BROUSSARD – Unlike most professional sports, the PGA Tour and the Nationwide Tour rely on volunteers to help conduct their events. And the Chitimacha Louisiana Open is no different.
In fact, the Open is actively soliciting volunteers for its 21st renewal, scheduled March 19-25 at Le Triomphe Country Club, and hopes to have over 500 local individuals and golf enthusiasts taking part.
"Those are the people that really make the tournament run," said Open executive director Danny Jones. "They're out there scoring, marshaling, maintaining the grounds and the course, hospitality, parking ... whatever it takes."
Many of the volunteers are involved in the charitable organizations that the Open benefits, and are part of groups that give their time and efforts during tournament week. But many more people volunteer on an individual basis because of their love of golf and their dedication to the tournament.
They are part of an army of approximately 30,000 volunteers who staff Nationwide Tour events throughout the season. They also join with the Open's board of directors, which is a strictly volunteer group that donates its time on a year-round basis.
Even though the Open's budget is well over $1 million annually – including a $500,000 tournament purse and a charity donation purse that has averaged over $210,000 over the last eight tournaments – the event has only two full-time employees, well under the Nationwide Tour average.
"That's why the volunteers are so important," said tournament chairman Will Arledge. "We believe that our tournament is one of the best on the Tour in terms of hospitality and the players' enjoyment of the event, and the volunteers are the reason why."
Jones said there is a big need for walking scorers to pair with the playing groups, particularly with the threesomes on Thursday and Friday. As many as 50 walking scorers are needed each of the first two days.
Some volunteer areas, such as the walking scorer posts along with long-drive markers and course marshals, require some golf knowledge. But there are many volunteer areas that do not require golf knowledge, and the Open is making a special pitch for youth volunteers to serve as standard bearers with each group of players.
Individuals and groups wishing to volunteer for the tournament may do so through the Open's web site at www.laopen.com, clicking on the "Volunteer Registration" box and filling out an on-line form or printing out the registration form.
Regular volunteers are assessed a $25 fee, but receive free admission to all four days of the tournament, free parking, access to the tournament hospitality tent and a volunteer uniform provided by CW Technical, the new official volunteer sponsor for the Louisiana Open. Student volunteers are exempt from the volunteer fee. Volunteer fees may be charged to a credit card.
Volunteers may sign up for half-day or full-day shifts on any or all of the four days of competition. Shift times are approximate and subject to change, and the four competition days (March 22-25) will be when most volunteers are needed. But Jones said volunteers are needed for all tournament areas and not just the final four days.
"We really want to encourage anyone who hasn't been involved before to volunteer for just one day," Jones said. "We want everyone to be a part of this tournament, because there's no way we could have this event without the volunteers."
A volunteer meeting is scheduled for Saturday, March 17, at 2 p.m. at Le Triomphe, one day prior to the start of on-course activities. More information is available from the Open office at (337) 593-8000.
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