Volunteer Spotlight: Sharon Taylor

The Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G wouldn’t be possible without the wonderful group of volunteers who commit themselves to making the tournament one of the best stops on the LPGA tour. Each month, we’ll be highlighting a different volunteer chairman for a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run a world-class golf event, as well as get to know some of the hardworking volunteers who return year after year to the #NWAChampionship!

Throughout tournament week, you can find our next Volunteer Spotlight in the player locker room working hard to make sure the players are happy and enjoying their time at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G. Sharon Taylor and her team go above and beyond to meet the needs of the 144 LPGA players who visit Northwest Arkansas each year. Sharon not only helps out the players but she is also essential to helping the Pro-Am run smoothly. She has an enthusiastic attitude and is a natural leader which makes her perfect for her roles. 

 

Sharon Taylor, Player Services and Pro-Am Committees Chairman

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Sharon Taylor with her husband Robert

How long have you been volunteering?

I have been volunteering for the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G for 5 years.

 

How did you get started?

I started as a walking scorer with an LPGA Event in Austin, TX, in 2001. I then took on the Walking Scorer Chair and later the Hospitality Chair for the Austin Senior PGA Event until we moved to the Dallas area in 2005. When my husband went to work for Walmart, he heard about the LPGA event being played here and called and told me about it. I had really been missing the experience, and called up the Octagon Tournament Office and asked if they could use someone with my background as a volunteer. They needed a Hospitality Chair, so I took that spot in 2010. In 2011, they had a greater need for a Player Services Chair so I took over that position instead and have held it annually ever since.

 

Tell us about your committee and what your role is.

My team does everything it can to help ensure the players have a great experience, and that they meet their commitments to the tournament. We assign lockers to the players, take their tournament applications and payments, distribute badges and tickets to their guests, ensure the players sign memorabilia for charity events and picture frames for the Pro-Am, track incoming mail and packages, provide food and beverages daily, and help with information in general. I’ve also been the Pro-Am Chair since 2011. The Pro-Am volunteers are in charge of registration of all of the Pro-Am players, and ensure that they get their pictures with their Pros and the gifts that are part of their package.

 

What do you think is most surprising or unexpected about putting on a golf tournament of this magnitude?   

The most unexpected thing about putting on a tournament of this size is all the things we have to do to handle unpredictable weather. A couple of years ago, we had a major heat wave, and Walmart graciously handed out cooling towels and water. Last year, we had to get everyone – thousands of spectators along with volunteers, caddies and players – off of the course when a dangerous thunderstorm came through.

 

What is your favorite part about tournament week?

I don’t know that I have a favorite part, other than being able to help make the experience as positive as possible for the ladies who are competing. The excitement of the players as they check in is contagious – they all tell us how much they enjoy playing here and we of course wish all of them well. I do get nervous on Friday, because I know not all of the ladies will make the cut. It's hard not to get close to some of these ladies year after year and wish the best for them. I suppose the last few hours of the last day is the best. It's the only time I am out on the course and I am beside myself with excitement. I am happy for whoever wins. I just want the tournament to keep coming back here year after year.

 

Do you have any favorite memories from over the years?

My favorite memory was when a group of players came in before they left in 2013 and told me that my group of volunteers in Player Services was the best group of ladies on the tour. I about cried. I wrote every one of my volunteers and told them that and let them know how important they were to me.

 

If you could do any other volunteer position, what would it be?

I really wouldn't want to change positions with anybody else. I am so happy that my teams contribute to the overall success of the tournament by making the players’ daily experiences so positive that they want to come back year after year and encourage others to do the same.

Volunteer Spotlight: John Doughty

The Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G wouldn’t be possible without the wonderful group of volunteers who commit themselves to making the tournament one of the best stops on the LPGA tour. Each month, we’ll be highlighting a different volunteer chairman for a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run a world-class golf event, as well as get to know some of the hardworking volunteers who return year after year to the #NWAChampionship!

First up is John Doughty—Transportation Committee Chairman. John’s committee works long, tireless hours throughout tournament week to make sure the LPGA players, volunteers and tournament staff have transportation to wherever they need to go, throughout Pinnacle Country Club and beyond. His easy-going attitude and positive demeanor makes working with him a pleasure. John is a great example of the dedication the tournament receives from our hundreds of volunteers—he travels from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma to volunteer his time each summer. We are so grateful for him and the volunteers that work by his side! 

