By Jake Kulju
George Smith of Mahaffey Fabric Structures in Memphis, Tenn., spends one week each year in upstate New York. But he isn’t there for his health. His company provides tents and fabric structures for a stop on the LPGA tour each year at Locust Hill Country Club in Rochester. In business since 1924, Mahaffey Fabric Structures was a natural choice for the event coordinators, who were eager to take the LPGA tournament to another level after a management change. A crucial part of this new direction was to build a relationship with a reliable tent company.
Setting up tents for a professional golf tournament has the potential to pose serious challenges, as companies work around difficult schedules. Golf course officials have strict requirements about setup times and locations, Smith says, to create the least amount of interference with the course’s regular schedule.
This year, setup for the tournament took Smith’s crew about three weeks, with as many as 30 people working at once. “We go in with 15—up to 30—crew members, then scale it way back,” he says. “They don’t let us just have at it. They give us specific times that we can be in certain areas.”
The planning of the tournament at Locust Hill required Mahaffey to create tented areas around the club’s corporate complex, which is located in the middle of the golf course. Smith and his crew faced the unique challenge of having limited access to the setup area, and the area’s location in the middle of the course meant that only smaller vehicles were able to drive to the site. “All the access has to be with smaller vehicles and it can be tough to get some of our larger equipment in there,” he says. “Tractor trailers need to be unloaded at a different location, then the tents need to be shuffled to the center of the course.”
Mahaffey provides the tents, flooring, liners and chandeliers for each yearly event, but works with several other companies for additional elements. The clearspans and insulated hard walls and glass walls come from London, and Special Event Services of Memphis provides temperature control. According to Smith, Special Event Services has been working the tournament for several years and provided the lead for the job to Mahaffey.
When event coordinators were faced with a decision, they went with a company that had years of practice to back it up. “They picked us because they were comfortable with our experience,” Smith says. “We have stood the test of time, and they knew we would be there for them in five or 10 years and keep growing with them.”