By Mike Dougherty
HARRISON – There is no time left to procrastinate.
A number of the folks orchestrating next year’s inaugural KPMG Women’s PGA Championship have already begun to make up for lost time.
The corner office suite at Westchester Country Club is open for business.
Bob Jeffrey has spent a portion of the summer on site, and the PGA of America’s championship director for this event is week away from several key announcements that will introduce the LPGA’s newest major to the Lower Hudson Valley.
“Westchester has been great,” the New Jersey native said Wednesday. “They’ve made us feel right at home. And the members have experience with tournament golf … they have a blueprint from the past.”
The club was a PGA Tour venue for 40 years before that relationship ended.
Preparations for a tournament of this magnitude would begin 18-24 months prior, but the partners in this unprecedented venture unveiled the plan just three months ago. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be contested June 8-15 on the West Course.
The club has 45 volunteers in place to chair the multitude of committees.
“And those were filled in near-record time,” said Jeffrey, who’s in the past served as tournament director for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill and Baltusrol.
Plans for off-site parking are in the process of being finalized. Corporate hospitality suites go on sale next week. A firm to handle public relations and marketing will soon be in place. Tickets are likely to go on sale in October.
A total of 2,000 volunteers will be needed the week of the championship, and solicitations will go out to the general public in the coming weeks.
“Westchester County is going to be our main focus,” Jeffrey said of his team’s upcoming efforts.
Kerry Haigh was on site Wednesday, as well.
The PGA of America’s Chief Championships Officer was here in April to scout the location, and is now in the process of establishing a concrete game plan. He started the day going around the course with Tommy Roy, the lead producer for NBC/Golf Channel, plotting camera positions and tower locations.
Next came a good look at the area inside the ropes.
“By the end of the visit, we’ll have a pretty good idea what tees we are going to use and what par will be,” said Haigh, who earlier in his career was an LPGA tournament official.
The front nine and back nine will be reversed for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
“It’s the first time we, as the PGA of America, are conducting a major championship here,” said Haigh, who also has to worry about things like hospitality tents, portable toilets and caddie parking. “So we’re going to look at everything with fresh eyes.”
He is also getting input from LPGA officials who have recently paid visits.
Dave Dudones also participated in Wednesday’s site visit. The club’s first-year director of golf and grounds knows the drill. He was an assistant at Westchester under Joe Alonzi before moving up the career ladder. The workload for his staffers really won’t increase until six weeks before the championship.
Neither will the level of anxiety.
“We always stress (about conditions) for the members,” Dudones said. “We want the best for them and this is another showcase for the club and the membership. Traditionally, the month of June has been a fantastic time (in terms of conditions), but you do have the threat of a wet golf tournament. We want to give them the best product we can.”
There is no word yet on where the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is heading for 2016 or 2017, but sites in Chicago and Boston are being considered, according to Jeffery.
(Photo: L to R Dudones, Jeffrey and Haigh at Westchester CC)