Just a few weeks back, the breathtaking CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif., played host to the prestigious PGA Cup - a Ryder Cup-like event for PGA Professionals.
As they say - there's no rest for the weary. This week, CordeValle plays host again. This time they welcome Tiger Woods and other PGA Tour stars for the Frys.com Open.
While the CordeValle staff might be a little weary - and understandably so - they're also extremely excited.
Before the tournament teed off on Thursday morning, we caught up with a new PGA.com favorite, PGA Director of Golf Michael Marion, for a little Q&A.
PGA.com: Thanks for joining us, Michael. Talk about a quick turnaround! Just a few weeks ago, you guys hosted the PGA Cup. This week, you've got the PGA Tour in town for the Frys.com Open. Have you had a chance to catch your breath yet?
Marion: I am so proud of our team at CordeValle! Every department has been planning and preparing for this nine-week stretch for well over a year. And, that is on all levels, operational, physical, and emotional. We do a good job of getting the staff a little rest in-between the events but everyone is pumped up and ready to go. Weekly meetings held throughout the year, combined with all the extra planning, results in a great feeling of confidence as we approach each event.
Right after the Frys.com we host a wonderful collegiate tournament sponsored by UCLA, so everyone is tournament ready! That said, you can bet that by mid-November we will all be looking forward to a break. But, we will also feel an unbelievable level of accomplishment, so morale is really high.
PGA.com: I was out there for the PGA Cup and I must say -- CordeValle is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. What's it like to go to work there each day?
Marion: I've been very fortunate to have worked at some of the most beautiful settings in the Country. When I worked at Medinah in Chicago it was awesome to pull in the gate everyday. When I worked at Elk River in the mountains of North Carolina it was breathtaking. When I worked at Promontory in Park City, the property was amazing and the vistas were beautiful. When I worked at Pronghorn in Bend, Oregon, the golf courses were aesthetically as good as it gets, plus you had the mountains in the background.
But, CordeValle offers something very unique because it is the total package. CordeValle means, "Heart of the Valley," and the course is nestled in a valley of California's Santa Cruz Mountains. There are no homes on the course and you really feel that you are surrounded by nature at its very best.
Robert Trent Jones Jr. calls this course, "One of his Finest Masterpieces," and what we hear from most of our members and guests is an unbelievable atmosphere of tranquility.
In addition, our lodging, F&B, and Spa, are all world-class and complement the total experience so well. But, for me, the most exciting part of my job is that on top of coming to work at such a beautiful facility, I am working with such a talented and passionate team. I just received a note from a guest stating that our staff has, "service engraved in their heats and souls." What a great statement and environment to work in every day!
PGA.com: In terms of Fall Series events, it's probably safe to say there isn't one out there that will garner more attention than the Frys.com Open. After all, Tiger Woods is playing. How exciting is it to have Tiger there this week?
Marion: I don't believe there is any one single element that could mean more to the excitement of this event than Tiger Woods commitment to play. Last year's tournament was outstanding and the word traveled quickly, which is one of the reasons we have such a strong field this year. So, you can bet we are making sure the experience for the players, guest, and especially the spectators produces memories they will have for a lifetime. Having Tiger in the field means our ability to create those memories is even greater.
We wish all the players the best of luck for the event. But, in my dream scenario, Tiger would break the course record on Friday, then break it again on Saturday, then shoot 29 on Sunday's back nine to win by one shot over an old friend, Daniel Summerhays.
PGA.com: In 2010, eventual champion Rocco Mediate was magical with four hole-outs in four days. How the heck did he manage to do that?
Marion: I don't believe that Rocco even knows how he did it! It seems like it was a magical week and almost destiny for Rocco. We are so proud to have Rocco represent CordeValle as a past champion because of how well he interacted with our members and all the guests. But, you saw for yourself that CordeValle seems to have a magical atmosphere and we are all hoping for some of that same magic as we come down the stretch on Sunday.
PGA.com: One of those hole-outs came on the short par-4 17th -- which was the eighth hole for the PGA Cup. Can you talk about the risk/reward element on that hole?
Marion: Number 17 is one of those holes you truly look forward to playing every round. Kind of like No. 16 at Cyrpess -- all the holes are great but you can't help but think of what is coming. The anticipation is much different than a hole such as No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass because this is one of those great short holes in which you can make an eagle or a double with one swing. The green is huge and has a natural back stop which aids players from the tee or with a wedge to get the ball close.
It's 295 yards over water to a well-bunkered green. That's what the players face if they want to go for the green. Last year, Rocco faced cool and wet conditions with a slight breeze in his face so decided to lay up. The other players in the group took dead aim and hit the green off the tee with great looks at eagle. What is amazing is that Rocco was 116 yards from the green and asked for the balls on the green to be marked. I think that somehow he felt something great was about to happen and the roar from the crowds when he spun his ball back into the hole for eagle was reminiscent of Augusta. It was a pivotal hole last year and I see it being the same this year as the players head for the final hole.
PGA.com: Last question for you, Michael. What's the one aspect of this week that you're most looking forward to?
Marion: Giving back to this great game that has been so good to me! We are going to do that by ensuring lasting memories for the players and guests as well as giving back to charity.
In addition, CordeValle is such a special facility which most people have never seen and most don't even know where we are located. It is so hard to play the course or experience all the amenities because you either have to be a member, the guest of a member, or stay in one of only 45 rooms on property. My hope is that people will get a taste of what we offer and call us to inquire about membership or one of our packages to stay in one of our beautiful rooms. I love making new friends!