Friday, September 21, 2018
Golf

Most influential women in Tampa Bay sports: Tracy West, Valspar Championship

Tracy West never intended to work in sports. After graduating from Michigan State with a master's degree in marketing, West went to work for Foremost Insurance and then Herman Miller Furniture in Grand Rapids, Mich.

On the side, she was a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce. One of the projects was to help put on a new Senior PGA Tour event, the Greater Grand Rapids Open. West volunteered and ended up on the tournament's executive board.

"The 12 of us (volunteers) were putting in 30 hours a week,'' West said. "In addition to that we were trying to build our careers. For me, I found that I was having more fun working on the tournament.''

So when a new Senior PGA Tour tournament in Minneapolis, the Burnet Senior Classic, was looking for an assistant tournament director, West mailed off her resume. Tournament director Hollis Cavner hired her, and a career was born.

From 1993-97, West helped run the tournament, which is now the 3M Championship. Then came a chance to take over her own senior event in 1998, the Bank of America Championship in Boston. That gig lasted until 2008, when the struggling economy made it tough for banks to hold on to title sponsorships. The tournament folded, and suddenly West was out of the golf business.

"At that point we didn't want to move, so I left Pro Links (golf promotions),'' West said.

She landed as the senior director of development and signature programs for the Boston Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital's Home Base Program for five years. But golf came calling again in 2014, when Cavner and Pro Links took over operation of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook.

"He made a good enough offer to where it was like 'Okay, we're going,' '' West said.

"There's only 20 or so of them in the entire country. They don't just pop up every day. So when the opportunity came, it was just the writing on the wall. We were moving to Florida.''

Now three years into the job, West doesn't want to do anything else.

"I'm completely happy, and I can't imagine, unless there was a $1 million job offer, not doing this,'' West said. "I'm quite confident I will retire, as long as everyone will continue to have me, working in PGA Tour golf.''

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