By Morgan Bryce
Members of Opelika’s Kiwanis Club are gearing up for the second annual Barbasol Championship this week, to be held at Robert Trent Jones Grand National Golf Course, located just outside of Opelika.
Rusty Sheehan, volunteers chair of the Opelika Kiwanis Club, said that the club is excited to volunteer again for the championship.
“We take a lot of pride in helping with this because we feel like we’re giving back to the community. Also, the economic impact that this tournament brings to the community is huge,” Sheehan said.
Like last year, Kiwanis members will be working the 17th hole, and according to Sheehan, their plan is to maintain a fun but calm atmosphere.
“We’ll definitely try to maintain a Chic-Fil-A-like experience for the spectators, making sure that they’re having a good time,” Sheehan said. “But our main priority is looking after the golfers in the tournament. These guys are real professionals, and in order to do their best, we have to keep crowd noise down to limit the golfer’s distractions.”
According to Sheehan, Kiwanis members will work in shifts of five or six people for mornings and afternoons during the tournament.
Despite volunteer support from Kiwanis members, the tournament is still lacking the number of volunteers to fully supervise and manage the tournament.
“The contract signed between the course and the PGA was a deal for two years, and after that contract, going on a year-to-year basis,” Sheehan said. “That means that the city, course and volunteers have to work extra hard to make sure that everybody is happy and ensure that Opelika gets to keep having this tournament.”
More than 50,000 visitors and $25 million in revenue from last year’s tournament were strong perks in providing the golfers, media and visitors a great experience, but Sheehan said he thinks that Opelika is the real winner.
“People are going to be watching this tournament from all over the world, and Opelika will be in the limelight, which will give us great and hopefully, positive exposure,” Sheehan said.