A record number of volunteers are on board for this month’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, as organisers anticipate the tournament’s seventh showing – which runs January 26-29 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club - attracting the largest attendance figures to date.
A 600-strong contingent of volunteers - representing five continents – have enrolled as marshalls, stewards, walking scorerboard holders and leaderboard operators to ensure the Championship’s distinctly international flavour is not restricted to the world-class playing field.
“The response for volunteers this year has been absolutely fantastic with more signing up than ever before,” said Jean Iggo, Chief Marshall and Volunteer Co-ordinator. “Past volunteers have always thoroughly enjoyed their experience and this year’s team is really enthusiastic to get started.”
With a 10 per cent rise in the total number of volunteers compared to last year’s event, Iggo believes the Championship’s strongest-ever field has proved decisive in both necessitating and attracting record volunteer enrolment.
In addition to current world number one, Luke Donald, Championship volunteers and thousands of spectators will also witness three reigning Major champions, Rory McIlroy, (US Open), Darren Clarke (British Open) and Charl Schwartzel (US Masters), Abu Dhabi debutant, Tiger Woods, and former world number one, Lee Westwood, attempt to wrestle the Falcon trophy from the vice-like clutches of three-time Abu Dhabi winner and defending champion, Martin Kaymer. Other headline contenders include rising Australian star, Jason Day, and Korea’s top ranked player, KJ Choi.
“Without a doubt, the incredible player line-up has contributed to the increased interest,” added Iggo, who was handed the inaugural ‘Spirit of the Championship’ award last year after six consecutive tournaments in her dual roles. “Not only do volunteers get free access, clothing and lots of other perks, they also get ‘inside the ropes’ and closer to the players than anyone else - it really is a win-win for them.”
The Championship’s volunteer programme dates back to the maiden tournament in 2006, with this year’s programme seeing 220 children from four local schools - Raha International School, Abu Dhabi International School, American Community School and Al Yasmina School - joining the fray.
“The children gain a real sense of responsibility by being involved,” said Iggo. “Schools like to do it so the children gain new skills and become part of what I call the wider volunteer community. For the volunteers, they get to know each other and meet people from all over the world, but most importantly, it’s just great fun!”
Deadlines for volunteer applications have now closed, but volunteer opportunities may still become available ahead of the Championship.