Previewing the 2023 Travelers Championship - We’re Taking It to the Next Level
May 17, 2023 | Webinar
With a larger purse and commitments from several of the world’s top golfers, this year’s Travelers Championship is one of the PGA TOUR’s designated events that will undoubtedly make Connecticut golf history. Held at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut from June 19-25, the Travelers Championship will be the only PGA TOUR event in New England this year. Nathan Grube, Tournament Director of the Travelers Championship®, and Andy Bessette, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Travelers, gave the Travelers Institute an exclusive preview of what – and who – patrons can expect to see during this epic week of golf.
Presented by the Travelers Institute, the Master's in Financial Technology (FinTech) Program at the University of Connecticut School of Business, the Connecticut Business & Industry Association and the MetroHartford Alliance.
What did we learn? Here are the top takeaways from Previewing the 2023 Travelers Championship – We’re Taking It to the Next Level.
Top golfers will be competing. The roster for the 2023 Travelers Championship has already sparked plenty of excitement. “This is going to be the fifth major,” Bessette shared.
With a new elevated status comes a $20 million purse, and competition will feature the biggest names in golf, including:
- Jon Rahm: the current Masters champion
- Scottie Scheffler: the reigning PGA TOUR Player of the Year
- Rory McIlroy: 23-time winner on the PGA TOUR
- Patrick Cantlay: who made PGA TOUR history at the Travelers Championship in 2011 when he shot a second-round 60, the lowest single-round score by an amateur
- Xander Schauffele: the defending champion of the Travelers Championship
The Travelers Promise is still the focus. “One hundred percent of the net proceeds go to charity,” Grube said of the tournament. Over 100 organizations benefit from the money raised each year, and with the new designated status, there is a chance for even greater impact. Grube told us that the goal is to raise a record $3 million for charity during this week of golf. Bessette added, “Our purse is going from $8.6 million to $20 million. We’ve been working like crazy since last year’s tournament trying to make sure that we can get to that $3 million. If our purse is going up, we’ve got to get our charity up.”
Fans can expect an unrivaled experience. “People might not even recognize the place,” Grube shared. “We have adjusted the footprint, the layout, everything to respond to what people wanted to have on property and to give them more to do during the day.” The event will include four hospitality areas, a huge Fan Zone and celebrity mini golf. The family-friendly focus will create a positive atmosphere for everyone, with activities like a rock wall, games and face painting in the Fan Zone. “I don’t think there’s another sporting venue in this country that for a general admission ticket you get to have all of these things to enjoy,” he said. “Oh, and by the way, you get to see the top players in the world compete on the grandest stage.”
Women’s Day will also feature big names. This year’s Women’s Day at the Travelers Championship will include Katie Couric as keynote speaker, along with Amanda Renner interviewing athletes from the University of Connecticut. “I always say that it’s inspirational, it’s aspirational, and it’s conversational,” Bessette said. “And if you look at three things that you achieve with Women’s Day, that’s what I always hope to do.” Grube added that Women’s Day is the fastest-selling ticket of the tournament because of its high demand and community-based efforts.
Golf offers a one-of-a-kind experience. “Golf is unlike any other sport. You have a mile of front row seats. It is one of the most up close and personal professional sports that you get to experience,” Grube said. Fans can expect to follow top golfers closely as they compete over several hours throughout each day of the tournament, catching exciting moments of the game along the way. He mentioned that because there are so many top players competing, every group of players golfing throughout each day is expected to be exciting and dynamic.
Amateur golfers should focus on the fun. Grube, who golfed professionally for three years, offered his top piece of advice to aspiring golfers on the course, noting that people put a lot of pressure on themselves to achieve a certain result: “Golf is supposed to be fun! Just swing hard, go find it and have fun.”
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JOAN WOODWARD: Hi, there. Good afternoon. And thank you for joining us. I'm Joan Woodward, President of the Travelers Institute. And I'm really thrilled to welcome you to our program today. We're so glad you're here.
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Before we get started, I'd like to share the disclaimer about today's program.
Text, Wednesdays with Woodward (registered trademark) Webinar Series. Previewing the 2023 Travelers Championship. We're Taking it to the Next Level. Logos. C.B.I.A.. M.H.A., MetroHartford Alliance. UCONN School of Business, M.S. In Financial Technology. Travelers Institute (registered trademark). Travelers. Travelers Championship.
I'd also like to recognize our terrific partners for today-- the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the Master’s in FinTech Program at the University of Connecticut School of Business, the MetroHartford Alliance, and, of course, the Travelers Championship.
I'm thrilled to be here today to discuss an event that I and many others look forward to each year, the Travelers Championship golf tournament, the largest professional sporting event in the state of Connecticut. This June, once again, many of the world's top golfers will descend on Connecticut for a thrilling week of golf and entertainment. And it all happens at the TPC River Highlands, an award-winning golf course in Cromwell, Connecticut.
This year, we're blowing the doors off, folks, with a larger purse and commitments from many of the world's top golfers. This year's Travelers Championship is one of the PGA TOUR's designated events that will undoubtedly make Connecticut golf history. It is the only PGA TOUR event in New England this year. I promise, it's going to be epic. And I will be there. Can you tell how excited I am? I want to share a quick video for you to see. Let's roll the video.
A video plays. Houses and a pond on a green lawn. Text, New England's Only P.G.A. Tour Event.
A crowd stands on a hill, watching men playing golf. People in the crowd cheer and smile. Text, Designated Status.
- Xander Schauffele wins the Travelers Championship.
A man smiles as he holds a silver trophy. Text, The Best Golfers in the World. Two men ride on a golf cart. Men walk across the grass of the golf course. A man waves to the crowd. Text, An Electric Environment.
A golfer hits a ball over a hill from the sand. The ball sinks into a hole. The golfer throws his club. Other golfers hit balls over a pond. A golfer cheers. Text, Experience the Next Level.
A large crowd cheers. Text, Travelers Championship. June 22-25.
Joan Woodward reappears on the video call. Slide, Speakers. Pictures of Joan and two men. Text, Joan Woodward. Executive Vice President, Public Policy; President, Travelers Institute. Travelers. Andy Bessette. Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Travelers. Nathan Grube. Executive Director, Greater Hartford Community Foundation, Inc., Tournament Director, Travelers Championship.
JOAN WOODWARD: Wow, folks. So joining me today to talk about this year's sure to be history-making tournament are two individuals who are instrumental in making the Travelers Championship possible each year. First, my friend and colleague, Travelers Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Andy Bessette, and the Travelers Championship Tournament Director Nathan Grube.
Nathan is the Executive Director of the Greater Hartford Community Foundation and the Tournament Director for the Travelers Championship. During his tenure, the Travelers Championship has generated more than $22 1/2 million for charity and has been recognized by the PGA TOUR for several awards, including the Players Choice Award, the Tournament of the Year Award, and the Best Charity Integration Award.
Nathan is a class A member of the PGA of America and is an active member of the Connecticut section of the PGA. He played professional golf from 1996 to 2001, participating in various tours throughout the Southeast. Welcome, Nathan. It's great to see you again.
Nathan and Andy join the video call.
NATHAN GRUBE: Thank you.
JOAN WOODWARD: Next, we have Andy Bessette, who is the Chief-- Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Travelers. Andy wears many hats here and has responsibility for Corporate Real Estate, Administrative Services, Community Relations, Internal Investigations, among others. Notably, he has also responsibility for the Travelers sports sponsorship, including our marketing partnerships with the PGA TOUR and the title sponsorship, of course, of the Travelers Championship.
Andy is a very active member of the community serving on the board of the Greater Hartford Community Foundation, a trustee of the University of Connecticut, as vice chairman of the Capital Region Development Authority, just to name a few. He's widely recognized for his community support and has been named the Hartford Business Journal’s Power 50 Award. Finally, Andy was a member of the 1980 United States Olympic team and continues to support Olympic Committee activities.
