Octagon Preps Year-Round For LPGA Event in Rogers

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 304 views 

For golf fans, the LPGA Tour’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship is one of the most anticipated weeks of the year.

This year’s tournament, televised nationally by Golf Channel June 24-26 at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, was won by 19-year-old Lydia Ko of New Zealand, the world’s No. 1-ranked player.

Tournament chairman Jay Allen believes there are a number of qualitative factors to support the claim that “tournament week” in Rogers — which includes a number of public ancillary events not on the golf course — is one of the best stops on the LPGA Tour.

It’s the planning that goes on the other 51 weeks that goes a long way to make that possible. The golf tournament is owned and managed by global sports marketing agency Octagon, and the company’s satellite office in the J.B. Hunt Tower in Rogers doesn’t close once tournament week wraps up each year.

There are approximately 30 tournament sponsors to engage and volunteers to recruit. Rachel Reece, one of seven full-time Octagon employees at the Rogers office, is in charge of volunteer recruitment for the golf tournament, which requires between 750 and 800 people.

“We have about 75 percent of the volunteer base that will return each year, and we have about 70 who have volunteered all 10 years,” she said.

Reece spends most of her time meeting individually with the 20 volunteer chairmen who represent different committees.’

“They are our eyes and ears, so getting their feedback and perspective is really valuable to us,” she said.

Tournament week has also grown to include a two-day food festival at the Walmart AMP, and the Pantene Beautiful Lengths ceremony, an event for people to donate their hair to make wigs for women fighting cancer.

Octagon recruits restaurants and chefs for one event, and heads of hair and salons for the other to ensure those signature events are successful.

“Pantene challenged us to get 1,000 donors for that ceremony, which we did,” Allen said. “That’s one of the bigger events during tournament week.”

Allen said this year’s tournament, in association with the Walmart Foundation, raised more than $775,500 for local causes. Recipients included the Mercy Hospital Foundation, NWA Food Bank, The First Tee, James Beard Foundation, Springdale Police Department, Walton Arts Center and local Boys & Girls Clubs, among others.