Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Shea

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!

Mike Shea has been an integral part of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G since year one. As the Chairman of the Pro-Am Operations Committee, Mike is responsible for recruiting cart drivers for Pro-Am teams. Mike’s interest in golf doesn’t stop with his time at the tournament. He is the Executive Director of The First Tee of Northwest Arkansas and was formally the Director of Golf and Recreation for the Bella Vista POA. Through his role with The First Tee, Mike has also worked hand in hand with the tournament’s Mattel Junior Clinic and the Walmart Kid’s Center presented by Dove. His commitment to growing the game of golf is an asset to the tournament and we are thankful he’s part of our team.

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Mike Shea with his wife Ann

Mike Shea, Pro-Am Operations Committee Chairman

How long have you been volunteering?

Since year one—the YEAR OF THE FLOODS.

How did you get started?

I was the Director of Golf in Bella Vista at the time and the first Volunteer Tournament Chair "recruited" me. He said something like, "Which committee are you going to chair?" I chose the Pro-Am and I guess have been "Peter-principled" ever since.

Tell us about your committee and what your role is.

The Pro-Am Operations team facilitates the amateur teams by driving carts and helping the players with clubs, etc. Carts are restricted to the paths, so we help to keep play moving through the course. My role is to determine which teams will not have guest drivers and to assign Pro-Am Operations team members to drive those carts.

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

Probably the most surprising thing is, knowing how many dedicated volunteers it takes to help put on the event, how smoothly the event runs. I know every committee could tell you that this or that happened, but the recovery is so quick that those on the outside never see the problems.

What is your favorite part about tournament week?

Seeing the crowds on the weekend and knowing the event is a whole lot bigger than just a golf tournament.

Do you have any favorite memories from over the years?

The river on 18 the first year, the Mars Challenge in 2010 with The First Tee kids paired with the pros, and Stacy "really" winning this year.

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

We have a good time during the Pro-Am, but the range might be interesting or being the standard bearer for the last group on Sunday or . . . 

2015 LPGA Tour Schedule

 
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Following a dream season that included some very memorable moments on the course and landmark announcements off the course, the LPGA unveiled its 2015 schedule on Tuesday, November 18 reflecting the continuing trend of momentum. At the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida, LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan and Chief Commercial Officer Jon Podany jointly announced a schedule that will feature 33 official events, a total prize money increase of more than $4 million and a record number of hours in television coverage.

Players will compete for a total of $61.6 million in prize money next season and will be featured in 410+ hours of television coverage, surpassing last year’s record of 380 hours. This season, the Tour had the highest year-to-date viewership average on Golf Channel since 2009.

“I’m excited that our team has achieved our target number of events to fill our schedule over the past few years,” said Whan.  “We are focused on elevating and enhancing the playing opportunities for our players, viewing experiences for our fans and corporate involvement for our partners.”

The second year of the season-long Race to the CME Globe will kick off and conclude in the state of Florida with the addition of the season-opening Coates Golf Championship presented by R+L Carriers. The new event will be staged at Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club in Ocala, Florida, January 28-31 with a Saturday finish due Super Bowl Sunday. It will mark the first time since 2001 that the Tour will open its season in the Sunshine State and second-consecutive year the season will start in January.

The Tour’s other main focus has been securing long-term commitments for its major championships. During Tuesday’s press conference, it was announced that All Nippon Airways (ANA) will become the new title partner of the first major of the LPGA season. The newly-named ANA Inspiration will be held March 30-April 5 and will continue to be played at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California through 2019. The ANA Inspiration will increase its purse to $2.5 million and will carry on the history and tradition of the formerly-named Kraft Nabisco Championship including the Dinah Shore Trophy and long-standing tradition of the leap into Poppie’s Pond.

The LPGA had already secured the future of the LPGA Championship last May with the announcement that KPMG and the PGA of America will team up with the LPGA for the newly-named KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. In 2015 it will be held June 8-14 at the Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York outside New York City with the purse increasing to $3.5 million. The championship will have six hours of network coverage on NBC on the weekend in 2015 and will rotate annually among prestigious courses in major metropolitan markets through 2019.

