Vast amounts of work go into making the Butterfield Bermuda Championship happen. Many of the necessary tasks have to be done by volunteers in order for the island’s PGA Tour event to function smoothly.
From ensuring that spectators allow players to concentrate when preparing to play a shot, to staffing the caddie headquarters, to being “walking scorers” and “TV spotters”, hundreds of volunteers fuel the PGA Tour event’s operational engine.
The Championship is seeking to recruit about 600 volunteers — equivalent to about one percent of Bermuda’s population. Each is asked to work at least three shifts of four to six hours during the event. Every year since the event’s debut in 2019, organisers have managed to sign up the necessary numbers, testament to the tournament’s community appeal.
Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age by October 1, 2023, although there are opportunities for young people aged 13 to 17 to offer help in select areas.
Seventeen committees run the BF&M Volunteer Programme, each responsible for a particular area. The largest is the Gallery Management Ambassadors committee, which manages a 240-strong group. Between eight and 12 per hole are needed.
“They were previously known as marshals,” said Danielle Carrera, tournament director, said. “They are in charge of ensuring that the fan experience is kept separate from the player experience.
“They help to manage crowd noise, ensuring that the gallery remains quiet for the players. And they manage the crosswalks, stopping traffic when necessary to ensure the safety of players and spectators when they move from one hole to the next.”
Teams of volunteers from individual companies sometimes take charge of the gallery management responsibilities for a particular hole, Butterfield, BF&M and AXA XL among them. It’s a fun way of generating team camaraderie, Carrera notes, and the company branding is displayed at the tee box.
The volunteers will be in action well before the PGA Tour professionals tee off at the start of the tournament on Thursday, November 9.
For example, those assisting with the two Pro-Am events on the Monday and Wednesday of tournament week manage the registration of amateur players, help guests to their assigned golf carts and help with Pro-Am gifting.
Volunteers helping at the practice areas collect, sort and distribute range balls and place nameplates to identify each player. They are busy all seven days of the week and morning shifts may start as early as 5.30am.
New this year is the Transportation committee. The tournament provides transport between sponsor hotel, the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club, and the Port Royal Golf Course each day to players, caddies, officials and sponsors. Volunteers, based at the hotel and the course, are responsible for answering questions on transportation and organising journeys with the taxi and minibus firms who work with the tournament.
Volunteers on the Shuttles committee use golf carts to assist those whose physical limitations make it difficult for them to access the golf course.
For some categories of volunteer work, knowledge of golf is important. For example, the TV spotters who help the crew covering the tournament for the Golf Channel to update scoring information. While they will receive training, they must be familiar with golf etiquette, course layout and the rules of the game.
Some volunteers are also involved in measuring and recording shot data, using the ShotLink laser device. Data is transmitted throughout the course.
The volunteers’ efforts are not only an integral part of the tournament, but also provide a boost for local charities, thanks largely to BF&M’s sponsorship.
“For every volunteer who registers and for each set of four hour shifts that volunteer works, we donate $200 to the charity of their choice,” Ms Carrera said. “Last year, we raised over $60,000 through the volunteer programme for charities in Bermuda. That number has grown every year, and we eventually hope to have all 600 volunteers volunteering on behalf of a charity.”
Volunteers receive some perks for all of their hard work. A volunteer uniform package includes an official tournament polo shirt and jacket, among other goodies. The volunteer credential also serves as entry ticket on days off. Complimentary meals are provided on the course and volunteers have their own on-course base where they can rest. For youth volunteers, time worked counts as community service hours for their schools.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship should visit the tournament website and click on the Volunteer tab, or contact volunteer manager Diaje Hart at email@example.com.