Volunteer of the Year
Tony’s first year volunteering at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide was in 2014 for the Leaderboards committee. He had just started a new position at work (Nationwide) with a team that had volunteered at the Memorial the previous year as a team building activity. Tony was lucky enough to also step in a fulfill a last-minute cancellation spot for letter cleaning, an activity that involves preparing all the Leaderboard inventory in advance of Tournament week. Letter cleaning included catered breakfast and lunch so Tony thought it all too good to be true. He realized he was hooked on the volunteer experience a month before the tournament even started!
In the beginning, Tony admitted that the idea of getting free passes to one of the greatest tournaments in golf was one of his main motivations that led him to volunteer at the Memorial Tournament.
However, things changed for Tony when he attended his first Volunteer Night, a special event hosted by the Memorial to thank Tournament volunteers. That night it really started to sink in for Tony… this had become much more than free passes.
Beyond the sheer amount of thought and effort that so obviously went into organizing volunteer night, Tony still recalls how impressed he was seeing all the volunteers gathered for the first time. He remembered thinking, “I can’t believe I get to be a part of this, I can’t believe I can make such a difference. I can get used to this!” Then came the annual announcement of the Tournament’s Volunteer of the Year. At that moment, Tony realized what volunteering at the Memorial Tournament really meant to him. It was something his daughter could really be proud of, and a connection for Tony to his daughter’s grandmother, Debbie Johnson, who worked at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as a nurse. He recalls the admiration he had for the gentleman who was honored, his commitment to the Memorial Tournament for well over a decade. From that moment on Tony pledged to himself to have that same level of commitment, with or without the recognition, as a way to give back to the community and honor his daughter’s grandmother’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of young children.
With every single role Tony has so willingly stepped into as a volunteer at the Memorial he has displayed an immense amount of pride and commitment. Even if he initially felt extremely cool, being the guy that got to change the scoreboards seen on television— despite the realization that was the coolest he’d ever be at the Tournament, as he baked in the sun for an entire day, he still decided to come back to the Leadersboards Committee the next year.
Tony appreciates all the little details that go into the Tournament and takes none of them for granted. Including, committee members remembering him by name year after year. His fellow volunteers are a big reason why he keeps coming back.
During the 2019 Memorial Tony stepped up without hesitation when asked to switch assignments, going from Concessions to helping at the gates as a Gate Ambassador. He also received his 5-year pin in 2019 and was blown away by the gesture.