Post-Farmers Insurance Open Analysis Report

After a great experience at the Farmers Insurance Open, the #SMBA18 class sat down and aggregated all the data and observations collected during the experience. Jackson Dargan (SMBA ’18) and Emma Black (SMBA ’18) took the lead on organizing all the information, and generated a Post-Event Analysis Report that was sent over to the Farmers Insurance Open organizing body, The Century Club.  The focus of the report was utilizing the information collected during the tournament to produce a useful report the Century Club could use in the future to analyze how the 2017 tournament went, and plan a successful 2018 tournament.

The report was divided into four primary focus sections: Parking & Transportation Logistics, Hospitality Venues, Volunteer Experience Evaluation, and Sponsorship Activation.

Parking & Transportation Logistics:

The focus of this section was on how attendees arrived at the tournament, their experience with logistics of the tournament, and looking at the efficiencies of the different methods of transportation.

The first topic covered was the occupancy levels and duration of travel for attendee’s parked in the events lots and utilized event shuttles to be transported to the golf course. This is especially relevant for the FIO due to the fact that 50% of the course is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, and a majority of the areas directly adjacent to the course are occupied by UCSD & Scripps Research facilities. The next focus was on the usage and efficiencies of Uber, a service many attendees utilized. Through information provided by the Uber Event Operations team, total number of pick up and drop offs were demonstrated, along with pickup/wait times, and finally overall observations were shown. Through the use of random sampling on transportation methods by event attendees, a table of how people arrived at the tournament was created.

First looking at ticket type segmentation, it was shown that the way people arrived differed by the ticket type (GA vs. Premium Ticket), and furthermore looking at age segmentation, it was clear that the younger demographic preferred to use Uber, while the older segment preferred to utilize the shuttles or local parking options.

Hospitality Venues:

The next topic was on the different hospitality venues offered at the tournament and attendees responses, with the focus on the four most prominent venues. The team looked at The Fringe presented by Harrah’s, Surf Club, Grey Goose Lounge, and Genesis Trophy Club. Data was provided in terms of number of occupants at different periods of the day, reactions to food and beverage options, and the overall demographics of the crowd.

For example, the attendance of the Grey Goose Lounge was very dependent on the players on South Course hole 8, by example of Thursday’s occupancy numbers:

Volunteer Experience:

Interviews with countless volunteers were conducted to gauge the overall reception of how the event was going. The Farmers Insurance Open had over 1,000 volunteers for this year’s tournament, with over 400 first time volunteers. The number of people volunteering is staggering – and we can all recognize that without the volunteers, the tournament could not happen.

Sponsorship Activation:

In this final section, the team looked at the success of different sponsorship strategies, the response of attendees to the sponsors, and ways to ensure that sponsors maintain a high return on their investment moving forward.

An overall evaluation as created on the different sponsors specific giveaways, and we found that people were the most receptive to some of the course wide giveaways run by. TaylorMade is a great example of this as their Champions Sunday was a big hit for all age groups.

Next, an analysis was created on the success of different sponsors in the Fan Village in relation to overall interest, number of attendees visiting and interacting with their setups, and an overall evaluation of the location of the fan village in relation to the course.

Finally, the team provided suggestions on how to improve sponsorship activation. Topics included ways to encourage more young fans to attend the tournament, a digital marketing strategy utilizing targeted advertisements, and a robust social media strategy.

The event served as a great learning experience for the #SMBA18 class, and a great way for Emma and Jackson to work as a team to provide useful information to a great organization such as the Century Club!

Farmers Insurance Open 2017 Recap

What a weekend! Four days of volunteering at the Farmers Insurance Open left our students with a very memorable experience! Read up on some of our students’ weekends here:

Nick Loewen (SMBA ’18): While some of us woke up Monday morning with a case of the sniffles, and others feeling groggy from averaging six hours of sleep for the past four nights – not one of us would’ve traded in the experience we’ve gained from working the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.  From seeing Tiger Woods return to action after more than a year away from the PGA tour, to watching fan-favorite and San Diego local, Phil Mickelson, be followed by massive crowds of loyal fans – everyone had a unique experience and gained valuable insight into how a large-scale event like this is organized and run from a business perspective.

