For my money, the real heroes of any golf tournament are not the players, but the thousands of volunteers, without whom nothing is possible. This week at the US Senior Open, Indianwood Golf Club has mustered some 2,400 volunteer staff who work simply for the love of the game and their community. They also get a nifty shirt—although at some tournaments I know that the volunteers have to pay for those.
The marshals on each hole, “crossing guards,” sign carriers, walking scorers, and perhaps even the scoreboard keepers could be considered the “glamour” jobs among the volunteers. They at least get to see the players and the tournament. But for every volunteer that spectators see on the course, there are others standing for hours in hot dusty parking lots, guarding entry ways, delivering supplies, taking inventory, picking up trash, selling concessions and accomplishing other necessary tasks that don’t give them any time to take in the excitement. Some make it to the grounds only when they’re off-shift.
I once worked a PGA Tour tournament at a corporate hospitality tent and saw exactly nothing of the event.
Even the “glamour” jobs aren’t that glamorous, however. Hole marshals stand for hours in the sun and heat, trying to keep their focus on the flight of players’ balls. They regularly rotate their spots on each hole and have different shifts, but the ones I talked to said it was still pretty taxing. And having served as a walking scorekeeper at high school tournaments, I can assure you that’s a mentally draining job.
So on behalf of everyone who enjoys a good golf tournament, I’d like to say thank you to the volunteers.