Revelers may go to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship to see the likes of Hunter Mahan and Tiger Woods in action, but the tournament wouldn't function properly without the help of some Girl Scouts.
The championship is Feb. 20-24 at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain, 13900 N. Dove Mountain Blvd. Callie Gibson, a PGA Tour tournament services manager, said it takes the efforts of between 900 and 1,000 volunteers to make the tournament function.
More than 40 Girl Scouts and parents will volunteer at a concession booth throughout the tournament. Eight percent of the proceeds from sales will go to the organization's charitable project, Troop to Troop, which sends boxes of Girl Scout cookies to military troops around the world.
In 2012 the program sent more than 16,000 boxes of cookies.
"It's kind of a way to check out the event and see some great golf on the way," said Whitney Thistle, who oversees volunteer efforts for Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. "The money is for a good cause, and there's excitement for the whole event. They're not earning badges; they just feel inclined to volunteer."
While the tournament makes revenue-sharing deals with some nonprofits, most of the volunteers are individuals who are looking for a chance to help out and get close to a world-class golf tournament.
Not only are the volunteers unpaid, they must pay $85 for the privilege of donating their time and effort. The payment helps offset the costs of accommodating the volunteers.
Despite the fee, Thistle said, it's not tough to rustle up helpers.
"It's actually pretty easy," she said. "Year to year, we've had such a steady volunteer base that returns."
Volunteers get a meal each day, a uniform and a pass that gets them into the tournament when they're not working.
"The value of what they receive in return is much higher than $85," Gibson said.
Some even get face time with their golf heroes. Duties range from picking up golfers at the airport to aiding with electronic scoring to holding ropes and "quiet" signs during the tournament.
Terry Kuzman, 70, has volunteered as a walking scorer for several years. He follows a pair of golfers and inputs each shot on a hand-held computer.
"It's very exciting because you're waking with two professional players," Kuzman said. "You're inside the ropes. You're right there, and you can actually feel either the relaxation or the tension as they take their shots."
There are also less glamorous but every bit as essential tasks that call for old-fashioned manual labor, such as moving boxes of food and supplies from place to place.
Because the tournament format is match play - similar to the one-on-one, single-elimination brackets of the NCAA Tournament - the event is front-loaded with action, with 32 opening-round matches on the first day.
"Wednesday is our busiest day," Gibson said, adding that many volunteers are also needed on Sunday, the day of the tournament final.
Different jobs are available for varieties of volunteers, although many involve physical activity. True to the sport, Gibson said, many "require a good amount of walking."
The volunteers help the tournament hum, allowing the stars to shine.
"There is no way we would be able to accomplish this without them," Gibson said.
If you go
• What: WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
• Where: Golf Club at Dove Mountain, 13900 N. Dove Mountain Blvd.
• When: Feb. 20-24
• Tickets: Purchase at Bashas' grocery stores; call 571-0400 or go to www.worldgolfchampionships.com/accenture-match-play-championship/tickets.html
To get a volunteer application: Visit www.worldgolfchampionships.com/accenture-match-play-championship/volunteer.html online. The deadline to apply is Monday.
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org