The first thing I noticed upon taking the Head Golf Professional job at Chequamegon Bay was how kind everyone was. Moving from Minneapolis last season I was welcomed with open arms. Most everyone at the golf course made me feel at home, some even baking for my staff and I. It did not take long to realize that this particular golf club was unique.
It’s no secret that it takes many employees and man-hours to properly run a golf course day to day. Add a tournament into the mix, and the need for extra helping hands easily triples. From past experience, usually we just simply add staff and overtime to get the job done. I was blown away when I realized how many folks volunteered at Chequamegon Bay Golf Club. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Some volunteered time day to day. Some volunteered to help with tournaments. Some even volunteered weekend time away from family to help edge sand traps and plant flowers. I can’t name everyone, but to all who volunteered even one minute at the golf course I cannot thank you enough. It is your help that helps make the golf course great.
One of these volunteers is a man named Al Lundquist. Al was one of the first golfers to welcome me as the new golf professional. He too made me feel right at home. He volunteered his time for many different events including 1st tee starter duties at the clubs annual Shortstop Tournament. So it did not surprise me whatsoever when I learned that Al has been volunteering his time for over a decade at The 3M Championship in Blaine, MN.
In 2002 Al, upon being invited by his brother, joined him on the Water Committee at the 3M Championship. It is the Water Committee’s duties to provide snacks and beverages on each tee for golfers and caddies. For Al, it was not about the duties, but the fact he was able to do this with his brother. They were able to volunteer together from 2002-2004.
On July 22, 2005, Al got the phone call that everyone dreads. It was his sister calling from Los Angeles, CA. She gave Al the news that their brother had died from cardiac arrest after training for the St. Paul in-line skate race. His death came just a week before the tournament. Al still went to the tournament alone with a heavy heart. Al’s first day at the tournament that year, tournament chairperson Bob Evans asked to speak with him. Bob told Al, “In honor of your brother, we’d like you to be an honorary walker with Curtis Strange and Howard Twitty.” For Al this proved to be an enjoyable, yet bittersweet experience.
The following year Al invited his close friend Ken Tanula to be his new partner. They have volunteered together for the past 10 years and have since added another Ashland resident, John Branch to the volunteer team. Volunteering days are long, working 6 AM to 6 PM each day Monday through Sunday. The team has made many friends from all over the country through their volunteer efforts. Al recalls friendships made “within our water committee, 3M headquarters, the caddie shack, the driving range, course marshals, and even the starting announcer for the tournament. I personally have been photographed with Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Craig Stadler, and Gene Littler as a chosen volunteer. On one occasion Billy Casper asked me to give him my cap so that he could autograph it.”
Over the past 15 years Al has had 40 caps filled with autographs. In tune with his personality, he has only kept one. The other 39 you ask? Well, they have been given away to friends, family, and anyone who would love receiving such a gift. Each year, 1,700 people volunteer to help out at the 3M Championship. Al and Ken have been on the Water Committee for 10 seasons and going strong. John Branch was assigned to the driving range several years ago. Al speaks glowingly of John, saying, “His presence and command on the driving range is felt and appreciated. He does an outstanding job.” John has since been promoted to Director of the range and will lead the volunteer team next season. Knowing John myself, I’d say it’s a deserving promotion.
Volunteering in this fashion creates long lasting friendships that stretch beyond golf and last throughout the duration of life. What I’ve learned in my first year in Ashland is that our community is strong. The golf course is filled with selfless folks like Al who take pride in volunteering their time and have fun with it. Selflessness is contagious and I find folks talking about others more, and themselves less. It’s a strong characteristic of the community and the golf course. It’s why I’m so passionate to see the junior golf program grow at Chequamegon Bay. Just being around these volunteers, you learn more than just about golf. You learn about good moral values as well. I’m proud to work for the membership and all golfers at Chequamegon Bay Golf Club.
-Matthew Lindberg, PGA