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Steve Friedlander

BEHIND THE HEADLINES

October 28, 2007

The Pelican Hill Golf Club, which closed for renovations more than two years ago, is scheduled to reopen Friday with two courses, a practice range, a clubhouse and a restaurant.

In anticipation of the reopening, the Daily Pilot toured the green with Steve Friedlander, the Irvine Co.’s general manager for golf, and asked about his forecast for the coming years. The full Resort at Pelican Hill, which will include a hotel and wedding site, is scheduled to open in 2008.

Q. Explain your golf background leading up to your position with the Irvine Company.

A. I became a golf professional and PGA of America member in 1975, and worked my way through the ranks. I started as a teaching professional; then became an assistant professional, and eventually worked my way into positions, where I was responsible for all golf operations at multiple clubs. I’ve been involved in high-end and luxury resort properties for nearly 20 years.

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Prior to joining The Irvine Co., I served as general manager and group director of golf at the Kohler Co., where I oversaw Whistling Straits in Wisconsin and The Duke’s St. Andrews in Scotland. I also worked as director of golf at both Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami and Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club in Tuscon.

Q. Tell us about your experience at Whistling Straits in planning and organizing the PGA Championship, one of the four majors on the PGA Tour.

A. Planning started in 2000 — four full years before the actual event. I worked closely with the course’s designer, Pete Dye, to create the infrastructure to accommodate 320,000 attendees and park 27,000 cars daily on site. The job also involved working closely with Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s senior director of tournaments, to ensure the golf course was perfectly conditioned and the ultimate test for the world’s greatest golfers.

In addition, I served on the event’s Executive Committee, which involved organizing 63 volunteer committees with some 3,500 volunteers. The 2004 PGA Championship set a number of records, including attendance and merchandise sales. I usually tell people that preparing for the championship is akin to building a stadium for the Super Bowl, except that the game lasts seven days and immediately afterward you dismantle what you’ve built. That’s what it was like.

Q. You’ve been at Pelican Hill Golf Club since early 2007. What has been taking place behind the scenes in planning for this Friday’s grand re-opening?

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