Posted: June 1, 2015 6:07 pm
For Kathryn Chandler, it was worth the trip north from Virginia.
While most people celebrate their retirement with a party at work or with their family and friends, Chandler used the last of her accrued vacation time after 24 years of working for the U.S. Department of Education to spend a day at the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center at Franklin & Marshall College.
It was there Friday afternoon that the first group of volunteers for the upcoming U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club started their training for the tournament, which will run from July 6-12.
In all, 2,350 people went through volunteer orientation from Friday through Sunday.
“This is something I started planning four years ago and I finally get to do it,” said Chandler, who lives in Falls Church, Virginia. “I always wanted to volunteer for an LPGA event, so I just checked the website for tournaments in the area, and here I am.”
She is not the only volunteer with a lengthy commute to the U.S. Women’s Open. While roughly 90 percent of those lending a hand are from in and around Lancaster County, there are some who have made cross-country and even international trips.
“We have a combination of volunteers coming from 16 different states, Alberta, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland,” said King Knox, who, along with Ken Phillips, is Division Chair for the Spectator Services Division. “What we’ve learned is, there are people who really enjoy this and who use it as their vacation. They will pick two or three events around the country that the USGA is conducting — maybe places they want to visit, places they haven’t been — and they send their application in and off they go.”
When the U.S. Women’s Open begins, 156 golfers will step up to the tees at LCC, but organizers stressed that it will be the volunteers who are the “lifeblood” of the championship.
First those volunteers need some instruction.\
According to Championship Director Jackie Endsley, the three-day rotation was divided into committees, with two committees meeting every hour.
Participants began with a brief information session led by Endsley and Tournament Director Barry Deach that included a pair of quick videos and a PowerPoint presentation covering everything from parking to individual job responsibilities.
Over the weekend, specific sessions for volunteers included ticketing, marshals, leaderboard and scoring help, merchandise sales and almost everything in between — including people to bring water out to the players or drive them around the course.
“It’s really mind-boggling,” said Scott Loose, a retired band director from Lampeter-Strasburg High School who is serving as the Chairman of the Office Administration Volunteer Committee. “People who have never been to one of these things, who have never seen it, don’t realize the sheer amount (of people needed).
After Friday’s orientation, volunteers received credentials and official Cutter & Buck uniforms. Each volunteer was issued a blue golf polo, blue jacket, a hat or visor, a water bottle and a USGA lapel pin.
With the staff now ready to go and final preparations underway on the course, the final countdown has begun to bring Lancaster County to the national golf stage.
“All of us involved are just tremendously excited,” said Knox. “This has been seven years in the making since we first started discussions with the United States Golf Association, so there’s a lot work that’s gone into it.
“You put that much work into something, you really can’t wait to see it happen. And to have the eyes of the golfing world, literally the world we’re going to have this thing televised to 100 countries or more and of course all over the United States — this is really a big deal, not so much for Lancaster Country Club but for Lancaster County and for the whole community.”
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