Mary LoBello and Mike Goggin speak about the upcoming U.S. Senior Open. | Photo: Spenser Hasak
By ANNE MARIE TOBIN
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a team effort, that’s what makes a team work, company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
It’s also what makes the 2017 U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club work.
For nearly 18 months,the brains behind Bruno Event Team have been toiling behind the scenes in preparation for the big event, which is expected to bring record galleries to Salem, architect Donald Ross’ 1925 gem.
The team set up shop on the second floor of the clubhouse in January 2016. Last fall,Bruno relocated to a trailer next to the club’s tennis courts across the street, where the team of eight has been burning the midnight oil under the direction of former NEPGA executive director Eddie Carbone.
Carbone was named championship director in November 2014 after serving a 10-year stint as director of the PGA Tour tournament (from the Ford Championship through the World Golf Championship) at the Doral Resort in Doral, Fla.
“I had an amazing run in Florida but wanted to do something different,” said Carbone. “When I got the job, I commuted from Florida for several months, but relocated here and have been here ever since. I was born and raised here, I caddied at Charles River and was a Ouimet scholar, so I have roots here. We have assembled a talented team that is working day and night to make this Open what we hope will even top the 2001 event.”
Carbone said it all begins with Mary Lisa LoBello (Sales and Client Services director) and Mike Goggin (Operations director).
“We are so fortunate to have two of most versatile and experienced event operations and tournament services people in the event business,” said Carbone. “Mary and Mike are two incredible people, and consummate team players.
“Mike is like a Swiss Army knife, who handles any and all tasks deftly. Mary has a wealth of knowledge, especially since she was here in 2001 for the last U.S. Senior Open at Salem, and her event and country club experience has been a huge help.”
Carbone answers to Sean Sovacool, president of Bruno Event Team’s Golf Division, who oversaw the operation of the 2001 U.S. Senior Open when he worked for Golden Bear Enterprises, which is where LoBello comes in.
“I think it was 2011 when I got a phone call from Sean,” said LoBello, who also worked at the 2001 championship while with Golden Bear. “I was working at Turner Hill as Sales and Member Services director at the time. Sean said, ‘Mary, we’re going back to Salem.’ So I kept thinking about it and we stayed in touch, then the opportunity just fell into place.”
The Northampton native hit the ground running. Her responsibilities run the gamut from straight sales, to tweaking hospitality packages to their clients’ satisfaction, to ensuring that the needs of more than 100 corporate supporters are met and even to helping to interview, train and supervise a staff of four interns.
She also works daily with Volunteer Services manager Megan Gormley.
“We will have more than 2,000 volunteers working the tournament,” said LoBello. “That’s a huge undertaking, but Megan has done a fantastic job with making sure that everyone will be in place.”
LoBello said the key is organization and attention to detail.
“I keep a lot of lists. I have lists next to my bed, so when I wake up in the middle of the night, I just add things I remember to the list. I have lists on my cell phone and on my desk as well.”
LoBello, who lives in Beverly, said that much has changed in the 16 years since the last Senior Open was staged at Salem, beginning with technology.
“It’s incredible, we had no cell phones, we had no email, no texting,” she said. “When it came to sales, everything was all paper. For newspaper ads and tickets we used paper forms and old-fashioned mail with stamps. Now, everything is online and everything is accessible at any time of the day or night. That’s just the way business is conducted now, with information available to clients on a second’s notice on blogs, on websites at the click of a button. We didn’t have any of that in 2001.”
Goggin’s road to Salem began in San Francisco in 2008 when he was working at Harding Park Golf Club.
“I knew a guy who was working in operations for the PGA at the 2009 Ryder Cup and he offered me an internship,” said Goggin, a Triton Regional High School graduate who grew up in West Newbury. “I just got swept up in it.”
After the Ryder Cup, Goggin spent the next six years traveling the world as operations director at Global Management Inc. He worked 70 professional tournaments in Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States before landing at Bruno.
Goggin’s responsibilities are varied. He works closely with sales, the championship staff and interns. He works with vendors, suppliers and sponsors and also manages the budget relating to the same, as well as coordinating with local, state and federal officials regarding permits, transportation and security.
Goggin says his biggest challenge, other than dealing with the long and winding road that is Forest Street, is keeping a low, if not, invisible, profile.
“Forest Street is so close to two major highways and it will be closed during championship week. Part of my job is to handle emergencies and to solve problems,” he said. “If I am doing my job correctly, nobody even knows that my job exists as I am behind the scenes, and not, say, out in front, finding out why we have a 20-minute shuttle delay, as an example. My goal is to remain invisible.”
Goggin said he also must be prepared to deal with the one thing the Bruno team cannot control: the unpredictable New England weather, which interrupted play during the third round of the 2001 Open.
“It was a free-for-all on Saturday when violent thunderstorms caused power outages and evacuation nightmares,” he said. “We are and will be totally prepared with emergency plans and will have a USGA meteorologist monitoring weather conditions well in advance to keep everyone safe. I’m hoping for sunny skies, temperatures in the mid-70s and light breezes, but will be prepared for any weather conditions we have that week.”
LoBello says she loves the way the entire Bruno team may be called upon to pitch in and help when needed, especially the interns.
“You never know, you might look outside and see one of them shoveling mulch with Mike,” she said. “I just love working with this team, and I know I will be sorry when it ends. I don’t know what I will do, but I’m ready for the next big adventure no matter where it takes me.”