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TPC Snoqualmie Ridge welcomes Boeing Classic

 Preparing for the PGA Boeing Classic is a monumental logistical operation with months of planning, but sometimes it simply comes down to strong backs. Matt Smith and other workers from Nussli Group of Indianapolis, Ind., manhandle temporary bleachers’ scaffolding into place. - Dan Catchpole / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Preparing for the PGA Boeing Classic is a monumental logistical operation with months of planning, but sometimes it simply comes down to strong backs. Matt Smith and other workers from Nussli Group of Indianapolis, Ind., manhandle temporary bleachers’ scaffolding into place.
— image credit: Dan Catchpole / Snoqualmie Valley Record

The grandstands around the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge golf course’s 18th hole were empty as a few golfers sunk their final putts just a few days before the PGA’s 2009 Boeing Classic tournament arrived. Part of the golf course’s parking lot had already been taken over by tents, trailers and supplies in preparation for the weeklong event, which is expected to draw between 45,000 and 60,000 spectators.

Set up has been going seven days a week since late July to prepare the necessary bleachers, skyboxes, concession stands and other temporary structures dotting the sprawling green course. Preparation for this year’s tournament really began the minute the last one ended and had to cover everything from construction to marketing to transportation to organizing around 950 volunteers for the charity event.

“There’s a lot of different pieces to this big puzzle,” said Joe Sirlin, who’s in charge of the event’s logistics.

At least 1,200 people are involved in putting on the tournament this year, which will feature 78 professional golfers chasing a $1.2 million purse.

“That’s including everyone who drives a truck on site, anyone involved in construction” and a small army of volunteers, Sirlin said.

As operations manager, he’s one of the tournament’s two year-round employees. Technically, he works for Virginia Mason’s Heart Institute, which sponsors the event.

A charity tournament, the Boeing Classic donates all profit to the community. In its first four years, it’s raised $2.7 million for the Heart Institute and other local groups, including North Bend’s Encompass.

Private sponsors, including the Boeing Corporation and the Seattle Seahawks, are vital to providing a well-produced tournament, Sirlin said.

Securing sponsors for the next tournament is one of the first things he and tournament’s director Michelle DeLancy do after the event’s end.

Vendors have to be found. Parking and transportation have to be arranged. Players need help with travel arrangements and accommodations. Facilities for media have to set up. Sounds systems have to be placed.

The week of the Boeing Classic is even more hectic for Sirlin and DeLancy.

Inclement weather can quickly overturn schedules, pushing tee times up or back, but the tournament’s organizers aren’t blind when it comes to the weather.

“We have some very educated folks here with the PGA... from agronomy to dealing with the weather,” he said.

If the weather turns bad, PGA officials make the call on whether to change the schedule or even pull players and fans off the course if lightning develops.

“It’s all driven by the event play,” Sirlin said.

City of Snoqualmie officials have their own preparation work to do for the Boeing Classic.

The city had to inspect and approve all temporary structures on the course, and extra police officers are scheduled to work during the tournament.

Planning for temporary structures on a rolling golf course isn’t easy.

“We have nothing that is level out there,” said Dan Thomason, head of Snoqualmie’s building department.

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