Friday, May 20, 2011

Volunteering at the Sybase Match Play Championship -- Deanna Smith

Hello all! My name is Deanna Smith and I am a junior in high school who is here to tell you a little about what it is like volunteering for an LPGA golf tournament, specifically, the Sybase Match Play Championship. A little about my golf life: I have been playing golf for a couple of years now; I actually used to not be a big fan of the sport, but then my volunteering at professional events changed that view. I am on the Hunterdon Central High School Varsity Girls Golf Team, this is my second year, and it has been so much fun.
I have been volunteering as a Standard Bearer for Sybase LPGA events for about five years now, and each time it has gotten better. A standard bearer is the person who holds the sign that tells the names of the players and their score or status hole by hole. I get to walk in the ropes with the players and talk to them. It is a very comfortable environment; it doesn’t feel like you are talking to a professional golfer, it feels like you are talking to just another person, which is really what they are.
Before it became the Sybase Match Play Championship, I volunteered for the Sybase Classic at Upper Montclair Country Club. Some of the pros I bearered for were Katie Futcher, Christina Kim, Beth Bader, and Mollie Fankhauser. Two years ago, it changed to the Sybase Match Play Championship and moved to Hamilton Farms Golf Club. Some great memories I have are being able to talk to the players, really about anything, getting to learn from these players by being in the ropes with them and watching them play, and the best part, getting signed golf balls at the end of the round as a thank you. I now have a golf ball rack at home of all the golf balls my dad and I have collected over the years from volunteering.
I look forward to this event all year. Once I get to the course and am introduced to the players I will be scoring for, I get so excited and just have a great time. It is such a great experience and such an honor and privilege to be able to walk right next to professional golfers. Many of the women I have volunteered for have so much fun when they are out on the course. They crack jokes with each other and with the volunteers and it feels like it isn’t even a tournament, like you’re just out on a Saturday afternoon, and decided to play a round of golf. It’s amazing.
This year, I will be working on Saturday, May 21st and Sunday, May 22nd. On Saturday I have one of the four Quarterfinal matches in the afternoon, which is a really big honor. BUT, an even bigger honor is that on Sunday I have THE FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH in the afternoon!!!! When I opened the email with my assignments, and saw that I, a 16 year-old girl in high school, has the final match for an LPGA tournament, I honestly jumped out of my seat and, I might have screamed. My chairman of the Standard Bearer committee said that with my enthusiasm and passion for the sport and for volunteering at the events, I truly deserve that match.
So, there’s a “small” preview to what I will be doing this weekend at the Sybase Championship. I hope you found it informative, interesting and fun to read. I will be back with another blog tomorrow night, Saturday, after my match for the day. I will talk about the players I worked for, overall environment of the tournament, and some of the highlights of the day. The tournament coverage is on The Golf Channel at 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM on both Saturday and Sunday. Enjoy your weekend and bye for now! J                                                                                                     ~Deanna Smith

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