With its commitment from sponsors, players and fans, the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell has become an important part of sports history in Connecticut and an event that organizers have called one of the best on the PGA Tour.
This year's championship took place from June 16-22 with the help of hundreds of volunteers from over 30 corporations and groups.
As in years past, Pratt & Whitney provided hundreds of volunteers to marshal the 18th hole and perform other duties. Pratt & Whitney was also among a number of sponsors of the celebrity pro-am.
Hole captains had particularly long days, arriving at 5:30 each morning to sign in volunteers – anywhere from 30 to 70 on any given day – give out assignments, provide shirts, hats or visors, parking passes, food and drink "money," marshal badges and to ensure employees stopped at the volunteer tent for a water bottle and coffee or juice.
Rosario "Riz" Rizzo, a retiree of Pratt & Whitney, is a long-time volunteer at the championship and was one of four hole captains.
"We have two very senior hole captains – Stanley 'Chuck' Rek and Paul Semolic. Paul is responsible for the area from the tee box to the crossover path, and Chuck is responsible from the crossover to the players clubhouse," explained Rizzo.
"Being the finishing hole, the 18th hole gets a lot of attention, especially on the last day of the tournament, as the winner of the tournament is often decided there. This is also where the final ceremonies take place honoring the tournament winner," noted Rizzo.
Dozens of other Pratt & Whitney volunteers acted as marshals, ensuring the professional golfers had an open transition area to the 18th tee box from the 17th green, an open fairway to play their ball down, and an open transition from the 18th green to the scoring tent. They ensured that access "inside the ropes" was restricted to golfers, caddies, PGA officials, scorekeepers and the media. They also handled crowd control as golfers left the 18th hole, where they often stopped to sign autographs.
Volunteers for Pratt & Whitney rotated over 16 locations on the 18th hole during the day and received frequent 30-minute and one-hour breaks to get water and to watch the tournament.
"I have volunteered for the last six years on different days," said Mike Courchesne, a military customer accounts analyst at Pratt & Whitney. "This is the first year I was stationed at the 18th green area. It is a fun time watching the pros and celebrities."
"We are able to get up close to the professionals and see and hear much more than you do on television," added Rizzo.
The major beneficiary of the championship, which donates 100 percent of net proceeds to charity, is the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. The camp, coincidentally, been a long-favored charity of Pratt & Whitney
In all, approximately 180 non-profits throughout the region receive support from the championship. Last year, the event generated $1.25 million.
For more information about the Travelers Championship and tournament results, visit http://travelerschampionship.com/.