The culmination of his volunteer week hit Dave McVicker like a well-struck shot when he was asked to tend the 18th-hole flagstick during the final round of the 2019 CP Women’s Open.
The honorary gesture by tournament organizers required this local member of host Magna Golf Club and first-year volunteer to hand off the Canadian flag, which had replaced the tournament flag for the final round.
As each group in the tournament arrived at the final hole, McVicker passed the flagstick to a caddie to hold while the group putted out. Upon completion of play, he then shook hands with each player and caddie as they left the hole, replacing the flagstick into the cup for the next group.
Literally and figuratively, McVicker’s efforts that week touched everyone in the championship – from players and caddies to the fellow volunteers that he helped organize as the event’s volunteer services chair.
“It was truly an honor for me,” said McVicker, of Aurora, Ontario. “The whole week was a great experience and I will do it again if the tournament comes back to the Greater Toronto area.”
McVicker worked with two co-chairs and a committee of 24 volunteers to set up the week’s volunteer duties and tournament schedule for 950 others. They planned and orchestrated volunteer orientation, sorted and distributed volunteer hats and uniforms, set up the volunteer work schedule, made sure volunteers were fed, and shuttled volunteers on and off the course each day.
From Sunday to Sunday, he and his co-chairs arrived to the course at 5 a.m., and typically left the course each day around 10 p.m. The hours were long, but McVicker, who plays to a golf handicap index of 1, admitted he enjoyed every minute of his first volunteer experience at a professional golf tournament.
“When you enjoy what you’re doing, the time just flies by,” he said.
McVicker has been recognized for his service as the winning 2019 volunteer at the CP Women’s Open. Unfortunately, the 2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
He joins the nominated volunteers from each LPGA tournament who are now in the running for the overall AXA LPGA Volunteer Service Award. The award will be presented at the end of the 2020 season.
“Dave created such positive energy and his attitude was exceptional the entire week, making every volunteer feel comfortable in their role before they were put into position on the course,” said Ryan Paul, tournament director of the CP Women’s Open.
“He’s truly the textbook model of what a perfect chair looks like,” added Paul. “Dave was extremely thorough in his approach and very detailed in making sure the volunteer services committee was prepared to handle any situation that arose throughout the week. As tournament organizers, we were so lucky to have him chair one of our most important committees.”
While McVicker had volunteered at junior golf tournaments, he decided to get involved when he learned the LPGA was bringing its Canadian championship to his home course. He had no idea what was needed at the tournament, but was excited to take a week off from his family’s manufacturing business that supplies steel fabricated parts to the military and automotive industries.
“I felt it was a great way to showcase our course and to enjoy the week of competition,” he said. “Someone at Golf Canada told me it was an opportunity to be up close with the professional players.”
McVicker’s wife, Steph, played in the tournament’s Wednesday pro-am event, so he caddied for her and got to spend time alongside LPGA Tour players Katherine Kirk of Australia, the 2008 CP Women’s Open champion, and Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn during the round.
Between trips shuttling volunteers to their stations on the course and dealing with a variety of needs and duties during the tournament week, he also saw snippets of golf – both on the practice range and during the four days of competition.
“What I learned from watching the pros play was their tempo and timing was exceptional,” he said. “Every swing was consistent and each was the same swing from the tee box to their approach shots, something most amateurs don’t do. The pros hit the ball straight and they were accurate with their irons, which was fun to watch.”
McVicker, who admits he enjoys “meeting new people,” also was thrilled to work alongside other volunteers from ages 16 to 65, and from Ottawa to British Columbia and from throughout Ontario.
“Having a successful event comes down to organizing and communicating with people,” he said. “I was very fortunate to have a great team.”
And while McVicker had volunteered previously for the Salvation Army in Guelph, Ontario, where he grew up, as well as through business-related volunteer work through the Chamber of Commerce in Aurora, Ontario, he was like many other volunteers at the CP Women’s Open – not really knowing what to expect.
“This experience was new to a lot of us, so I just wanted to make sure that from the moment our volunteers arrived at the course to the moment they left from working their shifts, they enjoyed their experience at the tournament,” McVicker said. “We wanted them to have a smile when they arrived and a smile when they left.”
While he was busy caddying for his wife in the pro-am, McVicker was thrilled to learn that his two best golf buddies from Magna Golf Club played in the pro-am with Canadian Brooke Henderson and won the event. One of his friends, a 20 handicapper, “played one of the best rounds of his life,” while the other friend, who holds an 8 handicap, “shot a 70 on his own golf ball,” said McVicker.
“I didn’t get to watch my friends play, but to caddie for my wife was fantastic,” he said.
McVicker was pleased to learn that if his name is randomly selected at the end of the season, the tournament’s charity, SickKids Foundation, would benefit from a $10,000 charitable donation by AXA.
The foundation supports children’s heart health in Canada and has used previous charitable donations from the CP Women’s Open to renovate a cardiac operating suite. Funds generated by the tournament have also benefitted Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ontario to support pediatric cardiac care.
“I think that $10,000 donation to charity is fantastic, especially with what’s going on in the world with the pandemic,” said McVicker. “The money couldn’t come at a better time for any hospital or charity.”
The AXA LPGA Volunteer Award program will designate a top volunteer nominee at each of the LPGA’s tournaments. At the conclusion of the 2020 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