AKRON, Ohio — The world’s best senior golfers will be taking on Firestone Country Club as the Senior Player’s Championship tees off Thursday morning.
The 80-player field is set to compete Thursday to Sunday in on the historic South Course in Akron.
Only three-course, Augusta National, Pebble Beach, and Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas have hosted a professional golf event longer than Firestone Country club. The 2022 Senior Player’s marks the 69th year of professional golf at Firestone.
More than 680 volunteers make it all possible, handling everything from food and beverage, to scoring and course prep from the days and weeks leading up to the tournament to the time the final putt rolls in.
The camaraderie is at the heart of what the volunteer group does. Because we always have each other's back,” said volunteer chairman Kevin Harris. “We are always jumping in to help no matter what the committee is, No matter what the task is.”
Harris serves as the chair for the volunteers for the 2022 Senior Players, a distinct honor that’s transferred every year. He has been a part of tournaments at Firestone for the last 34 years and looks forward to the de facto reunion every summer.
“It’s such a wonderful feeling because I’ve made so many great friends,” Harris said. “The people are from all walks of life, and we go back to our everyday world. But when we’re here, it’s like we just saw each other last week.”
Since 1984, professional golf tournaments have raised more than $30 million for Northeast Ohio charities. Last season’s Senior Players Championship, the first after the COVID-19 pandemic, raised more than $850,00.
“There’s so many jobs that people work so hard at and in the end, it’s charity dollars. And that is just kind of like sugar on top,” Harris said.
Playing host to professional golf is a source of pride for the Akron community and as this year’s tournament tees off, Harris and his group of volunteers are focused on making sure the event goes off smoothly.
“Every year when we talk about what does it mean and what’s the impact on the community and why do you want to come out and join this volunteer team,” Harris. “That’s a really special feeling to think about, I was part of that.”
Reigning champion Steve Stricker tees off at 10:50 a.m. Thursday as the first round gets underway.
Fans can participate in a long-drive contest on each of the four days of the event. The prizes will be autographed pin flags. There are also a variety of music and food options throughout the weekend.
The Vindys, a Youngstown-based band, will perform after the third round, and the Akron Symphony will present a concert after the final round.
There will also be a Coffee With Legends chat that will take place on July 7 from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Hal Sutton, Hale Irwin, and Andy North will be in conversation on the country club’s front lawn near the ninth green.