On day one the buzz was all about the two main groupings; Tiger Woods, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson in one group – Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Jimmy Walker in the other.  All you needed to do was look for a large crowd of people to figure out what hole either of these two groups were on.  Our tasks as volunteers at this event included things like surveying volunteers and attendants, holding the ‘Keep Calm, Torrey On’ signs, and Tweet Caddying – which was basically walking around the course and taking photos of fans, pros, and sponsors for social media.  I think it’s safe to say that if you were a Tweet Caddy on day one, you were following one of these two groupings around and taking pictures of all the excitement that came with it.

After the first day, my personal experience changed slightly – I became less of a fan of the event, and more of an observer of what the event meant to the various people attending.  I was stationed in Trophy Club – the highest priced suite open to the public, which had a perfect view of the 18th hole on the South Course.  For the most part, everyone in this club’s main purpose was to socialize and network.  Sure, there were times when everyone would stop to watch the action, but that was only temporary.  A lot of business happens at these events, and a lot of relationships begin with a handshake at a golf tournament.

This differed from the Fringe, which was the lowest priced hospitality option – the crowd in there was a little bit more rowdy and more geared towards the party aspect of a golf tournament.  Holding the ‘Keep Calm, Torrey On’ sign in this venue was a bit more difficult..

All in all, the Farmers Insurance Open was a valuable learning experience for all of us in the program – the fact that we got to partake in this event just two weeks into our time at SDSU was pretty amazing.  I had countless friends back home asking me why I was skipping school to be at a golf tournament – explaining to them that this WAS school was tough for them to grasp.

Kevin Lundstrom (SMBA ’18): Our class was very heavily involved in the social media side of the event’s operation, taking pictures for the Twitter page was one of our most important duties. Exploring the course and finding the perfect pictures of fans, golfers, food, and sponsors was a lot of fun and offered a great opportunity to meet and talk with fans and other volunteers. We also helped out in a lot of the hospitality tents performing various tasks as well like holding the “Keep Calm” signs or handing out wristbands. Lastly, we were given the opportunity to track and record data in a couple different facets of event management. Tracking length of shuttle rides, length of lines for food and beverage, and the number of people in the different hospitality tents on the course were just a few of the analytical tasks we performed. Overall it was a fantastic opportunity to meet a variety of different people and to help out and learn more about event management.

Tawnia Allison (SMBA ’18): For the past four days, the SMBA class from San Diego State University has been volunteering at the Farmers Insurance Open. We have collected and analyzed data, including information on parking, transportation, hospitality venues, volunteers, and photo opportunities called “tweet caddies.” The class was able to connect with both the other volunteers of the open, as well as attendees. Students spoke with sponsors of the event and interviewed volunteers working the event. Through this, we were able to find out how long the volunteers have been involved with the Open, where the volunteers are from, and how they got involved. We were able to collect data on parking services, such as shuttles, and their efficiency (i.e.: the time it took to get on to a shuttle and how long it took to get to and from the parking lots). Surveying the attendees to see how they got to the Open provided us with valuable information, such as that a lot of the attendees came from out of town (most out of state) to observe the tournament. While in the hospitality venues, we were able to survey the food and beverage process and efficiency, as well as the actions of the patrons. We observed whether they were watching golf versus socializing, if the seats were filled, and the overall atmosphere. During our “tweet caddy” times, we took photos of sponsors, volunteers, and fans enjoying the activities. We were also able at that time to help with corralling and directing attendees, answering questions, and assisting whomever needed our help. Overall, the tournament was a great learning experience and helped us gather some important information that we can now present to the Century Club.

Forrest Lockwood (SMBA ’18): As I sit here on this beautiful 75-degree January day in San Diego, my feet are busted up, my knees are sore, my back is on fire… and I couldn’t be happier. I walked 26 miles over the last four days at the stunning Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla volunteering for the Farmers Insurance Open on behalf of the Sports MBA program, and every step was totally worth it.

As someone interested in non-profit work in the future, I am pleased that this exciting tournament (a final round 65 from eventual winner Jon Rahm – with an eagle on 18 as icing on the cake – more than made up for some big names missing the cut) helped to raise nearly $1 million for San Diego-area charities, with an additional $250,000 to be contributed by Farmers Insurance. Some of the wonderful volunteers helped to spread the word throughout the weekend about specific charities like the Armed Services YMCA of San Diego, the First Tee of San Diego County, and Junior Achievement of San Diego County.

