Opinion

Calls for help at the golf Open this summer

Get that feel good factor from helping others and leaving visitors with a great impression of Kent

For a long while now I’ve been having a bit of a debate with myself. I’ve been wondering about the people who work at major sporting events. Remember them? The events, not the people. These events used to be held before this Covid-19 pandemic came along.

I’ve been wondering if, when helping at such events, is it an advantage if you like the sport involved, or is it better if it means nothing to you.

The reason this has reared its head again it that I’ve seen a notice asking for volunteers to help at the forthcoming Open Golf Championship which will be staged at Royal St George’s in Sandwich this summer. I’ll expand on that shortly.

First, let me deal with the fan, or not a fan, debate. I should point out that not all sports rely on unpaid volunteers. With football, for example, there are ball boys and there are stewards. From club to club this may vary, but my perception is that ball boys do it for the love of their team and the thrill of maybe handing the ball to one of their favourite players. Mascots with something real to do, if you like. Stewards, however, are paid and they are paid to ensure crowd safety and to bid to quell unpleasantness. Although they might be able to glance at the action every now and then, their main role is to be looking at the crowd and watching for possible incidents.

Now, if you are a fan, I can imagine nothing worse than working as a steward at, say, the football ground of the team you care for. Think about having your back turned when your favourite team scores and maybe no big screen to see it over again. Purgatory.

So, my theory is that if you are at an event where your main role is not to be watching the action, it’s probably best if you have no affinity with the sport in question.

This call for help at the Open probably does not relate to those people who hold up the signs asking you to be quiet when a player is taking a shot. For that role I think you do need to be a fan. It’s a question of having a feel for the game. Hold the sign up too soon and it spoils the experience for the spectators; too late and the player might be put off the shot. Not a job for someone with no affinity for or understanding of the sport.

But there are other important roles to be filled surrounding The Open; roles that people who just like helping other people would enjoy. Dover Council has issued the following notice:

Do you want to get involved in volunteering at The 149th Open, learn new skills with like-minded individuals, and give a warm welcome to Kent? Key partners have launched Event Makers, an exciting new programme to promote and coordinate volunteering opportunities as The Open returns to Royal St George’s this July.  

This follows The R&A’s recent announcement that The 149th Open will go ahead this year. A previous post on this site wasn’t 100% sure. The R&A is continuing to plan for a full-scale championship but also has robust plans in place for a reduced capacity or behind closed doors model. The Event Makers programme follows the success of the 2012 Olympic Games Makers and the Welcome Ambassador Programme for The 148th Open held at Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush in 2019.

Ambassadors for the local area

The Event Makers website is inviting prospective volunteers to come forward and support the local area by acting as its ambassadors during The Open. Volunteers will play a key role in welcoming people to Kent and White Cliffs Country and ensure that they have an unforgettable visitor experience.

The 149th Open will take place from 11-18 July 2021. On the assumption that some spectators will be allowed (maybe not a totally safe assumption) volunteers will be positioned at transport hubs and other key locations in the vicinity of Royal St George’s Golf Club to assist visitors with wayfinding, as well as providing useful information about championship, the local area, and how visitors can make the most of their stay both on and off the course.

Free training opportunites

The Event Makers programme will provide you with a range of free training opportunities in order to help develop your strengths and support you in carrying out your volunteer role. The training, provided by Dover Technical College, will also lead to a Level 2 qualification in volunteering, which covers safety, first aid awareness and crowd management.

The Event Makers programme is a collaboration between Sporting Events UK (based in Canterbury), Dover District Council and Dover Technical College, supported by Kent County Council (KCC) and The R&A (Royal & Ancient golf). 

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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