|The 3M Championship - A Family Affair|
|Nicole with PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem receiving the 2015 Champions Tour Volunteer of the Year Award|
|Brittani with Arnold Palmer in 2015|
By Jim McNaneyAsk anyone involved in the PGA TOUR or PGA Tour Champions and they'll tell you, it's the volunteers that really make things happen. Every week on TOUR, thousands of everyday people volunteer their time to make sure the best possible event is held.
People from all walks of life: police officers, bankers, real estate brokers, lawyers, retirees... you name it, they all come out to help. The one thing they all have in common is a love of the game of golf.
The 3M Championship is no different in that regard. Each year registration for volunteers fills up quickly. The Minnesota golf community takes great pride in getting involved. But for one Minnesota family, it has become more that just getting involved, it's become a tradition.
Meet The Andersons
If you look in the phone book for the Greater Twin Cities area, you will find pages of Andersons. Each one probably has something special to offer or some great story from their family history; but for Charlie Anderson and family, he has stories of life-long friendships with Hall of Fame golfers, stories of personal heroism from his daughter, and stories of three generations sharing a passion and love for the same thing.
Charlie is the Co-Chair of the Scoring Committee for the 3M Championship... and has been since its inception in 1993. In fact, it all started for Charlie just a few weeks after the event was announced in the fall of 1992.
He was working for Burnet Reality when it was announced that they would be the sponsor for a new Champions Tour Event held at Bunker Hills. Charlie wanted to get involved. After all, Charlie loved golf. He had played it for "a whole lot of years!" So he threw his hat into the ring and waited to see what he would be assigned.
About a week later, Hollis Caver, the Tournament Director called him and told him there were only two Committee Chairman spots left; Scoring and Ecology.
While Charlie admits, "every committee is vital," he knew both committees were important but something drew him to the Scoring Committee. With that, he accepted the position of Chairman of the Scoring Committee. Little did he know at the time that his decision would create a family tradition involving his wife, his father, his brothers, their wives, his daughters, his son, and now his grandson and that the tradition would last 24 years.
All Hands On Board
Charlie and his wife Holly have two daughters, Nicole and Brittany and a son Aaron. He, his daughters Nicole and Brittany along with his brother Scott are actually all co-chairs of a committee that has grown to 140 or so volunteers. There are about 20 volunteers that have been with the committee since day one and Charlie adds, "Over the 23 years of the event, upward of a dozen Anderson relatives have volunteered at the tournament, including my family. We've had everyone from my dad in the early years, to nieces and nephews at one point."
With the exception of his son who now lives in Washington state, everyone in the family returns year after year to be a part of the event. In fact, even when Charlie and Holly briefly moved themselves to Washington, they would return to run the scoring. That type of consistency is very appreciated by the vagabonds that are PGA Touring Professionals. To see the same faces, year after year, makes each stop away from home, feel a little more like home.
Lifetime Friendships Made
"The players remember you," said Charlie. "Out of the blue we will get a letter in the mail asking how we are."
Talking to Charlie, you can sense the pride and joy he has as he talks about the relationships he and his family have forged over the years with players from all over.
One of those special relationships is between his youngest daughter Brittany and the great Arnold Palmer. In 1998, Brittany was a standard barer in a practice round in Mr. Palmer's group. Charlie went out to check on her. When he arrived, he found Brittany riding in Mr. Palmer's cart and the two were having the time of their lives. Twenty years later and that friendship is as strong as ever.
"When I go out to meet Arnold's plane, Brit would come with me. As soon as he would step off the plane he'd see her and say 'Hey Brit... how are you!' He hadn't seen her in a year and he remembers her name with a genuine smile."
"It's emotional to see your youngest daughter have a relationship with Arnold Palmer!" Charlie continued. "Hale Irwin thinks of Nicole as a daughter."
Special Notice For A Special Person
Charlie's oldest child, Nicole, has been a fixture at this event since the beginning. If you've ever seen her around the 18th green on tournament days, as most of us in the media have, you can see how hard working she is and how much pride she has in her position. In 2005, the PGA Tour Champions noticed too. Nicole was named the Volunteer of the Year for the entire Tour.
That is a tremendous honor to be sure, but when you realize the story behind that particular year, you understand just how much this event means to Nicole. You see, when Nicole was a young child, a rare staph infection afflicted her lower left leg. The infection took its toll on her ankle to the point that as a teenager, she had lost all the cartilage in her ankle.
At age 24 and after five failed surgeries, Nicole made the difficult decision to amputate the lower part of her leg. But there was one thing she had to do first... work at the 3M. The dates of the 2005 event conflicted with the timing of her surgery, so she told the doctors to put off the surgery until after the event.
As Charlie tells, "She told me, 'It's hurt for this long, what's a couple more weeks?'"
That winter, Nicole and her family went to Florida for the PGA Tour Champions Awards Dinner to accept the award.
The More Things Change The More They Stay the Same
Over the years, Charlie and crew have seen many changes. In the early days, shots and scores were kept on a piece of paper by the walking scorers and handed in to someone near the green. Those sheets were taken back and manually added up for score and statistics. Today, each walking scorer has a palm device that they enter each shot by each player. Those devices send the information immediately to the main scoring tent. Within an instant, every reporter, broadcaster and fan knows exactly what is happening on the course. Not surprisingly, Charlie believes most of the changes came to fruition with the advent of greater television coverage.
Also, in years past, the volunteers manned the official scoring tent where the players sign their cards and make the scores official. Now the Tour handles that end of the scoring.
Asked how the changes affect the committee, Charlie said, "It's made the training curve a little longer and the committee a little smaller. But it's made us more functional and efficient... streamlined."
What hasn't changed is the passion the volunteers have and the involvement of the Anderson family. This year, Charlie's 9-year-old grandson Aaron will join the ranks as an official volunteer. He will join a group of kids, most of whom will be standard barers; allowing them the privilege of seeing some of the game's greatest players up close and personal.
The positions of walking scorers and standard barers are, by far, the most popular positions on the Committee. Asked what advice he would have for a first timer, Charlie advised, "Take advantage of your position and learn by watching the pros and how they do things." But he followed up with a warning, "Tournament days, we have zero margin for error and we've gone 23 years without a single error."
Clearly, Charlie, Nicole and the entire Anderson family take their responsibilities very seriously; but the passion they put forth and the pride they exude make the 3M Championship one of the best on the PGA Tour Champions.
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