The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 4, 2014

Tour event is a labor of love for volunteers

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — While the elaborate orchestration of The Greenbrier Resort’s daily activities is seemingly incomprehensible enough in itself, adding a PGA Tour event creates even more chaos during the resort’s already busy season.

Between the resort’s more than 700 booked rooms, surge of daily visitors and hoards of bus traffic, maintaining a calm, cool and collected atmosphere on the peaceful grounds of the Old White TPC Course is a feat possible due only to the organization, resourcefulness and hospitality of the tournament’s more than 1,000 volunteers.

From teenagers to seniors, two things link every volunteer on the course: a red or periwinkle blue official Greenbrier Classic polo shirt and a budding or ripened love of golf.

Golf advocate Brad Ullman, executive director of the West Virginia Golf Association (WVGA), sports a red polo shirt himself, which indicates that he is chair of one of the tournament’s more than 20 volunteer committees.

“This cannot be done without a strong volunteer contingency, so the (West Virginia) golf association works together with The Greenbrier to promote the opportunities to be volunteers,” said Ullman.

Ullman said that about 11,000 members across the state comprise the WVGA, so tapping into that network of West Virginia golf lovers can be a great resource for recruiting volunteers for The Greenbrier Classic.

While Ullman acknowledges that not even half of the volunteers at The Greenbrier Classic are part of the WVGA, he said that “there’s a good crowd of folks” from West Virginia among the hospitable helpers.

Brother-and-sister volunteers Kathy and Randy Lucas are two of the many West Virginia natives among the volunteer population.

While 2014 marks Kathy’s first year participating, Randy has been involved since the Classic’s inaugural year. As a reward for his commitment, Randy has now graduated to the role of co-chair of the player transportation committee. Sister Kathy is one of his faithful recruits, along with approximately 35 others.

“Some of the people I volunteer with, I’ve been volunteering with for five years,” said Randy. “So we come back and it’s like a big reunion.”

Out of all of his memorable volunteering moments, Randy said that having the chance to drive comedian George Lopez to the airport Thursday may rank among the coolest yet.

“The PGA players are so very appreciative of us,” said Kathy. “Every one I have talked to has thanked me for being a volunteer. They visited our volunteer tent today and signed autographs.

“It’s just so much fun.”

With dozens and dozens of different types of positions available for volunteers — from caddie services to walking scorers and information ambassadors to marshals — Ullman said that there’s always a place for those interested in dedicating part of their PGA Tour experience to serving the Classic and its thousands of visitors.

“There’s a lot of different options for a volunteer to register,” said Ullman. “A volunteer can sign up, pay a small fee to volunteer and what they receive is a hat, a golf shirt, outerwear pieces, tickets to the golf tournament and concert series, all as part of their benefit package of being a volunteer.

“The benefit package is probably the best on the PGA Tour.”

While some people may be able to work the whole week, others may only available one day, and Ullman said that is completely OK.

“We’re very glad to have them for as long as they can be there,” said Ullman. “It’s hard to say that there have ever been too many volunteers.”

Those that have volunteered the previous year get first preference on which operation of the tournament they would like to volunteer for the coming summer, Ullman said.

Most of the more desirable volunteer opportunities allow volunteers to be “inside the ropes,” such as the marshals, who are responsible for crowd control when golfers are in action, and standard bearers, who get to walk with the professionals and display their scores in relation to par.

“Certain volunteers really admire a lot of there professionals,” said Ullman. It’s a big thrill for them to be right in the middle of the action.

“Your standard bearers, your walking scorers, the folks that are really keeping score out there for each group, they’re walking right down the middle of the fairways just right behind the professionals, so there are a lot of special moments that individual volunteers can get by working The Greenbrier Classic.”

Ullman said that volunteers can opt to work up to two shifts a day, and working eight shifts between Monday and Sunday qualifies volunteers for a room voucher to The Greenbrier and complimentary rounds of golf on The Old White to be used at a later date.

“That’s a really good benefit for a lot of these folks, and encourages them to participate on more days than just one,” said Ullman.

Volunteer registration for The Greenbrier Classic will begin again around January 2015. Visit www.greenbrier.com for more information.

— E-mail: bunderwood@register-herald.com

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