WVU Graduate Pazder Always on Call
Whenever Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson or any of the other top golfers in the world need something taken care of at PGA events, the guy they usually call is Andy Pazder.
Whether it’s the players, tournament directors, rules officials or event sponsors, the most valued cellphone number to have on the Professional Golfers Association Tour is “AP’s”.
Andy Pazder is probably the most influential professional sports executive with a West Virginia University degree that you’ve never heard of. Three years ago, Pazder, a 1988 WVU School of Business graduate, was promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief of Operations for the PGA Tour after serving in various capacities on the pro tour since 1990.
Pazder says he will take in anywhere from 30-35 of the 45 PGA Tour events scheduled for this year, typically flying in on Monday and flying out on Wednesday afternoon if all goes well. His area of supervision is vast and varied, from rules oversight to player relations, tournament business affairs, operations, security, agronomy, anti-doping, weather … you name it.
If Pazder’s cell remains quiet or the TV cameras are not seeking him out, then his day is going just great.
“If anything goes wrong I get all the blame, and if it goes perfectly I get none of the credit, which is perfectly fine with me,” Pazder joked. This week, Andy is at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs making sure the Greenbrier Classic goes off without a hitch before catching a flight out of town to supervise the next event.
“I’m blessed with a great staff and they deserve all of the credit,” Pazder said. “If there is an issue that pops up – and it could be any of a million things – it might be a sponsor issue, it might be a player issue, it could be a golf course issue, weather, security – there are just a million different facets to putting on a PGA Tour event each week.”
The goal, according to the Erie, Pa., native, is to make sure everything is taken care of before the tournament begins on Thursday. If not, then it’s imperative that his cell charger is close by.
“We try to get out of the way before Thursday and let the athletes focus on getting the ball in the hole,” he said. “We don’t like to be a distraction to them.”
What Pazder is doing today working on the PGA Tour is a 180-degree turn from what he was doing at PriceWaterhouseCoopers when he first got out of college.
“There was no real blueprint in finding my way from Erie to Morgantown to Pricewaterhouse, and then to the tour for the last 24 years,” he chuckled.
Andy spent his first seven years with the PGA Tour on the financial side of things before jumping over to tournament operations. Prior to his current role, Pazder served as Senior Vice President of Tournament Administration for the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour.
For someone who has made the game of golf his life’s vocation, Pazder is ecstatic that his alma mater has chosen to reinstate its dormant men’s golf program.
“I started in the fall of ’84 and I graduated in the spring of ’88, so I came right after the golf program was discontinued,” Pazder said. “I grew up around the game. I never played competitively at a high level, but I’ve been around the game for most of my life.”
When West Virginia announced it was joining the Big 12 Conference in 2012, Pazder thought the time might be ripe to bring back golf.
“I thought it was a little unusual that we didn’t have a golf program, and when conferences were being consolidated I was thinking, ‘that’s great. Hopefully it will give us the opportunity to bring our program back.’
“And when I found out about it today it was exciting,” he said. “I was really, really thrilled about it. Of all the conferences, the Big 12 golf programs are pretty stout between Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas. There is a lot of history between those schools.”
Pazder cautions that it will be a massive undertaking for WVU to start its golf program over again from scratch, especially in the Big 12.
“Whoever the coach ends up being they will have their hands full competing at that level,” Pazder noted. “But I’m ready, willing and able to help the program any way that I can.”
When Pazder is not supervising pro golf tournaments, he can usually be found in front of the TV in his Ponte Vedra, Fla., home watching Mountaineer football games. Pazder’s oldest son, Michael, will be a junior this year at WVU and his oldest daughter, Katie, will be a high school senior this fall. However, Pazder is not sure if he can steer Katie to Morgantown, though.
“I’m still working on her,” he laughed.
Pazder and his wife Mary also have a middle-school-aged daughter, Kristen, so there is still plenty of time for them to get her on board with the Mountaineers.
Despite his hectic schedule, Pazder says he usually gets up to Morgantown for at least one football game a year.
“I’m a very devoted fan,” he said. “I was in the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and we do a reunion weekend once a year during football season, so I will be up for the Oklahoma State game. With my son being there it makes it easier for me to get up there.”
Who knows? Perhaps Pazder can even get back to Morgantown one day to see a Big 12 golf match - with his phone on vibrate, of course.
Andy Pazder, PGA Tour, West Virginia University Mountaineers, WVU, Big 12 Conference men's golf
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