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 ChairmanHow 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.