Thank you, both, for joining us. We're absolutely thrilled you're here with us today. So before we get started--
ANDY BESSETTE: Thanks, Joan.
JOAN WOODWARD: --I wanted to remind you and the audience that we want to hear from you as always. Please drop your questions for Andy and Nathan in the Q&A feature at the bottom of the screen. We're going to get to as many as we possibly can today.
So, I'm so excited. As you all know, I became-- most of you know, I became a recent golfer. And I'm mostly addicted at this point. So, Andy, I want to start with you. Before we get into this year's designated special status, let's back it up just for a minute and talk about the history of Travelers with this event.
ANDY BESSETTE: Sure. Hi, Joan. Thank you. And as we talk here, if Nathan and I banter, it's not because we're mad at each other. When you spend 24 hours a day with someone for the last 17 years, 18 years, we kind of like-- that's how we act. And so just forgive us if we banter a little bit. But we've been at this back-- that's the beginning to your answer, Joan.
So back in 2005, I actually started negotiating this relationship with the PGA TOUR. And I met Nathan. And we did a whole lot of preparation by 2006. We were named the title sponsor of this event. And in 2007 was our first tournament.
And so we've worked really hard over the last 16 years. This will be our 17th year with a big group of people, with 50 people in total between Nathan's teams and ours at Travelers. And we've always done this.
Why this is so important to Travelers is it's really the ethos of who we are at Travelers. It's all about community. It's all about charity. And it's great for our brand. And you had mentioned a few minutes ago, we've given in the mid-20s, 20 millions to charity. I think with last year's number of 2 1/2, we got up to 25, over 900 charities.
I mean, the effect we've had on so many-- 900 organizations over the last 16 years is so, so important to the community. And they cover all kinds of organizations. They're not golf related. They're just terrific organizations that do all kinds of things-- from mental health to you name it.
And we're so proud of that at Travelers because that's who we are Travelers. At Travelers, we give over $22 million a year to really great organizations. And so it's who we are. The tournament is who we are. That's who we are at Travelers. It's great for the community. And for the last 16 years and now 17, we've always worked towards getting the status that you mentioned a minute ago. And now, we're here.
JOAN WOODWARD: That's amazing. So I want to talk about this year. So in the last year and a half or so, we've seen a dramatic shift in the golf events around the world. And so the PGA decided to create something called designated status recently. So first of all, Andy, what does that mean, designated status? And how is it the Travelers Championship was able to get this very, very special and rare designation?
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah, it's actually pretty straightforward. I mean, most PGA TOUR events have purses for the players to win in the $8 to $10 million range or maybe $11 million. These designated events have purses for the players to win at $20 million. So the winner gets $3.6 million.
So that's one. Number two, the best players in the world always want to play against each other, which is, you would think the best athletes want to play against the best athletes. And we've worked really hard to make sure we've had those fields. But now, this year, we're guaranteed to have 19 of the top 22. And it goes on and on from there.
And I bet by the time we're done here, we will have-- we will have north of 35 out of the top 45 in the world. And so it's the best players in the world playing against the best players in the world. It's all about the purse. And it’s just a-- it creates so much excitement around the entire tournament that we're able to give more to charity too.
So last year's 2 1/2 million, and Nathan and I are working very hard to get that close to 3 million this year and grow it from there. And so that's it. That's kind of what designated is. But the best thing is knowing that we're going to have the best players in the world with us for the entire week. And we're the only PGA TOUR event in the Northeast of the United States this year, which should be even more exciting for a lot of folks to come out and enjoy it.
NATHAN GRUBE: Joan, I've got to add something to that on the designated status. Andy and I were in Atlanta last summer. And we typically go to the season-ending event, the TOUR Championship, to see the top guys. Building relationships is, obviously, vital to what we do.
And we were standing in the back of the media center. And Commissioner Monahan gets up. And at a press conference, he says-- this was in August. He says, next season, we're going to designate four events to be our top events on TOUR-- four more. We're going to give them a $20 million purse. We're going to do this.
And Andy looked at me. And he said, we're going to be one of those events. Let's figure it out. And I mean, of course, I'm like, yes. I have no idea what we're doing. But let's go do it. How do we figure it out? And so he goes over. As commissioner was leaving the tent, he goes over and starts that conversation right then going, you said there's going to be four. What do we need to do to be one of those four?
And we were going against huge markets. I mean, markets three, four, five times our size to be one of these top-tier events that's going to get top international attention media wise, top player support. And it started then going, OK, how do we-- how do we become one of those. And so.
ANDY BESSETTE: It's funny, because in-- Joan, you just tell us when to stop talking because this is what we do. But--
JOAN WOODWARD: Oh, I will.
ANDY BESSETTE: --it's really--
You put the timeout card. I met Jay Monahan back in 2005, believe it or not, when he was working for Fenway Partners up in Boston. And a friend of mine said, Andy, you have to meet this guy. He's really good. He runs this tournament up in Boston.
And so Jay went to Trinity College here in Connecticut. And he came to Connecticut with two other people. And he said, Andy, do this. Do this. Do this. Do this. Do this. Don't do this. Don't do this. He gave me the playbook. And he had nothing to do with PGA TOUR-- well, he kind of.
So he's been my coach. I've talked to him twice today already. He's one of my best friends. And that has nothing to do on the PGA TOUR because you got to earn your stripes every day. And we never accept the status quo. We're always trying to get better improvement. There's nothing to do other than improve all the time.
But having the relationships that we have with the PGA TOUR and the ability to walk up to the commissioner and say, we want that. Just tell us how to do it, and we'll do it. And then I came back. And Alan Schnitzer, our Chairman and CEO and I talked, and he agreed.
So it's that kind of thing. It's relationships with people that help get you to where we need to be, what you're going to see this summer here at the Travelers Championship.
JOAN WOODWARD: Well, first of all, Andy, you are a true gem at our company. So I want to go to Nathan about the prep because it must be different being designated event. We have more sponsors. Like, how do you change what your playbook has been, Nathan, for preparing behind the scenes with your staff and, of course, all the sponsors? Do we have more this year? Is it a different tier of sponsorship that has come out? Tell us about that.
NATHAN GRUBE: Sure. Well, actually, to answer this question, I have to go back to '19 because 2019 was the last time we had a full event. Obviously, 2020, we had it with no fans. 2021 was very limited. Even '22, people thought I would say on the outside, oh, hey, you guys are back. We were not back. There were so much still that we were working through.
I mean, you had to make decisions on your build six months before the tournament. And six months before last summer, it's not like things were totally, completely normal. So even the '22 tournament wasn't back to normal. So '23 was going to be the biggest event we had had since '19, anyway.
And now, you say that we're a designated event. It has just-- I mean, people might not even recognize the place, to be honest, I mean, the merchandise tent, the viewing decks over the practice facility, the new fan areas that we're building around the greens. I mean, for those of the people who have been to the tournament before or who've watched it on TV, we're known for the 18th hole, all the crowds and everything.
Well, now, the crowds are going to be there. And there is going to be hospitality almost wrapping the entire 18th hole. So you look at-- I mean, what people are going to see, it's going to be significant.
And then to your question on sponsors, the community has been-- it's like, they've been waiting to get back together again. I mean, our corporate stuff sold out quicker than it ever had. The Pro-Am experience, I mean, ticket sales are pacing well ahead of last year. And the geography is pacing wider. I mean, it's not just, hey, 50 miles. It's 75, 85, 95.
I mean, I told Andy this the other day. I had-- for those of you who are from New England, we'll get a kick out of this joke that I actually had a company call me from Fairfield County and say, hey, we're going to come up, and we're going to entertain at your tournament. And I jokingly said, do you even know how to turn right out of New York City? Like, what do you mean you're going to come up? But I mean, that is the draw and pull of the tournament this year. We're pulling from Boston and pulling from New York.
