Tournament tested

CordeValle is facing the unusual task of hosting the PGA Cup and a PGA Tour event in the span of a mere few weeks. Instead of being intimidated, though, the staff is excited about the chance to show off the facility.


Michael Marion, the Director of Golf at CordeValle, has little time to stop and smell the flowers this fall. (Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

By John Kim, Coordinating Producer

SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- To prepare for a big-time golf event often takes years, so how do you prepare for two a mere two weeks apart? And to make it even more complicated, how about two different types of golf events with two different golf organizations? How many courses can pull that off?  We now know of one: CordeValle.

"We've been planning for this stretch for three years," said Michael Marion, the Director of Golf at CordeValle. "We knew what was coming, we prepared our staff, prepared our members, prepared our guests and prepared our golf course so well, now we're just ready for it. At this point, we're excited, not apprehensive at all.  This is an opportunity for us, with all of the planning, to see just how good a job we did."

But with the PGA of America and its leaders and top players arriving (as well as leaders and top players from Great Britain & Ireland) this week as well as the PGA Tour in early October, the staff knows that it will have to have its "A game" twice in a short turnaround. No easy task in any endeavor.

"This (PGA Cup) is a very prestigious event within the PGA of America," Marion affirmed.  Marion, a PGA of America member, observed that the PGA Cup fit very much into the aspirations of CordeValle as a resort. "It's the branding, the respect it gets. It promotes an environment of excellence."

And for those that claim that CordeValle hosted the Open last year so it's got a bit of a head start, they may forget that there's one different player in the field this year that will make this staging exponentially more challenging.

"We had inklings that Tiger Woods could show up here, but it was still a nice surprise," said Marion. "There was a combination of circumstances, along with a lot of hard work by the team, that allowed for this to happen.

"We knew that Tiger had an event the following week at Pebble Beach. We knew that being such a competitive player and not playing in the FedExCup playoffs, he'd be anxious to get out and get his game sharp," he added. "Stanford playing Colorado on Saturday night. All of sudden, these things and the moon and stars all lining up, well, we knew it could happen … and we're grateful it has."

That addition, though significant, does not concern Marion and his confidence in his staff's ability to help run a smooth event.

"In Santa Clara County, from Day 1, we knew that we were permitted for 15,000 ticket sales per day.  If we knew we were going to have 40,000 a day, that'd be different. But no matter what, we have the same maximum," Marion explained. "Now, even with 15,000, we've had to revamp; look at parking, media, even food and beverage. Just there, we had to order more hamburgers, hotdogs, buns, ketchup -- that announcement made us adjust everything connected to the tournament.  But we'll be ready and fully prepared."

CordeValle's attention to detail has shown all week, a fact not lost on any player, official, fan or media guest at the PGA Cup.  But Marion insists we're not seeing a different CordeValle than practically any guest at any time would see upon a visit.

"It is a very beautiful place," Marion noted, "but what I think makes CordeValle so special isn't just the golf course, it's not the excellent dining, it's not just the beautiful rooms, it's not just the location and beautiful climate -- it's the combination of all of those and how they work in harmony with one another. And then there's one other very important element, one that's so very important to what we do here; the people.

"We are managed by Rosewood and their standards and the hiring process have resulted in having a staff that truly cares about our guests and out members," he said. "We have all of those as tremendous assets. So we're prepared for guests anytime just as we've been prepared for the PGA Cup and the PGA Tour."

And what does CordeValle get for this extraordinary effort?

"It is about exposure. A lot of people don't know about us," Marion stated. "We want people to know the quality of this golf course. We want them to know that the major golf organizations love this golf course.  The players all rave about the quality of this course, the quality of this venue. 

"We host many championships and we're very proud of that.  But, just as important, we want our guests to leave with that same feeling. And we are confident they will. We have five tee complexes and a great design by Mr. Robert Trent Jones Jr., we can be a favorite of any level of golfer. If that's the takeaway from these busy weeks, that'd be just great."