Editor's note: With the 2012 Ryder Cup coming to Medinah Country Club this fall, Melissa Brady, manager of Volunteer Administration for the event, shares her insight on the important roles volunteers will play in the Ryder Cup.
Q. We're 152 days out, but you already have all the volunteers signed up. What was the demand like and how did the process work?
A. Our Official Ryder Cup Volunteer Registration Web site opened on the morning of July 11, 2011. Members of the general public from across the United States and throughout Europe were able to register online, and the response was incredible. Within one hour, we had filled all of the more than 4,000 available volunteer positions.
Assignments were made strictly on a first-come, first-served basis, and we welcomed all experience levels -- from the first-time volunteer to people who had been routinely volunteering at major tournaments for years. The basic requirement was that volunteers be at least 21 years of age.
Q. Where did all the volunteers come from, and how do you manage such a group?
A. In addition to their wonderful enthusiasm and passion for the Ryder Cup, one of my favorite things about our volunteers is that they come from all over the world. In fact, we have volunteers from 45 states and 14 different countries, ranging from Ireland and France to Sweden and Canada.
Managing a group of more than 4,000 volunteers is all about communication. Our volunteers receive monthly newsletters or mailings with updates about their roles and responsibilities, and we are always happy to assist volunteers who call Medinah with questions. The Ryder Cup would not happen without volunteers -- they're really the heartbeat of this event.
Q. What are all the different jobs they will be doing, and what are the most coveted roles?
A. There are many volunteer roles at the Ryder Cup, and all of them are sought after, depending on personal preference. I would say that one of the most popular roles is the marshal assignment. Marshals who are assigned to holes are responsible for the safety of spectators and the assurance of fair play for competitors, among other things, and are asked to watch for errant shots, which means they may come face-to-face with some players who find themselves in adventurous spots on the course.
Marshals with special team assignments help Ryder Cup team members move from the 18th green to the clubhouse or the locker room to the putting green.
Other roles include everything from leaderboard operations to merchandise tent cashiers to shuttle services to program and radio sales. Our volunteers play a crucial role in helping the entire event run smoothly.
Q. Of course, there must be a few perks to being a volunteer. What benefits will they get?
A. The biggest perk of being a volunteer is receiving access to the competition site all six days of the event, Sept. 25- 30. Each volunteer will work a maximum of 16-20 hours during the entire event, so that leaves them a nice amount of time to enjoy the Ryder Cup as a spectator as well.
Each volunteer pays a uniform fee of $235, which provides them with a Ryder Cup golf shirt, slacks, wind jacket and hat. Volunteers also receive meal and water vouchers, off-site parking and shuttle service to Medinah and a copy of the Official 39th Ryder Cup program.
Q. They all have to be on the same page with your plan, so is there any special training?
A. On-site training sessions for volunteers will begin a week before the Ryder Cup, and classroom-style training sessions will be held in August when volunteer uniforms are distributed.
We realize not all of our volunteers will be able to join for the August session because of where they live, so those individuals will be able to shadow a fully trained volunteer when they arrive closer to the Ryder Cup. The training sessions are serious, but also a lot of fun. It's a great opportunity for our volunteers to bond with each other and ingrain themselves in all things Ryder Cup.