So it has been-- it was going to be bigger, anyway, Joan. But to have this designation and with the field and the top guys coming and the corporate support, it's going to be--
ANDY BESSETTE: And I take--
NATHAN GRUBE: --awesome.
ANDY BESSETTE: And Nathan's job has grown multiples, I think, this year. Nathan's staff, he has a small staff. What do you have? 12 people?
NATHAN GRUBE: Yeah, 12.
ANDY BESSETTE: And they are world class. So we have to start with that. We have a world-class tournament director, world-class staff. And that leads us to where we are today. We listen to the players all the time.
Last October, I was with Rory and Tiger. And we were talking about things we could do to be better as elevated. So then I came back to Nathan. He tried to run away from me. And I said, Nathan, here's some things--
NATHAN GRUBE: Whenever he comes back from these meetings, there's a notebook. And I'm like, oh, man, oh, man.
JOAN WOODWARD: Here's your assignment, right?
ANDY BESSETTE: Here's what we have to do. Rory said we need to have a coffee bar on the practice facility because the players like to go out practice a couple of hours, have maybe a cup of coffee, and then go out and play for it and practice for another couple of hours. So guess what? Rory said to me, Andy, the best tournaments in the year-- throughout the year have coffee bars.
So I came back. Guess what? Nathan and his team and our team have put together a coffee bar down on the practice facility for the players. So I told Rory when I saw him at Wells a couple of weeks ago. I said, hey, we got a coffee bar. He goes, oh, phenomenal, I can't wait to go see it. And I said, and we're going to have ice cream. So it's coffee and ice cream. And I said, you can't be-- and he was so excited. So we listen to the players. And so our list grew even more, right, Nathan, this year?
NATHAN GRUBE: Yeah.
ANDY BESSETTE: Because we listened to the players. Do this. Do this. Make it better like this. We even have a nutritionist with the PGA TOUR, Ryan. I can't think of Ryan's last name. She's terrific. And we're going to have what they call a very healthy menu in the clubhouse for the players this year.
So we're forever listening to players. We're listening to caddies, wives. Anybody that will tell us anything, we'll take away. Do we do it all? No, but we take it all into account. And it's worked very well for us.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, so I've learned two things. One, I've learned it's all about the food, coffee and the ice cream and nutritional food in the clubhouse. But let's talk about who's going to be eating that food and drinking that coffee on the practice facility. So I want to get into who's coming this year. You've announced a number of top, top players in the world who are coming.
Slide, Top 5 Players in the World Ranking. A picture of a crowd cheering on the sidelines of a golf course.
Let's go through them quickly.
And I think we have a couple of slides just to remind the audience of who's coming and why they're coming and our history. So let's start off with Jon Rahm, of course, No. 1 in the world, Andy.
A picture of a man throwing his head back and clasping his hands together. Text, 1, John Rahm. O.W.G.R. 1.
I think we granted him a couple of exceptions when he was young in his career. What does that mean?
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah, yeah. I mean, and that's why we do it, Joan. We give exemptions to these young players, knowing that they're going to be great when they grow up, so to speak. And like this year, we're-- oops, I probably shouldn't say it. Well, we gave an exemption to Michael Thorbjornsen, who's from Massachusetts. He finished fourth in our tournament last year. Are you kidding? And he's only a sophomore, junior.
NATHAN GRUBE: Junior this year, yeah.
ANDY BESSETTE: Junior at Stanford. So this young man is terrific. And Viktor-- I'm sorry-- Ludvig Aberg, another phenomenal amateur player. Anyways, we might be giving him an exemption as well. But anyways. So Jon Rahm got a couple of them from us in the past. And I saw Jon. Our agency kept saying, hey, he's not going to play us this year. Not going to play us.
And I saw him behind the clubhouse at Genesis at Riviera. And Jon goes, Andy, Andy. Oh, hi, Jon. I'm playing your tournament this year. Oh. And here I am thinking he's not playing us. I thought he-- I thought he'd avoid me and walk the other side of the town. But he didn't. So he was-- and then we went over, gave each other a hug, and now he’s coming.
But that's how these things work. It's relationships, right, Nathan, that we've built up over the last 16, 17 years. You can't replace that. That's so important to what we do. And to have Jon come as No. 1 in the world is super special.
NATHAN GRUBE: I was going to say, Joan, as you go through these top 5-- I think we're going to look at the top 5 players. Andy and I were talking about it a second ago. And it was the stories with each of these players. It's at a personal level.
I mean, these guys can play anywhere. I mean, they can play anywhere every week. They don't have to come to your event. And so, I mean, Andy being able to make time to come out on tour to build relationships with these guys-- but as you go through the top 5, each player has a story totally separate than their incredible golfing career.
I mean, what Jon's done in the last-- my gosh, this year, I mean, winning the Masters-- and how many times he's won? I think he is-- I mean, just took No. 1 by storm. And
A picture of a man walking. Text, Scheffler. Scottie Scheffler.
then No. 2, I think that we are going to go the next one with Scheffler at No. 2. I mean, Andy gives-- I don't want to say you give them marital counseling advice. But--
ANDY BESSETTE: No.
NATHAN GRUBE: --I mean, he talks like--
JOAN WOODWARD: Oh, God.
NATHAN GRUBE: You have stories. He has stories about when they first got married, Scottie's wife asking Andy questions about-- I mean, you know these guys. And so--
ANDY BESSETTE: I mean, she didn't ask for advice. I happened to be walking off the green last year with Scottie, and Meredith is his wife. And she's so nice. And I said, hey, how long you guys been married? She said a year and a half. I said, oh, that's so cool. That's very special. And she said, how long have you been married? I said, huh, 43 years. She said, wow, how do you do that? What's the secret?
And so I said to her, you learn two things quickly. You have to-- it has to be a compromise. Both parties have to give. There's give and take, and things will work well. And then the second thing is, Scottie just has to know that you're always right.
JOAN WOODWARD: Good. Perfect.
ANDY BESSETTE: She just cracked up laughing. And so it's-- but it's not-- I mean, that's how you build relationships with these people. They're human beings. They're young. They're, for the most part, very young people in their careers, in their lives.
And we have our onesie program. And I hate to call it a program because it is the one thing that I love that I do all the time. If a player and his wife have a child, I send a note. And I never forget the one to Sergio Garcia. And I sent-- and Azalea was his little girl.
And I always write, dear, Azalea, welcome to the world. Mom and dad-- your mom and dad are great people. And you're going to grow up and be a terrific young lady. And just do me one favor, ask your mom and dad to bring you to the Travelers Championship so you and I can give each other a hug.
And it's worth it. So I love writing the letters. And the letters, I get back from these people. And so that's how we build relationships. People say, what's the magic sauce? It's a whole bunch of stuff. But--
NATHAN GRUBE: Be nice.
ANDY BESSETTE: But it's treating people like people. It's my No. 1 rule-- treat people the way you want to be treated. And you'll never go wrong.
JOAN WOODWARD: All right, besides marriage advice and baby congratulations--
--I'd like to talk a little golf today. So Scottie Scheffler, he is the PGA TOUR Player of the Year. Nathan, what does that mean for Scottie Scheffler? Does that get-- does he get voted on by his peers? Does the TOUR designate him? But what does that mean for him being the Player of the Year?
NATHAN GRUBE: Yeah, I mean, basically, the vote goes out to the membership. And they vote on who is the Player of the Year. And I mean, these are competitors voting on their peers and competitors. So when you get a peer award on the PGA TOUR, it’s-- that's one you really like to win.
But I mean, Joan, you say it. I mean, we're joking, obviously, about the stories of these guys. But I mean, as you go through 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in the world, what happens is our sponsors are inviting 50, 100 people a day to the Travelers Championship. They want those people to want to be with them.
