not-for-profit status and that will take us several months. So from a management and operations standpoint we have allocated or dedicated to the tournament some resources from our championship management division."

The tour's championship management division currently runs 14 PGA and Champions Tour tournaments.

"As we contemplated the best approach to the 2012 tournament we thought we had to re-evaluate our earlier thought of hiring an executive director and pursuing what I would call the standard PGA Tour-tournament model," Pazder said, adding that time is simply running short. "We wanted to give ourselves the best opportunity to deliver the usual world-class event at Kapalua."

When reached by phone, Rolfing declined to comment on Friday.

Brian Goin, a senior-level executive with the championship management group, has oversight responsibilities for all aspects of the event, Pazder said. Tournament Director Nancy Cross, who has been with the tournament since its inception in 1999, will continue in her role. Maui resident Kelly Fliear, who was previously ran the Kaanapali Klassic on the Champions Tour and currently handles the MasterCard Champions Tour event on the Big Island, has joined the Kapalua team.

Peter Kent, the tour's sales and marketing for the championship management events including World Golf Championship events, will head that department for the 2012 Maui tournament. For the last two months leading into the Hyundai event, Tom Clark, the executive director of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on the 50-over Tour, will join the Kapalua team.

Pazder emphasized, "This is not a long-term structure. The PGA Tour does not intend to run the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in perpetuity. Again, we felt that given the time constraints we were dealing with that we needed to throw a lot of resources at this.

"Our long-term vision is that once we have the board in place and activated is that we will go to the traditional tournament-structure model of an executive director with a sales person, an operations person and an administrative person like we see almost every other week. ... We would begin that process after the 2012 tournament."

Pazder said the Monday finish to the event announced in June — the only other PGA tournament to finish on Monday is the Deutsche Bank Championship that finishes on Labor Day — will remain.

Free admission that was added this year at Rolfing's urging — the only tour event that did not charge for attendance in 2011 — may change, Pazder said.

"We think there are opportunities to create a tickets-for-charities program, which would generate additional dollars for charities in the community," he said. "We have not made a final decision — it is a big decision. We will be very methodical and careful with that."

The FedEx Cup Kickoff event is also up in the air, Pazder said.

"We are still talking with FedEx and Hyundai and some secondary sponsorscabout whether we are going to have the FedEx Kickoff as part of tournament week," Pazder said. "It is very involved, it is a big enterprise."

Votaw added, "It is still an absolute kickoff, first event of the FedEx Cup season."

A pro-am featuring local junior golfers playing with the PGA professionals, a long-drive contest, and hula dancers that were part of the FedEx Kickoff event are all in the discussion phase, Pazder said.

Another change that Rolfing had campaigned for is in the works, Pazder said. Nonmembers of the PGA Tour may get an additional two events, bringing the number to 12, where they can compete on the PGA Tour. European Tour members including Rory McIlroy, the U.S. Open champion, often skip Kapalua because of the limit on their PGA appearances.

"We will be making a proposal to our policy board here in a couple weeks" on that, Pazder said. "If you are a nonmember, you are going to have a full 12 events available to you. . . . We feel that would easily allow you to play the Hyundai Tournament of Champions."

Pazder said it is unlikely that the new nonprofit organization will be in place for the 2012 event, but Votaw added, "That will not preclude us from generating monies for local charities like the event has done previously."

The Rolfings' foundation donated $285,190 from this year's event.

The event has a contract in place through 2013 and Votaw said that discussions with Hyundai on lengthening that deal will not start until after the 2012 tournament.

"We have had some preliminary discussions about it, but more in-depth discussions would take place shortly after next year's tournament," Votaw said.

Pazder added, "Our players love coming to Maui and they love Kapalua. As part of our conversations with Hyundai obviously we are going to be talking about the venue, but right now, we would see ourselves at Kapalua."

Votaw said that they want Rolfing to remain involved with the event, but that Rolfing is weighing his options.

"We have invited him to be a part of the tournament, we are hopeful that he will be," Votaw said. "What that role will be we haven't defined. He right now has indicated he is taking a little bit of a wait-and-see approach."


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