Sask. resident climbing volunteer ladder at PGA TOUR eventWritten by Clark Stork
David Larwood’s golf experiences have substantially evolved from his “homemade” three-hole course near Porcupine Plain to rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s best.
Larwood told Golf Saskatchewan he used his parent’s pasture to hit the ball around growing up. Joking the greens were “grazing height” and broken hockey sticks were utilized as flag sticks Larwood’s love of golf grew. Now a retired teacher he has taken up the game again and volunteers annually for the PGA TOUR’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Larwood said he’s taken on more responsibility with his continued attendance.
“We spend a few months each winter in Maui and I volunteered for the PGA Tournament of Champions,” he explained. “I started as a marshall in a very low-profile role, over the last five years being available and not saying no, I have moved into a chairman role. It’s still a volunteer role but comes with a few more perks.”
Now known as a chairman at large, Larwood is the “floater” of the group of nine chair people. One person leads the group, seven other volunteers look after a certain committee and Larwood provides support where needed. He is also a mentor to incoming chairs. He said his overall job description is “loose” and his tasks are everchanging. He admitted the volunteering brings along neat experiences.
“Dustin Johnson (and all other golfers) couldn’t tee off on hole six until the guy from Saskatchewan who had never read a rule book or shot under 100 said he could,” he chuckled. “I waved a flag to show the sixth green was clear.”
He mentioned the time he was asked to switch out Johnson’s vehicle he was using for the week.
“I got to park his new SUV in the VIP section, last year winner’s parking spot. I did have to move the seat ahead 18 inches to reach the pedal,” Larwood joked.
He said meeting other volunteers from across North America and sharing short conversations with the players is part of the perks. He said they are all very appreciative of what the volunteers do at the events.
Larwood wanted to share his story and experiences with potential volunteers, perhaps from Saskatchewan. If you are going to be spending your January on the island state volunteering could be for you. He said they never reach a full capacity of helpers and the roles and shifts vary. Volunteers hold “quiet” signs, scan tickets at admission, shuttle players and their families, or can work on a computer to assist the spectators or broadcasters with their analysis. More details can be seen here.
Larwood said events in Saskatchewan such as the Brier or World Junior Hockey Championships, people may have to provide some financial contribution for your uniform or other fees. The volunteer process in Hawaii is much different and the TOUR makes it worth your while.
“In Maui, the volunteering is completely free. Five days of volunteering gets you a hat, two shirts, daily meal and a free round of golf on the Kapalua Bay Course,” he explained. “You also get a week pass to attend the tournament when you are not working. Maui isn’t Saskatchewan, there isn’t much money for public recreation and facilities. The sponsors of the tournament put huge dollars into public service groups and infrastructure. As a retired teacher, this is a win-win situation for volunteers.”
For anyone potentially thinking about volunteering, Larwood encouraged them to reach out to him, he can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.