The stronger our field is, the more valuable that asset is to those corporate partners. And so they-- I mean, they want people picking up the phone saying, hey, can I come spend a day in your skybox? Can you invite me? And so the stronger the field is, the more that happens. And it's a direct correlation.
I mean, we couldn't have the corporate support that we have. We couldn't have the charity dollars that we have without the top players in the world coming here. So there is definitely a relationship there. We're joking. But without the top players in the world coming here, it doesn't work.
And so that is how that translates into Scottie being voted on by his peers as the Player of the Year. Well, guess what? The Player of the Year is going to be here. Jon Rahm, No. 1 player in the world, he is the current Masters champion. Guess what? He will be here.
And golf is unlike any other sport. You have a mile of front row seats. I mean, you get to watch these guys close. It's not like there's hey, just a few seats. I mean, you can watch them for 4 1/2, 5 hours, follow them around. It is one of the most up-close-and-personal professional sports that you get to-- that you get to experience. And when you have the top guys there, it makes it all work.
JOAN WOODWARD: All right, let's go to No. 3. So
A picture of a man holding a golf club. Text, McIlroy. Rory McIlroy.
Rory McIlroy, fan favorite. Oh, my gosh, fan favorite. We're watching him at the Masters this year. Twenty-three-time winner of the PGA TOUR. I am sure you have a backstory with him as well. But give us a minute on Rory.
NATHAN GRUBE: I got to-- I got to get this story. So, Joan, Rory had never played us before. And he just-- it was always very nice when we go out and see him. I want to say it was 2014. It was two years prior.
ANDY BESSETTE: Probably, yeah.
NATHAN GRUBE: So it was in the '14 range, we see him at the Players Championship. And we're talking. And Rory is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet on or off the golf course. Just a great human being.
He and Andy are talking. And as you mentioned in your intro, Andy, obviously, is an Olympian from 1980. Rory was trying to figure out if he was going to play in the Olympics golf because golf was coming back to the Olympics. And he was wrestling, not only am I going to play, who am I going to play for?
Rory's from Northern Ireland. There was a whole debate he was having in his head. And he and Andy probably had a 20-minute conversation about the Olympics, what it means, all kinds of stuff.
And then at the end of the conversation, he goes, you know what? I can't play you this year. I can't play you next year. But how about in three years, I come and play the Travelers Championship? And it's like, that's how that happens.
And so, I mean, yeah. I mean, there's a backstory in every one of these guys. But you have a guy like Rory who comes. And then after he came here, Joan, he said, this is one of the greatest golf courses that I have played. And I love it. And here's the reasons why. And he'll give you the top 7 reasons why he likes the golf course, he likes our fans. But the backstory to get to that point was all of that. So each of these guys has one of those.
ANDY BESSETTE: And he and Erica had a little baby girl, Poppy. And I sent them a little stool. We send these out-- personally, I do. And it's a puzzle. It says, P-O-P-P-Y. And then when there's just little kids, every little kid needs a stool to get up to the sink. And they can tip it over. And they put the pieces in. To this day, Erica still tells it. Her father still tells my family, that's the best gift we ever got was from Andy, the little Poppy stool.
So yeah, I know we go in and out here from talking about why they're great golfers. But there's also a side story to what we do and how we do it to be nice to these people. And they appreciate it.
JOAN WOODWARD: Oh, I absolutely agree, Andy. I think the personal touch makes a huge difference to anybody, making them feel special. All right, now on to a No. 4, Patrick Cantlay.
A picture of a man walking and waving. Text, Cantlay. Patrick Cantlay.
Understand he made PGA TOUR history at Travelers. Tell us about that.
ANDY BESSETTE: 2011.
NATHAN GRUBE: Yeah, it was awesome. He sets the record as an amateur. We call him up as a freshman at UCLA. We offer him an exemption. He comes out. People had no idea who he was. He's a West Coast kid. Once out, they're like, who'd you give an exemption to? Kid shoots 60 on Friday or Saturday. There was--
ANDY BESSETTE: Friday night.
NATHAN GRUBE: Friday night. But what's cool about that is his mom calls on Friday night going, I'm in California. I had no idea how I was going to go. Can you get me to-- like, I don't even know how to get there. We fly her to Boston. We send a car service to Boston, drive her down.
She gets in at like 3:00 in the morning to see him play the next day. And then we just saw them a couple of months ago. And they were telling-- they were saying how appreciative they were of the fact that we helped get her here. And so yeah, Patrick-- oh, yeah, and he's one of the top players in the world besides that.
JOAN WOODWARD: Awesome. OK, let's go on to our defending champion from last year, Xander Schauffele.
A picture of a man walking and holding a golf club. Text, Schauffele -- Xander Schauffele.
And give us the story on him. And obviously, it was fun--
NATHAN GRUBE: This one's you. I mean, this is-- actually, let me tee you-- this up.
ANDY BESSETTE: OK, good. OK, you tee it up.
NATHAN GRUBE: So Xander--
ANDY BESSETTE: This is how we yuck. It. This is how.
NATHAN GRUBE: No, this is--
ANDY BESSETTE: Back and forth stuff. So that's OK.
NATHAN GRUBE: --color.
ANDY BESSETTE: Good.
NATHAN GRUBE: So Xander, always very kind to us, very nice. Whenever we'd see him on tour, just nod his head and say, thank you. Incredibly polite, but didn't really play us that much. Just didn't work out in his schedule. It didn't make sense for-- it didn't make sense for him until Andy sees him on the range after-- no, he was-- no, after he won his gold medal.
ANDY BESSETTE: No, no, no.
NATHAN GRUBE: He won his gold medal.
ANDY BESSETTE: He won his gold medal.
NATHAN GRUBE: And when golf came back to the Olympics, Xander won the gold medal. And then Andy walks up to him.
ANDY BESSETTE: I walked up to him and said-- and this is-- we've been trying to get him to Travelers, like Nathan said. And he hasn't come. I said, hey, brother, how's it going? And he looks at me. He turns around and looks at me. And it was the weirdest look. It was like, what the-- why you calling me brother?
And I said, you're probably wondering why I called you brother. I said, just to be clear that you understand the Olympic code. When Olympians see each other, we call each other brother and sister. I said, that's just the way the code goes. And he looked at me. And he said, so tell me what were your Olympics and all this stuff. So we had this Olympic conversation. He's played us, Nathan, almost--
NATHAN GRUBE: Every year since.
ANDY BESSETTE: --every year since. And he said, oh, man, that's-- so, again, here we go, again. You use every asset you have in your tank to try to get your field. But Xander has been a tremendous friend and a big supporter. And he was so great to see him win last year. And that was a brutal 18th fairway for Sahith.
NATHAN GRUBE: Sahith, yeah.
ANDY BESSETTE: Sahith, when he couldn't get out of the bunker. But, hey, listen, that's the way the game goes. And it's a tough game.
NATHAN GRUBE: Yeah.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, I want to shift a little bit. So that's the top 5 in the world. Obviously, we're going to wait on the edge of our chairs to understand who else is coming because I know you put out press releases over the next six weeks or so. So we'll watch for that.
OK, so let's talk about the fan experience. Because as you say, Nathan, this will be your first post-COVID, full-fledged, and we're on steroids. They're not just a full-fledged normal Travelers Championship. We're on steroids now. What is the fan experience going to be like? Tell us about ticket sales. And are you making it different for the fans, better? You mentioned having hospitality around the eighth green there. Talk about that for a minute.
NATHAN GRUBE: So we-- and I say we-- I mean, strategically-- to Andy's point, there are so many people that work on this event. I mean, I have a team of 12. Andy has a team of like 40, I think, that work on it from the Travelers' side.
