Eye on KELOLAND: Helping by the hundreds


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sanford International is back in KELOLAND for its second year.

One of the big draws is the chance to see professional golfers vie for the big trophy that will be awarded this weekend. But they’re not the only stars of the event.  

John Snobeck is spending part of his week on the greens.

But it’s more work and less play.

He’s a walking scorer.

“I walk behind three players and I keep their score for them,” Volunteer John Snobeck said.

The Sioux Falls man is one of nearly 900 volunteers pitching in at the 2nd annual event.

“I enjoy it. These things can’t run without us so we need to volunteer and be a part of the community,” Snobeck said.

There are several perks that come along with being a volunteer here at the Sanford International, including the Lewis Volunteer Oasis. That’s where volunteers can come and grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat.

“We’ve got a TV in there so people will stop to watch the news,” Tournament & Volunteer Coordinator McKenzie Swenson said.

McKenzie Swenson is the tournament and volunteer coordinator.

While volunteers do have to pay $70 to get the gig, they enjoy other highlights too including some tournament swag and a ticket to the action.

“Their volunteer credential gets them into the tournament every single day so even when they’re not volunteering they can come to the tournament just to watch for fun,” Swenson said.

Their duties may even bring them closer to some of the golfers.

“Some of the opportunities like marshalling you get to be inside the ropes with the players. Walking scorers or standard bearers are really close to the players and really get to interact with them sometimes,” Swenson said.

Volunteer Nan Baker is at the tournament every day.  

She’s the chair of the volunteer headquarters.

“Our job specifically entails really a customer service focus for our volunteers that are out here,” Volunteer Nan Baker said.

While a majority of the volunteers are local, Swenson says they also have volunteers from more than a dozen states and Canada.

More than 450 people are returning volunteers.

“…which is really cool to see that people want to come back and they’re interested,” Swenson said.

“We have a lot of fun. It’s really a lot of fun to be out here, and I would say the fun comes in part because we’re really filling our hearts. We know we’re serving a mission of improving lives of children through Sanford Health,” Baker said.

All proceeds from the Sanford International go to children’s charities.

Last year’s event doled out more than $100,000.

And none of this would be possible without the volunteers.

“It is crucial that we have them and that they just get out into the community and want to help out and have a little fun while they’re at it,” Swenson said.

For Snobeck, that’s the best part.

“Just because you’re involved. Events like this, you can’t come to Sioux Falls and other places without volunteers,” Snobeck said.

The second round of the Sanford International begins Saturday.

 Tournament play wraps up Sunday.

Keep up with the latest coverage from the Sanford International on our special page.

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