Calgary Man Tops Field In PGA Tour Volunteer Challenge

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altPALM SPRINGS, California/CALGARY, Alberta (Gord Montgomery/iG) — John Hamaliuk likes to spread the wealth around whether through volunteer work or charitable donations. When he combined both in a recent PGA-sponsored event however, he came away as a bemefactpr on both ends.

Hamaliuk, who has been a volunteer for a number of PGA and LPGA events over the past 17 years put that practice into play last year by winning the PGA TOUR Volunteer Challenge. Through that, he lined the pockets of a foundation in his winter home of Cathedral City, Calif. to the tune of $10,000 US.

A tournament that holds a special place in Hamaliuk’s heart is the CareerBuilder Challenge, played in La Quinta, where he has been a tournament marshall for the past 16 years. Through his efforts there, and with a lot of help from his friends on both sides of the 49th Parallel, he won the volunteer contest last year, and from that donated the prize money to the Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral City.

“I do the CareerBuilder’s with the men and the Kraft Nabisco, which I guess is the ANA now (in Rancho Mirage), and also I did all the ones in Calgary,” explained Hamaliuk who throws his help behind both the Shaw Charity Classic each year, and the LPGA CN Women’s Open when it’s in Calgary. “I enjoy it. That’s why I started.”

Hamaliuk, a former member at Priddis Greens, said his efforts are done to help people enjoy the tournaments he works at and in another way helping those events earn sponsorship dollars.

“Really, it boils down to charities. This is money that these people raise that goes to charities and I think it’s very important to give back to the community. I think this is one way of doing that.”

While tournament volunteers are kept busy doing a variety of tasks, there is some reward for all their hard work, although it’s not of the monetary variety … except last year for Hamaliuk.

In 2016, he participated in — and won — the PGA TOUR Volunteer Challenge sponsored by Myrbetriq® (mirabegron). The event is a friendly competition that honours the talent and dedication of more than 100,000 PGA TOUR volunteers nationwide while supporting local charities.

As the Volunteer Challenge winner, Hamaliuk presented the five-figure cheque on behalf of Astellas Pharma US, Inc. to the Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral City. The donation was used to enhance the Club’s career centre, which recently became one of seven Coachella Valley Boys & Girls Clubs to offer CareerBuilder’s “Find Your Calling” program, an initiative that helps students and parents discover ideal career and education options based on their own interests and personalities.

The win for the Calgarian who spends the winter in California didn’t come easily though. As it turns out, he trailed in the overall voting right up until the dying moments of the contest.

“It was something else!” he commented. “I was lucky because we live in a park with a lot of Canadians, a lot of seniors in here, and they really backed me, plus my family in Calgary and all over Alberta,” he said of getting last-minute votes which are collected via email, with only one vote allowed from each such address.

“We raised over 800 votes, so that’s a lot of addresses,” he commented. “I’ll tell you, I had everyone’s help. On Friday, we were down by 100 votes and the polls close on Saturday. I thought there was no way we were going to win. So, I did make some phone calls, got ahold of some people in the park here and they got behind me,” with over 200 more votes garnered in a short time. “So, we were able to win!”

Hamaliuk will take part in the same competition this year as he works for what will likely be his final time at the La Quinta tourney, noting the cost of insurance to go south each winter is becoming too high. All the same, he’ll be there this year once again helping spectators find their way around the links and participating in the same volunteer contest, “Although not to the extent of last year. I think I exhausted it last year with all the people helping. I wasn’t going to this year,” but he was convinced to give it one more go.

“This will be my last one down here, but I will probably still do the ones in Calgary,” the 2016 Volunteer Champion winner ended.

From now until 11:00 a.m. PT on January 21, 2017, volunteers like Hamaliuk are asking friends, family and the general public to vote for them at pgatour.com/volunteers. Those who don’t know a volunteer can vote directly for the CareerBuilder Challenge. At the end of the voting period, the volunteer team with the most votes will present a $10,000 cheque to its charity of choice from a list selected by the tournament.

The tournament also has the opportunity to earn up to an additional $65,000 in charitable bonus funds based on the total number of votes received collectively by volunteers and the tournament.

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By Gord Montgomery

Gord Montgomery is a retired sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He is now in his ninth year of writing for Inside Golf. He can be reached at noraltagolf@gmail.com. He’s also on Twitter at @gordinsidegolf and on Instagram at @gordinsidegolf2.

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