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John Doughty, Transportation Committee Chairman

How long have you been volunteering? 

7 years

 

How did you get started? 

In 2005 and 2006, I was concessions volunteer at [an LPGA tournament held at] Cedar Ridge Country Club in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. In 2007, a friend asked if I would be interested in the Transportation Committee.  I met Jane Baker, Committee Chairperson, and I was hooked.  I volunteered again in 2008. Jane began Chairing the transportation committee at the NWA Championship, held at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas, and asked me to help her. I started helping her (volunteering) in 2010 at Pinnacle and have volunteered every year since.  In 2014, Jane asked me to Chair the Transportation Committee and I accepted.

 

Tell us about your committee and what your role is. 

The Transportation Committee is responsible for shuttling LPGA players and caddies to and from their hotels or residences, shuttle volunteers to and from their respectful places on the golf course, and assigning and retrieving courtesy vehicle’s to LPGA players and various Tournament Executives.  As Chairperson of the Transportation Committee, I coordinate approximately 45 volunteers over three shifts per day during tournament week to accomplish the aforementioned duties.  

 

What do you think is most surprising or unexpected about putting on a golf tournament of this magnitude?   

You never know what the surprise or unexpected is going to be from moment to moment and from day to day, and you face it and handle it as it comes.

 

What is your favorite part about tournament week? 

Seeing and reminiscing with the returning players and caddies from year to year.

 

Do you have any favorite memories from over the years? 

Some years, when shuttling players to and from the hotel, it seemed as though I served as a personal chauffeur to a few players.  Every time they needed a ride, It was my turn in rotation to drive.  By this happening, we have become good friends.

 

If you could do any other volunteer position, what would it be?   

Transportation Committee!!!

In the Winner’s Circle with Stacy Lewis

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2014 Champion of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G

Pinnacle Golf Club, Rogers, Arkansas

June 29, 2014

 

Hometown/Resides – The Woodlands, Texas/Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Birthdate – February 16, 1985– currently 29 years, 4 months, and 13 days

Qualified for LPGA Tour – Earned medalist honors at the 2008 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament

Turned Professional – June 2008

 

·         VICTORIES

o   LPGA: 11th career victory Previous wins: 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship, 2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, 2012 ShopRite LPGA Classic, 2012 Navistar LPGA Classic, 2012 Mizuno Classic, 2013 HSBC Women’s Champions, 2012 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, 2013 RICOH Women’s British Open, 2014 North Texas LPGA Shootout, 2014 ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer

 

·         RACE TO CME GLOBE

o   Earns 500 points toward the Race to the CME Globe standings and maintains the No. 1 spot in the rankings with 3,594 points

 

·         ROLEX RANKINGS

o   With her victory, Stacy will remain No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and will hold the top spot for five-consecutive weeks.

 

·         ROLEX PLAYER OF THE YEAR

o   Earns 30 points in the Rolex Player of the Year rankings and stays No. 1 in points with 190 points. Lewis won the award in 2012.

 

·         MONEY

o   CAREER: With a $300,000 first-place check, Stacy’s career earnings increase to $7,913,537. She surpasses Betsy King for 19th on the Career Money List.

o   SEASON: Stacy has earned $1,881,227 in 2014 and reclaims the top spot on the Official Money List.

 

·         TOURNAMENT SPECIFIC

o   Previous finishes at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship:

§  2008- T49*

§  2009 – T21

§  2010 – T9

§  2011 – T8

§  2012 – T19

§  2013 – T4

*played as an amateur

o   Led after 18 holes in 2007 as an amateur before the event was rained out and marked unofficial

o   Becomes the first American to win the event

                                          

·         2014 IN A NUTSHELL

o   With her win today: 15 events played,  15 cuts made, $1,881,227; 3 victories; 12 additional top-10 finishes including three runner-ups (Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, U.S. Women’s Open)

 

·         2013 RECAP

o   26 events, 25 cuts made, $1,938,868 (3)

o   Received the Vare Trophy for a career-low scoring average of 69.484

o   19 top-10 finishes, 3 victories

o   Captured second-career major victory at the RICOH Women's British Open

o   Led the Tour in birdies, eagles, top-10 finishes, and scoring average

o   Competed on her second U.S. Solheim Cup Team and posted a 1-2-1 record

 

·         OF NOTE

o   Marks the third time in her career to record at least three wins in a season (4 wins in 2012 and 3 wins in 2013)

o   Third win in her last seven starts

o   Her win marks the 10th victory by an American in the first 16 events of the 2014 season.  Six of the last seven events on Tour have been won by American players.

