Where are they Now – Andrew Langford-Jones (OH ’66)
Your current position is Director of Tournaments at the PGA Tour. What does this role entail?
It basically involves the running of all professional golf tournaments held in Australia. Our team looks after everything that happens or effects the playing of the game. This includes registration, rules, scoring, volunteers, television, the draw etc. etc. This year we will be involved in about seventeen events that will include the World Cup, Australian Open, Perth Shootout, Australian PGA and the FIJI International among others.
How did you get started in the role?
Purely by chance. I always loved sport and was keen to be involved in the administration of sport. After twenty years as a committee man and then finally President and Chairman of the VAFA I was ready for a change. A mate who was already involved in the Tour asked me if I could assist him in the running of the Bi Centennial back in 1988. Norman, Faldo, Ballesteros, Baker-Finch, Couples, Grady and Rodger Davis all played. It was fantastic. Here I was in my own golf cart following the world’s best at Royal Melbourne. At the end of the week my mate called me aside and gave me a white envelope that contained ten one hundred dollar notes. My only thought at the time was how good is this, being paid a thousand dollars to drive round in my own golf cart and watch all my golfing hero’s play golf. The next day I went to my partners and negotiated an exit strategy from the business consultancy I was involved with and twenty eight years later I’m still watching the best golfers in the world play the game I love. The only difference is that now I’m the boss.
How did your formative years at Haileybury prepare you for the various roles you have held in your life?
Haileybury has had an enormous influence on my life. We were quite a small school back in the sixties but we were very successful. I was lucky to be a member of the school’s first ever APS football and cricket premierships. This bonded our group for life and only in the last twelve months we held our fifty year union of those premierships. All but about three deceased members attended, coming from all over Australia. The confidence and contacts I made or gained at Haileybury have stood me in good stead throughout my working life. I still remember the life lessons our football coach John Masters taught us. On reflection apart from dad, he and Haileybury’s influence may have made more of an impression on my life than any other person or institution I can think of.
How is your golf swing today ?
Awful, but I can still play to a handicap of ten or so.
Do you get to play much whilst fulfilling this role?
I often refer to myself as Kingston Heath’s best member having only played there twice since 2002. Expensive golf. I have however had the opportunity in the meantime to play many of the world’s best courses. Augusta, maybe half a dozen times among them. I still manage to keep my handicap in single figures somehow.
How many days a year are you away?
Including Majors and World Golf Championships about one hundred twenty days a year. In the early days it was even more.
Are you over travelling as yet?
The short answer is yes the real answer is usually. In two weeks time I start a great trip. A week at Wimbledon followed by a week at the British Open, a week in New York, a week at the US PGA, Washington for a week and then onto Rio for the Olympics before heading home. That’s hard to beat, however most of the travel is like last week. Monday flew to Fiji. Tuesday flew to Brisbane and Thursday flew back to Melbourne. Who would enjoy that?
What will be your role at the Olympics?
A number of Tournament officials from around the world have been selected to administer the golf tournament at the Olympics. Golf is back in as a trial sport for the first time since the early 1900’s. I’m very lucky to have been selected as one of those administrators. I presume we will be doing the same as we do at any other tournament. Register the players, set up the course, do the rules and check the scores. All pretty simple but I still feel honoured to be selected.
How is the state of Australian golf today?
Australian golf is currently doing very well. We are lucky to have two of the top ten players in the world and after a long period of being carried by the Appleby’s and Allenby’s of the world a new group headed by Jason day is now coming through. Our own Ryan Ruffle’s being part of that group.
Our difficulties are all driven by lack of money. Our courses are the best in the world but it will always be a challenge to get the top players to fly fourteen hours to Australia for the prizemoney we have on offer. Currently there are close to one hundred tournaments on the world tours with prizemoney of $5 million or more. The Australian Open will be played this year for $1 million. The sports psychologists keep telling the players that they can only play a maximum of twenty-five tournaments a year if they do not want to risk burnout and extend their careers well into their forties. Given they can only play twenty-five tournaments it’s a big ask to ask them to play two or three here in Australia for one million when they can play elsewhere in the world at events with prizemoney of between five and ten million every week. Our courses, warm weather and talent pool are still our biggest assets.