© Feng Yu | adobe stock

In the golf industry, we all have opportunities from time to time. Volunteering at a tournament is one of them. As a volunteer, you make certain sacrifices to participate.

  • You sacrifice time with your family, employer and other responsibilities for an extended period.
  • You donate countless hours to help make the event special.
  • You incur monetary costs for travel, meals, housing, etc.

As a volunteer, you also have certain responsibilities:

  • You are representing the event so your conduct should be above reproach.
  • You have specific job tasks to complete to the best of your ability. It may be a patron’s only opportunity to enjoy this event.?
  • You are at the beck and call of the organizers while on property.

As a volunteer, you occasionally receive additional benefits that might include uniforms, meals, housing, the opportunity to return to play the course at a later date, and the opportunity to receive or purchase tickets. As the purchaser of the ticket, the volunteer is ultimately responsible for how the recipient conducts themselves while in possession of the gift. This is where my story begins.

For many years, I have volunteered on the golf course crew for an annual tournament. It has been an honor and privilege to work behind the scenes for this tournament. It has allowed me to develop lifelong friendships with other volunteers from every walk of life. As a benefit for volunteering, I have had the opportunity to purchase tickets.

Each year, through my employment, I receive numerous requests for tickets to this event. Occasionally, volunteers have traded or sold unused tickets to other volunteers who had additional requests. This past year, in good faith, a fellow volunteer sold me an extra ticket, at face value, that I gave to a trusted colleague. He had received several requests over the years from a Class A superintendent who wanted to attend the tournament with his spouse. After the ticket was in the superintendent’s possession, his plans changed. But instead of contacting me or my colleague, the superintendent made the choice to put the ticket on eBay. As a result, the tournament officials identified the “scalped” ticket and cancelled it. They called in my volunteer counterpart for questioning, which ultimately involved me. I immediately called and confronted the superintendent who admitted to having sold the ticket, but the damage was done. After two agonizing months, we learned that we would not be allowed the opportunity to return and play the course, nor would we be allowed to purchase tickets for 2020. Thankfully, because of our efforts to get to the bottom of the issue, we would not lose our opportunity to volunteer in the future. I’m sure the tournament superintendent had a voice in our defense. I hope this story will be a cautionary tale to help others avoid this type of situation. Here are a few suggestions I think are important to remember.


  • If you choose to give away tournament tickets, make sure you know the recipient.
  • Be absolutely confident that this individual will conduct themselves appropriately.
  • Make sure they understand that if their plans change and they can’t attend, they must return the ticket to you.
  • You are responsible for the whereabouts of the ticket at all times.
  • You should never attempt to sell a ticket online or to a scalper.
  • Should you decide to trade or sell your ticket to another volunteer, never sell for more than face value.


  • Respect the efforts that have been put forth so you can enjoy the event.
  • Never transfer the ticket to anyone without contacting the provider. You should be aware that people are always watching.
  • You are now part of an industry that promotes the enjoyment of golf. If you need money, ask for assistance. Don’t sell a ticket!

As a volunteer, I hope you realize how sensitive this type of issue can be and as a recipient of such a ticket I hope you realize your responsibilities and the repercussions that can come if you conduct yourself in a disrespectful or untrustworthy manner.

Larry Feller is a territory manager for Syngenta who has served as a volunteer at more than 20 major championships.