ROLAND, Ark. — Expanding on a straightforward plea for 700-plus volunteers for the Western Amateur golf tournament, 4-G is the pitch.
For those who sign up, there is golf, garb, grub, and doing a good deed.
Volunteers can watch future PGA Tour winners, plus receive two shirts and a cap from The Alotian Club, and get a meal ticket for each shift worked.
The feel-good part is that the Western Golf Association supports the Evans Scholars Foundation, which has put about 10,000 caddies through college.
A brief story from 1969 Western Amateur winner Steve Melnyk speaks volumes. He had a 15-year-old caddie who was so impressive that the young man caddied for him a couple more years. Melnyk was one of many who recommended Kevin Most for an Evans Scholarship. Most graduated from the University of Kansas, earned a medical degree, and later graduated magna cum laude with an MBA from Notre Dame.
Vice president for medical affairs at a large hospital in Chicago, Most told Melnyk to sign him up as a volunteer in Arkansas this summer, that he would pick up trash or sort range balls or do whatever.
There is a $100 fee for volunteering, but the shirts and cap are worth twice that, and volunteers 18 and under will not be charged.
The number of volunteers needed might sound high, but a myriad of jobs are necessary to make the experience top-notch for the players, their families, and a couple thousand patrons.
Before exploring specifics, consider that 156 golfers will be in the field and most will play a practice round on Monday, July 29. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, all golfers will play 18 holes, which pretty much means 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The low 44 and ties play another 36 holes to reduce the field to 16 for two days of match play.
Volunteers who sign up at www.thewesternamateur.com have the opportunity to list their preferred assignments. Knowledge of the game is a must for some jobs, but not others. One woman who contacted a media member about volunteering has the right idea — she doesn’t play, but wants to see the course, and wants to help. She could be among the 200 parking and transporting patrons from various parking lots to the golf course, or the 100 or so handling concessions, or the 30-40 selling shirts, hats, and other paraphernalia.
Some of the golf-specific volunteer opportunities include:
—Caddies. Some players will have relatives or friends on the bag, but 50-60 might need caddies the first two days.
—Hospitality. Some golfers prefer to stay with families who will be responsible for meals, transportation, and the little things that add up to a good experience.
—Live scoring and timing. All players will be on the clock and somebody will be on every hole with a PDA to record scores and facilitate live scoring where possible on the course.
—On-course shuttles: The elevation changes at Alotian are spectacular, but some are difficult to walk, even for young men with flat bellies. Considering the possible Arkansas heat at tournament time, shuttles could be used at several locations.
—Practice facility: Every player will hit balls, some both before and after the round, and those balls must be picked up. In addition, the practice facility is down a winding path from the clubhouse and the first tee, which mandates transportation and communication.
—Spotters and standard bearers: Not only will the spotters be responsible for locating tee shots, but some will be needed where there is a dramatic drop-0ff behind the greens.
Cognizant of the heat, some shifts might be only a few hours. Nobody will be on the course eight hours.
More than 100 volunteers registered before 8 a.m. Thursday. My concern is there will be an initial rush and then a lull.
Don’t procrastinate, sign up for a win-win. It took me only minutes.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is email@example.com.