CP Women’s Open volunteer Brad Roberts is the kind of guy who will pat his co-workers on the back when they’ve done a good job or dance the polka with them to keep them warm on a chilly morning.
So for that reason, and many others, Roberts has been named as the CP Women’s Open’s top 2018 volunteer and nominee for the 2019 AXA LPGA Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes an exemplary volunteer at each LPGA tournament.
“Brad was our go-to person and his friendly smile, positive attitude and willingness to take on any challenge made him a pleasure to work with and an asset to the event,” said tournament co-chair Bernadette McIntyre.
No matter where Roberts was asked to serve during his week as a tournament volunteer, the Saskatchewan native shined. Serving as volunteer admissions and spectator services chairperson, Roberts oversaw the event’s admissions location, tent, volunteers and ticketing. He also worked alongside the Golf Canada staff to address any needs and issues during Canada’s national women’s open.
When the need arose to transport media, caddies and tournament VIPs from admissions to various locations on the course, Roberts and his team got it done. When volunteers were needed to stop road traffic as well as foot traffic on the overhead walkway while players executed critical shots, Roberts and his team waved for silence and made it happen.
“He was always super-willing and happy to help,” added McIntyre. “Brad instilled that positive attitude in all the volunteers on his team and it showed. Their customer service was great and they always went above and beyond what was asked.”
When informed that he had been nominated as his event’s top volunteer, Roberts admitted to his “shock” while allowing that he was “truly honored” to receive the accolade.
“This couldn’t have happened without the help of the Golf Canada staff that I worked with before and during tournament week,” said Roberts, of Regina, Saskatchewan. “They made it easy and I just enjoyed working with others.”
Taking a week of vacation from his role as marketing manager at M2M Business Development at SaskTel during the tournament, the telecommunications specialist wasn’t really sure what to expect of his role at the event. An avid golfer, he knew he would be surrounded by the world’s top women players – especially the pride of Canada, Brooke Henderson.
But Roberts’ involvement in the tournament actually stemmed from trying to set a good example for his oldest son. His son was a junior member at the tournament’s host club, Wascana Country Club. Unfortunately, he was only 14 last summer and volunteers had to be 15 to work at the event.
“I had learned a lot about volunteering from my parents and from my wife and I wanted to show my son the importance of volunteering, so I got involved in his stead,” said Roberts. “But when we had to be there at 5 a.m. to help shuttle the caddies in golf carts, he came with me and helped. It worked out because he got to watch Brooke Henderson play.”
Roberts was no stranger to volunteering, however. He had helped with charity fund drives while in college and helped raise money for a hospital burn unit. When his two sons were younger, he volunteered in youth sports, coaching ice hockey, football, soccer and baseball.
When it was announced that the 2018 CP Women’s Open would depart from Ontario and be hosted by Roberts’ home city of Regina, he knew he wanted to be a part of Canada’s golf history. As it turned out, even more history was made that week when Henderson became the first Canadian to win the CP Women’s Open since Quebec’s Jocelyne Bourassa’s victory in 1973.
“I love cheering for Canadians on a world stage, but what amazed me about Brooke was after she had won the tournament last year, she stayed at a reception in the clubhouse for hours signing autographs and taking pictures,” said Roberts. “I was really impressed by her demeanor and by how willing she was to accommodate fans.”
While the highlight of Roberts’ volunteer experience last year was getting his own photo with Henderson and autographs for his sons, he also enjoyed working with a blend of ages on the tournament’s volunteer team. From teens to volunteers in their 70s and 80s, Roberts found each demographic contributed to the event’s success.
“It was a unique dynamic, especially with the older volunteers, who had the people skills, and some of the younger ones, who would help the older volunteers with technology and the equipment,” Roberts said.
And yes, there was that chilly morning when he arrived for his shift to encounter several older women volunteers shivering and struggling to stay warm in the early-morning hours. Roberts didn’t miss a beat when he saw the opportunity to polka dance with his fellow volunteers, much to their delight.
Even though his leadership role at the tournament was only for a week, Roberts wanted his fellow volunteers to enjoy and cherish their experience at the event. When he looked at their original eight-hour shifts, he shook his head and slashed their volunteer shifts in half.
“I thought it was important that if these people were giving up their time to volunteer, they should also be able to reap the benefit of being able to watch these incredible women play golf either before or after their shifts,” he said. “I wanted to make the week enjoyable for our volunteers.”
And when it came to orchestrating his team of volunteers, Roberts said he encouraged and showed appreciation for initiative, but his rule of thumb was to “never ask anyone to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.”
“To be a good volunteer, you have to be flexible and willing to do whatever is thrown your way, but it’s also important to be friendly and to find a connection with wherever you are volunteering,” he said. “I loved hockey when I volunteered there, and when I volunteer in golf, I also show my love for golf.”
This year’s CP Women’s Open returns to Ontario, where the LPGA’s Henderson hopes to defend her tournament title in her home province. At nearly 1,000 miles away from his home in Saskatchewan, Ontario is too far for Roberts to sleep in his own bed and report for daily volunteer duty. The one-way drive would be about 24 hours, he said.
“I’m a little disappointed that I can’t return to volunteer this year because I really enjoyed it,” admitted Roberts, who is already planning to volunteer for the 2020 Grey Cup – the Super Bowl equivalent of the Canadian Football League – when it is staged in Regina next year.
And while he won’t get to chat this year with Henderson, his favorite LPGA player, Roberts appreciates how the CP Women’s Open is hosted by different courses to showcase the best of Canadian golf.
“I’m a proud Canadian and I want to be able to show off my country, our incredible golf courses and the people and scenery here,” he said. “This tournament is a real boon for women’s golf and Canada itself.”
Like all other nominated 2019 LPGA tournament top volunteers, Roberts will have his name placed into a random drawing at the end of the year for a $10,000 drawing by AXA. The tournament charity of the winning volunteer will receive the cash prize to use as needed in their community.
That’s a possibility that excites Roberts because his local medical center in Regina recently added a children’s hospital.
“I could see the children’s hospital really being able to use the money since it just opened,” he said. “They could use it to buy equipment and make it friendly and comfortable for the children who have to be there.”
And friendly and comfortable also seems to be how Roberts operates when given the chance to volunteer.
Whether he’s shaking hands or extending his own for a morning warm-up twirl in the volunteer tent, you can bet it’s done as a proud Canadian in his own authentic, welcoming style.
The AXA LPGA Volunteer Award program will designate a top volunteer nominee at each of the LPGA’s tournaments. At the conclusion of the 2019 season, the name of one volunteer will be drawn in a random selection. That winning volunteer’s tournament charity will be awarded $10,000 on behalf of AXA.
AXA XL, the property & casualty and specialty risk division of AXA, provides insurance and risk management products and services for mid-sized companies through to large multinationals, and reinsurance solutions to insurance companies globally. AXA XL proudly serves as the Official Property/Casualty, Reinsurance, Auto and Professional Liability Insurance Sponsor of the LPGA. Additionally AXA XL has partnered with the LPGA on a season-long AXA LPGA Volunteer Service Award which recognizes tournament volunteers who have exemplified the spirit of volunteerism and gone above and beyond expectations. For more information, please visit www.axaxl.com