Finleyville man has worked 18 golf events and counting
Every golf tournament needs a strong group of volunteers.
The Senior Players Championship this week at Fox Chapel Golf Club has just that.
“I may be biased, but this is the best tournament,” tournament services manager Katelyn DiCristifano said. “It's crazy how many people give up their time to help. We have a lot of people who have worked all three years, and they know what they're doing.”
Denny McAvoy, 60, a retired IT support worker from Finleyville, has volunteered at professional golf tournaments around region for the past 22 years. This week marks No. 19. McAvoy is serving as co-chairman of marshals with Johnsie Irwin of Fox Chapel.
They are among almost 800 volunteers, more than 300 serving as marshals at each hole. The other volunteers' work includes transportation, hospitality, office support and other behind-the-scene jobs.
“I got interested when I went to watch the (Nationwide Tour's) Quicksilver Classic in 1992,” McAvoy said. “I got hooked and have done it since 1993.”
McAvoy has volunteered at eight Lemieux Celebrity Invitationals, two Quicksilver Opens, two 84 Lumber Classics, the Mylan Classic and the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. He's hoping to be selected for the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
He has done about everything.
McAvoy and Irwin's job at Fox Chapel is to recruit volunteers and prepare them for their duties.
“If we do our preparation right, the job during the week is easy,” McAvoy said.
Irwin said the tech-savvy McAvoy is very organized.
“He definitely dots the I's and crosses the T's,” Irwin said. “I couldn't do what does with the technology.
“There is some stress involved, especially when you're evacuating a golf course because of weather — or when your co-chairman has emergency surgery.”
McAvoy had an emergency appendectomy in 2013 a couple of days before the Senior Players. He still managed to work the tournament.
“I did the first couple of days from my bed at home,” McAvoy said. “Then I was able to make it during the weekend and ride around in a cart. One of the chairmen made me bring a doctor's excuse.”
One of his most memorable events during his 22 years was when former NBA player Charles Barkley topped his drive so poorly at the Lemieux event that the ball hit the ground in front of his tee, then spun backward into the gallery.
He said Barkley turned to the crowd and said, “And you thought you were safe standing behind me.”
McAvoy developed software to help him schedule people. He also is working on expanding the software not only to set a schedule but also to recruit volunteers, send emails, adjust schedules, notify marshals of delays and send out surveys.
“You always want to learn things that can improve the experiences,” McAvoy said.