AXA LPGA Volunteer Award Walmart NW Arkansas Championship - Sharon Taylor
Sharon Taylor is the winner of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G. As the title of the tournament suggests, the tournament is held in Arkansas.
The last two years, Taylor has not claimed residence in the state. Despite of this, Taylor has returned from North Carolina and now Texas to chair not only one, but two separate volunteer committees for the tournament. The road of chairing the Pro-Am and Player Services Committees is one less traveled and starts for Taylor at an injustice she noticed at work in the ‘80s at the Williams Company as a saleswoman.
“It really frustrated me that men sales people that knew how to play golf would take their client and have them for hours. I decided I needed to have that advantage also,” Taylor explained.
It just so happened that she fell in love with the game as well. She eventually got her handicap down to a nine and was hitched.
She was forced to step down from working due to family health complications and began volunteering. Taylor had volunteered with the LPGA before becoming a committee chair at the NW Arkansas Championship. She volunteered at the Kathy Ireland Championship in 2000 and 2001 as a walking scorer in Austin, Texas.
When the Kathy Ireland Championship discontinued, a senior PGA Tour event came into town, and Taylor continued volunteering. Then, her and her husband were preparing to move when she got a phone call that nearly made her jump out of her shoes.
“When I was getting ready to move to Arkansas, my husband called me and said you aren’t going to believe this, but there’s an LPGA event here! And I said, in Northwest Arkansas?”
Taylor had a letter written on her behalf noting her extensive volunteer history. She joined in 2010 as a chairwoman at her first NW Arkansas Championship as the hospitality chairwoman. Since her first-time volunteering, Taylor estimates that 90% of her volunteers then have continued to volunteer with her.
They’ve resonated with her culture of pushing themselves to be the best they can be.
“I’m used to fighting to be as good as the next person. Unfortunately, I hold everyone else to the same standard that I hold myself too. So far, most people are ok with it.”
Back in the 70s, Taylor became one of the first women to be a computer programmer, before it was considered socially accepted for women to be in that roll. She was entirely self-taught, and consistently pushed herself to the outer edge.
That led Taylor to develop the practice of sending a pronunciation guide out to all volunteers working under her, to ensure that all players that come through hear their names annunciated correctly.
While Taylor focuses on the team she’s had, she ensures there are a few open positions for new volunteers each year. “I think everyone deserves an opportunity. If I hadn’t of had the opportunity I had, I wouldn’t be where I am. It’s only fair to give others an opportunity too.”
It’s led Taylor to be a liaison to the players personally as well. When initially asked her favorite story of interacting with the players, she hesitated to answer with how personal some of her relationships are. Taylor’s a source of local wisdom, providing information to the LPGA players on places to eat, and places to spend time.
She noted that one moment that stood out was during a rain delay, instead of the players being grumpy, they were in the locker room enjoying their time together.
While Taylor is a beacon of knowledge around Rogers, Arkansas, she asks players for their knowledge as well. She’s always asked the players at the end of each tournament what they can improve upon. The feedback led to ensuring food that doesn’t spoil in the sweltering Arkansas heat, as well as rotating out soda for no calorie bubbly beverages.
It’s a bond she’s built with the volunteers that work with her as well. While she lived in Arkansas, she hosted an annual dinner.
“There’s always a lot of pressure to make sure everything is going as well as it possibly can for everybody. It’s nice to sit down with everybody and not feel that stress.”
She counts some of them as some of her closest personal friends.
That relationship she’s built has led many of her peers to acknowledge how they can’t see the tournament run without Taylor.
Taylor appreciates the acknowledgment but notes that there’s one ingredient most important for a successful tournament.
“I want every one of these ladies to come back. I tell that to all of my volunteers.”
That drive to success and continued dedication has made Sharon Taylor more than worthy of receiving the AXA LPGA Volunteer Award.
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