Written by John Comrie, July 11, 2016
Have you ever watched a PGA event on television and wondered what goes on behind the scenes to produce the event? I did and now I know. You could too if you sign up to volunteer at the 2017 Dell Match Play event to be held at the Austin Country Club March 22-26.
I grew up in the bitter winter cold of Western Canada north of Montana and North Dakota where the golf season is so short that we depended on PGA on television and radio to keep connected to the sport. Twenty-five years ago, I fulfilled a long held dream of living in warmer parts of the United States and in due course, ended up in Texas and was invited to become a member of the Austin Country Club. I still watch and listen to a lot of PGA golf.
By the fall of 2015 I was looking at descriptions of more than 20 volunteer committees that required support from members of the Austin general public. Just the vast range of committee responsibilities indicates the scope of activity required to put on this event.
Marshalls, Lasers, Walking Scorers and Standard Bearers were all expected. But Caddie Registration, Evacuation, Media Center were complete surprises. In the end, I became a member of the Media Center, went through the orientation training, purchased my volunteer uniform and showed up for my first day’s work.
To my surprise, I was given the opportunity to work with the announcers for PGA Radio helping them to maneuver through the crowds as they quickly moved from one interview or commentary position to another. When finished on Sunday night, I had new friends who worked in the production of all PGA media events, met caddies and players, had my own media headphones through which I could hear (but not speak) all the internal planning in real time as instant decisions were required to make the media come to life on air.
I have many friends who worked for other committees and it was interesting to compare notes on our experiences. Although every volunteer gets an in depth look at their own committee, everyone ended up with a general sense of what was involved to produce this extraordinary event. It took more than 1200 volunteers to make the tournament operational, and I met many of them. A few became friends, all of whom I look forward to working with at the 2017 version of this event.
I have enjoyed PGA events, particularly on TV and Radio for many years, but I know them in a new way today. More importantly, I now have a much better feel for the contribution they make to every community in which they are found. So not only did all 1200+ volunteers enjoy an extraordinary few days watching extraordinary golf at an extraordinary venue; but, the Dell Match Play PGA Event contributed substantial funds to the Austin Parks Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area, The First Tee of Greater Austin, Helping Hand Home for Children and Keep Austin Beautiful.
If you are interested in volunteering for the 2017 WGC Dell Match Play Event from March 22-26, information will be available on this website and other media outlets when volunteer sign-up begins for the 2017 tournament.
*John Comrie is an avid golfer who writes about golf related events with a Texas connection. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.