Volunteers: The Lifeblood of A Tournament
On December 3, I donned an L.A. Angels polo shirt, black pants, Masters cap (always a good conversation starter), and adidas Golf shoes as my work uniform for the day, and promptly reported for duty as a volunteer at Sherwood CC in Thousand Oaks.
My friend Kelli Sargent — who works for the Los Angeles–based Tower Cancer Research Foundation, the organization that runs the Jack Mishkin Memorial Golf Classic — told me they needed volunteers on event day to help raise more funds for awareness and research.
Sign me up!
Ron Cherney, who leads the volunteer committee for the tournament and does something for it 365 days a year, is the ultimate volunteer, one who does everything from gathering restaurant gift cards to emailing Masters champion Patrick Reed to see if he would help the cause. Cherney said Reed replied immediately and donated a signed frame with a Masters flag and photos from his win at Augusta in 2018, plus $10,000.
A dentist and member at El Caballero CC in Tarzana, Cherney is pretty convincing. “I love doing it,” he said. “It’s such a good feeling. It’s tremendous.”
Cherney estimated this tournament raised about $350,000, for a five-year total of $1.5 million.
Jack Mishkin — the event’s namesake — died after a 14-month battle with mesothelioma. His wife, Nancy Mishkin, who is a breast cancer survivor, carries on this cause in his memory. She asks her friends and Jack’s friends and so many to volunteer their time, talents and money to the tournament. It’s people helping people.
“The volunteers are the kindest people I’ve met,” Mishkin said. “They’re so giving. Some have cancer in the family. Some don’t. Something has brought them here. I’m lucky to be part of such a great group.”
AN AWESOME FRATERNITY
The same can be said of almost any golf tournament. Good people giving of their time so that others can play a sport they love. From a USC-UCLA dual match, to a three-team high school tournament to SCGA events to the Scott Medlock & Robby Krieger, Rock & Roll Golf Classic benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Ross Porter Celebrity Golf Classic benefiting Stillpoint Family Resources. I’ve played in, covered or volunteered at all of those events. I see firsthand how volunteers make these tournaments run smoothly.
Folks are needed to monitor holes, control fans, handle the ropes and bring boxed lunches to those stationed on faraway holes. They’re at check-in stations, run auctions and plan dinner afterward. Volunteers do it all.
I was stationed at the tee on the par-3, 195-yard 12th hole at Sherwood. A hole-in-one would’ve garnered a brand-new Maserati. Another volunteer was stationed near the green. We were needed to witness and confirm such an extraordinary feat if it happened. It didn’t. But we cheered on golfers, chatted and enjoyed the sunny day with green grass, colored leaves and the sound of that awesome thwack of a club hitting a ball.
I had walked the course in Thousand Oaks dozens of times covering various tournaments, including the event Tiger Woods used to host here. One thing that always struck me about PGA and LPGA events was the sheer number of volunteers on the course. They wear the same uniforms and smiles and big hearts on their sleeves. They’re the first to arrive and the last to leave.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of tournaments. Just think of how much a tournament such as the Jack Mishkin saves moneywise; without volunteers, they would have to pay people to work for the day. That saved money goes straight to the Tower Cancer Research Foundation.
High school tournaments don’t have budgets for workers. Coaches, friends, parents and former golfers help.
One of the best parts of covering PGA tournaments from inside the ropes on Sun-days was listening to players — who make millions — thank volunteers at each and every hole. Sometimes by name. They know how much tournaments benefit from their time and a simple thank-you means so much.
I received many thanks after my day at Sherwood was done. I had an awesome time and met a lot of great people. I saw that many people have an equally not-so-great golf game, like me. But they have fun and they play for a good cause.
No one won the Maserati on No. 12, but everyone was a winner, those who played and those who volunteered. What an awesome fraternity.
Photo by Paul Lester