Speaking of those volunteers, before play began on Saturday, I had the pleasure of chatting with Bob Steber, who has volunteered at the Farmers Insurance Open for 50(!) years. Mr. Steber was helping raise money for SAY San Diego, who provides a wide range of services and education for families and youth in the San Diego area, including after-school programs, youth development, and support for military, immigrant, and refugee families alike. This man has stories for DAYS, including the time he accompanied President Gerald Ford and legendary entertainer Bob Hope at Torrey Pines, and specifically recalled the armed Secret Service agents in tow. This was Bob’s final year volunteering at the Open, and after 50 years at Torrey Pines on top of a 30+ year career as a firefighter with the Chula Vista FD, I’d say he’s earned the highest praise for a job well done.

As for myself, I certainly got some education this weekend. I’d attended PGA events in the past, but never looked at an event with a critical eye as I was asked to do. It’s obviously important to keep spectators happy, and we had the chance to ensure just that by identifying issues and potential fixes for the various parking shuttles, concession stands, and luxury suites around the course. Additionally, we served as the “eyes and ears” on the ground on behalf of the tournament organizers (the Century Club of San Diego), assisting spectators with any problems that arose, and we’ll collate our data and issue recommendations for future tournaments in the coming weeks. And, oh yeah, we also got to watch some world-class golf on one of the most beautiful courses in the world, and take pictures and videos for the Open’s social media accounts. Not a bad way to spend a “chilly” January weekend in San Diego.

Until next year, #SeeYouAtTorrey!

Post by: Nick Loewen, Kevin Lundstrom, Tawnia Allison, and Forrest Lockwood

Zurich Pro Am & Executive Women’s Day


It was only the first week of classes last week, and our students were already busy cracking the books and working a number of events. A group of students had the opportunity to work two auxiliary events prior to the Farmers Insurance Open this past weekend, with five of our SMBA students volunteering at both the Zurich Pro-Am Draft Party and Executive Women’s Day.

Zurich Pro-Am Draft Party

The Zurich Pro-Am is the premier special event during the Farmers Insurance Open-participants have the opportunity to play with a PGA Tour professional from the top 100 on the FedEx Cup points list. This year, golfers involved in the event included Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley, and many more.

The Draft Party happens the evening prior to the event, where participants are paired up with their golfer in an NFL Draft-style selection. The event took place at the San Diego Air & Space Musuem, a beautiful facility for attendees. Our SMBA students (Tawnia Allison, Emma Black, Julia Hernandez, Alissa Perez, and Catherine Tricker) were able to assist in registration, coordinating guests and their tables, and act as mobile emcees during the draft which involved moving through the event space to help teams announce their draft picks. Representatives from both the Century Club and Farmers Insurance spoke to the amateur golfers and their guests before dinner and the draft about the philanthropic goals of their respective organizations and the success of events like the Pro-Am and the Farmers Insurance Open tournaments.


2017 Executive Women’s Day presented by Farmers Insurance

The 2017 Farmers Insurance Open once again kicked off with the inspiring and highly anticipated Executive Women’s Day. This special event, hosted by The Century Club of San Diego and Farmers Insurance, is a PGA Tour event aimed to “celebrate, empower, and inspire women” of various communities. On Wednesday January 25, 2017, local and successful businesswomen gathered to share their experiences in the corporate world and provide advice to the hundreds of women in the audience. Five Sports MBA students (Amie Callaway, Emma Black, Coley Mills, Tawnia Allison, and Amy Ross) had the privilege to assist in setting up for the event as well as listen to powerful words from the panelists. Invited to the panel this year were the following female leaders:


  • Areva Martin, Television Personality, Attorney, Civil/Human Rights Advocate, Author- Keynote Speaker
  • Lindsay Amstutz, Assistant General Manager, FOX Sports West/ FOX Sports San Diego/Prime Ticket- Panelist
  • Laurie Coskey, Ed.E, President and CEO, United Way of San Diego County- Panelist
  • Judy Forrester, CEO and Executive Director, The New Children’s Museum- Panelist
  • Terri Funk Graham, Board Director, Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc.- Panelist


These women all worked in different fields with various titles and responsibilities. However, one thing they had in common was that they were all powerful female leaders who managed their professional and personal lives successfully and gracefully. After some background history on their professional careers, the women encouraged the audience to continue accomplishing their goals despite the adversities that might come their way. Their compelling stories and empowering advice inspired women to continue pursuing what they love to do, even if it wasn’t what they initially intended. The audience, along with the students, was able to leave the forum with guidance on how to grow professionally and personally.

