Before the first tee shot was struck at the 2017 LPGA Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor late last month, the key to the success of the entire tournament was already in place. And they were difficult to miss during the four-day tournament featuring many of the top female golfers in the world.
“There is no way to pull off this type of event without the volunteers,” said Pauls Ejups, the tournament coordinator for the event. “The volunteers are the people who make this whole thing happen. They are the most important part of running the day-to-day operations of a golf tournament.”
The volunteers were wearing an orange shirt, a smile and offering a helping hand all around Travis Pointe Country Club. From the parking lot at the Washtenaw County Fairgrounds to the clubhouse at Travis Pointe and all over the beautiful golf course the volunteers were making the engine run. In fact, you couldn’t swing a stick or golf club without seeing someone in an orange shirt.
Ejups says to pull off an event of this magnitude requires 500 volunteers.
“We had a good response and ended up with about 550 this year,” he said. “It’s right around the same number we had last year.”
Many of the same people who volunteered last year returned for this year’s event.
There are a number of different duties and areas volunteers are assigned to during the course of the event. They range from walking scorers, caddie services, media center, player services, scoring tents, parking and shuttles, and course services. Each area has a volunteer chairperson who helps coordinate and organize that particular section and then reports to Patty Nogle, the volunteer director for the event.
And the “volunteers” do get some perks for their hard work.
The volunteer package includes a shirt, jacket, a round of golf at Leslie Golf Course, a hat or visor and other goodies. Also, their volunteer badge gets them access to the tournament at any time so they can come and enjoy the event when not working.
Volunteers are asked to work at least three shifts during the course of the event. A shift lasts four to six hours.
The search for volunteers begins in September when organizers get the word out regarding the event and the need for assistance in a number of different areas. They reach out to numerous golf organizations in the area, country clubs and even local golf teams.
“We encourage people to sign up early and even provide a little incentive in their volunteer packet because it certainly helps us so we do get a big initial response that first month,” Ejups said. “From then on, it’s constantly following up with emails and e-blasts right up until we start putting the signs out in April.”