SBD/April 3, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Minding My Business With Valero Texas Open Exec Dir Larson Segerdahl



Segerdahl says building relationships with players throughout the year is key
Valero Texas Open Exec Dir LARSON SEGERDAHL took the reins of the venerable PGA Tour event in San Antonio for Greg Norman Production Co. following a six-year stint running the Mayakoba Golf Classic, the Tour's only stop in Mexico. Segerdahl said of GREG NORMAN's business style, "There’s nothing in Greg’s business, or that occurs in his businesses, that he’s not aware of. He’s very in tune with everything that’s going on, but he’s not a micro-manager." The Valero Texas Open gets underway tomorrow with a field including RORY MCILROY, and Segerdahl recently spoke with THE DAILY about how he pursues players, his favorite technology, and savoring the business lunch south of the border.

Most of my work time is spent thinking about... 
What can we do from a sponsorship standpoint to bring in new business, increase the sponsorships with our corporate partners that we currently have, and how can we creatively come up with new inventory. The players are sort of a year-round process. It’s developing and maintaining those personal relationships. Whether it’s at crunch time the week before the tournament trying to get guys that commit at the last minute, or if it’s sending them a text message saying, "Hey, happy birthday," or "Congratulations on your new baby," or whatever it happens to be, that’s always very much on the forefront of my mind.

Best advice I've ever received...
Don’t be afraid of opportunity. A lot of people would've been extremely nervous to pick up and leave everything they knew and move to Mexico and start a new event that hadn't been done before in a new market that didn't know about golf. By taking that job, I was the youngest tournament director on the PGA Tour at 24 years old. Sheesh, I would've been a dummy not to take that. But a lot of people would've turned it down.

Our industry needs more...
Job opportunities. There are lines of students coming out of school with sports management degrees now, and unfortunately there are not many places for them to go. Also, with golf, oftentimes you try to cater to a niche market. I try to think a little more broadly in terms of what your fanbase can be. I would think that sports needs a little bit more open-mindedness to what sports offer and what sporting events experiences are like.

Reaching new fans...
If you’re not looking at the Hispanic market, then you’re behind the times. If you look at how fast that population is growing here in the country as well as abroad, Latin and South many people are focusing on China, and the growth of China, and their economy. That’s fantastic, but Latin and South America are the low-hanging fruit. You don’t have to fly over an ocean to attract them, they’re right here in our backyard.

Business lunches in Mexico...
Everybody goes out for these extravagant two-hour lunches, and it’s the whole deal. When we would go out for a business lunch and it was that two-hour time frame, it’s glasses of wine, break out the cigars, and it’s a networking lunch at its finest. It’s unbelievable. When I first got there, there was a part of me that was feeling guilty. I’m like, "Jeez, I got to go back to the office. Am I really going to drink a glass of wine right now? Am I really going to smoke a cigar with these guys?" But that’s the culture, that’s the way they do things, and I was happy to partake.

First media I consume each day…
The Golf Channel’s "MORNING DRIVE," and while I’m watching that I’ll flip through Twitter, because Twitter is basically as much of a news feed as anything else these days.

Apps I'm using...
When I’m travelling a lot I use TripIt, which is a great app. Whenever you get your e-mail confirmations on your travel itinerary, whether it’s plane tickets, a rental car or hotel or whatever it is, you sort of forward it on to this generic e-mail address and it automatically uploads into this app with all your confirmations. It consolidates all of your travel itinerary into this one app. So I love using that when I’m travelling a lot.

Guilty pleasure...
My fiancée has a tendency to leave the TV on some of these ridiculous shows, whether it’s "KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS" or "HOUSEWIVES" of whatever city and all that. It doesn't take too much to rope me into those shows. Next thing I know, I’ll be watching some marathon they’re playing.

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