In my last post, I wrote about what it is like to attend a professional golf tournament. To summarize, it’s fun and you should absolutely do it! However, if you want to take the experience to the next level then I would recommend volunteering at a professional tournament near you.
It takes many people to staff a tournament. As you walk around you will obviously see the players and caddies, the tour officials, media, coaches, industry reps and others. But, you will see many other people filling various roles as well.
Did you know many of the people you see working at a professional tournament are actually volunteers? These workers are not paid by the tournament sponsor, the tour, or a network. They are local people, volunteering and working out of their love of golf and the experience of being there.
As you walk around some of the jobs you will see staffed by volunteers are:
- Walking scorers – walk with a group capturing and entering scores into a hand held device. Request rules officials or other assistance as needed
- Standard bearers – walk with a group carrying the portable scoreboard for the group
- Admissions – sell tickets and distributes credentials
- Merchandise – work in all the merchandising tents
- Transportation – shuttle tournament guests and players as needed, drive the volunteer vans and on-course cart shuttles
- Practice green attendants – assist players and caddies as needed, help with crowd control
- Driving range attendants – assist players and caddies, answer crowd questions
- Marshals – crowd control for spectators and players, spot balls for players
- Tournament Office – volunteer in the tournament office helping with whatever is needed
- On-course services – refresh coolers, deliver materials to course locations
- Scoring – validate scores, update computers, communicate with the walking scorers
I have been fortunate to volunteer a few times for the Kia Classic, a Southern California LPGA tournament. Mainly I have worked as a walking scorer but also served as a Marshall a couple of times. I’ll focus on that the rest of the blog.
I like the scorer’s job because I enjoy being out on the course with a group of players, observing up close their approach to the game and the different situations (and emotions) encountered during a round. For the most part, you remain in the background unless something is asked of you, like calling a rules official or you help in looking for an errant shot. You have to pay close attention to, and mark, each shot, keep your standard-bearer updated and call in scores for each golfer after every hole. The standard-bearer updates the sign with the players names and score so the gallery can see their current score as you come up a fairway or approach a green.
Working as a Marshall I’ve been assigned to a hole for the day which I also found enjoyable. I split my shifts working the green half the round and the tee box the other half of the round. That gives you the opportunity to see many of the groups come through and observe their shots up close. You can also watch the golfers interactions with the crowd as they come through each hole. It is you who is responsible for keeping the crowd quiet and still while the players are hitting their shots and getting the plays in andd out of the hole in an efficient manner.
You can work as many days as you like, including helping out during practice rounds and the pro-am, in addition to the tournament. The players I have had the opportunity to work with have been pleasant for the most part and appreciative of the volunteers. I have had players who have had bad rounds or holes be in rather bad moods, but as golfers, I am sure we can all relate. I know I’m not the friendliest person after hitting one OB either. Plus, they’ve never directed their frustrations at me.
If you have the chance, take the plunge and volunteer. If you don’t know what tours are out there, read my blog, “Just How Many Golf Tours Are There?“, then visit their tournament websites. If you like golf, you will enjoy the experience regardless of your volunteer role. And they can really use the help!