ESCANABA – Last weekend the 10th year of the Island Resort Championship took place in Sweetgrass, where women from all over the world gathered on the pitch to compete for the $ 200,000 prize money and an automatic exception to be the Evian Champion in France Fight under the LPGA Major 2021. If you’re unfamiliar with the Symetra Tour, this is the LPGA’s official qualifying tour, and former Symetra Tour participants have won more than 435 LPGA titles.
Since the first players in the Island Resort Championship set foot on the pristine green of the Upper Peninsula’s forests, the Delta Chamber of Commerce has supported the 250+ volunteers and 3,300 volunteer hours required to make the three-day tournament a success . As a person with little to no golfing experience and a newcomer to the Delta Chamber of Commerce, this was the first year I attended the event. But here are some reasons why I will attend every year from now on.
First, the volunteer community was no doubt upbeat and fun to be around. Some have signed up their calendars for this event each year and have traveled as far as Traverse City and Milwaukee to volunteer. Terry Bennett, Karen December, Jane Gertz and twin sister Jean Gertz traveled from Big Bay every year to register as cart drivers. While they were collecting their free round of golf at Sweetgrass, t-shirts and a meal voucher at the Delta Chamber Volunteer Tent, I asked what made them come back each year. “To work with people and watch these girls compete” said Jean, “Besides, they treat us pretty well!”
In addition to working with the volunteers, I enjoyed the many tasks I had over the weekend. May I remind you that I am a beginner to the game of golf, so panic overcame me when I was placed in the scoring tent. But within 15 minutes, I checked the results over the radio as if I’d been playing golf all my life. The next job was past the rankings at the 18th hole, where I could watch the professionals making the final putt before heading to the clubhouse. My favorite job over the weekend was the shuttle that drove players from holes one and two during the championship round.
Some players jumped calmly and focused on the cart, but always thank me for the lift when we get to the next tee. Others were more talkative and used the time to decompress before their next chance to make the leaderboard. Some asked how much snow we would get in winter, others asked if I was from the area, and I only got compliments for the beauty of the track. I was told several times to start golfing and each time I was warned that it could also be a frustrating sport.
All players had one thing in common; they were all nice and kind. Mexican professional player Ingrid Gutierrez Nunez didn’t hesitate to sweeten Paislee Frappier’s day by giving her a signed ball after hearing the 5-year-old from Gladstone cheer near the green. Personally, the weekend had very little to do with golf, but everything to do with people.
I now understand why the Delta Chamber of Commerce looks forward to seeing new and returning volunteers and working with the Hannahville Indian community, tournament directors and sponsors to make this event a success. I’m looking forward to the tournament next year and maybe by then I’ll have followed the advice of the players and know how to swing a club or two.
If you haven’t seen the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass, I would highly recommend coming out for the day, even if golf isn’t exactly your forte. In order to gain more appreciation and to take a look behind the scenes of the event, you should volunteer for the next year. Simply register with the Chamber next spring, we will be happy to register.
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Baylie McDade is communications officer for the Delta County Chamber of Commerce
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