The students also gained some insight on what happens behind-the-scenes of such an important event. They assisted in greeting and directing the guests to the venue, registering, and setting up for the Networking Reception. Part of the Networking Reception was designated to give back to the San Diego community by allowing the guests to fill up 150 book bags with school supplies for local middle and high school students, as well as add a handwritten note for a personal touch. This heartwarming portion of the Executive Women’s Day event was organized by Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) San Diego, one of the local charities supported by The Century Club. The Sports MBA students also assisted by setting up the stations for the different school supplies and assured that all bags were collected and given to SAY San Diego. Aside from the networking and the empowering advice from the panelists, the best part of the day for the students was being able to assist in making sure that 150 local students received school supplies—it was a great way to connect with the local community.

Being an integral part of the Executive Women’s Day event was extremely important and valuable to the students. It was a great way to gain insight on how to plan and execute events as well network with inspiring local businesswomen. What a great way to start the year and the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open!


Post by: Amy Ross and Julia Hernandez

From students to FIO’s staff

Golf is a whole new swing for the Sports MBA Class of 2017 after a busy weekend down at Torrey Pines. The cohort worked under the directions of Julianne Alarcio, Pro-Am and Charity Manager starting on Thursday the 28th, where they served in many positions and were part of a PGA Tour Tournament from the inside.

Sarah and Amy (right) during their observation shift.
Sarah and Amy (right), during their observation shift.

Volunteer Research and Development


During the Farmers Insurance Open, volunteer research and development conducted short personal surveys to discuss the highlights of a volunteer’s experience as well as areas of the experience that needed improvement. We also focused on the knowledge of volunteers about the charities supported by The Century Club. We found that volunteers spoke highly of the tournament as well as The Century Club and found the event to be extremely well thought out. It was great hearing the reasons behind every volunteer’s decision to volunteer for the event this year. Many reasons why people come to volunteer is because they also support the charities of The Century Club, The Monarch School and San Diego County Jr. Golf Association. While there were a few complaints about food and transportation, with over 800 volunteers, we found The Century Club to be doing an amazing job in providing an exceptional event for anyone to enjoy.


Parking & Transportation


As parking is very limited on the grounds of Torrey Pines, buses are used to transport attendees to and from the course from different predetermined locations.  The SMBA 2017 cohort were tasked to ride/test all buses from Sea World, Del Mar racetrack, and VIP pickup locations to identify timing, reliability, and comfort.  SMBA students also surveyed customers to evaluate efficiency, find improvements, and confirm successes.


Secret Shopper


As secret shoppers, the group was expected to observe and report.  They were tasked with identifying any inefficiencies associated with hospitality operations.  The upside to their job- they got to eat a lot of food! From the carnitas sliders at The Fringe, to the Veggie Wrap served at the concession stands, the group gave the food at the tournament a thumbs up!


Sponsorship Activation


Did anyone find their match?  No, not your match on the next generation dating app, your match from the ZTE tent at the Farmers Open?  ZTE, who had a large presence at the Farmers Insurance Open this past weekend, gave out the same number in the form of a sticker, to a set of people at different ends of the course.  If you found your match and tracked back to the ZTE tent together, you had the opportunity to win a prize. Some of the prizes included extensive getaway trips for two, and of course, golf included.


SDSU Sports MBA students had the opportunity to observe and report back on sponsorship activation at the FIO.  By observing and speaking with people inside the fan village and surrounding areas, the ZTE sponsorship tent looked to be the most effective.  There was a great deal of buzz, people asking what the numbers where, where they got them, why they have them? This was a great way to look into the back side of events and see what can be most effective in sponsorship activation.


Tweet Caddy


The group was all eyes and ears, literally, to have a better angle of everything that happened in the course and its perimeters.

A glimpse of the on-course action was captured with stars Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker, but also a reflection of the public, the interaction of fans with the tournament and the most beautiful pictures of the historical Torrey Pines. An insight perspective of how the social media of a massive event should be run.


Written by Kristina Wedseloft, Brandon Maier, Nic Benson, Mandy Chatigny and Jessica Anguiano.