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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- An operations team of 60 men and women stood in a meeting at 5:30 a.m. before the official start of the 2024 WM Phoenix Open. It was dark, the weather was miserable, and the coffee came from a Keurig machine. My mind immediately drifted to the warm hotel bed I just left, the thought of catching a couple more hours of shut eye overtaking me. The rest of the group wouldn't have dreamed about being anywhere else.

This was a convergence of passion and months of hard work. The operations team at WM had thought of everything -- planned for every scenario and had every contingency plan in place -- well, at least when it came to waste management. The Super Bowl may not have been in town this year, but this was their big game, and they were more than ready to fly down the field. 

David Brannon and Chad Bowden sounded the horn, rallied the troops and began to bark their marching orders. Respectively the area general manager and the director at WM Four Corners, they relayed roles and responsibilities and assigned zones as team members were celebrated and inside jokes were exchanged.

It ultimately would not be an ordinary WM Phoenix Open given the amount of rainfall and chilly temperatures, but none of that mattered as the effort began. These people came from every corner of the continent, and nothing was going to stop them now.

The prior day, Brannon and Bowden led an operations tour through the grounds at TPC Scottsdale, providing select media members with an inside look at how the WM Phoenix Open operates. From the fan zone up to the top-level suites surrounding the 16th hole, it quickly became apparent that their mission was at the front of more minds than just their own.

Rattling off impressive statistics like the the use of 4,800 waste bins -- all of which they certainly could have pointed to on a map of the property -- and the number of bars serving drinks on the 16th hole, the two were in their element. They discussed the utilization of gray water (previously used) and how simple shapes subconsciously nudge patrons to correctly dispose of their water bottles and food plates.

Brannon, Bowden and the rest of the team may not receive applause like Scottie Scheffler and Justin Thomas, but it's not about recognition for them. What they sought to accomplish would be felt not only in the greater Scottsdale area but across sports venues through the country.

Dubbed a grounds for innovation, TPC Scottsdale serves as a whiteboard of sorts for WM -- the world's biggest sustainability test dummy. The benefactors include 12 MLB stadiums, 11 other golf tournaments, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and even a marathon, according to Michael Watson, the senior vice president and chief customer officer.

The willingness to share and collaborate is profound, but it doesn't stop there.

It extends to its vendors and the procurement process to stop any issues at the source. It takes life in the merchandise tent where brands like Repreve -- a company that turns plastic water bottles into clothing yarn -- has teamed up with Peter Millar to recycle water bottles last year's WM Phoenix Open transformed into polos and hoodies. It even trickles down to the players.

"This year we worked with the Thunderbirds to put a coffee bar on the range for players and their caddies, and in there, we have messaging of what we are doing," said Stu Redsun, WM vice president of brand & marketing. "It's always hard to get to them. They're here to do their job, and they come in and they want to practice and hit balls and go play and make a bigger check. 

"To have that coffee bar for them so that they can learn about what we are doing while they are waiting for their order and we are putting it in simple terms as well for folks … with the hope that they can tell their network of folks each player has why they love coming to this tournament."

All these small details may not seem like much at the surface, but in conjunction, the impact shines through. It's the reason why the WM Phoenix Open is immune to the PGA Tour scheduling changes and the lack of signature status this season. It's influential to roughly 700,000 people from around the country attending the tournament on an annual basis.

Knowing all of this, it might be why a 5:30 a.m. meeting in the cold rain doesn't feel like a chore but rather a treat.