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Strategic Planning in the Face of COVID-19 with Farmers Insurance Open's Andy Harmatys

by Chris Carver
on June 23, 2020
PGA Tour

This two part series goes behind the scenes of the strategy and operations of producing a major PGA sanctioned golf tournament. 

PART 2 - Strategic Planning in the Face of COVID-19
PART 1 - Operations (Click Here to Read Part 1) 

I know it's no surprise to any of you when I say our industry is filled with some of the most resilient, strategic, entrepreneurial individuals in the world. One of the most amazing aspects about my job is getting to speak with so many of you on a regular basis. Especially in a time like this.

It's absolutely incredible to see the actions being taken by many of you to adapt and survive through all of this. It's also incredible to see so many of you willing to share your thoughts, advice, and best practices. The saying "A rising tide lifts all ships" has never been more relevant. So thank you.

One of those executives that embodies all of this is Andy Harmatys, SVP of Tournament Affairs at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Andy shares some incredible thoughts on how he's steering the ship. Here are some the things we discuss:

If you’re friends were a little tipsy, how would they describe you?
If it’s a childhood friend, they would probably say I’m extremely sarcastic, very lucky, a workaholic, and overly cautious.

Over the past few years, you and now your Director of Operations, Nick Schling, are on a committee within the golf world called T.O.C. What does that stand for, what’s the purpose and what are some of the topics you discuss?
That's the Tournament Operations Committee, which was created by the PGA TOUR for PGA TOUR events. It is a platform for TOUR events to share information. We all face similar challenges in the industry. It’s a great way to share ideas, collaboratively tackle issues, and showcase best practices. You serve for 2 years and then you time out. I came off the committee right as Nick was getting on. It’s an honor to have back-to-back representatives from one event and it highlights our depth of staff. TOC consists of several higher-ups that represent the PGA TOUR and then roughly 7 operational leads from 7 different PGA TOUR Tournaments. Each of those 7 individuals on the committee represents about 5 additional tournaments and operational leads. The committee members reach out to their 5 tournaments that are under their umbrella to see if they have any pressing topics that they would want addressed at the next meeting (they meet every couple of weeks). Right now, it is focusing on the impact of Covid obviously, but public safety, risk management, and hospitality product mix evaluation are usually staple topics.

Nick and Andy 2020 crop
Nick Schling (Left), Andy Harmatys (Right)

How did you get into the business?
I started by flipping burgers and taking out trash at a local municipal golf course called Brown Deer G.C. I started working in the clubhouse when I was 16, so 1997. The PGA TOUR hosted an annual event there called the Greater Milwaukee Open. I started interning for that event in 2001 and was hired full-time a year after college in early 2005. I was making $26k/year, living in my Mom’s basement, and loving life. Looking back, I think they gave me the job because they couldn’t find anyone else, but it was great experience for me. Back in those days you had to do absolutely everything - Operations, Ticketing/Credentialing, Volunteers, etc.

When I first started, we didn’t even have a website; my uncle Dan and I built the tournament’s site. I would go from updating copy for the website at our tournament office, which was offsite, to hopping in my car to drive a couple miles to check on build-out at the course.

This too was before cell phones, so you’d go out to work on the golf course, go to the office and listen to messages, call people back and then go back to golf course. Now, when I look back, it truly blows my mind that we got anything accomplished.

IMG_3698Left to Right: Peter Nielsen, Geoff Campion, Andrew Harmatys, Joe Westphal, Dan Blackman

You recently took on a new and expanded role, can you describe what that entails now?
This came about because our CEO/Tournament Director departed last August for a new opportunity. The current COO at the time, Marty Gorsich, was promoted to the role of CEO of the Century Club & I was elevated from VP of Operations to SVP of Tournament Affairs and Events.

That means I am now responsible for the events full PNL top & bottom line, and I focus a lot more on the day-to-day operations of the organization and the strategic long-term business planning, as opposed to just the events. With a more public facing role I’m having to spend more time in meetings, which means shaving and tucking in my shirt more often! I have owned the same suit since 2011 and at times it gets pretty snug, giving employees and peers some good ammo for jokes over the years.

Spoken like a true ops pro.
Hah. Honestly, it’s great to have a new challenge and I am enjoying it.

But I will say, we (Marty and I) were able to absorb the extra work and responsibilities because we have someone like Nick Schling on our team. Having someone I completely believe in and trust has allowed me to focus on more strategic long-term planning. Things that, when I was doing the role by myself, never had a chance to really dig into future-facing items, and now I am working on those bigger ideas.

This has proven to be especially critical in a time like this.

Heidi Kolbiaz Raymond

Given the time we are in, how does your planning, operations change in a post Coronavirus environment?
Planning is an ever-evolving, fluid process. Especially in today’s environment. How to plan changed yesterday, then again today, and it will change again tomorrow. There are so many current unknowns, variables and questions leading to more questions and a lot of questions can’t be answered right now.
However, in times like these, you can’t be a deer in headlights. In my opinion, you can’t sit still. You must start planning for every potential scenario. Building various models. For us it’s looking at an operational plan for:

The Opportunity
The interesting thing is that although our current situation is challenging (and it may change), I think there is going to be a lot of opportunity for vendors. I think you’re really going to see a consolidation of vendors, so you can minimize the number of onsite personnel to minimize the health risk. But I also think there will be an opportunity to source more local vendors and more opportunities for vendors to get creative on ways to solve the different things I mentioned.

Everything you’re currently doing is enveloped in strategic planning of some sort, but how do you incorporate and prioritize strategic planning within the day to day operations at any point throughout the year?
Strategic planning is nonstop. Nick and I have a thread that we are continuously adding to - random ideas, operational issues, things we overheard, saw at another event, read about, ANYTHING that we want to remember. We are continuously trying to figure out ways to make anything and everything better.

I’ll tell you; feedback is so important. We want to know if something didn’t meet someone’s expectations. The only way we can address an issue and make improvements, is by being made aware of it. It makes me irate when someone tells me about an issue after the fact. Tell me right when it happened. 90% of the time it doesn’t have to wait until tomorrow or next year to be fixed.

What does the annual ops planning cycle look like for you?
It’s a 14-month sales cycle. Our biggest asset is the event itself. Sales side or operational side. The sales team needs to be equipped going into the current event with the information of what the following year’s event will have to offer from a hospitality standpoint. On the other side, getting a potential new vendor to actually spend some time at the event is invaluable. Easier to engage.

Do you have any advice for those wanting to build a career in events (especially post CV)?
It’s not always great, but when it hits, you will love it. It’s worth the long hours and the grind. Just know that talent will ultimately recognize talent. Just keep after it and you will get noticed.

Enough said :)
We love what we do. 


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To learn why some of the most respected event teams trust Lennd to power their operations or sign up for a demo:


The Farmers Insurance Open is a professional golf tournament on the PGA Tour, played in the San DiegoCalifornia, area in the early part of the season known as the "West Coast Swing". The event is organized by The Century Club of San Diego.


The Century Club of San Diego is a San Diego-based charitable organization, established in July 1961. They are the organizers of the Farmers Insurance Open, an annual PGA Tour golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, solely for charitable purposes. The proceeds of the Farmers Insurance Open often go to the Monarch School, although in 2011 they reported to have donated over $1.3 million to over 200 charities. The Century Club are also major fundraisers of the San Diego County Junior Golf Association, investing in San Diego golf education.



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