Fighting Hunger

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LPGA golfers Sydney Michaels and Stacey Keating helped Kraft Foods pack the NWA Food Bank’s truck with over 1.5 tons of food on Thursday in a ceremony held in front of the Pinnacle Country Club Clubhouse. In addition to the donated food, Kraft Foods and tournament presented the food bank with a $10,000 donation to help fight hunger in Northwest Arkansas. The NWA Food Bank serves over 700,000 people annually in Benton, Washington, Madison and Carroll counties.

Golf for the Next Generation

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The Mattel Junior Clinic was hosted on Thursday, June 27 at Pinnacle Country Club for local children with an interest in golf. Razorback women’s golf coach Shauna Estes Taylor hosted a two-hour clinic with over 100 participants from the Boys & Girls Club, The First Tee and Pinnacle Country Club Junior Golfers. LPGA player Brooke Pancake and tournament sponsor exemption Gabby Lopez stopped by to offer their tips and tricks to the up and coming golfers. The clinic was hosted with the purpose of promoting the game of golf to juniors in Northwest Arkansas. 

Northwest Arkansas Makes the Kindest Cut

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The annual Pantene Beautiful Lengths was held Wednesday night at the John Q. Hammons Center, hosted by Neile Jones and Gisel Ruiz with special guests Morgan Pressel, Natalie Gulbis, and Razorback football coach Bret Bielema with his wife Jen.  Over 300 ponytails were collected, consisting of eight inches of hair each to make real-hair wigs for cancer patients. Included in that count were five LPGA players—Megan McChrystal, Tiffany Joh, Jacqui Concolino, Stacey Keating and Cindy LaCrosse, who also cut their hair for the cause.

In addition to the exciting event last night, students from area schools got involved during the last week of May at satellite cuts held in Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville public schools. During the aptly-named Pantene Beautiful Lengths Week an additional 82 ponytails were collected. 

Gift for the Kids

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On Wednesday, June 25, the Cancer Challenge and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G jointly announced a $100,000 contribution to Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) to support the expansion of a pediatric cancer clinic at the Centers for Children in Lowell. The Centers for Children is a collaborative of ACH and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Department of Pediatrics.

As part of the ACH statewide network of care, the Centers for Children at Lowell provides specialty health care closer to home for families in Northwest Arkansas. Patients can schedule clinic visits and follow-up medical care at Centers instead of making the drive to the Little Rock campus.

The gift from the tournament and Cancer Challenge will expand the current hematology/oncology clinic at the Centers, allowing more patients to see physicians for specialized appointments and procedures.

The contribution is a direct result of a $100,000 gift that was made to the Cancer Challenge as part of last year’s tournament.

Drive for Hope

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The Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G and several of its sponsors unleashed a big drive and scored an amazing “ace” for Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter by providing a vehicle to be used for picking up large donations and filling it with products needed by the abused and neglected kids in the Children’s Shelter’s care.

In an initiative dubbed the “Drive for Hope,” the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G donated the $50,000 necessary for the Children’s Shelter to purchase, equip, bedeck with signage and operate the Chevrolet 3500 cutaway van (which has a 15-foot-long “graphic-wrapped” cargo box attached). Tournament sponsors P&G, General Mills, Kimberly-Clark and Mondelez International then chipped in with large “pallet-sized” product donations to fill the vehicle. The keys to the vehicle were officially presented today in a ceremony at Pinnacle Country Club, the home course of the event, by veteran LPGA player Liselotte “Lotta” Neumann, who has 13 LPGA Tour wins to her credit (including the U.S. Women’s Open in 1988) and served as the 2013 Solheim Cup captain for the winning European team.