Julie Tyson’s experience as a golf executive has taught her that a tournament is judged not only by the people who are there, but the people who aren’t. It is a success if the latter group feels that it really missed something.
It is her new job to create that aura about the Northern Trust (formerly known as The Barclays), the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoff opener to be held Aug. 22-27 at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury. The tour announced Tuesday morning that Tyson, a senior vice president in the tour’s New York office, has been named the tournament’s executive director.
Like a golfer plotting a strategy to conquer a tough course, she already has mapped out a game plan to increase buzz and attendance. She plans to incorporate food and fashion, two New York staples, into an event that invites only the top 125 golfers on the money list.
“Selfishly, I think we have the best field in all of golf because there is no way to get in other than to play really well,” she said.
The problem, at least for The Barclays at Bethpage Black last August, was that the public did not respond the way it does for a U.S. Open — regardless of the fact the same players are involved. Tyson, with a proven marketing and sales background that included eight years with the LPGA before the past 10 with the PGA Tour, believes there are ways to make people show up, or wish they had.
“Unlike a lot of sports, when you come to a golf tournament, you spend a lot of time there, like eight hours. We want to be able to fill that experience with something that is really memorable for them,” she said. “Food is one way to do it. We’ve had tremendous response to a lot of chefs we’ve approached. There will be more to come on that.”
Noting that golf fashion is another way to get people’s attention, she said, “A lot of apparel manufacturers really want us to celebrate their clothing.” She expects to announce details about deals in the next few weeks.
Those will utilize the negotiating skills that the Indiana Universtiy graduate developed in work for ESPN, Katz Communications and Fox before she got into golf. She once joked with Ty Votaw, general counsel for the LPGA, that she would come to work for him when he became commissioner. Among his first calls when he was chosen for the post in 1999 was to Tyson, recruiting her.
She closed sponsorship deals with ADT and State Farm that were the most lucrative in LPGA history at the time. Ten years ago, she followed Votaw to the PGA Tour, without telling him she was applying for a job. Sports Business Journal named her as one of its Forty Under 40 influential young sports people in 2010. She moved to New York five years ago and serves on the board of St. Bernard’s Project, a disaster relief organization.
Of the tournament that she now heads, she said, “I’ve never been more excited about an opportunity. We really want this to say that if someone doesn’t show up, they will have missed something. I think we’re well down the road of doing that.”