Wanted! Volunteers Needed For 2009 USGA Championships
Volunteers play an essential role at our national championships - and can get an inside-the-ropes view of the best players in action
January 21, 2009
By David Shefter, USGA
While the competitors and the course certainly are the focal points, the true heroes of the 13 national championships annually conducted by the United States Golf Association are the thousands of volunteers who provide a variety of essential services, both inside and outside the ropes.
Whether it's serving as an on-course marshal, helping with scoring, transporting officials and competitors to and from the airport, or manning a cash register inside the merchandise tent, volunteers play an enormous role in the success of USGA events. Without the tireless efforts of these individuals, a championship couldn't take place.
|LPGA Tour player and San Diego resident Jill McGill worked a scoreboard as a volunteer at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. (USGA Museum)
Many people plan vacations around USGA championships, specifically the three Opens. Some view it as a way to get an up-close-and-personal view of the competition or of a world-class golf course. Others see it as simply a way to give back to the game they so passionately love.
At the 2005 U.S. Senior Open at the NCR Club outside of Dayton, Ohio, Jack Cato and his brother-in-law Bill Foster worked transportation. Cato drove Gil Morgan, Fuzzy Zoeller and Jim Thorpe from the airport. He also got to meet Tom Watson.
Cato and Foster also worked the 2008 U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., where for the first time volunteers came from all 50 states . Both are volunteering for the 2009 Senior Open, played at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind. "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 and lives in Arkansas.
Ron Diltz traveled 3,275 miles from Anchorage, Alaska, to volunteer at the 2008 Senior Open with longtime friend and Colorado Springs resident Mike Kelly. "I sucked him in," said Kelly, a former Anchorage resident who moved to Colorado in 1999. "I only live a couple of miles from [The Broadmoor], so it seemed like the right thing to do."
Virginia's Margaret Champley will be quite busy this summer. She will work both the Women's Open at Saucon Valley C.C. in Bethlehem, Pa., and the Senior Open in Indiana this summer. She has worked every Women's Open since 2001 and volunteered at the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont (Pa.) C.C., as well as the 2008 Senior Open at The Broadmoor.
The popularity of volunteering is impressive. This year's U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y., already has closed the registration process for the approximately 5,800 volunteers who will be needed. Even the waiting list no longer is adding names.
Those in the Greater New York area who missed out on the chance to work the U.S. Open might want to consider the U.S. Women's Open at Saucon Valley, which still has a few opportunities among its approximately 3,000 volunteer positions. Michele Matyasovsky, the volunteer coordinator for the 2009 Women's Open, said 2,910 individuals had signed up as of mid-January, with three committees still accepting applications: corporate hospitality services, merchandising and transportation.
|Volunteering as a marshal is a great way to get an up-close view of golf action at a USGA championship. (USGA Museum)
"We feel very fortunate to have received an unprecedented response from our volunteer recruitment efforts," said Matyasovsky, adding that most of the volunteers live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Florida, but that 34 of the 50 states are currently represented. "This community has experience hosting five previous USGA championships and is energized to make the 2009 U.S. Women's Open an overwhelming success."
For a cost of $125, volunteers receive two logo golf shirts, a jacket, hat or visor, water bottle, volunteer pin, lunch on the days you work and access to the championship for the entire week. To serve on the transportation committee, volunteers must be at least 25 years old with a valid driver's license.
The U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel has also had impressive volunteer interest - though a limited number of positions are still available . Sally Shonk, the volunteer and promotions manager for the championship, said 2,200 volunteers from 31 states and two countries (Canada and Ireland) have already registered (approximately 2,700 are needed). Among that list is State Senator Luke Kenley, who will work as a marshal with his golf club, Harbour Trees G.C.
The Senior Open has two volunteer options. Participating adults pay $125 for the uniform (two golf shirts, a wind shirt, hat or visor) and receive lunch on the days they work as well as a credential to watch the championship when not on duty.
Juniors age 13 through 17 can also volunteer to be a standard bearer or help with program sales for $50, which helps pay for one shirt, a cap or visor, water bottle, pin and lunch for the days they work. All volunteers receive a one-time discount in the merchandise tent as well.
Shonk said 20 of the 80 standard-bearer slots are being reserved for inner-city youths who have participated in junior clinics through the Indiana Golf Foundation the Indiana Golf Foundation. Youngsters from the Riley Hospital for Children have been contacted to assist with program sales. About 20 juniors will be used on this committee.
Another attraction for volunteers is the quality of the host club and its environs. Crooked Stick, designed by Hall of Fame architect Pete Dye, perennially ranks among the top 100 courses in the nation. Saucon Valley, set amid 800 scenic acres in eastern Pennsylvania, with three courses routed around a renowned trout stream, is one of the country's preeminent country clubs. And while the volunteer needs of Bethpage have long been filled, the idea of toting a playing group's scores across Pebble Beach Golf Links, or driving contestants along Carmel's famed 17-mile drive, makes volunteering at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach a tantalizingly prospect. Check back in February for more information on being a volunteer for the 2010 U.S. Open, 2010 U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont Country Club and 2010 U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club.
While the three Open championships receive plenty of exposure from the thousands of daily spectators and national television broadcasts, the 10 amateur championships on the USGA calendar, as well as the Walker Cup Match at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., offer memorable volunteer opportunities, too. Those competitions don't require the sheer numbers of the three Opens, but the service provided is invaluable to the event's success.
Those interested in volunteering at an amateur championship or theWalker Cup can contact the USGA by calling (908) 234-2300 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information about volunteering at a USGA championship, click here .
David Shefter is a USGA Digital Media staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com .