"The Best Possible Show For The Community"

‘The best possible show for the community’

John Karedes, lifelong Endicott resident and Union-Endicott High School graduate, is overseeing his sixth edition of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open as tournament director.

Karedes oversees the biggest sporting event in Broome County — $1.8 million in prize money and thousands of spectators gathering annually at En-Joie Golf Course. From player recruitment to sponsor relations, Karedes calls the shots. He share with the Press & Sun-Bulletin the ins and outs of his job.

Q: How do you and your staff go about securing volunteers and doing other such community outreach?

“Really word-of-mouth is the best avenue. Certainly, we can put out PSAs (public service announcements) and some ads in our media, but word-ofmouth by current volunteers certainly seems to work the best. It takes an army to put on this Champions Tour event, so to have a friend say to you, ‘Hey, I’ve been a marshal on the second hole, it’s a great way to see these guys inside the ropes,’ or, ‘I help out at the concession stand with my Rotary Club.’ With that, we’re able to have a donation made back to us during the year. It’s those advocates of ours out there 365 days of the year and they are the biggest recruiting tool that we have.”

Q: When asked about the most demanding part of the job, you said probably sponsorship sales and making sure you are attentive to the 
needs of all, top to bottom. How do you balance all of that?

A: “Carefully. Every sponsor is important to us, and we want to make sure that they all realize that because it’s the whole equation that makes this Dick’s Sporting Goods Open work. It takes a great team, which I feel I have with our tournament staff, and with that we do our best to make every sponsor feel that they are getting value for their investment into the event.”

Q: Did you and the tournament have to alter strategies — player recruiting, marketing, what have you — when the switch was made from the PGA Tour to the Champions Tour?

A: “I think it took a little time to understand what the Champions Tour is all about. The PGA Tour sold us on, ‘hey, our guys (50-and-overs) get it,’ but it took us a year to have them here and understand what they were really talking about. We heard it from our sponsors, from sponsors who played in the Pro-Am on the PGA Tour and now were experiencing a Champions Tour Pro-Am and told us, ‘Don’t ever go back because these guys are great. It isn’t like they’re dragging us around for a practice round like some PGA Tour pros look at it.’ The guys on the Champions Tour can have conversations where they’re talking about life experiences, investments, things like that now with somebody of their peers rather than on the PGA Tour where it’s a 21- or 22-year-old kid who all of a sudden has put $5 million in the bank.”

Q: How does the tournament/ Broome County Community Charities determine distribution of charitable funds?

A: “The first thing we look at is those organizations that assisted us in the operation of the event. So, the concession stands are run by civic organizations, there’s another organization that takes care of parking. Those organizations are all taken care of first. Then we turn to our two hospital foundations, United Health Service Foundation and Lourdes Hospital Foundation. And that was part of the original Broome County Community Charities mission, to give back to the hospitals. And the reason for that is that those investments would take care of the greatest number of people here within the community.”

Q: What keeps you coming back? What makes tomorrow new and interesting to you? What keeps you motivated?

A: “This will be my sixth Dick’s Sporting Goods Open as tournament director. I love my job. It’s great to be able to bring something to my hometown and to be able to give something back. As far as what motivates myself and all of us, I think it’s to put on the best possible show for the community in which we live.”

Q: Other than August, what’s your busiest month of the year?

A: “June. Deadlines — print deadlines, sign deadlines. It’s basically wrapping up that sponsorship aspect. It kind of all comes together at that point, and then we turn into operations mode in July, in that 30 days leading up to it, and that’s where you see the structures being built and more of an operations segment.

“But from a sponsorship segment, it certainly would be June. And without the sponsorship, you don’t have to worry about the operations or anything else.”

Q: Electronic gadget you can least be without?

A: “My iPhone — and it’s also the one I’d like to be without the most. Today, so much happens whether it’s e-mails or even all the social media aspect. To be on top of it, you need, unfortunately, to be tethered to your device whatever that device may be.”

Q: Spiedie and a Heineken .. OR .. Poached Halibut, parisienne potatoes and a glass of Viognier?

