TGR Live and the Genesis Open: A New Era Begins

Management Team Inspires Fresh Approach

This week's Genesis Open at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades is the initial test at the historic golf course for TGR Live, the tournament's newest host and organizer.

TGR Live, the event management company supporting the Tiger Woods Foundation, has incorporated new talent and progressive ideas to reinvigorate one of the PGA Tour's longest running events, also known as the L.A. Open in years past.

The Tiger Woods Foundation reached out to Dave Klewan in May 2016, shortly after acquiring the Genesis Open. They had a vision of putting together a team that not only understood the golf industry but the broader sports and entertainment opportunities.

One of their main objectives was for the tournament to not be viewed as a one-week-a-year affair but rather as a major sporting event that would be integrated into the fabric of southern California on a year-round basis.

Klewan was hired as the General Manager of the Genesis Open. His experience with managing sporting events in the greater Los Angeles market was key as the organization sought to elevate the status of the event. As important, the members of his core team are equally seasoned and versatile.

"My primary responsibility here is leading our onsite team in Los Angeles in further developing the Genesis Open Tournament and launching it the right way. And raising the stature of the tournament for us, for our partners at the Riviera Country Club, for our Chairman Tiger Woods as well as our titled sponsor, Genesis," said Klewan.

"They reached out and started walking me through beyond just what this event represents but what we really do on a day-to-day basis from a foundation. It is built on elevating this property and working with the team to make sure we're taking the right steps to build an amazing foundation for many years to come."

Born and raised in New York, Klewan has been in the sports industry since the late 1990's starting with sports agencies, selling partnerships for NFL and MLB teams as well as stadium-naming rights. In 1999 he was the first employee, wrote the business plan and launched the first-ever professional lacrosse outdoor league: Major League Lacrosse.

Klewan: "I knew this was an area that I had a passion for. I was one of the few in the mid-90's to go to college for sports management. I went with a plan in mind of what I wanted to career in. My original dream vision was to be a general manager for a major league baseball team."

In 2003 Klewan was recruited to the west coast to run partnerships and local promoter relationships for the AVP Volleyball Tour. That graduated to management responsibilities over the next six years. In 2009 he became part of the initial management team when Frank McCourt purchased the Los Angeles Marathon.

"We transformed it from just the downtown Los Angeles Marathon running around the Figueroa corridor to really embracing and running through Los Angeles with our stadium to the sea route," recalled Klewan.

"That started at Dodger Stadium, ran through downtown, ran through Silverlake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the V.A. and finishing down San Vicente right into Santa Monica. That was an amazing experience."

"It really allowed me to learn and understand, even though I had been out here for six years at that time to really kind of embrace and grab all the facets of Los Angeles beyond just the beach community at that time."

After a few years with the L.A. Marathon Klewan started his own agency and was hired to launch the World Series of Beach Volleyball, which he had been running for the last four years before joining the Tiger Woods Foundation.

"We are in a day and age that experience is what consumers are looking for when they're making decisions on where to spend their time and their money. So we want to insure that there is an amazing experience for any of our constituents coming on site," said Klewan.

"Whether that's a fan buying a general public rounds ticket to our title sponsor to our smaller, medium and large sized corporate sponsors in the middle, we want an amazing engagement from the time someone arrives at Riviera Country Club to the time that they go home."

"One of things that we're doing this year, which is very different than what was happening at the Northern Trust, is that we've really opened up the Riviera Clubhouse itself. We offer a clubhouse ticket that people can have access to the historic grounds of the Riviera Clubhouse."

"And experience golf and experience a social setting that takes advantage of things like the Crystal Ballroom, the Grand Ballroom and our lounges, to sitting out at the terrace to watch golf overlooking the first tee and the 18th green from a much more expansive environment."

"Even the hospitality offerings that are out there along the course we've become a little more modular. We've really worked to make sure that we're not just offering a one size fits all scenario but something that is really customized to what a brand or an individual is looking for."

Golf tournaments have traditionally relied on hospitality buys. The Genesis management team is also focusing on making modifications to their offerings to best fit the Los Angeles market versus another PGA Tour market.

"We've also increased the opportunities to get brands involved from a traditional corporate sponsorship and branding play. Not in a way just to add logos here but to actually add value and engagement for our onsite attendees," said Klewan.

"So working with our partners to understand how they can take advantage of this property from a year-round basis. We're trying to take a bigger picture look at how partnerships integrate in and align with our overall message as opposed to just bringing in dollars to bring in dollars."

Klewan's core team includes some "... on the east coast who've joined us over the last year that come from some more traditional stick and ball sports."

"Tom Pulchinski (Operations Manager) has been here with this event over 20 years in a variety of roles. Tom has been an absolute amazing resource in helping me and our new team understand the history of this event."

"Brandon Wong (Operations Manager) is a native southern Californian. He had been out with us on the east coast foundation who has joined us out in California."

"The sales team: James Cefaly (Senior Sales Manager) previously came to us from the L.A. Kings where he was for about 13 years. He has come on board to be our senior sales manager."

"Emily Kain (Sales Manager) is part of our sales team who came to us from the Rose Bowl. We recently hired another sales person that came from the PGA Tour and is moving out here from Florida, Anthony LaFica (Sales Representative)."

"Julia Schmitt (Tournament Sales Manager) had been here for the last two years with the tournament and handles all of our volunteer management as well as being very integrated into our community outreach and our special events like the Pro-Am and the Pro-Am parties that take place during the tournament."

"We've hired Scott Gillies (Ticketing Coordinator) as a gentleman as a ticket manager who came to us from the Minor League Baseball world."

"Carly Dumbauld (Corporate Partnerships Coordinator) who had been with the Foundation for the past two years out of our D.C. market with our Quicken Loans National event, has come onsite working with all of our sponsors and our hospitality buyers to bring their partnerships to life with us."

"We are very unique in the golf world in that we are not just the host organizer but we are also the direct beneficiary charity. We are also very unique in that we are the only organizer on the entire PGA Tour that organizes multiple events within the PGA calendar."

"Tournaments like the Genesis Open and other tournaments are fundraisers to raise funds for all these initiatives. We have very aggressive plans to continue pushing that throughout the years to come."

"It has been a tremendous opportunity working with the PGA Tour. It is such an amazing organization. What many people don't know is the PGA Tour provides more charitable funding, donations and money-backed charity than all the other major sports leagues combined."

At the end of the day, Klewan and his team have nothing but praise for the 91-year old country club and golf course serving as a paradise for their tournament: "The Riviera Country Club is fantastic. It's an extremely passionate group who have hosted this tournament for so many years. There are really not many places like it."

"The history, the traditions and the stories that are here. The beauty of this facility in my opinion is unparalleled. We're excited to welcome tens of thousands of fans here to Riviera to see firsthand how truly remarkable and magical this place is.


Reader Comments(0)