Volunteers Needed for Irish Open
By Niall O’Shea
Staging the Irish Open is a huge task, and up to 400 volunteers will be needed for the event which will be held in Fota Island over five days from Wednesday, 18th June. The man responsible for the volunteers is Chief Marshal Ray Cawley. The Corkman was appointed to the position a few weeks ago and has hit the ground running as he builds a plan which will be implemented gradually over the next nine weeks. After spending 27 years in the Defence Forces, Ray turned his focus to event management and was involved in several international large scale projects such as the Tall Ships Race in 1991 and the Eurovision which was staged in Millstreet in 1993. Ray’s experiences at large events will be key to the success of the Irish Open and he’s confident that the army of volunteers will play their part in the biggest sporting event in Munster this year. “I think no matter what event you are planning, the same principles will apply. Obviously, types of events will vary considerably but the planning process remains pretty much the same. In total we will require almost 400 volunteers for the tournament. They will perform static and mobile crowd marshalling; carry scoreboards and record scores in every match over the five days. We will man all the scoreboards at the event in addition to driving Evac vehicles; manning communications centres; manning grandstands; doing office work and helping the TV teams by providing personnel to assist them.”
Ray is no stranger to sport, having represented Nemo and Cork at the highest levels he also earned Barton Shield and Irish Senior Cup appearances for Killarney and Clonmel on the golf course. As well as a keen golfer himself, he has been involved in several major golf projects over the past two decades. He was involved in the opening and launch of the Lee Valley when Masters Champion Fred Couples played a round on the new course with course designer Christy O’Connor Jnr. He also spent time at the Old Head when they opened the now famous course, and he has fond memories of the experience; “I spent 18 months initially at the Old Head Golf Links as its first General Manager. It was tough going in the early days as we moved from portocabin to portocabin before the clubhouse was built. We were also growing in the new course, and getting a business up and running to generate revenue. The Old Head has been an incredible success, and it is still a magic place, improving every year.”
Cawley wrote to all the golf clubs in Cork two weeks ago and last week the drive for volunteers was covered in the media. The response according to Ray has been very positive; “The response and enthusiasm for the marshal’s volunteer role has been excellent. One club had fully responded with a list of 10 names within 30 minutes of the email leaving our office in Fota Island Resort. I am optimistic that most clubs will have responded within a week and would ask them to do so as soon as possible. We will be treating applications on a first come first served basis, and already the list has grown to almost 200 volunteers, which is fantastic.”
Ray himself is also a volunteer for the event although his contribution will be for 15 weeks as opposed to the five days he’s asking for from the general volunteers. As anyone can imagine the task is very time consuming at the moment as Ray explained; “I’m spending a lot of time at the project at the moment. Today alone I answered 75 emails, 70 of them from people volunteering their services for the event. It’s vital to get a lot of work done early. We are now putting about 36 key people together who will form the management groups of the various functions that we have to perform, and the first meeting of this core group will take place on Sunday 27th of April at Fota Island Resort.” The response from the public has been in line with the Chief Marshal’s hopes; “My experiences with major events in Cork have been excellent. I am overwhelmed by the good will of so many volunteers for the Open in the last week – in fact from all over the country. I have experienced similar responses in past events like the Tall Ships, the International Maritime Festival and Eurovision. Everybody wanted to be involved in them and play their part.” Casting his mind back to 2001 and 2002, Ray recalls when Fota last hosted the Murphys Irish Open as it was then called. “I remember both previous Opens at Fota Island Resort, they were marvellous events, and brilliantly organised. It’s a great venue for a major event such as the Irish Open, and Fota Island members and the golfing public contributed enormously to that success, as they will this year. I really enjoy the golf business I’m very happy to contribute to what we hope will be an Irish victory in a super event, and further enhance Ireland as one of the world’s top locations for superb golf facilities.”
In order to volunteer at the Irish Open, marshals must be at least 18 years of age, and have some golf knowledge and experience. All volunteers will remain with the event for the five days, and each volunteer marshal will receive a jacket, cap and polo shirt, a packed lunch each day, free admission and free car parking for one car between 2 marshals, and either a free green fee to Fota Island Resort or an invite to a ‘Marshal Volunteer Golf Day’ in Fota Island Resort later in the year in Fota Island Resort for all the key personnel, and all uniforms will be issued on the Sunday before the event when the final briefings and arrangements are made. So if you have the experience and would like to be part of an historic event, contact the Chief Marshal immediately by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by letter to The Chief Marshal, Fota Island Resort, Cork.
Your Chance to Play!
Fota are offering club golfers the opportunity to play in the Irish Open Pro-Am. They are currently running an open singles competition every Wednesday, with the top three golfers each week qualifying for the series final in May. Qualifying won’t be easy though as there’s plenty of interest according to Fota’s Denis Buckley ““We are thrilled with the response to the Irish Open Pro Am Competition. We were expecting an increase in numbers over our already very competitive Open Singles competitions but the response has been phenomenal. In the first six rounds of the competition we have had over 300 competitors! To play alongside a European Tour Professional is a once in a lifetime opportunity most amateur golfers, couple that with playing in the Irish Open Pro Am makes the event even more attractive. The final on May 14th will be a very hotly contested event.” The top three golfers from the final in May will qualify for the Pro-Am in Wednesday 18th June. Anyone interested in trying their luck can book through the Fota Island website or by calling Fota on 021 4883700.