Article was written for SIOUXFALLS.BUSINESS by Jodi Schwan (Click HERE for original copy)
Comparing it to building and running a small city, the company helping operate the first Sanford International pro golf tournament is looking for at least 1,000 volunteers.
Registration for helpers at the PGA Tour Champions event launches today at sanfordinternational.com.
“It’s a colossal undertaking,” said Greg Conrad, tournament director.
He and eventually a six-person team will work out of an office on Minnesota Avenue until the event, which runs Sept. 17-23 at Minnehaha Country Club.
“But we need an army of people who love to socialize and to help,” he said.
Volunteers perform a wide range of tasks. Many serve as marshals on the course, manning fan areas, making sure players can get around, supporting vendors and essentially being tournament ambassadors on the course.
“We try to give them a variety of things to do,” Conrad said. “We have transportation and restaurant needs, restroom facilities, entertainment areas, kids area, medical areas, viewing areas, all those things need volunteer help.”
Volunteering will begin ahead of the event, too, helping construct actual buildings that will be on the course. There’s even a small bank that opens on the course.
Conrad anticipates the event will draw 70,000 to 80,000 guests during its weeklong run.
The estimated direct economic impact is $20 million, “based on some conservative numbers,” he said.
Volunteers will be able to rank their preferred roles. Some will even be tasked with supporting the needs of the tournament’s well-known players.
“We’ll have some of the biggest stars in golf here,” Conrad said. “Most people have told me we haven’t seen the legends of golf like we’ll see here ever.”
There is a $65 fee to volunteer, which includes a polo shirt from Arnold Palmer Apparel, a quarter-zip jacket, a choice of hat or visor, tournament credentials and meals while volunteering.
“Every professional golf tournament has volunteers and has a fee,” Conrad said. “If we didn’t do that, any tournament couldn’t afford to have an event. We try to make sure if you’re volunteering you get more value, so you get a really nice polo shirt and pullover.”
Most shifts are four hours. Some people volunteer a couple of days, and others take the week off from work so they can help, Conrad said. About 25 percent of needed volunteers have signed up already through an early opportunity offered to Sanford employees and Minnehaha Country Club members.
“We allow people to commit as much or as little as they can.”
The improved clubhouse at Minnehaha Country Club is making good progress, he added, and is scheduled to be done by Sept 1.
“It will be amazing. I was blown away by the scope of the efforts to make the clubhouse a spectacular place,” he said. “The tour will be very pleased with how it all turns out.”
The next step for his team is securing additional corporate sponsors and preparing to start selling ticket packages next month.
Corporate partners “can bring clients, entertain, get some promotion and impact the community from a charity standpoint,” Conrad said. “We want everybody involved to feel like a partner.”