Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Here We Go. Genesis Golf To Begin

 

February 15, 2018

Fred Altieri

Riviera C.C. Clubhouse and Genesis Open hospitality set above the 18th green

The tee times have now been set for the 2018 Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. Defending tournament champion Dustin Johnson, tournament host Tiger Woods and two-time Riviera winner Phil Mickelson are among the 144 golfers scheduled to compete beginning this Thursday, February 15.

For the second consecutive year the PGA Tour event is sponsored by Genesis Motor America and for the second consecutive year the tournament is produced and managed by TGR Live, which serves to benefit charity events for the TGR Foundation, founded in 1996 by Tiger Woods.

Dave Klewan, general manager of the Genesis Open for TGR Live, and his staff successfully presided over the tournament last year despite having limited time to put it all together. This year they are building upon that foundation, incorporating new features, concessions and experiences not only for the fans but for the players and their families.

"Last year was a great opportunity and learning experience for us. We had less than six months to prepare for this tournament in both taking it over for the Tiger Woods Foundation and TGR Live as well as onboarding a new title sponsor in Genesis," said Klewan.

"We had a couple of obstacles in the form of weather, which impacted some things during tournament week. But it really allowed us to get the foundation in place and build on it going into this year.

"So we're very excited. We have a lot of new structures and new fan enhancements that we're bringing out to the course this year to really broaden the appeal to the general consumer coming onsite. The demand for corporate hospitality and the Pro-Am's have been through the roof."

TGR Live was pleasantly surprised with last year's turnout of diverse fans, including families with young children. They seized upon that opportunity to broaden the reach and appeal for this year and into the future. There's a deal in place between TGR Live, the PGA Tour and Genesis for at least another half decade.

"That allowed us to spend time as we plan this year to make sure we added more fan enhancements for that general public and consumer, as well as bringing in new ideas like the Vineyard Vines Club on the 10th hole or the wine deck on the second hole that we think will attract first-time people to come out to the tournament," added Klewan.

The fact that Riviera is a highlight on the Tour's schedule, there's a focus is on making sure the players and their families have an equally great experience. Riviera Country Club and its premier golf course opened up in 1926 and has been a choice track on the West Coast Swing since it began hosting the tournament on a permanent basis in 1973.

"Last year coming here I was playing really well and this is a golf course I really enjoy. It's one of my favorite courses that we play all year," said Dustin Johnson during last week's media day conference.

"... it's just a golf course where you have to hit good shots. You've got to control your golf ball, you've got to hit it in the right spots. The first time I ever came here as a rookie on Tour, I just loved this and I felt like it was a place that really suited my game.

Klewan: "We take a lot of pride in the care that we provide to our players. We've spent a lot of time with our partners from Genesis and Riviera Country Club on enhancing everything from the food and beverage experience for the players to the onsite concierge service, the courtesy vehicles as well as experiences for their families when they come out."

A main priority is the transportation and parking for tens of thousands of fans and patrons expected to attend each day of the tournament. Klewan and his team spent a lot time with community neighborhood councils and various cities to minimize the traffice impact as much as possible.

An emphasis has been made on how parking works from an onsite standpoint as well as providing courtesy shuttles from Santa Monica to help reduce the congestion in Pacific Palisades and the surrounding neighborhoods. They're adding more shuttles to get people back and forth faster.

By all accounts the process worked seamlessly last year. Patrons are encouraged to utilize Metro services as much as possible for close proximity. Ride-share companies with dedicated pickoff and drop-off places are also being promoted.

The competitive field for the Genesis is impressive. It includes four to the top 10 players in the world ranking and 21 major championship winners. The combined field has accounted for 52 major titles, has a total of 373 PGA Tour victories and 14 of the top 25 players competing.

Jordan Speith, ranked No. 3 and The Open Championship winner in 2017, and Justin Thomas, No. 4 in the world and the 2016-17 PGA Tour Player of the Year are in the field. So is Rory McIlroy, world's No. 8 golfer, and last season's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Xander Schauffele.

Fred Altieri

Dave Klewan, General Manager of the Genesis Open, at Riviera Country Club

Tiger was realistic about his current game: "Well, I'd eventually like to win tournaments. I'm trying to get through that process, go through that process, get to that point... it's interesting that I'm making small little subtle changes in my posture and my game and my swing."

"...I'm starting to understand my body a little bit more with

this back that's different than it used to be, and those are things that I could never have figured that out on my own... But also I don't want to play too much. This is still all new to me and I just want to be real smart about it."

Klewan: "To have a partner like Genesis that has a long-term commitment here really allows us to continue building this experience the right way. We can take the time to really make sure that we are executing flawlessly on everything we bring onsite. They've been amazing partners."

Let the tournament begin.

 

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