CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In his new job, Ken Tackett will get the best of many worlds.The Capital High graduate doesn't have to move out of West Virginia, yet gets to travel to top-shelf destinations.He doesn't have to juggle so many duties, but he'll work more intensely with the sport he so dearly loves, golf.And he'll get a ringside seat - make that a golf-cart seat - to watch some of the best players in the sport.
Tackett has left his position as executive director of the West Virginia Golf Association, joining the PGA Tour as a rules official. If that isn't his dream job, it's close."This is a pinnacle of what we do in golf administration," Tackett said Monday from Palm Springs, Calif.Yep, Palm Springs. He is working this at the Humana Challenge in Partnership with the Clinton Foundation at nearby La Quinta, and will head to the Farmers Insurance Open near San Diego at Torrey Pines next week.His commitment is 28 weeks out of the year, about 23 or 24 tournaments in all. For four of those events, he will arrive a week early as an advance official, setting the out-of-bounds markers and hazards, working with the golf course superintendent on specifications for greens, fairways and the rough, and work with tournament officials.He more or less inherited his 2014 schedule, and he will not be working the Greenbrier Classic. He will work at least one tournament close to home, the prestigious Memorial Tournament near Columbus, Ohio.His turn at a major will have to wait for another year. None of the four is run by the PGA Tour, and those use a limited number of Tour officials - the Masters will use eight or nine, for example.And the weeks he's not resetting hole placements, moving tee markers or being called for on-the-spot rules interpretations, he'll be back at his Mink Shoals home with his wife and two children, ages 9 and 11."When I'm off, I'm off," Tackett said. "When I get back from San Diego, I'll be off. Similar to a pilot or something. I'll have very little responsibility when I'm off work, just checking e-mails and stuff."He said he has been told it will take him two to three years to "find his bearings," and up to five years to really get comfortable. He won't have to court sponsors and donors as he did at the WVGA, but he will be getting familiar with fellow PGA Tour officials and the golfers, from the big names to the rookies struggling to keep their card.The timing wasn't great for his first trip out of town, either."My first week, it was 4 below zero [in Charleston]," he said. "The second day, we lost water. As you can imagine, my wife is really happy about the whole situation. What else can go wrong?"
The WVGA has launched a nationwide search for its next executive director. The successful candidate must be a jack-of-all-trades, doing everything from enforcing pace-of-play regulations to cultivating sponsorships to running a small but active central office of about six."You've got to have business sense," Tackett said. "You have to know the rules of golf, and the golf business in general. As executive director, I constantly worked with pulling in partners and dealing with aspects like that. And you're mindful of expenses."You've got to keep memberships affordable, keep tournaments affordable and make sure you make golf the winner. I think that golf background is a given, and you have to have a strong passion."You have to be very organized, and you have to work with a small budget and a small staff. But we have always tried to make everything we do big-time."Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.