Volunteers instrumental in making 2020 WGC-St. Jude Invitational a success

Watch: World Golf Classic-FedEx St. Jude Invitational looking for volunteers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After successfully hosting a World Golf Classic for the first time in 2019, there was no reason to believe this momentum wouldn’t carry over into 2020.

As the opening round got underway Thursday at TPC Southwind, a major void was felt with no fans.

“Last year was just fans after fans and this year it is total quiet,” scoring marker co-chair Natalie Lefkowitz said.

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Perhaps the biggest was in the number of volunteers scattered across the course.

Jackson, Tennessee native Blair Duke flew out from Arizona to make it eight years of marking scores for golfers.

“I love this golf tournament because it does bring the bigger stars in the golf game,” Duke said.

Volunteers have long been at the heartbeat of this golf tournament. There were 1,800 last year. That number has shrunk to 225.

While volunteering during a pandemic, Duke said they’ve been trained to practice caution as much as possible.

“We have our masks,” she said. “We carry our masks on us. Especially if we have to talk with the caddies or anything we put it on. We socially distance in our little headquarters.”

The top golfers are here but Duke said she misses the fans most.

“It’s a big difference mainly because of the fans,” she said. “The lack of fans. Walking up 18 fairway there’s not any fans and concessions and all that.”

Much has changed at TPC Southwind but the spirit of the tournament remains.

FedEx has been instrumental in giving back to St. Jude for over 30 years. The company has helped with raising over $38 million for St. Jude.

Lefkowitz said people are still donating. She said that’s what keeps the volunteers, no matter the amount, going.

“It is very different but our committee no matter what is out there scoring for the PGA,” Lefkowitz said.