Tara McKenna isn’t surprised that Warren Chappuis – just seven years removed from his FGCU graduation – has won an Emmy and manages a staff of a dozen people as broadcast operations manager for TrackMan Golf.
In 2010, Chappuis was in the first class that McKenna oversaw as program director for FGCU’s PGA golf management degree. Even then, he stood out.
“He was completely personality-plus,” she said. “He mastered the elevator pitch. You could put him in a room full of CEOs and he’d have those CEOs getting his business card at the end. That was kind of his personality. That’s the way he’s always been. He was always interested in going outside the box.”
“It’s been a quick rise up,” he said. “I’m only 29 and already managing an entire division for a major company. Now, you ask my family, and they’re not surprised: ‘No, we knew you were smart.’ They say that now. I’m definitely surprised. There has been a lot of growth quickly. Our broadcast division and product have grown quickly. I’m happy I’ve been able to adapt and grow with it, stay on and do the job I’m doing now.”
TrackMan is the gold standard for launch-monitor data in the golf industry. Its proprietary, radar-based technology tracks the full trajectory of any shot, from 6-foot pitches to 400- yard drives, pinpointing the landing position with an accuracy of less than one foot at 100 yards. It displays the shot’s 3D trajectory together with 26 impact and ball flight parameters in real time, with data delivered within one second. If you’ve ever watched a golf telecast, you likely have seen the orange laser tracer making a majestic arc in the sky.
Chappuis spends most of his time on the road, orchestrating a staff that sets up the monitors on tee boxes at PGA Tour stops to capture the strategic TV shots. When he first started with TrackMan in 2015, he was a technician setting up the monitors. Now he’s the person telling others where and how to set them up.
Which leads us to the Emmy. A Technology and Engineering Emmy Award is given annually by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) for developments and/or standardization involved in engineering technologies that represent extensive improvement on existing methods or are remarkably innovative. Chappuis won his in 2019 after being nominated by CBS for the week he spent at Augusta National Golf Club during the Masters telecast and was lauded for “a three-dimensional Doppler radar system to track and display fast-moving pitched and hit balls.”
“We were one of the first tech companies to use it during the main broadcast,” he said. “It was very historic and a pretty big deal to be able to set up at Augusta because they were very slow to adapt to technology and they like everything old-fashioned and old school. They still don’t even have digital leaderboards.
“Everything worked flawlessly for the week and we ended up winning. It put an exclamation point on a great week.”
McKenna was one of the first to get a glimpse of the stunning Emmy statue after he received it.
“I texted her with a photo and wrote, ‘Do you have another graduate who has won an Emmy? Just to mess with her,” he said. “It’s definitely a conversation piece. Most people think it’s fake and I bought it on eBay.”
Chappuis’ rise in the golf industry has its roots in FGCU’s unique PGA golf management program. FGCU is one of just 18 universities in the United States – and the only one in Florida – to offer it. McKenna says students enjoy 100 percent job placement upon graduation.
“FGCU and the golf management program helped me grow up and get real-world experiences,” Chappuis said. “The internships helped me take what we learned in the classroom, apply it and see it working. The majority of people don’t get real-world experiences. We applied what we were learning right away.”
He interned in Florida at Cypress Head Golf Club in Port Orange and Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples. In his third internship, he served as an assistant for 18 months to Jim Suttie, the #18 teacher in America, according to Golf Digest. They alternated between TwinEagles Golf Club in Naples in the winter/spring and Mistwood Golf Club in suburban Chicago in the summer/fall.
That’s where Chappuis first used TrackMan. And on one serendipitous day, Suttie’s TrackMan malfunctioned. Chappuis called the company’s support line, allowed the tech to remote into Suttie’s laptop and learned that Windows would need to be uninstalled and reinstalled. The tech – shocked to learn that Chappuis was going to do it himself – asked him to call back when he was finished. The tech remoted back in and said the radar was working perfectly.
Oh, and one other thing: “Call me on your personal cell phone when you’re done working today.” That led to an interview in New York, which led to Chappuis moving to Scottsdale, Arizona, to join TrackMan.
“That’s a very unusual track for most of our students,” McKenna said. “It was more of the technical side, not the instructional/ delivery side. But his confidence in his technical knowledge clearly is there.”
Chappuis and McKenna remain close, even though they rarely see each other.
“Every time I’m watching a telecast and I see that orange stripe, I smile and laugh to myself: ‘Well, there’s Warren,’ ” she said.