The fan experience for the general admission ticket holder is really, really important to us. And what we mean by that is this. If you have corporate hospitality, it's going to be some of the best on TOUR. If you are coming out with your family, we have a couple programs where we make sure that everybody can come out. Kids 15 and under are free. Period. End of story. We want to make sure it's a family-friendly event.
We have free admission for military, retired vets. We make sure that that group feels they are welcome here. We have a complimentary admission program for health care workers and first responders. So we have these programs out there to let people come experience what this is.
And to the general admission ticket holder, we want it to be-- we say internally, we want it to be like Disneyland. You buy a ticket. You come in. And you can just have a blast all day. So we have four venues that are sponsored on property that are free to fans.
You go in. It's climate controlled. There's shade. There’s seats. There's bars in there. You can go in and feel like you have your own private hospitality area. But there's four of them strategically placed around the course.
And then the Fan Zone is-- there is stuff-- you could spend five hours in the Fan Zone doing stuff, interactive stuff-- face painting, games. Travelers has a huge activation thing down there. There is a bunch of stuff for people to do. We have new food items.
We have-- we brought in-- we take the menu very seriously as far as what we're serving, how we're serving it, where we're putting lemonade, where we're putting pretzels, how we place bathrooms, making sure the shade is in the right place. The fans are going to have a great time. And you can spend-- because if you think about it, you tee off at 6:50 in the morning, and there's golf being played till 7:00. It's our responsibility to take care of you the entire day.
And so we take that very seriously. But I don't think there's another sporting venue in this country that for a general admission ticket, you get to have all of these things for free to enjoy. Oh, and by the way, you get to see the top players in the world compete on the grandest stage, competing for $20 million. So we're really proud of our fan experience.
JOAN WOODWARD: That's awesome. Andy, I want to talk about the Celebrity Pro-Am. And what is this thing called the celebrity mini golf? What is that? But first of all, let's talk about the Pro-Am. Wednesday, I assume. And is it different this year? Who's coming? When are you announcing that?
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah, it'll come out in the next couple of weeks. So we're still trying to put it together. It's hard with celebrities to put together their schedules. And they change so quickly. But I got a call a couple of weeks ago, and it's like a pre-announcement. Bill Murray will be back. And I mean, talk about-- that's my kind of humor. And so I love it when Bill comes. But when Bill is here. And so this year, we'll have him. We'll have Hall of Fame coaches Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma, and Chris Dailey, the assistant coach.
JOAN WOODWARD: Assistant, right.
ANDY BESSETTE: She's now got a different title at UConn.
NATHAN GRUBE: Yeah.
ANDY BESSETTE: And she's terrific. And Nancy Stevens, who is the Women's National Hall of Fame coach for women's field hockey at UConn. So we've got UConn, Connecticut kind of coaches who have achieved greatness, and we'll also have some retired athletes in the field as well, And we'll have some announcers from ESPN, Michael Eaves. I mean, I'm pre-announcing this, sorry.
NATHAN GRUBE: Oh, that's not even pre, you’re basically announcing.
JOAN WOODWARD: Are we making news here?
ANDY BESSETTE: So I think I just did.
NATHAN GRUBE: [LAUGHS]
JOAN WOODWARD: Did you just make news with Bill Murray? I mean--
NATHAN GRUBE: Scratch that release.
ANDY BESSETTE: So I think he just kicked me, if it counts, but that's OK. But we're going to have a great, great field. We're still trying to fill a couple of holes with some really good talent from NBC slash Golf Channel.
JOAN WOODWARD: Great, right.
ANDY BESSETTE: So I didn't announce everything.
NATHAN GRUBE: [LAUGHS]
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, well--
NATHAN GRUBE: Well, you tried.
ANDY BESSETTE: You tried. He tried his best to announce it.
JOAN WOODWARD: So what about the mini golf? What's the mini golf?
ANDY BESSETTE: Celebrity mini golf, this is so much fun. We have the local networks do it. This year, we're going to invite some different teams.
It's a team of three and you get out and you putt nine holes. And you win a donation to a charity of your choice. We have a 9:30 group and a 10:30 group, and it's 5,000 to a charity of your choice, and it's terrific.
And I never forget what-- I played with Matt Adams and his son. And Matt Adams' son is a very successful actor. He's in college.
He and his dad, Matt Adams is an announcer for the Golf Channel, and so we played as a team. We finished second. I was so excited, so excited.
And I'm coming down the stairs. Here comes Chris Dailey, from UConn women's basketball. And I go-- she said, how'd you do? We finished second! She goes-- she said, if it's not first, it's nothing. Holy jeez?
NATHAN GRUBE: Actually, her quote was, you're the first loser.
ANDY BESSETTE: Well, it wasn't that bad. Really? She said that?
NATHAN GRUBE: Second place is the first loser.
ANDY BESSETTE: Anyways--
NATHAN GRUBE: Hold on. No, I have to tell you, the celebrity mini golf, Joan, was Andy's idea on live radio. So he pinned me down. We were talking like this, having a conversation with a live group, and he says to the announcer, Renee DiNino, they said, hey, I have an idea.
And all of a sudden, we're about a month out from the tournament, and they say, let's do a celebrity mini golf. Can we do this? And they look at me and say, you need to build a mini golf course. And I wanted to say, thanks, both of you. I appreciate it. Like, thanks on live air. And sure enough, what do we have? We had a mini golf course. And actually, celebrity mini golf has been a blast.
ANDY BESSETTE: But it is great. It's so much fun. It's low-key, you know what? And it provides something that-- something for people who don't want to go play big people golf.
NATHAN GRUBE: Yeah.
ANDY BESSETTE: Right? And everybody loves mini golf, and we have little LEGO things you hit the ball through. And we don't have a windmill, but we have everything else, and it's a lot of fun. And it raises more money for charity-- which, again, everything we do, all net proceeds from the tournament go to charity.
NATHAN GRUBE: Yup.
JOAN WOODWARD: Like no other sport, right? No other sport has net proceeds going to charity. Talk about that for a second, Nathan, right? I mean, is golf really the only sport that donates their net proceeds?
NATHAN GRUBE: So--
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah.
NATHAN GRUBE: Joan, I never get tired of this statistic. So if you took what the NFL, Major League Baseball, NHL, if you combined as an organization what those give to charity, the PGA TOUR gives more to charity than all of those other professional sports organizations combined. So you let that sink in there that, to your point, the PGA TOUR is about charity. It's about our communities.
And, obviously, Andy and I like what we do. We get very excited about it.
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah.
NATHAN GRUBE: It's a lot of fun, what we do. But at the end of the day, we feel like we have to answer to our charities. If we don't have more net proceeds than we did last year to give more money to charity, we didn't do our job.
ANDY BESSETTE: Right.
NATHAN GRUBE: I mean, we have to grow those charity numbers. We consider, we kind of say internally, our charities are our owners, because the tournament doesn't have an owner. It's run by a nonprofit. But we feel like we have to answer to those nonprofits saying, we are doing everything we can to raise as much money as we can for you because we know what impact you have on our communities. And we could sit here and tell stories about the 130 charities that benefited last year, 140.
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah
NATHAN GRUBE: Every one of them has an impact in their community. And when you spend 20, 30 minutes talking to those charities, the families that are impacted, the lives that are changed. Talk about a motivator to do your job well because you know the better we do our job, the more stories like that there are going to be. And that's not normal for professional sports, that we can say 100% of net proceeds--
ANDY BESSETTE: And we take this so seriously that this year, before we even got started, Nathan and I sat down and looked at each other and said, so our purse is going from $8.6 million to $20 million. Really? We've got to-- and we've been working like crazy from last year's tournament trying to make sure that we can get this like $3 million-ish. If our purse is going up, we've got to get our charity up.
NATHAN GRUBE: Yeah.
ANDY BESSETTE: And so that's why I keep talking about 3 million. It's really important that we give back more because we're giving more to the players. But we're going to have this great event that's going to-- this is going to be a shock. When people come to this year's tournament, they will be shocked.
