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September 3, 2007

Eric Baldwin

Seth Waugh


SETH WAUGH: It's a dream. I think when you think about what they were thinking about in Playoffs, this is it. We've got 120 of the best players, and they're playing together. We have Phil and Tiger going toe-to-toe three out of four days, perfect weather, great golf course. The people are drooling over the golf course and the condition.
Tom Brodeur did an unbelievable job again. But Gil Hanse is kind of MVP -- in terms of Gil and Brad, I should say, in terms of what they've done. Flawless execution by this guy, and I mean that, just totally flawless in every way. We've got no-hitters going at Fenway, what more can you do? And then the real show is about to start out there in half an hour. We just couldn't be happier.
The other thing is, everybody said to me this week, it just kind of feels different out there. I think it feels different than -- folks are saying it feels different than any other tournament. It also feels a little different than it has here. It's just up a notch.
I just came in and it's backed up to 95. I don't remember that happening before. You just look at the lines at the hot dog stands and beer stands, it's just different. There's a whole 'nother energy that's here, which is fantastic.
We can all sort of talk about what we can do to improve the Playoffs, but at the end of the day, everybody is kind of here, and we've got the best players playing well on a great golf course, and they're playing against each other, and we're seeing them play with each other, which I think was the other intent here. So it's pretty cool.

Q. Eric, are you pretty happy about how everything is going so far?
ERIC BALDWIN: Yeah, I think I echo almost everything Seth said. I think one of the great things that we're kind of proud of is we had so many new players come this year for the first time. Phil's comments yesterday were, love the golf course, love the amenities, love New England, love the whole area. It was some comments that we couldn't have paid him to say and sound better. It's something that's been very well-received.
Our volunteers this year have come in and done such a great job, we have 200, 300, 400 more volunteers than we've had in the past. Everything from a flow standpoint has worked extremely well. Chamber of Commerce weather out here all week, and it's just been awesome, a great week.
SETH WAUGH: It's just a happy feeling here. We've tried to set a tone of making it a family deal and sort of walking around and seeing a lot of people, and our answers are always, yeah, sure, we can work that out, as opposed to no, and that sort of gets into everybody. These volunteers, we go to the tent last night, every one of them has been there for five years or are going to be. We're getting more and more volunteers because nobody ever leaves, and then they tell a friend and they add them.
People come from all over the country. We had a 90-year-old who's out there volunteering for us. It's just a really cool thing. It already raised over $3 million for charity, so now we've gone from $7 million in two years, and we've blown that away. Everything we've sort of added has turned into it. Whatever, we'd rather be lucky than good, but we couldn't ask for anything better than what's happened so far. I assume it's going to be a great show the next four hours.

Q. Is this beyond your expectations?
SETH WAUGH: Yeah, every year, I remember every year we'd kind of go, okay, we do it to ourselves and you guys do it to us, you say, you want to make it better every year and raise the bar, and we don't know what that means. But we got an opportunity to do a great charity thing this year, and that turned out to be a home run. The Playoffs obviously was something that we -- if it's going to exist, we certainly want to be a part of it, and that was huge.
I would say it's above my expectations from five years ago, but it's what my hopes were for this year. It's like when you've got -- it's a thing in business, when you set a budget you kind of hit it a lot of times because you create goals and go forward.
As Tiger said on Thursday, somebody said, well, what are you working on in your game, and he said, well, after having won the last two weeks in a row, he said, "Everything, because I can be better tomorrow than I was today," and that's what we're trying to do every day. I don't know how that comes out, but sure, we sat down five years ago and sort of thought we were going to do this thing. It's bigger and better and more fun than I ever thought it would be.
The other great thing is how many people we've kind of picked up as friends. We had three entertainers here this week and we didn't pay them anything. They just come because they want to be a part of it. That's not true, we paid Huey, but Berman, Sean McDonough, Clay Walker last night, these guys come because they just want to be a part of it. It's pretty cool.

