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Purpose 2 Play: My experience as an undercover volunteer at the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson

May 31, 2018

By Kim Constantinesco, Purpose 2 Play

Imagine, as a casual fan, if you could stand on the field with NFL players on a Sunday. Or rebound for LeBron James before Game 7 in the NBA playoffs. Yes, it’s a far-fetched dream for any fan of pro football or pro basketball to be that involved in the gameday action. But, when it comes to professional golf, fans are actually encouraged to go behind-the-scenes and inside the ropes. All they have to do is put on a volunteer cap and get a little dirt under the fingernails.

The PGA TOUR is anchored by its volunteers. More than 100,000 people each year donate their time to orchestrate and ensure the success of 120 tournaments. Because of their efforts, more than $2.65 billion has been raised to support thousands of local charities. You might say that it’s those who take the plunge without pay who are the real stars because they allow the PGA TOUR to donate 100 percent of its net proceeds to charity.

So, knowing that volunteerism is the backbone of pro golf, I decided to hide my media credential for the day and go undercover as a volunteer at the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas, Texas.

My goal? For one, learn what volunteer positions are up for grabs. And two, get to know the service-oriented people in blue pants who occupy those jobs.

After all, they’re the heartbeat of the very busy week for the Salesmanship Club of Dallas (the guys in the famous red pants), the organization that hosts the annual tournament and supports Momentous Institute, an educational haven for students and families to gain and rebuild social emotional health.

My in-the-know guide and golf cart “pilot” for the day was Ann Shaw, the chair of the Byron Nelson’s volunteer committee. She initially told all of the volunteers we encountered, “This is Kim. She’s a new volunteer and wants to learn about what this job entails. Put her to work” as we spent about an hour at each location. Then, nearing the end of my time at each station, I revealed my true identity in order to take pictures.

Without further ado, lets go behind the big red curtain and get to know a small sample of the tournament’s 1,100 volunteers, some of whom have 35 years of service under their belts.

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