This is like a major. This is-- not even any kidding. All kidding aside, this is going to be nothing other than the fifth major. And it's going to be an unbelievable player field. It's going to be very competitive, and we'll see who wins. But this is going to be the fifth major.
JOAN WOODWARD: Awesome, awesome. OK, guys, we're going to have a timeout, and I'm going to take a minute of personal privilege as a moderator. I want to talk about something very near and dear to my personal heart. I'm proud to say I was part of the team that started She Travels, which is our agent and broker and employee women's development program.
Well, I decided last year that we have to do something about getting more women involved in golf. I myself took up golf during COVID. I'm still struggling, but I'm all in.
So I went to our chairman and CEO and asked, can we possibly start a women's golf program here at Travelers? And he said yes. So it launched last fall, and it's called She Golfs, where we aim to get more women playing the game.
And as we know, golf has been a traditionally male-dominated sport. Even today, women only make up about 25% of golfers. And that, to me, is really a missed opportunity because one of the greatest things about golf is it's great. We all build friendships, connections. I mean, talk about your network, Andy-- not with the PGA players, but your business network. And every insurance professional out there who plays golf, in my view, has an enhanced ability to network on the golf course-- so to grow your business and your career.
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah.
JOAN WOODWARD: So the idea to start the She Golfs came to me after last year's Women's Day at the Travelers Championship, which was such an amazing day. We're going to talk about that in a minute. But I thought we can really build a program and get more women involved.
So we created a bunch of clinics, and they sold out in minutes, for non-golfers and golfers alike, a no-pressure situation. It caught on fire here in Hartford. So we've had more than 200 women participate in our She Golfs. We've hosted 13 clinics so far. We've got 15 more planned for this year.
And so we just invite everyone on the call to watch your inboxes because clinics are filling up very, very quickly. And we want to make sure you're engaged-- if you want to be engaged-- in learning the game of golf. So all this is a big windup to ask you both to talk about Women's Day and what's on deck for this year. Andy, I'm going to go to you.
ANDY BESSETTE: So I'm going to add one thing. And She Golfs, I think, Joan, is so terrific. And it goes from an experience I had just before it started. Marlene Ibsen, who runs our Community Relations group and our EDGE Program, Empowering Dreams for Graduation and Employment, which has been hugely successful over the last 15 years-- and I played golf with three young women from the EDGE program. These young women never touched a golf club before.
And I said to them when we got on the first tee, I said, listen, there's no pressure, zero. Zero-- if you don't hit the ball, don't worry about it. We'll play just one ball. I'll hit the ball, then we [TRAILS OFF]. We had more fun after three holes, and we were just having fun. And so I think that the greatest part of She Golfs is that you can go out and have fun. There's no pressure.
When you go out to play golf, I remember the first time I was invited, I didn't know what I was doing. I had never played golf before. And man, it was embarrassing, pressure-- God, I think I was having a panic attack, it was like so stressful. And it shouldn't be like that. You have to go out and have fun.
So I think what you've achieved is so terrific and so good. And then, back-- let's go back right to the beginning.
NATHAN GRUBE: Yeah.
ANDY BESSETTE: We wanted a way to get-- because back in 2007, there were not a lot of women who typically went to a men's golf event, right? There was the LPGA Tour, there was PGA TOUR. And so we said, let's start the thing called Women's Day where we would have a terrific speaker, and/or a second speaker, and/or some entertainment.
Over the years, we've had chefs. We've had-- you name it, right? We've had all kinds of people, entertaining. Ming Tsai was one of our great famous chefs that came in and did a great job. But this year, we have Katie Couric, who's going to be our keynote. And we're going to have a panel with Amanda Renner-- Balionis before she got married, now Amanda Renner-- who is a CBS broadcast announcer with three, two of the young women from the women's basketball team at UConn and one of the young men who just won the national championship whose mother had a huge influence on his life.
So I look at Women's Day, and I get so excited because it achieves-- I always say that it's inspirational, it's aspirational, and it's conversational. And if you look at three things that you achieve with Women's Day, that's what I always hope to do. It has to be inspirational. People have to leave the room-- men and women-- leave the room and be inspired and have to know what they're going to aspire to be and to do, and have to be able to talk about it, and network, and converse. So that's how I look at it-- inspiration, aspiration, and conversation.
JOAN WOODWARD: Nathan, anything to add on that?
NATHAN GRUBE: Back to-- I kind of touched on this, that having the top players in the world here creates demand for sponsors wanting to invite guests for things-- you create value for people. They want to be together for certain things. Women's Day, it is the fastest-selling ticket that sells out.
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah, that's very true.
NATHAN GRUBE: Then, I mean, we have 700-plus seats that we build this facility for. It has become the place to be. And when you can offer-- when you can offer that to a partner, or just to the community to say, look, I got you a ticket to Women's Day, it's like, oh my gosh, you know?
And so when you can create an event like that, that has that kind of value, that's what I get excited about. And then, to Andy, you go in that room, and you see people who maybe wouldn't have chosen to come out to the golf course that day, they leave Women's Day, they walk around the golf course, they're like, oh my gosh, what a great experience! Like this-- now I'm becoming a fan.
I enjoyed this event. I went to the Casamigos tent. I had this. I mean, there's so much to do here.
And then, people don't realize. They think it's like, oh, I've got to be quiet, and I just have to be hush and watch the golf. No, no, no, a golf-- it's like it's a big fair that is going on for an entire week. But introducing that experience to that group that comes in for Women's Day is something that I love to do.
ANDY BESSETTE: And we're back at the course this year.
NATHAN GRUBE: Oh, back at the course.
ANDY BESSETTE: With COVID, we couldn't get down there for a couple of years. But this year, back at the course. So you leave Women's Day, you go out to the event, and the food. The food, we made it-- about five years ago, I said to our team, I said, I want the Travelers Championship to be known as the culinary experience on the PGA TOUR. And I think we have some of the best food on the PGA TOUR.
And with our team, with Ed Howard who does food here at Travelers, and the Aramark team that works with us there, it is pretty darn good food. And so we'll have world-class food and a world-class event for Women's Day, and it'll just be a real lot of fun.
JOAN WOODWARD: So great, so great. And it's always come back to the food. I learned that early on in our conversation.
ANDY BESSETTE: [LAUGHS]
NATHAN GRUBE: Started there, Joan. We're going to end there. Come on.
JOAN WOODWARD: No, I have to say, and just to reinforce that, Women's Day is one day out of the year. And so having our She Golfs program for employees, agents and brokers, that's actually a to do. Not just a nice to do, but it's out-- actually getting out there. It's learning the game, understanding that it doesn't have to be high-stress for women-- and men.
We've had a few men show up at our She Golfs clinics. That's when I know it’s a success, where they didn't feel intimidated coming as well to learn, right? So we're very happy about that.
All right, we have to get to audience questions because we have a ton. I have a lot more questions of you. But I think our audience are a little more interesting.
ANDY BESSETTE: [LAUGHS]
JOAN WOODWARD: So first question from David Hunt. "It would be really fun to see the No. 1, No. 2 ranked golfers in the world kick off the tournament as the first group." So Rahm, Scheffler, Rory. Is there any chance that happens? And who and how does that all get decided?
ANDY BESSETTE: You can do that.
NATHAN GRUBE: So that's great, but what happens is basically, every player has a kind of a ranking of how they draw an audience and things like that, and the TV networks and the TOUR track all of this. And so what they do is they place players together that are some of the most popular players for that reason. I don't know if they'll pair one, two and three together or something like that, but they definitely group and bundle the most attractive, I would say, audience-driving players.
And the great thing is this year, we have them all. So it’s going to-- I mean, I feel bad for the networks and how they're going to try to work with the TOUR to pair these. But they do it to where there's really good players in the morning. So if you can only watch in the morning, you can watch the broadcast.
