UCSD grad Moraghan played major role at Open


Karen Moraghan didn’t get to take home a gleaming, prestigious trophy like Tiger Woods did. And she didn’t earn the adoration of fans like Rocco Mediate did. But Moraghan’s efforts were just as important to the recently completed U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course as those of the winner and runner-up. Moraghan, who spent her college years just down the road from Torrey Pines at UCSD and graduated from the school in 1981, served as a key cog in getting information out to rabid golf fans and casual observers around San Diego County and throughout the world.

“It’s like my old stomping grounds,” Moraghan said. “It’s been kind of fun to be able to show off this place. (Recently), I took a friend for a long walk on the beach through Del Mar and past Dog Beach and all the way up and around. It’s been fun to be here. I get such a charge coming back.”

Moraghan’s company, Hunter Public Relations, was hired by the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) to run part of the media operations for the 108th U.S. Open. Moraghan and members of her staff, along with a handful of USGA staff members and volunteers, operated the “flash” media area at the event’s massive media center, shuttling players through a battery of interviews for television, radio, print and electronic media after coming off the course following their rounds each day. Other members of her team distribute statistical information in the media center, escort players to and from the media room or assist writers and photographers on the golf course.

There were an estimated 1,200 media members in attendance throughout the week of the U.S. Open, from June 9-16. To serve them, Moraghan put in long hours during tournament week - usually 13-14 hours a day. On the Friday of the tournament, she expected to stay in the media center until midnight. “It’s fun, because you know that each person working in a professional capacity, and each volunteer, fit together like a jigsaw puzzle,” Moraghan said. “When it all comes together, it’s like a well-oiled machine.”

Moraghan, whose maiden name is Hunter, graduated from Third College (now Thurgood Marshall College) with a double major in communications and sociology and a minor in visual arts.

Moraghan and her firm have earned a stellar reputation in the worlds of hospitality and golf. Recently, she coordinated the grand re-opening of the USGA Museum and dedication of the Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History at the association’s headquarters in Far Hills, N.J.

For 18 years, Moraghan and her sister and business partner, Kristen, have worked with golf resorts, courses, communities and spas to raise their profile among key target audiences, including the 26 million golfers in the U.S. Among their firm’s more interesting projects have been representing Donald Trump’s collection of golf courses and the TaylorMade Kingdom at Reynolds Plantation, near Atlanta - a high-tech club fitting and teaching environment for the best golfers in the world.

Moraghan is a longtime U.S. Open media volunteer. In 1992, she ran the operation, serving as championship director of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

The USGA has been a client of Hunter Public Relations for the last 15 years. Moraghan is involved in many projects for the association, but the ones that have the highest profile are the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open, which will be held June 23-29 at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn.

“The championships are just one component of what we do for the USGA, but for me, the USGA is there for all golfers and not just the best in the world,” Moraghan said. “It’s always something different - we’re always trying to create tools and events for people to learn how to enjoy the game of golf. It’s not rocket science - it’s just golf, but it’s a great game. People who are of different abilities, because of the handicap system, can play together and enjoy it.”

Moraghan credits her position at UCSD as sports information director (a student job in 1979-81) for laying the foundation of her experience in communications, including attentiveness to the information needs of media and juggling tasks. Her membership on the women’s crew, cross country and track teams honed the discipline necessary to run a business and travel as many as 180 days a year.

Moraghan said she gets to visit La Jolla regularly as part of a UCSD alumni group, and always feels energized being on campus. She hopes that the exposure brought by the U.S. Open also reflected positively on her alma mater.

“I hope there will be a few sidebar media stories highlighting the magnificence of our campus - not just its physical beauty, but on the intellect and learning that goes on here every day, she said during the tournament.”