A Face From Every State
2008 Senior Open Can Boast Of
Volunteers From All 50 States
February 26, 2008
By David Shefter, USGA
Far Hills, N.J. - Ron Diltz and Mike Kelly first became
acquainted when their sons began playing high school football
in Anchorage, Alaska. They quickly discovered a mutual love
for outdoor activities - hunting, fishing and even golf - and
their friendship soon extended beyond Friday night games.
Even after Kelly moved back to his native Colorado in 1999,
the two remained close. Last year, they went pheasant hunting
in North Dakota.
This summer, the get-together will take place a little closer
to Kelly's backyard in Colorado Springs. With the U.S.
Senior Open heading to The Broadmoor, Kelly signed up to be a
volunteer for the championship. And he thought it would be a
neat idea to bring his buddy down from Alaska to share in the
"I sucked him in," said Kelly. "I only live a
couple of miles from [The Broadmoor], so it seemed like the
right thing to do."
Diltz will be one of many individuals making a long trek to
Colorado Springs this July to be part of the 3,000-plus
volunteer force for the Senior Open (July 31-Aug. 3). In
fact, this year's championship will have volunteers from
all 50 states. It's the first time that a volunteer from
every state has participated in the same championship.
Colorado residents understandably make up 78.5 percent of the
volunteers, but others have decided to travel considerable
distances to help out. Diltz will journey 3,275 miles; Sandra
Webb from Kailua Kona, Hawaii has the farthest hike, at 3,309
The participation from near and far even had the management
company that handles the U.S. Senior Open for the USGA
|The USGA would have a difficult time
conducting championships without volunteers'
participation. (John Mummert/USGA)|
"It's very unusual [to have all 50 states
represented]," said Jeff Yeager, the volunteer manager
for Bruno Event Team. "I would say 40 to 45 states [is
normal], but to get over the 45 mark, it's something of a
Part of the lure is this year's site. The Broadmoor is a
world-class resort located in an area where there are plenty
of alternative activities when people are not on-site
working. Yeager said The Broadmoor, which attracts guests
from throughout the world, also solicited volunteers through
various means of communication.
"We had started a waiting list of about 100 volunteers,
but after looking at a few numbers, we have almost added all
100 of those [people] from our waiting list," said
Yeager. "So it's been really terrific."
Some people love being a part of the championship so much
that they keep coming back. Arkansas residents Jack Cato and
his brother-in-law Bill Foster will be making their fourth
consecutive appearance at the Senior Open. They first
volunteered at the 2005 event at the Club outside of Dayton,
"We've made the Senior Open part of our summer
vacations so we can get out and see new parts of the
country," said Cato, who is retired. "This will be
our first visit to Colorado and I am excited to see the state
and the Rocky Mountains."
In 2005, the two served on the transportation committee. Last
year, they were walking scorers. Cato went with Jim Thorpe
and R.W. Eaks in the final round. In '05, Cato said he
drove Gil Morgan, Fuzzy Zoeller and Thorpe. He also got to
meet Tom Watson. This year, they will be on-course marshals,
just like in 2006 at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kan.
"Especially in transportation, you get to meet a lot of
[contestants] because you are right there with them,"
said Cato. "When you are working out on the course, you
see them but you don't necessarily get to talk with them.
"But we've enjoyed it and it's been a good
experience. We haven't decided if we are going to do it
next year [at Crooked Stick] or not. We'll probably make
that decision after this year's tournament."
Of course, having the championship in a smaller market like
Colorado Springs, which does not have major sporting events
on an annual basis, also adds an element of excitement not
found in a major metropolis. The 1999 U.S. Senior Open in Des
Moines, Iowa, drew some 50,000 spectators for the final
The retired Kelly moved back to Colorado Springs after a
working in oil business in California and Alaska in the
"You can get lost in places like Denver and Atlanta, but
not here," said Kelly. "An event like this is a
pretty big deal for us."
Just seeing a major golf event in person is a big opportunity
for Diltz. Alaska is one state that has never hosted a USGA
championship. Outside of the Iditarod dogsled race, the state
is devoid of nationally recognized sporting events.
Diltz admitted that his outdoor activities of choice are
hunting and fishing. But he does enjoy an occasional round of
golf, including an indoor version played on a simulator.
Alaska's outdoor golf season is quite short, so many
people play indoors during the harsh winters to keep their
swings in rhythm.
"I'm just a weekend hacker," said Diltz, a
sales manager for an office supply company in Anchorage.
"But I'm excited . to watch some of my idols. I
still don't know what we will be doing. It probably will
be gallery control. No matter what it is, it will be
DavidShefteris a staff writer for the USGA. E-mail him with questions
or comments at email@example.com.