By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter
Doug Habgood has called a lot of places home. But he likes to tip his hat to his roots.
On the Friday before tournament week, Habgood was sporting a Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap. The 46-year-old tournament director of the Principal Charity Classic was born in Malvern, Pa.
He graduated from the University of South Carolina. He lived in Naples, Fla., West Palm Beach, Fla., and Greensboro, N.C., while working for the LPGA. Hired by Bruno Event Team in 2003, he spent 15 years in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colo., before moving to Urbandale in August of 2018.
Married and the father of three daughters, Habgood has adjusted quickly to his new environment.
“I’ve found the geography is a little more diverse than you would think at first,” Habgood said. “This golf course sort of proves my point.”
Habgood has helped with the Principal Charity Classic since it moved from Glen Oaks to the Wakonda Club in 2013. An old-style course with rolling fairways and elevation changes that defy Iowa’s flat agricultural stereotype, Wakonda has undergone some nips and tucks since the PGA Tour Champions started coming through the front gate on an annual basis.
“The first year was just short of mayhem, just working out all the kinks,” Habgood said.
Wakonda is landlocked by the city of Des Moines on all four sides, making for some logistical challenges for Habgood and his staff.
“But I like where it is geographically for the city, and I like where it is geographically to the airport,” Habgood said. “So it’s kind of a nice package here. And I think we’ve kind of grown into it. If you look at how we set it up the first year, there’s probably not one thing that’s the same. Everything has been tinkered with. And we’ll tinker with it next year.”
In his role as tournament director, idle chatter is missing from Habgood’s to-do list for the three months leading up to the Principal Charity Classic. This year’s challenge was magnified because an entirely new tournament staff had to be hired.
“As of March 1 we had two employees, where normally we’d have six, Habgood said.
For the last three months, time management has been an essential part of Habgood’s daily routine.
“You look at the value of certain initiatives and think, “If I go down that path is it going to help the event?” he said. “How much time and effort is it going to take for me to get there? So you start to evaluate which ones you think are going to have the most return, and you stay away from the others. A lot of it is sort of working backwards. You know where you need to be at the end, and how do you get there?”
As organized and prepared as Habgood is for a tournament, he knows that even the perfect plan will need to be adjusted on the fly.
“You’d like to think, “Hey, we’ve got everything covered,’ ” he said. “But every time that phone rings, or you get an email or someone walks in that door, you have to react to it. I know how many meetings I have in a day. But I don’t know that the casual member is going to walk in here and ask me something about the menu in a skybox, which throws you off and you have to react.”
In other words, thinking on your feet is a big part of the job.
“Absolutely,” Habgood said. “And it’s how you react, and how you handle the volume. Because it can run over you for sure. You can only control so much. If you were to sit here and think about the whole thing, it would overwhelm you. It’s an inexact science.”
Between now and Sunday, when the winner accepts his trophy and the first-place check for $277,500, Habgood will put out plenty of fires that the fans in attendance will know nothing about.
“I’ve go to deliver what’s on my list so that I’m backing up my teammates, because I need them to do the same thing,” Habgood said. “If I come up short I’ve let them down, and vice-versa. Otherwise you’d be overwhelmed and you wouldn’t be able to concentrate to get things done.”