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Founders Club launches search to replace Baron

The Las Vegas Founders Club has begun seeking a new tournament manager to replace Charlie Baron, who resigned earlier this year.

Founders member Matt Pearson, the chairman of the Frys.com Open, said the search has been deliberate because of the significance of the hire.

The Founders Club puts on the Frys.com Open on the PGA Tour and runs tournaments for the UNLV men’s and women’s golf team as well as an American Junior Golf Association event. The tournament manager is the day-to-day operational head of all four events.

Pearson said interviews have been conducted, but he declined to put a time frame on a new hire.

“This is a very important position and a very important hire for us,” Pearson said. “We don’t have a designated time period. We have to find the right person, and however long it takes for us to find that person is how long it will take.

“We have some big shoes to fill. Charlie brought so many things to the table and did such a wonderful job that it is going to take some time to find the right person.”

The new tournament manager will face significant challenges, particularly in boosting the tournament’s poor attendance.

Complicating matters is the new scheduling format of the PGA Tour. The Frys.com Open will be Oct. 11 to 14 at TPC Summerlin and TPC at the Canyons, one of the events held after the conclusion of the FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship.

The impact that will have on the plans of the top players — golf’s biggest draws — is unclear.

Pearson conceded there is plenty of work to be done, but he sloughed off comparisons between Las Vegas and Phoenix, whose FBR Open is one of the Tour’s best drawing events.

“On any given day in Las Vegas, there are 50,000 available tickets for shows and lounge acts and what not,” Pearson said. “We are constantly having to compete for the entertainment interests of the public. They don’t have that competition in Phoenix.

“They were able to style that event into a world-class, top-notch event that’s the place to go to be seen. It’s not about golf.”

VOLUNTEERS — The Frys.com Open is searching for volunteers for the 25th annual event.

Volunteers are required to pay a $25 fee, which includes a badge to enter the tournament all week, a season guest badge and a golf shirt.

For more information, call Kathy Williamson at the tournament office at 242-3008.

VEGAS FRANCHISE — Bob Aube, founder of the National Golf League, said the league now includes a local team that will be known as the Las Vegas Chips. Aube is an investor in the Las Vegas franchise along with Canadian businessmen Jim Gee and Bruce Sansom.

The league is a team concept in which six-man teams will play 27 holes a day competing in best ball, scramble and alternate shot formats. Aube wants to create a party atmosphere and plans to have loud music and spectators who are cheering loudly as the players hit.

He said he has talked to local golfers Monte Montgomery of Shadow Creek and Travis Long of SouthShore Golf Club, both of whom expressed interest in playing for the Las Vegas franchise. Aube said other local golfers who have interest in competing are ex-UNLV players Chris Berry and Mike Ruiz, and Matthew Grobe of DragonRidge.

The first Las Vegas match is set for Aug. 19 at Badlands.

Aube said despite Las Vegas’ sorry history of supporting professional sports, he believes the National Golf League can succeed here.

“Even if we had Jim Furyk in our league, if we played the same game they play (on the PGA Tour), nobody would come because it’s not fun,” Aube said. “But this isn’t going to be your typical golf tournament. I think when people give it a chance and see it once, they’re going to be hooked.

“You can call me a dreamer and maybe I am, but I believe in this concept and I really believe it will work in Las Vegas.”

Kevin Iole’s golf notes are published Thursday. He can be reached at 396-4428 or kiole@reviewjournal.com.

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