Kraft-Nabisco Tournament Director Makes Annual Trip to PGCC

Gabe Codding In what has now become an annual tradition, the Professional Golfers Career College welcomed Kraft Nabisco’s Tournament Director, Gabe Codding, to the St. Andrews auditorium to inspire students and encourage them to focus their passion for the game. Playing to a packed house, he spoke about his work ethic, what he values in people, and how he became the youngest Tournament Director Kraft Nabisco has ever seen. Stories like his are important to share for a number of reasons, not least of which is that younger generations of golfers should know that with hard work and a good attitude, any position in the golf world can be theirs.

Years ago, before Gabe Codding was the Tournament Director of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, he was a teenager in Rancho Mirage, helping out at the Mission Hills Country Club, where the Dinah Shore Golf Tournament, now the Kraft Nabisco Tournament, took place. Rancho Mirage most certainly left its mark on him, it’s not easy pounding gallery stakes in the punishing heat, but through the years, he maintained, and now he is leaving his own mark on the town.

Remarking on his tradition of being a perpetual volunteer he says simply, “I never dreamed it would turn into a career.” It seems like a bit of a Cinderella story, as though he was always being groomed for his current role. A teenaged guy helps out and because of his exceptional work ethic and winning attitude he gets asked to volunteer in even more positions every year, with his capabilities expanding in each job, until eventually the call came: Come work with us.

Codding was a natural, which is not to say that his job is easy. He oversees an operations team, plans events, and handles sales and marketing to execute golf’s first major. Terry Wilcox, Codding’s predecessor, had 14 years of experience when he handed over the reins, and since that day Gabe has met his responsibilities with optimism, and earnest vigor. It’s the same vigor he brings to PGCC every year. A naturally compelling speaker, he made it abundantly clear to students that there are very basic keys to success in the industry. “Hard work trumps luck every day. Work hard, respect people, and always work yourself to a higher level.”

Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipHard work and respect are repetitive themes when he addresses the future leaders in the world of golf. And his advice for golfers who are about to enter the workforce? “Find your passion for the industry, give it your all, learn all you can while at your level, and honor those around you.” His advice is a four pronged approach, a ladder, if you will, but it is time tested, effective and honest. Few people would know better what industry leaders are looking for than he does. “I look for people who are teachable, have great attitudes, and are passionate, hard workers.”

One of the greatest abilities we can develop is to learn from others; from their mistakes and successes. So, what is the greatest lesson he's learned? “I learned patience, and to honor everybody, but especially those in authority.” And what might he advise that every golfer entering the industry learn? “We all have greatness inside of us. Find what you are passionate about and give it your all. Don’t settle.”