For the first time, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will call Hazeltine National Golf Club home.
And just like in past tournaments in Chaska, one group of people essential to the tournament is coming out in droves — not golfers, but volunteers.
1,500 volunteers are expected to be at Hazeltine this week. Each volunteer is required to have three to four four-hour shifts during the tournament. Of the 1,500 volunteers, 600 will serve as hole marshals, doing anything from traffic control on the grounds, to monitoring the gallery, to searching for errant shots from the players.
Historically, volunteering for tournaments at Hazeltine has had a large demand. In fact, for the first time in the history of the tournament, there was a wait list for volunteering.
That doesn’t surprise Eric Wilkinson.
The volunteer operations manager for the tournament, Wilkinson sees something special in this year’s volunteer turnout.
“What makes Minnesota unique is that people love to volunteer,” Wilkinson said. “We could not put this tournament on without our volunteers.”
Roughly 90% of the volunteers are from Minnesota, along with representation from 23 other states and Canada.
The volunteer selection process conducted four different waves. The first, called chair selection, allowed people on the selection committee to choose friends and family. Next, those with a Hazeltine membership who wanted to volunteer were chosen. Then, past PGA tournament volunteers were selected, which made up the largest percentage. Finally, selection opened to the general public.
In total, the selection process took three to four months to complete
Glenn Craft is a volunteer committee chair in charge of walking scorers.
Those volunteers are responsible for following a pairing of golfers and keeping score. They have to show up one hour before their golfers tee off and stay until the scorecard is finalized in the scoring tent.
A Hazeltine member and club volunteer for over 30 years, Craft knows the impact that a group of volunteers can make on a tournament.
“The Midwest work ethic reflects itself in the volunteers,” Craft said. “These people show up in huge numbers.”
For a year-and-a-half, the organizers for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship have been at Hazeltine preparing for this week.
A new setting for this tournament, but Hazeltine and its volunteers have seen this before. And they are ready for another major week.
“People embrace these events up here,” Wilkinson said. “It’s a testament to the people of Minnesota.”