You may not know Maggie Hatcher, but she’s a very important person.
She is one of the approximately 1,200 volunteers who make the Principal Charity Classic run like clockwork. Or in Maggie’s case, a most experienced volunteer. She’s worked the tournament every year since it arrived in Greater Des Moines in 2001.
That covers 16 tournaments, three host golf courses, two title sponsors and one terrific volunteer.
“It’s a labor of love,” said Hatcher, who is from Harlan. “I’m going to be 79 in August. If the health holds, I’ll keep doing it.”
Maggie has held three different jobs at the golf course in her volunteer career.
“I kind of go wherever,” she said. “And they take good care of me.”
Hatcher started as a walking scorer, then worked in radio control. Now Maggie serves as a marshal on Wakonda’s 14th tee.
Not bad for someone who got shut out the first time she tried to volunteer, at the 1999 U.S. Senior Open at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club. She applied, but all the spots had already been spoken for.
That U.S. Senior Open smashed records, and caught the attention of the PGA TOUR.
“All of a sudden, the PGA TOUR realized there’s a market out here,” Hatcher said. “I was so happy when I heard one was coming here. And we are so lucky. I have friends in Omaha, and they have a Web.com TOUR event there. They would give anything to have a PGA TOUR Champions event over there.”
It was the first week of December, 2000, when the PGA TOUR announced that a senior event scheduled for 2001 in Indianapolis, Ind., wouldn’t take place because Comfort Inns had dropped title sponsorship. Des Moines officials, expecting an event starting in 2002, suddenly had 10 months to make the Allianz Championship at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines a reality.
Maggie still has the golf shirt and pullover that volunteers were given that first year. She keeps it because one of her favorite players, Fred Couples, owned the company that made the shirt.
She used to keep a lot of things, like the golf balls the players signed and gave to her after each round, the pairings, the golf shirt she received every year and other momentos. She’s given most of that stuff away, or thrown it out.
“As you get older, you get rid of a lot of stuff,” Hatcher said.
But she has kept her tournament badges, the one keepsake from her annual trek to Des Moines. It’s the friends she’s made, the golfers she’s met and plenty of memories that mean more to her than material goods.
“I always had good people to walk with,” Maggie said. “I don’t care whether it was a name player or just some guy who was working every day who just loved the game of golf. I always liked to score the pro-ams, because you kind of get to know the player better, and you see the communication they have with the other four (amateur) players. They have to have the patience of God.”
Golf found its way into Hatcher’s life long before the PGA TOUR Champions made its way to Des Moines. She used to volunteer at an LPGA event in Springfield, Ill., and even served as tournament chairman one year.
“That’s something that stayed with me,” she said. “I’ve always been a big sports nut.”
Later on, she worked for Executive Sports in Delray Beach, Fla., which managed golf tournaments, including some on the PGA TOUR. Two years later she returned home to Harlan.
And when she heard that Greater Des Moines was getting a senior event, she jumped at the opportunity to volunteer.
When she started as a walking scorer in 2001, hole-by-hole scores were kept on paper and radioed into scoring central. In 2012, her last year in that job, she carried a hand-held device that automatically registered the score.
Hatcher learned one valuable lesson: when in doubt, the caddie is your best friend.
“Most of the guys are very easy to work for,” Maggie said. “But if I didn’t pick up a score or something, I just asked the caddie. I didn’t bother the player.”
Maggie wasn’t able to continue as a walking scorer in 2013 because of heart issues. So radio control became her home. But she felt like she was missing the action.
“I said, ‘You know, I want to get back out on the course,’ ” she said.
So in 2015, she joined up with some volunteer friends who used to work the 13th hole at Glen Oaks. They now keep things in order on Wakonda’s 14th tee. And that’s where she’ll be for her 17th tournament.
“We’re blessed with a tremendous volunteer tent, thanks to Bob Clark and his crew,” Maggie said.
Whether it’s a good meal or a thank you, Hatcher feels appreciated for the work she does.
“It’s fun,” she said. “And to me it’s the camaraderie, and coming back and seeing the people.”
By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter