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Signs of Greenbrier Classic begin to fade

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS -- It takes months of planning and construction to put together all the facilities used during the Greenbrier Classic golf tournament.

While the tents, skyboxes and media facilities are a must during tournament week, once the trophy is presented, those essentials become nothing but clutter on Jim Justice's resort lawn.

Assistant Tournament Director Ernest Saeger has been with The Greenbrier Classic since the very beginning.

He said the two months leading up to the tournament are a flurry of construction activity. It's exciting, he said, because you can watch everything come together right in time for tournament week.

The morning after the tournament is over, though, is a different story.

"The final putt drops on Sunday and all of a sudden Monday morning it's just like dropping off a cliff," Saegar said. "During the build you have something to look forward to, then all of a sudden it's over."

That's when the hundreds of volunteers, vendors, Greenbrier employees and tournament staff go from construction to cleanup.

Saegar said it takes workers about 20 to 30 days to make the resort and Old White TPC golf course look like they did before tournament setup began.

"They're long days," he said.

The first ones to erase their presence are the CBS Sports and Golf Channel Broadcast crews.

"They're the last ones in and the first ones out," Saegar said.

While people like Saegar spend all year focusing on the Greenbrier Classic, for the TV crews, it's just another stop on a seemingly unending series of sporting events. They have become experts on quickly getting into and out of venues.

"They really are a traveling circus," Saegar said. "They go from event to event and they have to get it out of here so they can get it to the next event they go to.

"They showed up last Thursday (before the tournament) and their entire compound will be gone by Monday afternoon," he said last week.

With TV taking care of itself, staff focus on clearing out any resort amenities that are converted for a temporary use during the tournament.

That includes the tournament's media center. The broadcast-ready, high-tech facility sits on two of the indoor tennis courts inside The Greenbrier's fitness club.

The tables, interview rooms, portable air conditioning unit, desks and 30-foot projection screen television all have to be carefully disassembled and cleared so guests can begin using the facilities again.

The golf course's pro shop, converted for use by golfers and their families during the event, also has to be restored so the Sporting Club's golf pros can begin scheduling tee times and selling merchandise to their regular customers.

Meanwhile, other staff and vendors hit the course to begin taking down the tents and skyboxes that line The Old White TPC.

Saegar said the whole time, staff are carefully noting the condition of the materials and whether they need to be updated for the next year.

"It's figuring out what is broken and what we can fix and cleaning everything so it's stored correctly for next year," he said. "We clean it off and take inventory of it so we know what we have and where it is and what we want to change and fix."

The Greenbrier resort doesn't close during any of the construction or deconstruction, so Saegar said his staff try to do their job without drawing too much notice from the resort's paying customers.

"The goal is to have the least impactful presence out here as we can," he said. "We try to be out there and not be seen taking it all down as best we can."

Once all the hardware is off the course and out of the buildings, staff go back and re-seed the grass and repair any damage to the grounds the nearly three-month presence of some of the facilities might have caused.

When that is complete, officials go back and review this year's event and see if there are any lessons on how they can make next year's event even better.

"We recap what went right, what went wrong and how are we going to improve," Saegar said.

"If it's adding more restrooms in a spot so spectators aren't having to walk so far, or adding more buses at a certain time so people don't have to wait on a bus... we always learn and we can always improve," he said. "That's our goal."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at or 304-348-4836.

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