More volunteers needed for AJGA tourney

The new sports tourism director for the Columbus Area Visitors Center was getting ready to face what surely would be one of his most difficult tasks.

Eric Marvin, who took over for the retiring Jim Dietz in September, started a drive in January to get volunteers for the American Junior Golf Association tournament that will be conducted at Otter Creek June 29 through July 2.

Dietz had assembled a volunteer force of more than 125 in the past, and Marvin wasn’t sure if he could match that his first time around. He sent out notices in January to past volunteers eager to see what kind of response he would receive.

“I was pretty nervous,” Marvin said. “I thought maybe the people were showing up to support Jim. So I sent out an email, and I had 75 volunteers sign up in two days.

“Now we have a little over 100 volunteers signed up. The people wanted to come back. I think that speaks to how great an event this really is. It shows the popularity of this event.”

Marvin still has plenty of volunteer shifts available for anyone interested, and he hopes to get those shifts filled by the third week of June.

“I think it will be neat to see kids of this age with the level of talent that they bring here,” he said. “And we get to see them play this beautiful course.”

Although some of the shifts require volunteers who have some golf knowledge, many others do not. Shifts tend to last about five hours.

All volunteers receive an official AJGA hat, an AJGA lapel pin, complimentary food and beverage during shift and refreshments after the shift.

Those who volunteer for two or more shifts receive an official AJGA golf shirt and a complimentary round of golf at Otter Creek.

To volunteer, contact Marvin at [email protected] or call him at 812-378-2622.

While this will be Marvin’s first time working the tournament, he is familiar with the AJGA, which is making its third consecutive trip to Columbus after a long absence.

When Columbus was trying to lure the tournament here three years ago, it was locked in a battle with Bloomington, where Marvin was then the sports tourism director.

“I recruited this exact event for Bloomington,” he said. “I was director of the Hoosier Sports Corporation. At the same time they were looking at Columbus and Otter Creek. Columbus blew Bloomington away in terms of business and volunteer support.”

The tournament, which draws a field of 144 and another 100 golfers for qualifying, now is a substantial contributor to The First Tee program in Columbus, which introduces golf and its values, such as intregrity, respect and perseverance, to young people. It also supports ACE Grant, which defrays the cost of playing in other AJGA events around the country for talented, local golfers.