All work, no play at Priddis

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

Al Steingart spent the entire week at the course.

Just don't ask the tireless volunteer to recount any spectacular approach shots or breathtaking putts he witnessed during the 1999 du Maurier Classic, the first LPGA Tour stop contested at Priddis Greens Golf & Country Club.

"I saw very little golf, oddly enough," Steingart said.

"In fact, I remember, it was exciting on Sunday because we had (eventual champion) Karrie Webb and Laura Davies coming up the 18th, and we were watching on TV because we didn't have time to get out there. But that's just volunteering."

Missing the final moments must not have been a big deal.

An army of about 1,450 volunteers have signed up for shifts at this week's CN Canadian Women's Open at Priddis, and Steingart is one of many familiar faces back for a second go-round a decade after helping make sure the first LPGA Tour event at the pristine private track was a success.

The 68-year-old retiree is a member at Priddis, lives in the community that surrounds the golf course and even climbs aboard a fairway mower a couple of times a week. During the tournament, he'll serve as co-chair of the grounds and course committee.

"When it was here 10 years ago, it was very positive. Really, that tournament put Priddis on the map," Steingart said. "At this point in time, I said, 'Why wouldn't I want to do it again?' "

Priddis Greens is one of just a handful of courses that has been selected to host Canada's national women's championship more than once.

That'll give savvy veterans such as Webb, Juli Inkster and Charlottetown's Lorie Kane an advantage once the pros tee off Thursday morning.

According to Ron Hood, the GM at Priddis, it's also a benefit for the hundreds of volunteers who also chipped in a decade ago.

"There's not a whole of reinventing the wheel here, I think," Hood said.

"Especially with the RCGA, because they are such a font of knowledge. We had a footprint from the previous event, and the RCGA is just coming in and fine-tuning it.

"It always helps when you have people who've done this before. You can sprinkle them in with people who haven't done it before."

Priddis Greens member Lynn Rust will sitting on the volunteer services committee this week, tackling several of the same tasks she was responsible for in 1999. The 56-year-old is also producing the daily volunteer newsletter and isn't surprised so many go-getters are back for the second instalment.

"I can't honestly say I remember anyone in '99 saying they didn't have a good time," Rust said.

"Everyone had such a great time. We're maybe reliving that a little bit.

"Volunteering in '99 was such a wonderful experience. It was so exciting to be around world-class players ... This is kind of another opportunity to watch all the new young stars."

For every volunteer who helped a decade ago, there's another who'll be experiencing their first brush with LPGA Tour royalty this week.

But Bas Wheeler, the volunteer co-ordinator for the week-long event, said they all have one thing in common -- they're committed to making the 2009 CN Canadian Women's Open top-notch.

They've done this before.

"I call them serial volunteers -- people that volunteer for every event," Wheeler said. "I had a booth at the Brier when it was here in March to recruit volunteers, and I recruited about 20 and they were all Brier volunteers. They love to volunteer, I guess."

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA

1999 DU MAURIER CLASSIC

A PEEK INTO GOLF HISTORY

Turnabout was fair play for Karrie Webb at the 1999 du Maurier Classic, the first LPGA Tour stop to hit Calgary.

Three years after being edged by Laura Davies, the sensational Aussie took home the coveted prize from her fellow LPGA star at Priddis Greens Golf & Country Club.

With an 11-under 277, Webb won by two strokes over the English veteran for her first major victory and a $180,000 first-place prize.

At the '96 du Maurier Classic, Davies won with the same 11-under 277 score by two strokes over Webb, who finished runner-up with Nancy Lopez.


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