Local families open their doors to professional golfers competing this week in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
There are 59 families hosting LPGA players during the tournament this week.
Tournament organizers said they match up families that volunteer to host golfers with players needing somewhere to stay. The families not only give the athletes a place to live for the week, they also provide them with meals.
The Anderson family opened their doors to German Professional Golfer Sandra Gal five years ago. It turned out to be the perfect fit.
“The first year was more for both her and us to feel things out,” said Scott Anderson. “With her mom and dad here, I think that really helped her feel more secure. After that first week of the first year, we were all friends by the end of it. We decided that we wanted to have the whole family back again and they actually wanted to come back.”
Sandra Gal turned professional in 2008, after graduating from the University of Florida. She said the Andersons have turned into extended family.
“We stay in so many hotels especially when we are abroad, so it’s really nice to be with a family,” Gal said. “I’m back now for the fifth year, so it really feels like I get home when I get there. I know where everything is. I open up the cupboards and I know everything is there.”
For the Andersons, the family-golfer relationship goes beyond the week of the tournament.
“We keep in touch over text all the time,” said Brooke Anderson. “We talk about golf, but it’s definitely more like how you would talk to your friends everyday.”
The Andersons said they even met up with Sandra while they were in the UK last year.
“She actually ended up being there at the same time as us, so we all met up for dinner after a tournament she played in there,” said Teresa Anderson.
What started as a place to stay, has turned into so much more. Sandra and the Andersons said they would not trade the experience for the world.
“It’s just so nice to know that there’s people who care about you,” Gal said. “It means a lot to have people send you a text message if you’re not playing well or even if you are playing well.”
“It’s been a great experience,” Teresa Anderson said. “We’ve really enjoyed having her in our family. It’s been wonderful.”