A: “Spiedie and a Heineken. … Spiedie and a Coors Light, actually.”

Q: Ideal placement on the Tour schedule for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open?

A: “Current date, but surrounded by East Coast venues rather than West Coast venues. I like our date, I like having an off week prior to us, but I wish, rather than going to Seattle and Calgary, they were going to Charlotte and Raleigh.”

Q: You’ve got one round of golf … Name the course, and round out your foursome.

A: “The course would probably be Pebble Beach … And I would say (Arnold) Palmer, because he’s who started my era of, let’s say, the popularity aspect. I would say Nick Price, from a modern avenue. Alex (B.C. Open founder and longtime tournament director Alex Alexander), and myself.”

Q: Coming out of high school, what career path did you intend to follow?

A: “Coming out of high school, going to Ithaca College as a finance major, I believed that I would somehow, some day, end up on Wall Street. You’ve got to remember, that was before the market crashed, that’s ’84-85. The market was riding high and that was the place to go at that point.”

Q: How many times have you seen the movie Wall Street?

A: “Both hands, probably.”

Q: Vacation getaway or two on your bucket list?

A: “Seeing Greece and Italy with my wife would be a bucket list item. But we’ve been going to Aruba and I would take Aruba any day. You know it’s going to be 90 during the day and 81 at night no matter what time of the year you go.”

Q: Most demanding part of your job?

A: “Probably the sponsorship sales, and just making sure that we are attentive to all the needs of our sponsors. That starts with Dick’s Sporting Goods as our title, but goes into the next 600 sponsors. Really, it’s the whole equation that makes it work. So, balancing them — they are all very important — but making sure that we can fulfill their needs because you always want to be able to over deliver.”

Q: Most rewarding part of the job?

A: “Sunday, about 6:10, watching a winner get the check, the trophy and being able to absorb everything and look at the tents and look at the fans and know that it was a success, and that success ultimately is giving that money to charity later in the year.”

Q: Favorite football team?

A: “New York Giants.”

 Q: Fantasy football team name?

A: “JK’s Giants.”

Q: How many titles have you won?

A: “One … Two years ago.”

Q: Stud on your team was?

A: “Eli (Manning, quarterback).”

Q: Last time you arrived and the bags didn’t?

A: “Naples (Fla.) two years ago. … Deal with it. You can’t let little things like that tear you up.”

Q: Since assuming this position, most notably you have learned what about yourself?

A: “I think that no matter what the situation, I can stay level-headed. We’re dealing with all sorts of aspects of sponsors, fans, superstars in the players, players’ wives and players’ families. Just to be able to keep an even keel throughout it all. There are going to be some fires, but how you put those out shows a lot about not only the individual, but about the office and the staff as a whole. I like to lead by example, and I believe we can take care of the little things as well as the big

A: “I think the most interesting challenge, and it was just a challenge of making sure that the players realized that the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open was just not the same old B.C. Open. Those rookies coming out. And I don’t think there’s just one anecdote that I can say this happened or this was funny or not. It’s more just been a challenge to make sure that, initially, as we hit the Champions Tour, they all needed to find out one way or another that this event was different. Had the same feel, had the same character, had the same community embracing it, but it had a different dynamic with Dick’s Sporting Goods as a title sponsor. And now it’s something that has to be done on an annual basis with rookie class.”

Q: Of the players not yet 50, over the next 2-3 years, what names excite you the most?

A: “Davis Love. Vijay (Singh), if he does come on the Champions Tour. But I think Davis is going to add a lot of character to the tour, and, I think, will be a great addition.”

Q: Most memorable concert (excluding those at En-Joie) that you have attended?

A: “Probably either a U2 concert in their earlier years or, for a lot of fun, probably a Jimmy Buffet concert. Camden for Jimmy Buffet or U2 in the Carrier Dome.”

Q: What does the tournament director do Monday after the tournament?

A: “Oh, there’s a lot to be done. You’ve got to pick up, secure and get things ready for 2014.”