In partnership with our friends at AXA XL, we’re collaborating to put a spotlight on the incredible men and women who volunteer their time to support the LPGA’s players and fans at Tour stops across the globe. Enjoy this look at what it takes to join the team, and hear more stories of the volunteers making a difference who have earned recognition as an AXA LPGA Volunteer Service Award nominees.
While the LPGA and PGA Tours each have teams of full-time staff dedicated to planning and organizing the logistics of each tournament (sometimes years in advanced), they simply wouldn’t be able to pull them off without volunteer power.
Tournament volunteers are the lifeblood of professional golf tournaments, helping to ensure that the players, spectators and charities that benefit from these events get the most out of the week.
In many ways, they’re just as critical to the success of the event as the players themselves.
If you’ve ever considered taking your golf fandom to the next level by volunteering for a Tour event, here are a few helpful things to know before you submit your application:
One of the most well-known perks of volunteering is the opportunity to be inside the ropes and following-along with the world’s most talented athletes. While not every volunteer position gives you a front-row seat to the action, there are plenty of other benefits to donating your time. Most volunteers receive a Tour branded uniform and swag, free lunch daily, complimentary tickets to the tournament, and the chance to earn a round of golf at the host course, offering prime access to some of the most prestigious golf courses across the country.
Oh, and did we forget to mention the celebratory volunteer party? Yeah, you’re not going to want to miss that
The perks vary from tournament to tournament, but one thing’s for sure – the experience you’ll receive is one far more unique than simply being a spectator.
In addition to the tangible perks that come along with volunteering is the pride that comes along with being a part of a large-scale effort that pulls off a professional sporting event. That feeling and comradery is shared amongst the tribe of volunteers who in many instances, return year after year to serve again and reunite with one another.
Whether you want to be behind-the-scenes, prefer to buzz around the course or get an up close view of the competition, there are a number of ways to get involved.
Here’s a look at some of the most common areas and positions tournament volunteers support:
Helping the Fans
Admissions and Ambassadors: Think of this team as the official welcome committee. Stationed at the entrance, Will Call and throughout the course these folks help sell tickets, distribute tournament guides and assist guests throughout the event grounds.
Merchandise: Bring a positive attitude and a smile for these positions. As a cashier, greeter, or merchandise assistant, you’ll play an active role in the retail operations of the tournament helping shoppers find the perfect souvenirs to commemorate their time at the championship.
Information and Hospitality: Help greet sponsors and spectators, answer questions or support the food and beverage operations within the concession areas and skyboxes.
Helping the Players
Caddies and Player Services: Come prepared with a helpful hand and an eye for detail. Volunteers working in caddie headquarters, prepare and distribute player information packets and assist within the player facilities. Your work will help to ensure that players and their caddies have the information and support they need throughout the week.
Transportation: Taxi anyone? These volunteers help to manage the fleet of tournament cars and may help transport players and their guests to and from the airport, their hotels or the golf course throughout the week.
Helping the Game
Marshalls and Standard Bearers: Teams of Marshalls help to control the flow of spectators, spot balls during competition and may work closely with security teams to ensure safety on-site. Standard bearers on the other hand walk inside the ropes during play and to display players’ scores which helps spectators keep track of each players’ score from hole to hole.
Scoring: Scoring volunteers are essential members of the competition team helping to collect scorecards, verify their accuracy, enter them within the official scoring systems and call them in to the rules or broadcast teams.
Media: If the idea of being among members of the media when big news breaks excites you, then a position in the media center is the perfect fit for you. These volunteers work alongside Tour media staff and assist members of the press.
The first and most important step in becoming a volunteer is to apply.
Most tournaments require a volunteer application along with a nominal registration fee to sign up to join the team.
Volunteers may be asked to complete a minimum of three 4-6 hour shifts in order to participate and generally must be at least 18 years of age (or 13 years old with a waiver signed by a legal guardian).
Once your application is approved, expect to hear from a Volunteer Chair or committee member who will follow-up to gauge your interest and determine the best position(s) for you to work based on your interests, expertise and abilities. Keep in mind that certain positions do require specific physical capabilities as you may be asked to stand or walk for several hours.
Other committees may require meetings and/or prep work onsite prior to the official start of the tournament.
While the idea of being an official member of the tournament team may sound glamorous, it’s not for the fainthearted, so be prepared for the commitment.
Some volunteer positions require training, meetings in advanced of the tournament week and leads to help manage the volunteer team. And for certain positions, helping hands are needed rain or shine which could mean you’ll be asked to brave the elements to ensure the safety and security of players and spectators.
And lastly, if you’re on a mission to volunteer solely to grab an autograph or snap a selfie with your favorite players, you’re better off sticking to being a spectator. Yes, some volunteers do have the chance to get up close and meet LPGA and PGA Tour players, but at the end of the day, their main responsibility is to help pull off a premier sporting event, so it’s best to keep things professional and mind your etiquette as a volunteer.
To find out if an LPGA, PGA, Epson, or Korn Ferry Tour event is coming to your area and learn more about the volunteer opportunities available for each, check out the links below:
And as an added bonus, for a few feel-good stories from LPGA tournament volunteers at the top of their class when it comes to making a difference for players and fans check out the year’s AXA LPGA Volunteer Service award winners:
Have you ever volunteered at a professional golf event? What advice would you share with a would-be volunteer? Tell us in the comments below.