SBJ/March 12-18, 2012/People and Pop Culture

My first job in sports

Executives recall their first job in the industry

Purser (right) has spent his career in golf, including close to 15 years now at the Toshiba Classic (below).
Photos: TOSHIBA CLASSIC (2)


Jeff Purser’s year of preparation culminates this week at the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, Calif., a Champions Tour event that annually raises more than $1 million for charity. Purser said that the event’s success has come from “a great title sponsor, a great community with great resources and Champions Tour players who are always generous with their time and willingness.”



DIGGING IN: My first day was really boring. I sat in the office and added printing costs. It was in a cubicle in the middle of a big office building. We actually didn’t have permanent offices for the golf tournament set-up, so I was down in Phar-Mor’s building. It actually turned out to be very interesting to see how print work got done: the layout, the design and then the packaging to go to the printer. It was a good education.

WET START: The first tournament I worked we got an absolute deluge, like a 50-year rain. There’s a little creek that meanders through the entire golf course that ends up collecting in a lake on a par 3, No. 18. This thing was so overflowed that literally tents were underwater. It’s pouring down rain, and I’m trying to rope off an area that was loose turf. I saw one person go down because the sod gave way. So I’m roping and staking and going after them, and I look over at the awning and there’s my boss staring at me like I had lost my mind with his hands in the air going, “What are you doing!” … The point of it is, you do difficult, unappreciated, behind-the-scenes jobs, but it’s a great experience.

GOTTA PLAY THE GAME: When I started in the sales side … it was difficult because in golf and sponsorship development you tend to take companies out golfing and spend some time with them to develop the relationship and the sale. And I was just absolutely horrible. I had never golfed before. I remember I’d get on the tee, and I’d be able to hit the ball dead sideways. But I learned over time and eventually was able to spend time with sponsors without completely embarrassing myself.
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