Ortel takes over as tournament director for Greenbrier Classic
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A search for the name Monte Ortel won't result in much information on the Greenbrier Classic's new tournament director.
The college from which he graduated no longer exists in name and the basketball team on which he was a four-year starter just wasn't very good.
Where he has found success, however, is in the sport of golf.
Ortel has spent the first three years of the Greenbrier Classic as an assistant to tournament director Tim McNeely, who recently accepted the position as athletic director at Fairmont State University.
The 33-year-old Ortel was promoted to tournament director, bringing with him a wealth of golf knowledge and PGA Tour experience beginning before the inaugural Classic in 2010. The fourth annual tournament is set for July 4-7 at the Old White TPC on the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs.
"Monte's been with us a long time and I just kept coming back to the fact that he was a young man that put in his licks and had done a great job for us," Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice said. "When I looked into his eyes, I saw a lot of fire and passion and that's what you need if you're after my heart."
Ortel graduated in 2002 from Columbia Union College - which changed to Washington Adventist University in 2009 - and averaged double figures as a senior on the basketball team. In fact, one of his better games occurred his final season when he had 20 points and 11 rebounds in a 75-60 victory over the West Virginia Conference's Shepherd College.
"We seemed to struggle with the wins and loss category, but we had a lot of good talent go through there," he said.
One of his teammates was Sullivan Phillips, a member of Great Britain's 21-man provisional men's squad for the 2012 Olympics.
Ortel earned a master's degree in sports management from Slippery Rock University.
Although he played high school golf, his life-changing transition from basketball to golf occurred at Slippery Rock.
"I went to Columbia Union on a basketball scholarship," said the Charlotte, N.C. native. "I just really loved basketball. I went back to Charlotte to teach at a private institution and decided to get my masters in sports management. I went to Slippery Rock for a year and part of the sports management program was an internship. The internship I accepted and got on board with was the 84 Lumber Classic.
"I went down and got bit by the golf bug. I loved the operations of it, I loved the whole thing about PGA Tour events and just fell in love with it."
He spent three years as head of operations for the 84 Lumber Classic (2004-06) and three years as head of operations for the Turning Stone Resort Championship (2007-09) at Atunyote (pronounced uh-DOON-yo) in Vernon, N.Y.
In his role, he was responsible for grandstands, merchandise tents, food and beverage tents, and all of the signage.
In 2010, he became the assistant director at the Greenbrier Classic under McNeely.
Ortel said his background in operations will serve him well in his new role.
"Everything that we do at an event has an element of operations," he said. "I feel, personally, having the operations background help me a great deal to understand the big scheme because it all ties back to operations. My three years at 84 and three years at Turning Stone helped guide me and mold me professionally. It was very beneficial."
At 33 years of age, Ortel is settled into the directorship of the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic.
"I'm very fortunate," he said. "I tell the assistants that come through this program, 'You have an opportunity and what you do with the opportunity is entirely up to you. You have to work hard, you have to be dedicated, you have to have passion behind your work and doors will open.'"
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at email@example.com or 304-348-4837.