Learn more from Chris Vonderkall, Championship Manager-Operations, as he shares the details of what goes into planning a large scale event and the challenges his team faces from an operational standpoint. In addition, see Chris in the 92nd PGA Championship "Behind-the-Greens" web series as his team prepares for the international event.
The Straits Skyboxes are an exciting addition this year for corporate guests. How did your team go about deciding where to place the skyboxes and are there any special considerations for building them at Whistling Straits?
How long does it take to transform the course, the seating and the area surrounding Whistling Straits?
We begin the build-out June 20, when the first stake is set into the ground. From there, I work with our national and local vendors to essentially build a small city in a condensed amount of time. I manage and organize our production schedule to be sure the flooring, bleachers, tents, trailers and power lines are set up accordingly, and most importantly, on time. There are numerous structures being built at once and our team has to be very detail-oriented to ensure the build-out is not only efficient, but also offers the best spectator experience possible.
One of our goals is to enhance the fan experience at the 92nd PGA Championship. With help from the PGA Championship Managing Director Kerry Haigh, we identified the best locations for the Skyboxes on the Straits course. These were determined by considering the customer point-of-view and how accessible those areas are for equipment and supplies. This was a unique challenge because of the distinctive terrain the Straits course is known for. We had to identify the variety of elevations and where the floor and footings would best fit, while still keeping the customer point-of-view in mind.After planning this event for the past two years, what are you most excited to experience at the 92nd PGA Championship?
I'm very excited to see the energy juniors will bring to the Championship. Having a young daughter myself, I'm especially excited about the efforts this year to make sure the Championship is a great experience for families. This year, four free junior admissions are permitted with every paid adult, which provides families the experience of a Major Championship at an affordable price. The week of the event, free golf lessons for kids are also available. We've worked very hard, so to see adults and children enjoying their time during the week will be the greatest payoff.What is one of the largest operational challenges you face while planning an international sporting event the size and caliber of the 92nd PGA Championship?
I'm lucky to come to work each day and enjoy what I do. I have a great time working to pull together all the moving parts of this event and make it move as one. Our team has had great success in creating an efficient work model and while challenging, it's amazing to see it all come together.
How are you involved in planning for the abundance of people, cars and parking during Championship week?
At Whistling Straits we are very fortunate to have a lot of space for parking, which means we don't have to rent space and shuttle people in from afar. It makes our job much easier. With help from the Security, Parking Emergency Committee, which includes Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department, Wisconsin State Police, Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Kohler Co., we've identified spaces for general public, government officials, media and corporate partners and have ensured each party can get to and from the event in the most efficient way possible.