Q. When you look around, the field is kind of -- you inherited the field almost, the logistics. How about the flow? Talk about the flow. That's always a hurdle at this golf course. This is probably the biggest year this year.
ERIC BALDWIN: You know, it is, but I think we came in very well-prepared. We roped the golf course differently this year. We put a couple other crosswalks in, particularly at 17 and some other locations that help get the folks around the golf course and the spectators so we can get them in good position. We really had a lot of training seminars with our mobile marshals and our marshals this year. We're very prepared.
I think one of the things that we also did very well is on our security front and just kind of keeping things in check. That's helped a lot. We brought it from inside the property to outside the property this year over at the Tweeter Center, and that's helped tremendously on some of those ancillary things that we've been going through in years past. That's been a big step in the right direction this year.
You know, I know it's been some traffic out there, but it flows very smoothly and quickly and efficiently, and I've heard nothing but great things. So we're very pleased.

Q. You know when Labor Day is every year. We don't know the PGA TOUR schedule each year. Should we read anything into that?
SETH WAUGH: I don't know enough to know. I think the one hard place is the Ryder Cup. If I was guessing why they're sort of thinking about it a little bit, if you look at the logical progression, they're going to go -- already you're having issues with four in a row, and now you throw the Ryder Cup as the fifth week. I've got to believe they're trying to think about that one a little bit.
You know, I don't know enough to know. But if I was a fan, I'd answer it that way rather than a sponsor. We know where we'll be, and we'll be in the second slot, and we'll be here.

Q. There's been talk this week about tweaking the playoff system. Do you guys have any idea for tweaking?
SETH WAUGH: Again, I'd be interested as a fan more than a sponsor, and I think we all have an opinion. Please don't quote me on this, I don't know if they felt like it worked last year, but certainly this week it's worked.
We've got everybody we want here. Okay, Ernie is not here and I'm sorry, but has that affected anything so far? We'd love to have him and we hope he plays next year, but I think he'll be sitting home going, wow, that's a pretty cool thing.
Again, look at Phil's comments earlier in the week. We couldn't be happier. What we want to do is deliver a great product with the best players in the world, and that's what's happened for us.
We'll kind of leave it to the people that know better. I mean, the whole four-week-in-a-row thing is hard; is there some way to tweak that, do two and then two? We love the field.
I think the one thing that we're disappointed we can't do is have sponsor's exemptions because two of our four winners have been exemptions, and that's a neat thing. We always had fun with some local guys and some guys that deserved it and some up-and-comers. But we couldn't be -- we just couldn't be happier with the week.

Q. As players kick around a little bit how this needs to be adjusted, it starts with 144 and then tapers down, but do you like the idea of having as full a field as possible?
SETH WAUGH: I do, and that's not selfish. It's a great product, and I think we can't do that with a smaller field in some ways. I've thought about -- I talked to Tim about this at one point, but do you sort of do a Schwab Cup sort of deal where you have a tournament within a tournament, so you have a full-field event but only 90 of them are in the Playoffs or whatever number that is. And that would be something I'd be totally comfortable with.
I think the difference as you really think about it is the win-or-go-home thing gets a little diminished, so all of a sudden that intensity, which people are thinking about that, I want to play next week. These guys are competitive. You don't want to lose in your member-guest, and they want to play next week. You can always say, hey, I've got two weeks off, but that's not the way they think.
Part of me says it would be nice to have 144 and a smaller number, but the other half of me says you want to have it matter. So are the numbers right? I think they're pretty close to right. I'm fine with 120. I don't know that I'd want to be a lot less than that for just the total experience for what we're trying to do.

Q. Speaking of numbers, are you maxed out at 25? Obviously you probably could have had -- with the weather and everything, could have had a lot more than that?
SETH WAUGH: Again, trying to create the experience, I think he's a better guy to answer that.
ERIC BALDWIN: I think for sure we have the right number at 25. I think Seth all around -- it's not just a golf tournament out here, it's a full experience at every level, whether you're in kids' village or the kids' zone or eating a hamburger in the concession tent on No. 9, he wants to have the fans, the partners, the sponsors, everyone have a great experience, the players. That's a good number for this golf course. Anything more would take away.
SETH WAUGH: It's really 26,000 because Monahan always brings 1,000 -- there's always 1,000 Monahans here. It's really 26.
I think the other thing that we talked about a little bit, and this is jumping ahead, but now like the 4th hole is maybe the coolest hole on the course in a lot of ways. So could you create more atmosphere around that and put a grandstand up behind it? It's not going to be 16 at Scottsdale, but do that, and does that allow you to get a few more people? I don't know, but you spread them out a little bit. I think that would be cool. We talked about taking down some trees here and there to make it a little more flowing, and that might help.

