By Murray Gleffe
HOBART-Without volunteers, things would be different at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
Before the tournament starts, volunteers prepare goodie bags for the players, get their assignments for the week, and then rehearse what needs to be done when the action goes live on July 5.
Whether a marshal, computer scorer, or a behind the scenes worker, each job is important to make tournament week run smoothly.
Tournament Manager Kaci Mitchell oversees the extensive list of volunteers needed at the golf course for the entire week.
“We hit the ground running right after the calendar year,” said Mitchell. “An ideal number is over 600 total, with close to 350 as marshals for the entire 18 holes. We first fill our committee with volunteers that worked last year and want to return. In addition, we work with a number of golf courses and local organizations in Northeast Wisconsin to try to fill those remaining slots.”
The course marshals are an integral part of the tournament because they are just yards off the fairway, green, or tee box.
They have a “quite please” sign they carry along to ensure the players can execute shots with no noise.
“The marshals, and standard bearers are such a vital part of volunteering on the course itself,” Mitchell said. “They are there to guide the patrons to stop when a player is about to rehearse their shot. We equip our volunteers with radios and uniforms to properly identify not only the fans but the players themselves. You get exercise and get to see up close golf action for the entire week. You don’t have to know a ton about golf to volunteer. Your willingness to learn and flexibility for the week are two important features to bring to the course.”
The average person that sees the volunteers on television or while watching live from behind the ropes might not realize that there are numerous positions to make everything work.
For example, when someone goes to will call to pick up tickets and then goes through the main gate, those are all people volunteering their time to enable spectators to get through comfortably and safely to the course.
Furthermore, drivers from Lamers drive people from the parking lot to the course. Patrons are asked to park at NWTC, where a free shuttle gets them to and from the front gate.
“We have a circular route that the vans run during tournament week,” Mitchell said. “We feel this went real smooth last year and each of them can fill up to 35 to 40 people.”
In addition, there is the technology side of things in which volunteers are needed to punch scores into each of the players names to ensure the lpga.com/leaderboard live scoring function works properly for the week.
Another area that needs attention is the media area in which credentialed personnel check-in’s, pre-tournament interviews, and post tournament interviews are conducted.
Volunteering is a good way to help and stay active in your community.
This year, Cheryl Paul, Suamico, is the volunteer chair for the media committee.
Paul checks in the different media outlets Monday through Wednesday and then ensures that the proper people are checked in during each of the four tournament days.
Come opening round, the media center is a busy place where players are whisked in and out over the course of a 13-hour day.
“I have volunteered at the US Womens Open at Blackwolf Run and the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits,” said Paul. “I have a knowledge of how a tournament is run with volunteers because of my prior experience. Kaci and her leadership team have been amazing in getting the personnel and all of the schedules figured out. It’s not as easy as it seems.”
Paul plays Thornberry regularly and states her favorites as Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson.
If interested in volunteering for next year’s Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic go to the tournament website and fill out an application.
“A great attitude and a short training session is all you need to get started,” Mitchell said.