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Volunteers help tournament run smoothly

by Tony Burns | September 25, 2021 at 7:22 p.m.

Midway through the second round of the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout, the only complaints heard were the Mystic Creek course was difficult. Tournament director Courtney Crotty said that’s a good thing.

“The tournament is going really great so far,” Crotty said on Saturday. “We’ve heard a lot of feedback from players that the pin placement has been more difficult than it has in years past. There was a little bit of disappointment (Friday). But as I was out riding the course this morning, it seemed it was a little better for some of the players. Tournament play was definitely faster. A typical round, they do around 4 1/2 hours. (Friday) it seemed like a round was 5 to 5 1/2 hours.”

The LPGA Symetra Tour event is in El Dorado for the sixth year and was last played in 2019.

Crotty said the committee put the extra time between events to good use, leading to improvements on and off the course.

“We didn’t have the tournament last year to construct the new clubhouse, which is beautiful and has added an enhanced element to the tournament overall,” she said. “I would say going into it that I was probably more nervous just because we had taken a break. The last time we had the tournament, we had turned it around in six months. We hosted in September of 2018 and we hosted again in April of (2019). So we hadn’t really had any time off to think about what we were doing. We just did what we’d always known how to do. This year when we got ready, the obvious concerns about COVID and how it would change certain rules that we had in place before. We’d have to require masks in enclosed areas where you couldn’t social distance. And, just, are people going to want to come out and volunteer? Are they going to be scared to?

“And, the clubhouse element was different. But, our volunteers showed up and showed out. We had over 615 volunteers, which is huge. These individuals that volunteer their time are so incredible. You can tell they enjoy being out here. We wouldn’t be able to do it without them because there are so many different roles. We couldn’t put all of our committee in those roles. And the Mystic Creek Grill has made it that much better as a tournament overall. The food has been incredible. There’s been the nice, new lockerrooms for the players. We have the pro shop. I think overall, I was nervous and I think it was right to be nervous but once the tournament got here, because of the volunteers and because of the committee, it’s gone very smoothly.”

Of all the volunteers, Crotty was asked if the shuttle drivers are as important as any. Upon arrival, spectators are directed to the parking area, which is a long walk from the course. Drivers in church vans are waiting to chauffeur people to the course.

“You know what, I feel like they are. For a lot of people, if you have done any walking, which, if you’re volunteering out here, you're guaranteed to walk quite a bit. By the time your shift is done, you’re very tired. So, walking back to a parking lot that’s halfway on the other side of the world, it feels like, you’re very grateful for those shuttle drivers,” Crotty said.

With so much time between tournaments, she was proud of the improvements made. Crotty was asked if the tournament featured more bells and whistles than in previous years.

“It’s not that we necessarily have any bells and whistles,” she answered. “We just have refined what we’ve been known for doing so well. All of that hinges on our volunteers, whether they volunteer out on the course or they’re volunteering by hosting a player in their home. We hear over and over again that our players enjoy this tournament because they see first hand what southern hospitality is all about. You would think that COVID would, potentially, slow people down from being as interactive with players but it really hasn’t. Everyone has been safe. We’ve kept our players safe. We’ve kept our volunteers safe. Overall, it hasn’t hindered the success of the tournament.”

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