Championships are Dependent Upon Volunteers; One was Inspired to Give Back and Others Followed
By Bob Denney, PGA Historian
There is no question that volunteers are the lifeblood of a sporting event. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of the 2020 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, the event’s volunteers found a way toward a different impact.
Offered reimbursement for the cost of his volunteer uniform package, Jim McAnaw of Kalamazoo, Michigan, had another idea. He contacted the Championship office and asked if his fee could instead be given to support Spectrum Health Lakeland, the event’s medical service partner. Pretty soon, volunteers were given the opportunity to do the same and more than 130 answered the call, resulting in more than $15,000 donated to Lakeland’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
“In volunteering for this event, you’re giving of yourself or a part of yourself to help others,” said McAnaw. “In this, we have a chance to help out people who matter a whole lot more than golf. You say you love golf, but what you really love is your family. There are a bunch of people who are risking themselves going out there to help our families or those around us. They’re the real heroes. They deserve this.”
This May would have been the second KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship volunteering experience for 51-year-old McAnaw, who lives 45 miles northeast of Benton Harbor, home to the Harbor Shores Resort, the Championship site. In 2018, he was a marshal on Hole No. 7, and was looking forward to marshaling again.
“I may have put this idea out there, but it was the event staff that executed it and pulled it together,” said McAnaw. “I lost my dad a few years ago. Some of the best times in my life were on that course with my dad. I want those same times with my boy,” referring to his six-year-old son, Liam.
McAnaw, a graduate of Western Michigan University, is employed by Epredia of Kalamazoo, a global company that focuses on enhancing precision cancer diagnostics.
“This [volunteer donation] is our chance to give back and help others,” he said. “I had signed up to do something, and when I realized this money was available, I felt it was more important to do something with it than just have it returned.”
“Every other year, some 1,500 volunteers answer the call to help showcase our communities through this Championship,” said Ryan Ogle, Championship Director for the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. “In seven years living in Southwest Michigan, I have always been impressed with our culture of giving back and supporting our neighbors. This selfless act by our volunteers tops the list and it is something I will never forget.”
The Harbor Shores Resort has hosted the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship every other year since 2012. Mark and Kate Seaman have served on the Spectator Services or Championship Office committees, respectively, every time the tournament has been played six miles from their St. Joseph home.
The parents of three grown children, Mark owns a local environmental consulting firm and Kate is employed by a local bank. This is their community.
“[The option to donate] is a great opportunity for people to help, in some way, our healthcare workers who are spread thin throughout our area,” said Kate of this year’s donation to Spectrum Health Lakeland. “Our healthcare workers are putting in a lot of hours and are bracing for more to come.”
“We’re a small community, and we know folks who work there. Nobody is complaining, and they are working hard and trying to stay ahead of this.”