SBJ/March 18-24, 2013/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40

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Photo: STAN BADZ / PGA TOUR
When Matt Kamienski was younger, he was scared to death of flying.
“I used to say that I would never have a job that required me to be on a plane,” Kamienski said. “Look at me now.”

Look at him, indeed. He has so many frequent-flyer miles that he’s achieved Diamond Status on Delta, the airline’s highest level. More importantly, Kamienski is on the front lines of one of the PGA Tour’s most important initiatives: expanding the game and the tour’s brand internationally.

As executive director of the biennial Presidents Cup, Kamienski oversees the tour’s most visible international event. He also serves as the tour’s senior director of its four co-sanctioned World Golf Championships events. The four WGC tournament directors report to Kamienski, who is responsible for everything from budgets and operations to promotion of the events.
That puts Kamienski on the road, and in the air, a lot.

“I’ve been very fortunate because I got to the tour just as the WGC events were beginning,” Kamienski said. “A lot of what has happened internationally over the last 15 years has been a springboard to get us where we are now. The strategy has evolved over the years, and there’s a much greater understanding now of the need to be global in our approach.”

There was nothing in Kamienski’s past that would have predicted he’d be a globetrotting tournament director and events expert. He did take French in high school and college, but that really hasn’t helped him much in his travels to Japan, China and Australia for the tour’s events in those countries.

In fact, he was on his way to medical school until his junior year at Miami (Ohio) University. The track and field athlete decided to change course and pursue a sports-related career. He began working on golf tournaments in 1997 at the NEC World Series of Golf, an event that has since become the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. He joined the tour headquarters in 2000 to begin working across all of the tour’s WGC events.

“Going outside of our borders, I’ve experienced so much,” Kamienski said. “The ways people do business, the different cultures, so much is done differently. You can’t just come in and say, ‘This is how we do it.’”

— Michael Smith



Age: 37
Title: Senior director, World Golf Championships and international events; executive director, The Presidents Cup
ORGANIZATION: PGA Tour
Education: B.S., Miami (Ohio) University
Family: Wife, Stacey; daughters Sydney (9) and Tyler (7)
Career: Interned for Cleveland Cavaliers; worked for Championship Management Co.

First Job Food service at an assisted living facility for seniors: The Lutheran Home in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Served a lot of pureed food, and because of that, I can’t look at it. To tell you the truth, I actually have trouble with smoothies.
How do you strike a work-life balance? I’ve learned you need to take time for yourself, and the rest will take care of itself.
IPOD PLAYLIST: I’m stuck in the ’90s. Basically, it’s all music from my college days: Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, The Samples, Big Head Todd. … [Also] Bob Schneider, Fun, Mumford & Sons, Kid Cudi, and The Black Keys.
TWITTER HANDLE: @MattKamienski
PERSONALITY IN A TWEET: Always ready to jump in and help, usually while smiling. #nojobtoosmall
Farthest traveled from U.S.: Tasmania, Australia
Pet peeve: Laziness … or when people take a drink while they are chewing and have food in their mouth.
Guilty pleasure: Ice cream
FANTASY JOB: NFL quarterback
Favorite movie line: “I’m sorry I ruined your lives and crammed 11 cookies into the VCR.” (“Elf”)


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