Marshaling our way to success

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By: Brent Long

You never know who you might meet next when you volunteer to marshal at the RBC Canadian Open.

That’s not Jennifer Mazzarolo’s sales pitch when it comes to signing-up volunteers for the 2019 RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf & Country Club (HGCC) next June. It does however explain, how the 13-year member at HGCC finds herself managing the largest group of volunteers – the “Quiet, Eh!” people – the marshals.

While she was on the waiting list to become a member at the club in 2006, Jennifer first volunteered as a marshal for the RBC Canadian Open at HGCC. As is tradition, the host club marshals No. 18 and Jennifer found herself enjoying the “Inside the Ropes” experience, but she also learned a valuable lesson.

During Wednesday’s Championship Pro-Am, PGA TOUR players sign a lot of autographs. Jennifer had a nice collection of signatures on a flag until Mark Calcavechia passed by and walked away with her Sharpie. “I couldn’t believe he stole my Sharpie. For the rest of the afternoon I was out of luck when it came to autographs,” Jennifer says. “It was a great event and for the most part the players are great guys, who appreciate the volunteers. Without all of the volunteers this tournament would not happen.”

In 2012, when the RBC Canadian Open returned to HGCC, Jennifer took on the added responsibilities as an Area Captain, overseeing Hole Captains and marshals on three holes. She followed that up as a Vice-Chair of Marshaling in 2013 and 2018 at Glen Abbey, before taking on the leadership role as Chair of the Marshal Committee and it’s 650 marshals for her third Open at HGCC in 2019.

“In 2018 we had three weather evacuations and I drove Brooks Koepka, Mackenzie Hughes and Ricky Barnes back to the clubhouse in my golf cart on 3 separate occasions,” Jennifer says. After years of waiting, she finally got a ball signed by her favourite player, Graeme McDowell that now sits in a protected plastic display case at home.

“The highlight of 2018 was meeting Dustin Johnson (see above). There was a photo op with Dustin and all Committee Chairs & Vice-Chairs. I was right out front, just below the RBC Canadian Open trophy. It pays to be short. When I stood up, he was right there. I congratulated him on the victory and he shook my hand and thanked me for volunteering. It was a great moment. Who knows, maybe it will be Tiger Woods in 2019,” says Jennifer, a CPA, CA and self-employed finance and accounting recruiter who enjoys leading and inspiring others.

And if the RBC Canadian Open isn’t keeping Jennifer busy enough, she also sits on the HGCC Board of Directors as Vice-Chair of both the Finance and Membership Committees, is a member of the Hamilton CPA Board, serves with the Good Sheperd Centre in Hamilton and enjoys volunteering for both provincial and federal election campaigns.

Planning for the 2019 RBC Canadian Open started as the 2018 Open at Glen Abbey had wrapped up where Jennifer touched base with hole marshals and hole captains to see if they might be interested in joining her at HGCC for 2019. She also extended an invite to clubs that sent volunteers to HGCC for the 2012 RBC Canadian Open through the Adopt a Hole Program. Clubs like Beverly Golf & Country Club, Dundas Valley Golf & Curling Club, Burlington Golf & Country Club and Oak Gables have agreed to return to oversee a hole per club (minimum of 20 volunteers registered) and Westmount Golf & Country Club is bringing a team of volunteer marshals for the first time.

Assisting Jennifer from HGCC will be Sheila Drury and Denise Johnston as Hole Captain and Co-Captain on the 18th hole, as well as four outside Vice-Chairs, with decades of RBC Canadian Open experience. In October, Jennifer hosted a course tour for key members of the Marshaling Committee to make sure everyone is familiar with the course.

“It can be a long week with long hours in the sun, but it’s also a lot of fun,” Jennifer says. “It’s not easy work being a marshal. There’s a lot of spectators on the move. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes. There are a lot of moving parts. Someone gets three birdies in row and suddenly, we need to send a couple of extra roving marshals to the group to help with crowd control. It’s our job to make sure everything is moving smoothly and when it doesn’t, we need to respond quickly. The marshal team interacts with Golf Canada, the PGA TOUR and practically every other volunteer committee, so it’s important to build relationships and work as a team to ensure a smooth tournament.”

Jennifer knows the countdown to the 2019 RBC Canadian Open is on. She is also aware that volunteer numbers aren’t yet where they need to be – so please consider volunteering as a marshal. You never know who you might meet and do keep an eye on your Sharpie or someone might walk off with it.

To learn more about volunteering with the RBC Canadian Open, click here.