Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic draws crowds, volunteers and money

Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic draws crowds, volunteers and money

SAUCIER, MS (WLOX) - Professional golfers at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic may be the main attraction, but it's the spectators and volunteers who make it run.

In 2014, the event created $15.3 million for the Coast economy. The following year, at least 25,000 spectators came to town. Eleven-year-old Avery Williford of Pascagoula has been among those watching the Classic.

"It's just so nice," Avery said. "The greens are beautiful, it's just amazing and I love it. I wish I would have been here for all of my kid tournaments that I go to."

Avery isn't familiar with the older players, but thinks he has a favorite.

"Right now, the Fred Funk guy. I think I like him," said the pre-teen. 

Mackinzie Sonnier of Long Beach has come to the game with her dad, Chris Sonnier, for two years. However, golf isn't a natural sport for her.

"I tried it, it wasn't really the thing for me," Mackinzie said. "But I do like coming out here and spending time with my dad, and my family."

The family usually sticks on the 18th hole fairway but made a slight adjustment after Chris got hit with a ball.

"It just left a little bit of a bruise, nothing bad," Chris said with a laugh. "No serious injuries."

Among the more than 700 tournament volunteers is David Rogers.

"I'm not a golf fanatic, but my wife thinks I am," Rogers said, who has worked the 18th hole since the tournament started in 2010. "I've asked for it because I live in Hattiesburg, and I drive back and forth every day. So, I want the latest show time I can get."

Katherine Politte drives from her home in Slidell to shuttle caddies and players.

"I've driven over here every year to do this because it's just so much fun," Politte said. "I look forward to it every year."

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.