It's no secret that Boston is a pro sports town, and a championship one at that. Fans are enamored with their beloved Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics. One in a blue moon, however, those teams will have rough years, and in turn, there won't be any playoff action for them.
Of course, that's not a problem with the Deutsche Bank Championship, Boston's lone PGA event.
"I always like to [say], 'If the other four core sports teams don't make it to the playoffs, the playoffs still always come to New England every year,'" said Eric Baldwin, Championship Director of The Deutsche Bank Championship, which takes place this Labor Day weekend at TPC Boston.
The Deutsche Bank Championship was founded in 2003 and is held annually at TPC in Norton, MA. The tournament features the top 100 golfers from the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup. Among the stars appearing in this year's championship are Tiger Woods, the No. 1 golfer in the world Rory McIlroy, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson, Vermont's Keegan Bradley and defending champion Webb Simpson.
Day one begins early Friday morning, with the first tee time set for 7:40 a.m. ET. Woods, Webb and Watney will tee off at 8:40 a.m., Mickelson tees off at 12:46 p.m., Bradley tees off at 12:58 p.m. and McIlroy tees off at 1:10 p.m. The purse is $8 million, with $1,440,000 going to the tourney winner.
The championship is one of the most unique in golf, and that's just how Seth Waugh wanted it.
"[Waugh, the Chief Executive Officer of Deutche Bank Americas] wanted to not just create another tournament, he wanted to create something very special," said Baldwin. "It's always been important for him to do things unique, raise the bar, differentiate ourselves. We partnered up with the Tiger Woods foundation. We put the event on a Labor Day holiday with a Monday finish."
Baldwin has been with the championship since its first day and works with a five-member staff all year long to make the championship happen. And yes, it takes a lot of time to make it happen.
"It's definitely a year-round process," said Baldwin. "You kind of break it down into sections, but it certainly can be more than a year if you wanted it. If you look at any of the larger USGA events, like The US Open, those guys are on site a couple years in advance to organize the volunteers and get ready and lay out the land. But for an annual event, we have the same golf course and same logistics for the most part. But we are doing sales and marketing right through the event [and] soon after to make sure we get enough sponsorship sales to drive the charitable dollars to drive the train, so to speak, and then we have to start thinking about our ticketing and marketing plans with the championship. ... Depending on the season, our focuses will shift from sales to marketing to activation to volunteer recruitment, those types of things. It's definitely a year-round process."
As you might expect, Baldwin has been working non-stop this week leading up to the Friday start.
"It's as close as you can get to 24/7 as possible. [It's] just really busy," said Baldwin. "We have a lot of partners that we work with. We have a lot of work that we do with our title sponsor, Deutsche Bank, [and] EMC, so making sure that we are set with the calendar events and programming that we're doing throughout the week and making sure that the championship is running smoothly. For the most part I have oversight as it relates to the championship, so I'm always keeping my eyes on volunteers and operations and the sales efforts and marketing and client relationships."
The championship was launched as an official PGA event in 2003 and became part of the Fedex Cup playoff format upon its inception back in 2007 under Baldwin's dedication and guidance.
"That's galvanized our presence here in New England," Baldwin said. "Being a part of the playoffs has been a huge lift for this event for its prestige and the overall acceptance and fans."
Ten years in, the championship itself has seen plenty of changes, but the approach has not.
"Our approach to the tournament as a staff has always been the same. We want to create a world class event for everyone involved, for the players and sponsors and spectators. So our mission hasn't changed but the aspects of the championship that have changed that made it better is, number one, when they've changed the golf course over the years. In 2007, Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon came in and redesigned this golf course. They brought New England to it and brought a lot of character to it and changed up a few holes. The players have received that very well.
"The early years we always had a lot of comments about the golf course, and now that has totally changed, and they love it. They've really created a design that these players like to play."
Golf may not stand on the same stage that baseball or football do in Boston, but make no mistake, the sport has a rich tradition in the city, one that Baldwin and company have fully embraced.
"Golf has a very rich history in Massachusetts and in the New England area," he said. "Some of the founding clubs were headquarted here in Rhode Island and Mass. The Massachusetts Golf Association is over 100 years old the Women's Golf Association is over 100 years old. You could argue that the birth of American golf was spurned by Francis Ouimet [a Brookline native], who was a caddie at the country club, won the 1913 U.S. Open. ... So the fans recognize this. If you look in years past when the Ryder Cup came and the U.S. Senior Open came in 1999 and 2001, respectively, the fans in New England came out in droves. The players, the energy that they get from the New England fan base is something unlike they get on the PGA in most tournaments."
Gethin Coolbaugh is the Editor of SB Nation Boston. Follow him @GethinCoolbaugh on Twitter.