It's no secret Southwest Louisiana is a very generous community with residents who possess an amazing variety of talents. That makes the volunteer pool very deep — and in March it's going to be needed.
The PGA Korn Ferry Tour's Lake Charles Championship will be March 23-29 at Golden Nugget Casino Resort and about 400-500 volunteers are needed to help the area continue to shine.
Tournament Director Steve Nieman anticipates a crowd of 30,000 people during the seven-day event. The first two days involve private practice rounds. The third day, March 25, will be the official tournament pro-am, followed by the opening round and Military Appreciation Day on March 26; the second round on March 27 in which the field is cut to low 65 scores and ties; round three, a junior golf clinic and a concert by Chicago on March 28; and the final round, family day festivities and championship toast on March 29.
Nieman said the PGA Tour is an over-arching brand with seven tours in its family.
"Some of those are foreign tours — China, Latin America — and those are feeder tours that come into the Korn Ferry," he said. "The only way a person can get onto the PGA Tour is to play his way through a season on the Korn Ferry Tour."
He said if residents want a sneak peek at tomorrow's stars, this tournament will be the place to be.
"It's kind of neat that in our community, we have one of their stops," Nieman said. "But there are other reasons, socially, that people should come. It's about the stories and memories and experiences that come out of this platform."
Nieman said this year's tournament will be the first in a five-year agreement between the tour, Golden Nugget and the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau.
General admission tickets are $10 and allow the spectator to go anywhere on the grounds. VIP tickets are $20 a day and include additional access to specialty-built eateries and lounges that will be along the golf course.
"Tickets are inexpensive and that's intentional," he said. "We want people to be able to afford to have fun and get the VIP experience at whatever level they want."
As far as the quest for volunteers, Nieman said 200 are still needed.
He said there is a uniform fee of $45 — included in that is a Peter Millar shirt, a Lake Charles Championship hat, meals provided on days volunteered, weekly access to the grounds, as well as four daily grounds tickets for family and friends to join the fun.
"The tour requires everyone look the same so that volunteers can be easily found in the crowd," Nieman said.
Tournament Services Manager Bryce Lievens said the tour relies heavily on the time and efforts of volunteers.
"From the admissions tent welcoming spectators, to the walking scorers experiencing an inside-the-ropes memory, events can't be run without them," he said. "While volunteering brings strength and wellness to the community, it is also a fantastic way to see a PGA Tour event from a behind-the-scenes perspective. While many golf enthusiasts will flock to volunteer their time as on-course marshals or walking scorers, the beauty of the event is there are many positions within the volunteer committees that require no golf knowledge at all."
He said volunteers are needed for access control, admissions, caddie hospitality, distributing golf carts to tournament recipients, guest services, media center, player registration and shuttle, practice areas and driving range, product distribution, walking scorers and standard bearers.
"Standard bearers volunteers will carry a metal sign that has players' names on it and their scores and they will walk with a group of players all day," Nieman said.
Lievens said when the community gets its arms wrapped around a new event and makes it their own, that's when the magic happens.
"Lake Charles has proven this with other community events and we believe this will happen with the PGA Tour event in our community," Lievens said. "To achieve success, it will take all of Southwest Louisiana banding together and we want to share it with as many people as possible and highlight our unique culture through volunteering for the Lake Charles Championship."