There's really good players in the afternoon. And then that's on Thursday, Friday. Because what happens is there is a cut, and then you don't know who's going to make the cut. And so then they reshuffle on where the guys are. But the first two days, you can get some really cool groups together. So we'll definitely make note of that. I think it was Dave who sent that in. We'll throw that in. I would love to see that, too.
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah, I would too. It'd be great.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, next question coming in from Tracy Wong and a bunch of others on the same topic. So talking about getting the week after the U.S. Open, and was that happenstance? Did it happen 17 years ago and we're just, this is the only week we'll get? Or is there a chance, maybe, that it could get moved?
And how-- who decides that, how does that-- do we even put in a request for that kind of a movement? Or tell us your thinking there.
ANDY BESSETTE: So 17 years ago, when we took this over, we got it-- we'd been working with the PGA TOUR for a few years. Nothing open, nothing open, nothing open. All of a sudden, 84 Lumber-- 84 Lumber in Pennsylvania decided not to be a title sponsor anymore, and it was for the weekend right after the U.S. Open. So the TOUR called us up, and they said, hey, we've got an open weekend. Do you want it? Yes.
And so we're in for the weekend after the U.S. Open. And then, fast-forward about six months, then everybody started saying, oh, jeez, that's the worst weekend in golf. You guys can't do anything with that, right? And I heard that about, what, once, twice?
NATHAN GRUBE: One too many times.
ANDY BESSETTE: One too many times.
NATHAN GRUBE: One too many times.
ANDY BESSETTE: And I said, OK, now they've really ticked me off. I said, we're going to show them that we can make this the best tournament after the U.S. Open. And so we've lived with a chip on our shoulder for the last 16 years.
NATHAN GRUBE: Absolutely.
ANDY BESSETTE: And every time we think about that, don't threaten Andy and Nathan that you can't do something because that's just going to really get us going.
NATHAN GRUBE: So I said-- there was a statement that we started using internally saying, the date doesn't make the tournament; the tournament will make the date. Because we came into it and people said, oh, the date is-- you guys can't overcome that. And it was like, no.
ANDY BESSETTE: Yes.
NATHAN GRUBE: And then, fast-forward to Andy's point when we started getting five, six of the top 10, I remember people asking us in the media going, how did you get so lucky with the week after the U.S. Open? And we chuckled going, man, remember when we first got that question, and now, five, six, seven years later?
So, but I think, I mean, I've got to give Andy and the Travelers team credit on that. It’s-- you're either going to look at what you are or what you aren't. You're either going to look at the week after the Open and you're like, oh, we can't do that, or you're going to look at it and go, what can we do?
ANDY BESSETTE: It was kind of like last year on Women's Day-- I love this. This is one of my highlights of a long time. Paige Bueckers, the great young guard from the UConn women's basketball team, she's talking about growing up, and she was playing basketball. Her dad was her coach. And she came off the court and she said, these kids cannot guard me. Nobody can guard me.
And I'm like, this is so great. Well, we kind of had the same attitude back 16, 17 years ago. Nobody can tell us we are not going to be successful. We're going to make this work. And we did.
And so people have asked-- fast-forward, Joan, 17 years-- a lot of the press and media, they said, hey, do you think they'll move your date if you get designated elevated beyond ‘23? And I don't think they're going to. I think the PGA TOUR is trying to cluster events next year, and so there’ll be a cluster early in the season, mid-season, and ours later in the season. So it will be a clustering of two or three together so that all the other tournaments-- who are what they're calling full-field events-- that they'll have a chance, so they'll be able to get players to come to their events because they're away from the cluster.
So no, I don't think we're going to change our date. I haven't heard anything yet, and that has not come up yet. But who knows? I mean, everything changes from day to day. But right now, no. No inklings of changing our date.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, so another question coming in from lots of people on the same subject. Andrew Harris and team ask, "What does the tournament look like in the future if we are not elevated? And being elevated this year, does that help or hurt us to get elevated next year?" Because there's no guarantees, right? This is on a year-by-year basis.
ANDY BESSETTE: Yep.
JOAN WOODWARD: So do you think this is a trial run for us to see how we would handle the elevated event? Or do you think because we got it this year, we're definitely or most likely not going to get it this-- next year? Or, does it matter?
ANDY BESSETTE: How do I answer this without answering it?
JOAN WOODWARD: We do want it for next year, right?
ANDY BESSETTE: No, this is not a trial run.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK.
ANDY BESSETTE: We want this. I'm in negotiations with the TOUR.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK.
ANDY BESSETTE: Alan and I are talking about it regularly. And no, if there's a way for this to happen-- and I think there are rumors out there, to answer this question, there were rumors out that they may try to do this like skip every other year type thing, rotating. They are not doing that. If you're designated elevated beyond, you are for some period of time, and I can guarantee you that it's for some period of time.
So this is not a practice run. This is like the first year-- the positivity perspective. So don't misinterpret what I'm going to say. Positivity, Nathan and I want it. We're just assuming we're going to be elevated into the future. But we still have more work to do to make that happen. But it's very important to us, Travelers, to be the title sponsor of an elevated designated event going forward.
JOAN WOODWARD: All right, good. Another question here. Rapid fire for you guys.
ANDY BESSETTE: [LAUGHS]
JOAN WOODWARD: Christy Lombardo asked, "Going back to the GHO, Greater Hartford Open days, there used to be a significant pregame event at Bushnell Park." And I know we had some, also, some entertainment, Andy, with the Dine Around in past years. "Would you ever consider bringing this back? Or what about the country concerts after the play?"
NATHAN GRUBE: I can touch on those, too. We've dabbled in a lot over the last 10 years.
JOAN WOODWARD: Yeah.
NATHAN GRUBE: From we've talked about-- we even had, we experimented. We pulled things away from the golf course. Hey, let's expand it.
We've talked about doing concerts downtown. We've talked about a whole slew of things. So I will give you the consolidation, though. And we-- and to Andy's point, we talk to everybody, not just players and families. We talk to our sponsors, our fans, the media-- everybody.
And ultimately, where we landed, that's why you saw Women's Day come back to the golf course this year.
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah.
NATHAN GRUBE: People really like to be involved in the energy of what's happening at the tournament that week. And so we have really focused our energy and our efforts to expand as much as we can in what's going on tournament week inside of those grounds. Because when you cross through the gates, there's something special that's happening.
You can feel it. It's in the air, and our fans want to be there to experience, is what they're telling us. So we are definitely-- we brought Women's Day back, and a lot of the experiences are back within the tournament for that week.
And then, there’s some stuff that, like I mentioned, the Fan Zone, people asked us to have more to do during the day. Hey, I'm bringing my kids out. Can you give me more activities to do? Rock wall, mini golf course, interactive-- like I said, there's probably six things I can think of that are down there in the Fan Zone right now.
Travelers almost doubled or tripled their space with interactive stuff to do for the fans. They wanted more stuff to do for the day. Disneyland, back to my comment, I want to come out and be able to spend the entire day out there. Give me more to do.
So we have adjusted the footprint, the layout, everything to respond to what people wanted-- to have it on property and to give them more stuff to do during the day. So that's what I think people will see this year.
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah, I think the world is changing around us, right? Who would ever have thought in 2019 we'd have a pandemic, we'd have COVID and all this other stuff? And so that changed a lot. We couldn't have the Dine Around for two or three years. But it's not gone. It's not dead and gone. It's just been delayed. And I hope at some point, we can get back to a dine around kind of environment.
I thought that was very successful. It was a lot of fun to have Michael Bolton and different entertainers for the evening. And we did some really good things. Everybody felt good about it. So I think that kind of a community thing is always a good thing to try to bring back. So I would just keep looking, as we grow and we go forward, keep looking for these things. And I think you'll see some of them reappear.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, this is a-- could be a trick question, could be not. I'm going to make Nathan try to answer this one.
