A few weekends ago my husband and I took in the AT&T National Golf Tournament at the Congressional Golf Course in Bethesda, Maryland. It was a beautifully sunny day that wasn’t too hot with a light breeze rustling through the course. It was my first time on a golf course. I had considered taking up golf once when my husband was a bit of an enthusiast but short arms and big boobs tend to make golf not exactly my best sport…that coupled with the fact that I am lazy. The course was gorgeous, like a nice park. It wasn’t very crowded because we went on Saturday, and Tiger Woods had pulled out of the competition due to an elbow injury. I had a broken pinkie toe and ill-fitting shoes and I still managed to walk the course. I’m not saying I’m tougher than Tiger, per se…
We watched some tee shots, some putts and then eventually we found our way to the middle of the fairway of one hole where the tee shots were landing. It was nice to watch each group take their second shots. We sat for a long while under a tree that provided a nice shade. We were also stationed right behind one of the marshals for that hole. The marshal there when we arrived was a young kid (probably early 20’s) who didn’t really do much. He occasionally placed a flag when a ball wound up in the rough just off the side of the fairway. Sometimes he didn’t. He seemed pretty oblivious to a lot of things. At one point he came under the rope to our side like someone had yelled “incoming!” I told him he was making me nervous. He said that they had signaled the ball was going left so he was getting out of the way. I told him if it looks like it’s going left he should be shielding me. I don’t think he found the same humor in it as I did.
Eventually the kid was relieved by another marshal who was very dynamic. He was working the crowd, starting up conversations and doing what he was supposed to…locate the ball when it goes in the rough. He was a very nice guy…one of my extrovert tribe, so clearly I talked to him. My husband said, “you make friends everywhere you go.” I asked him about volunteering for the tournament. He told me that he had applied to volunteer a few months prior to the tournament. He’d actually taken a week off of work so that he could volunteer for the entire tournament. He said that you could indicate your availability, but he was in for a penny, in for a pound. He told us that you could select which volunteer opportunities you were most interested in doing. I actually asked him if he wrote on his application that he wanted to be the guy who put his hands in the air when the golfers would hit. He said, “Uh, yeah. I selected marshal.” There were 14 marshals on that hole alone and they rotated around it so he said he knew every inch of that hole. There were teens that walked with each grouping holding signs. I think they might have been general volunteers along the same lines as the ticket takers and the guys emptying trash cans. I think it would be kind of fun to carry the sign and walk with one grouping throughout the day, but I’m also the one who thinks, “how hard can ski jumping be?” I think I underestimate the exhaustion caused by carrying a sign for hours on end.
Our marshal told us that he really enjoyed his time volunteering. He also told us that in order to volunteer they charge you $70 (to pay for the hat and the shirt and a water bottle).
So, if you’ve ever wondered about being a golf marshal, now you know a little bit more. I would say that the best thing to do is check out the website for volunteer opportunities. Be prepared to be out in all weather. Be prepared to do jobs you might not have bargained for (someone has to get the spectators on the shuttle buses). Be prepared to have fun and be a part of world class sports!