Q. Basically the course kind of limits you to the number of people you can have here. Getting to the holes is the problem?
ERIC BALDWIN: Yeah, many of these holes are single-sided as far as spectating because of the property. But to Seth's point, we can definitely continue to build the experience on individual holes to create some more vantage points and viewing points, and that will help us throughout. But I think our number is right. It's a good number because it's a good energy out there. When you go through those lead groups and you're following the crowd, it's exciting. It's a packful to have that number of people. When that crowd roars, you can hear it three, four, five holes forward.
SETH WAUGH: 16, 17 and 18 is a good a theater as anywhere because that flows perfectly.

Q. The hardest part for the fans seemed to be the ones who would get themselves in position and be right at the ropes around the greens, they often would get very disappointed when all of a sudden the golfers they've been waiting to see all day come walking up and the camera guys come right in front of them, and they're screaming at the media because there's so much media now. Have you thought maybe about building in structures so that those media or the camera guys can be funneled away from those areas for the fans who have tried so hard to be in the right spot?
ERIC BALDWIN: We certainly do everything we can to gather up our volunteers and our marshals, the people that are out there and seeing it and experiencing it, and that's something that we're very conscious of when we structure a hole. If that's something we need to address, we'll definitely look into it and do what is best for both you guys and certainly our fans.
SETH WAUGH: We said before we want to make it better, and that's a good thought. One of the volunteers came up and said, how come we don't recycle? With everything going on in the world, that's such a good idea. There's always ideas to kind of think about.
ERIC BALDWIN: We're phasing it in.

Q. NBC had a guest analyst on yesterday afternoon, and he suggested at one point that the change is unfinished.
SETH WAUGH: Yeah, I didn't get to see it, but the feedback that we've gotten has been extraordinary, and the only feedback, everybody has got a little something about whatever, but basically it's been, okay, no go out and do the rest of it. Not that there's major changes when we use the word tweak, but the incredible thing about this transformation is they did it in three months, from like Labor Day to Christmas it was done, and then open for play in March -- I guess May, given where we're standing.
So, you know, there's a little bit of stuff that we'd like to do. It's more cosmetic, changing the look rather than the playability. And the membership has been fantastic. This is a members club, and for them to allow us to change the golf course three times in three years is a big deal.

Q. Are you sick of hearing about it?
SETH WAUGH: You know, you saw talk to Gil and Brad rather than me, and maybe Eric wants to talk about it, but some of the holes you look at, and you think, okay, well, that half of the hole has been changed and you can see the bunkering and the bumps are gone, and the other half -- it doesn't change the playability, but it doesn't have the same look.
I think a lot of things happen. One is that the course plays differently and more strategically because of Gil's mind, sort of how he talked about making people uncomfortable, which is one thing. And the other is the look. It's just, again, when I talk about happy before, you go out there, and I'm not saying this is Pine Valley or Shinnecock, but it's got that feel. It's got that look. You see it in a different way, and that is so pleasing to the eye, I think, that people want more of it, right?
I had a great comment from Charles Warren, who's a good guy and a good player, and he says -- I said, how do you like the course? He said, it's great, I love it, the changes are great. It looks great. I had a couple things I didn't quite get and I thought were wrong. So I went out and had a chance to talk to Gil, and after talking to him, the things that I was worried about are now my favorite things about the course. You know what I mean? That's sort of the stuff that makes -- Gil has a reason for everything he does. He puts that bump on 17 for a reason, not just because it looks good, it's because he wants to make it more strategic and more thoughtful. It's good stuff.
Gil is an artist, and Brad is, too, and you just kind of let them go paint the picture a little bit.

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