Like the passionate stage crew behind an award-winning Broadway production, hundreds of people have worked for many months to bring the second Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational back to the world stage this week at the Midland Country Club.
One hundred and forty-four golfers, assembled into 72 teams and including 12 of the top 15 female players in the world, will hit the course Wednesday to begin the four-day, $2.3 million LPGA event.
Dow GLBI tournament director Wendy Traschen gave some insight into the steps that have unfolded behind the scenes.
Traschen pointed out that Outlyr operations manager Jason Slavin is overseeing a staff that is responsible for everything from constructing the hospitality suites and putting up signs on the course to ordering food and supplies to meeting with security and medical personnel prior to the tournament.
“He is the one behind the scenes making that happen and he does an incredible job,” Traschen said of Slavin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2016.
Everyone who works at the Midland Country Club deserves plenty of kudos as well, Traschen said.
“We come in and we take over this club and we work together with them. With a lot of the food and beverages, there could be last-minute changes and they handle that so well. They are unsung heroes for this event as well,” Traschen said.
Volunteers, including Dow employees, are also busy working to bring the event together.
“You’ve got Dow and all the Dow employees that have a role in the tournament, whether as volunteers or in programming and customer and business events,” Traschen said. “And you have all the volunteers. We are so fortunate in this region that we have the kind of volunteer base we have.”
As an example of that, Traschen said that one day last week, 5,000 bobbleheads of LPGA players needed to be stuffed into bags.
“We put a note on Facebook, on the wonderful AskMidland (page), and that ballroom was filled up in 20 minutes with volunteers, and we got all 5,000 bobbleheads stuffed in our bags so they would be ready each day (of the tournament),” she said. “Those are the times I’m really proud of this region because this really shows what we’re all about.”
And volunteers are helping not just from Midland County, but also from Saginaw, Bay and Isabella counties as well, Traschen emphasized.
“That says a lot about why (the Dow GLBI) is so successful,” she said.
What fans should know
As the official Dow GLBI tournament begins on Wednesday, many aspects of the event will look the same as in 2019.
But one thing that will be different is the absence of “Autograph Alley,” a designated place in 2019 where fans could get autographs from players and pose for pictures with them.
“Autograph Alley is not happening this year because of COVID,” Traschen said. “We understand that’s hard for (fans), But that is the LPGA trying to keep the (players) safe. The players have a busy schedule of tournaments and the LPGA wants to protect them.”
At the same time, though, the players thrive on the support and cheering from the spectators during the competition — particularly this year.
“So much of this year has been fanless for them, so they’re so excited to have fans (this week),” Traschen said.
As with any professional golf event, spectators just need to keep an eye on the designated marshals on the course, who will indicate with a sign when everyone needs to be quiet.
“If you’re on the 18th green and you’ve got all four players hitting onto the green and hitting great shots, you’re going to cheer. But once they do their putts, you’re going to wait until they finish their putts to cheer (again),” Traschen said.
And one other fun part of the Dow GLBI is still in intact: the walk-up music for the 18th green.
“They’ve already started submitting their (walk-up) songs. That will be a lot of fun,” Traschen enthused.