Someone You Should Know: The Champion Behind The Scenes
Meet the man who's working hard to make the Sanford International a success
SIOUX FALLS, SD – Running the biggest golf tournament in South Dakota has become one man’s full-time job. He’s made sacrifices for the Sanford International, but you rarely see him without a smile and positive attitude.
“It’s just like how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” says Sanford International Tournament Director Greg Conrad.
If that’s the case, the Sanford International has been quite a mouthful. It’s the first-ever PGA Champions Tour event in South Dakota.
“Everything’s starting from scratch and you’re building this small city,” he explains.
The so-called city planner behind it all is Greg. Just like the event itself, he’s new to the area, too.
In fact, his wife and two teenage kids are back home in Des Moines, Iowa, while he works here.
“If I moved them again this would be six states for them and about six different schools. So, we made the decision that we’re going to let the kids finish school in Des Moines. We’ll get to spend some time together after the tournament for sure and hopefully become a little bit more of a normal family again,” Greg says.
Since December 2017, Greg and his team, which is only made up of a handful of people, have been planning the tournament. Greg gets hundreds of emails each day and often talks directly with the Champions Tour players themselves. He knows several on a first-name basis.
“John Daly will call. In talking to John Daly, he’s like ‘How can I help? What can I do to make this a better experience?’ I think these older Champions Tour players realize that everybody works really hard so they can go out and play golf.”
Greg got into this business not only because he loves golf, but sports in general. He was born with cerebral palsy, a physical disability that prevented him from playing most sports at a high level. But, it’s never stopped his competitive drive to create the best event for players and fans.
“You realize how these events can change, what an emotional charge you get from big events and being around people. That’s probably my biggest thing. Because I didn’t get to play, I had a different lens to look through,” he says.
His hard work makes him the champion behind the scenes worth cheering for. One of the things Greg is most excited about this week is the chance to meet his sports hero, legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus.