Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SANDY — The surprising thing about Laury Livsey, Salt Lake native and communications officer for the PGA Tour, is that he doesn't really play golf.
He has spent thousands of hours on the links, but now that he's in the business, who has the time? Last chance he got to tee up was in 2009. Seriously. He works five or six days a week, takes Sundays off. He has kids, wife, church, other stuff to do.
"The biggest myth about my job is that all I do is play golf," he says.
Fact is, he pretty much leaves that to the golfers.
Livsey is in Utah this week for the Web.com Tour's Utah Championship at Willow Creek Country Club. It's one of several road trips he takes a year as part of his assignment. The rest of the time it's an office job, not much different than working for an insurance company.
Except that most insurance jobs don't involve Jack Nicklaus, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. Livsey isn't best friends with any of them, but they do share business relationships. Livsey coordinates media interviews, researches and writes for the PGA Tour website and produces its magazines. When you see a player doing interviews after a tournament, it's likely Livsey or someone similar making it happen.
Such access lends itself to some great stories, but make no mistake, Livsey isn't a see-and-tell sort of guy. Ask about locker room fights, player rivalries or late night excursions and he's not about to dish.
"I can't talk about it," he says.
When you're charged with publicizing an organization, the last thing you want is to air the dirty laundry. Besides, he doesn't need to. Athletes tend to do that on their own (hello, Tiger, John Daly, etc).
"Our players are pretty good citizens. There are occasional problems, but for the most part, they stay out of the papers," Livsey says.
He goes on to say that golfers largely live quiet lives.
"There are a lot of players who are really good friends, but they want to rip each other apart on Sunday. But I think there's a real collegial spirit out there. There are a lot of convivial relationships."
How Livsey got a golf job is a source of considerable curiosity among friends. He works for WHAT?
Isn't that like a job in food-tasting or napping?
It's something you'd be doing anyway.
Livsey started staffing the press room for Senior PGA Tour events at Jeremy Ranch in 1987, in order to fulfill internship hours. That led to once-a-year paid assignments. His day job was working for The New Era magazine.
Impressed with his work, the PGA Tour offered various media relations positions along the way, but those involved extensive travel and Sunday work. In 2002, an opening arrived that involved office work and just three or four weeks of travel a year.
So long, icebreaker tournaments, hello Sunshine State.
Livsey says it has worked out nicely. He served six years as an LDS bishop, a scheduling challenge to be sure. Between church work, a spouse with long-term health issues and raising children, he hasn't had much time for golf. At least not the participant variety.
Still, it's fascinating work. His relationship with star players is largely professional, but occasionally insightful. For instance, the time he scheduled a pre-tourney interview session in Malaysia, involving Singh. But Livsey got delayed on the course and was a few minutes late. He apologized to Singh, who had already left the interview area.
"You missed your turn, bro," Singh joked.
Singh returned later for an interview session.
That same week, the prime minster wanted to meet Singh, whose wife is from Malaysia.
As they awaited the introductions, Singh whispered to Livsey: "Should I take off my hat?"
"I would," Livsey replied.
It worked out perfectly.
"I think Vijay is a genuinely good guy," Livsey says.
In 2010 at The Memorial in Dublin, Ohio, Livsey shot some photos of Jack Nicklaus. As they finished, Nicklaus noted the nearby buffet table and summoned him.
"Laury, come over here and have a nibble with me," he said.
"I've told my kids I don't know which was a greater shock, that he knew my name or hearing him use the phrase 'have a nibble,' " Livsey says.
Regardless, when it comes to a career in golf, Livsey won't lie. He hasn't just nibbled. It's been a full-on buffet.
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