“Another major goal for us was to gain long-term security and to elevate our major championships,” said CCO Jon Podany. “With the new partnerships with ANA, KPMG and the PGA of America, we have made enormous strides in the right direction by enhancing the biggest stages and venues that showcase our stars around the world.”

The U.S. Women’s Open Championship will celebrate its 70th anniversary July 6-12 at Lancaster Country Club which will host its first major championship and the LPGA for the first time. The RICOH Women’s British Open, will return to Turnberry in Ayrshire, Scotland for the second time. The last time the event was held at Turnberry in 2002, Hall of Fame member Karrie Webb won her third Women’s British Open title. The LPGA’s major championship season will conclude for the third-consecutive year in France at The Evian Championship, September 7-13.

The following week, all eyes will turn to Germany for the 14th staging of The Solheim Cup where the Americans will seek revenge after an 18-10 rout in 2013 and their first loss on U.S. soil in the competition’s history. St. Leon-Rot Golf Club outside of Heidelberg will play host to the biennial, international match-play event and will be the site of the first LPGA Tour event held in Germany. 

After Europe’s second-consecutive win in 2013 in Colorado, the overall record still stands in the Americans’ favor, 8-5.

In all, the 2015 schedule continues the Tour’s trend of upward momentum. A total of 13 new events have been added in the past four years, strengthening a tournament schedule that reflects a stronger commitment from the Tour’s corporate partners.

“This is an exciting time for the LPGA, its players and corporate partners as well as the fans,” said Whan. “We’re reaching historical highs in so many areas of the Tour and we cannot wait to start another great season in January.”

Click here to download the complete 2015 LPGA Tour Schedule.                                         

LPGA Tour 2015 Season By the Numbers:
  2014 Schedule   2015 Schedule   
Total Official Money Events  32 33
Total Purse $57.55 Million  $61.6 Million
Average Purse  $1.79 Million $1.81 Million 
Official North American Events 21 22
Official Asian Events 9 9
Official European Events 2 2
Televised Events 32 33
Televised Hours 380+ 410+
Unofficial Team Event  International Crown Solheim Cup  

Volunteer Spotlight: Sandy Ensinger

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!

Sandy Ensinger oversees the tournament’s largest committee, Marshals.  Marshals are stationed throughout the course to ensure fair play among all participants, as well as safety for spectators. As a tournament chairman since the first Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, Sandy knows the course better than most and his attention to detail is not only impressive but crucial to his role. He’s no stranger to volunteering and has volunteered at many tournaments in the past—he’s even considering volunteering for the LPGA’s newest tournament in January down in Ocala, Florida. Sandy loves golf and is a great chairman. We’re very lucky to have him.

 

Sandy Ensinger, Marshal Committee Chairman

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Sandy toasts 2014 Champion, Stacy Lewis

How long have you been volunteering and how did you get started?

When I moved to Northwest Arkansas eight years ago, I was excited to learn of the LPGA event scheduled at Pinnacle for the first time. I have been volunteering at this event since its inception as Chairman of the Marshals.

 

Tell us about your committee and what your role is.

I've worked scoring, security and marshaling in the past 20 plus years at both men’s, ladies and seniors tournaments, and without a doubt I find Chairman of the Marshals to be my most challenging assignment at a tournament.  Finding 18 good people to be hole captains is always the most important part of putting together a well working unit.  We now have captains in place who have worked the tournament for several years and are able to recruit volunteers who return year after year.  Paul Cannon and Scott Turner are the back and front coordinators who patrol their sides of the course, and are always ready to answer questions and address any issues a marshal may have.

 

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

My most unexpected or surprising event at this tournament would probably be the entire 2007 event.  I have never seen so much rain in one week in my entire life. 

 

What is your favorite part about tournament week?

My favorite part of the week is arriving early every day, getting the radios ready, answering any marshal’s questions and seeing everything coming together as it should.  Suddenly it's 7:30 a.m. and everyone is in place, and the players are out and beginning play.

 

Do you have any favorite memories from over the years?

My memories of the tournament range from our early captains meeting, trying to get lunches out to volunteers, or helping Morgan Pressel get a splinter out of her finger at the 16th hole.  I won't mention the flooding the first year!

 

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

If I could work any other position at the tournament it would come down to doing a job where I could see people working together and having a good golfing experience……MARSHALING !

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.