NATHAN GRUBE: Love these.
JOAN WOODWARD: I thought it was a good one, though. "Can the Travelers Championship trophy be redesigned to something more unique to Travelers?" Like a red umbrella or something like that? Who chooses what the trophy looks like--
NATHAN GRUBE: Got it.
JOAN WOODWARD: --at a PGA TOUR event? And could we have any influence?
NATHAN GRUBE: No, it is. It's a great question. So we-- I go back to we were having dinner downtown. There were four of us sitting in a booth in '06, and the trophy came up. And we talked about the trophy. What's the design going to be?
And I wish I still had the napkin. There was pencil drawings. What if it was this? What if it was this? There were all kinds of different things. And where the group landed was-- it's called the Loving Cup. It's a very New England type of feel. We landed on the Loving Cup, and it, obviously, has our logo on the side.
And then, what we found with that cup, Joan-- and to everybody who asked that question-- the players really enjoy putting things in that cup and consuming things from that cup. Now, could it be a beverage? Could it be a lot of M&Ms? Could it be a lot of things? Actually using it as a functional, this is my trophy and I get to do things with it, I was very surprised how many players love that.
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah.
NATHAN GRUBE: So we have talked about that, the red umbrella and the trophy. But the cup has kind of become--
ANDY BESSETTE: I have the original prototypes of the trophy. We had a glass umbrella trophy. You should have seen that. But it was so-- it was like if you dropped it, it could break. And we wanted something that would withstand the test of time.
But then, but also, on our trophy what’s so unique-- and Chris Berman always says this-- if you look around the band at the base of it, you see names like Sam Snead. You see--
NATHAN GRUBE: Arnold Palmer.
ANDY BESSETTE: Arnold Palmer. You see all the great legends of golf who have won at this tournament-- regardless it's had 15 different names, I think, since 1952. But it has the names of every famous person, every famous golfer, is on this trophy.
So if you can add your name to that band on the bottom of the trophy, that's spectacular. That's a special thing. It gets the players excited.
And so I think the design of it is kind of appropriate. It's kind of like the Stanley Cup for hockey, right? If you go to the ice-- to the hockey museum and you see all the names of all the great teams that have won this, yeah, that's really cool stuff. So I think there's a cool factor to what we have here. And as Chris Berman says, seeing the names of all those great legends of golf who have won this tournament is just spectacular. It's second to none. It's really good.
NATHAN GRUBE: Good question, good question.
JOAN WOODWARD: Good question. OK, another question coming in is, "You've played with a lot of pros. And Nathan, yourself being a pro, what tips do you have for struggling golfers like myself?" And I'll include myself in that. Keep your head down, rotate, belly button to the pin. Give us your top three, top three advice.
NATHAN GRUBE: Well, I would say this first of all. When we define "professional golf," I played for three years, three years, and I made about $200. So let us clarify, my success on the golf course was abysmal. So I had to find a-- but you have dreams, and you try to chase them.
ANDY BESSETTE: But wait, before we go on. Whoa, whoa, but you hit the drive today. I play with Nathan a fair amount. He hits his drive 325, 330. And wherever there's a long drive contest, he always miraculously leaks his shot into the rough or the trees so he can't win because he doesn't believe-- and that's where I give-- Nathan is a tremendous human being, and I give him so much credit that he doesn't think it's right for him to win the long drive in these contests.
So just to be clear, he's like-- he is, Joan, like a world-class. 330, are you kidding me? That takes me two times to get to where he hits one ball. So go ahead, keep talking.
NATHAN GRUBE: So, gee, my three points, I would say this. I mean, swing hard and go find it. I mean, it's just, I mean, people put so much pressure on themselves. And you can see their head about to explode when they stand there going, am I rotating right?
I mean, this sport is supposed to be fun. And if all you can hit is your fairway rescue club, then tee off with it. Chip with it. Putt with it.
Don't think there's a bunch of rules that you have to figure out. Whatever club-- I mean, I've hit my driver before, and I've played rounds with only my 4-iron and nothing else because I just want to have fun. So I would say, just remember it as a game. Enjoy yourself. Don't feel constrained by all the rules of how it has to be, because I think that gets in people's heads, and it's over.
So I would say, just remember, it's supposed to be fun. That would be my one, two and three. [LAUGHS]
ANDY BESSETTE: Three, swing hard. Swing hard--
NATHAN GRUBE: Swing hard and go find it.
ANDY BESSETTE: Yeah, go find it. If I swing hard, you know where I find it? Two inches from the tee.
NATHAN GRUBE: Well, maybe not that hard, then. [LAUGHS]
JOAN WOODWARD: All right, guys. Listen, this has been a barrel of fun. I've learned a lot, a behind-the-scenes look at a tour. And we just wish you the best over the next month or so preparing for this tournament.
I want to thank you so much for bringing this all to the Hartford area, New England area. And on behalf of all the charities, I'm on the Travelers Foundation board, and we're so proud to be able to give so much money back to charity every year. So we wish you well, and let us know as employees on this phone, on this webinar, how we can help you. I know we have thousands of volunteers every day out there, and it's just fun to be a part of that.
ANDY BESSETTE: And Joan, congrats. Congrats to you on She Golfs. I think it's a terrific program, and you were really the one that kicked that off. And all you do with Wednesdays with Woodward is just terrific to the company as well.
NATHAN GRUBE: Joan, last thing I have to say, it's Andy's birthday today, so happy birthday.
ANDY BESSETTE: No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
NATHAN GRUBE: I had to get it in.
JOAN WOODWARD: We don't have to sing "Happy Birthday," but--
NATHAN GRUBE: I had to get it in. Joan, thank you very much.
ANDY BESSETTE: Thanks, Joan.
Slide, Wednesdays with Woodward (registered trademark) Webinar Series. Register: travelersinstitute.org. Upcoming Programs: In-Person Programs: May 23 - Cyber: Prepare, Prevent, Mitigate, Restore (Charlotte). Webinars. May 24 - The Rapid Rise of Litigation Costs. June 7 - The How and Why of D&I with Travelers' Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. June 14 - Crash and Learn LIVE Edition.
JOAN WOODWARD: All right, and I'm going to talk to my audience just about our upcoming programs; let our guests go here. If you're in Charlotte, North Carolina, next Tuesday, please join us. We have a live in-person luncheon. We'd love to invite you too, so go on our website and register for that. We have seats left for sure in Charlotte.
And then, on May 24, join us for a discussion about the decisions driving the increased litigation cost and social inflation in the United States and, of course, in the insurance industry. So nuclear verdicts are here to stay, and it's a very, very difficult issue to understand, first of all. Third party litigation is driving and fueling that, and we're going to break it all down on May 24.
June 7, I sit down with Travelers’ Chief Diversity Officer Lauren Young, and she's going to share her insights about how organizations of any size-- small, medium, large-- can foster diversity and inclusion culture. So then we'll be-- this is very fun, too, just like today's fun session-- we're going to be live from Ruckersville, Virginia, at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing zone.
We're going to see some crash tests. We're going to drive some cars. We're going to be there live so bear with us if our AV doesn't work perfectly. That's on June 14, and that'll be a really fun session as well.
Slide, Wednesdays with Woodward (registered trademark) Webinar Series. Watch Replays: travelersinstitute.org. Connect: LinkedIn, Joan Kois Woodward. Take Our Survey: Link in Chat. #WednesdayswithWoodward.
So thank you so much for joining us. Fill out our surveys so we know what you're interested in going forward, and I appreciate your engagement. And we'll see in a few weeks.
Text, Travelers Institute (registered trademark). Travelers. travelersinstitute.org.
Executive Director, Greater Hartford Community Foundation, Inc.; Tournament Director, Travelers Championship
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