Four days in the life of an LPGA volunteer

Have you ever been behind the ropes for an LPGA or PGA championship? Me neither. But I’ve always wanted to be up close and personal with the best in the world and so someday, my day will come. Until then, I’m going to have to rely on my golfing friends to tell me all about it.

This past weekend, I was fortunate to get the inside scoop on the LPGA Canadian Open from a new ‘virtual friend’ that I met on Facebook – Mr. Bill Roberts.

Bill (which one are you Bill?) was a “walking scorer” at the CN Canadian Open and I asked him if he would give me a recap of his daily experiences so I could live vicariously through him and share with the rest of you what it was really like back there with the world’s greatest golfgals.

First, let me introduce Bill to you…

Bill has been a fan of golf all his life. In Toronto as a young man he watched Arnold Palmer win his first tournament as a pro. He also watched Gene Littler compete at the Canadian Open in Toronto the year he won the US Amateur and turned professional the same year. He witnessed Jackie Cupid win the rain delayed Canadian Open in Winnipeg and Sherry Stienhaur win the DuMaurier Classic in Winnipeg when it was a major.

Bill has attended the last few LPGA Canadian Opens in London, Niagara Fall and Glen Abby in Toronto. He was at one of the first senior tournaments involving George Knudson and Billy Casper when it was called the Legends of Golf. He followed Gary Player in his prime and watched Stan Leonard play an exhibition game in Winnipeg. He’s proud to call Dan Halldorson a friend.

For the past 5 years Bill has attended the LPGA Corning Classic in Corning N.Y. and the State Farm Classic in Springfield. Illinois. The year Carin Koch won at Corning Bill was invited by a member to come back the following year as a volunteer. He loved it so much that he’s been back every year since.

Yup, Bill’s a golf junkie alright!

This year Bill was hoping to walk the Pro Am with Natalie Gulbis, but she ended up skipping that event (no wonder, once you read about her experiences trying to get to Ottawa).

Instead he marked score for Jee Young Lee and according to Bill, “She is such a sweetheart; she can hit the ball a mile.”

Jee Young Lee’s group finished -15 which Bill thought might have been the winning team. However, -19 ended up being the best score of the day, lead by tour pro Jin Joo Hong in the morning rounds.

After witnessing the Pro Am, Bill predicted, “The Ottawa Hunt Club is in pristine condition. I think the pro with the hot putter will win this Open.” I loved reading that about the Hunt Club, having lived in Ottawa for 33 years – I am very proud of that beautiful city and its golf clubs.

Anyway…on with Bill’s story….

DAY 1: Thursday, August 14, 2008…

“Thursday I am paired with the group Megan Francella, Michele Redman and Julieta Granada. You remember Julieta who won the 1 million dollar first prize at the Samsung World Championship at the Donald Trump course. It always amazes me to see these ladies hit a ball long and straight, I would give anything to hit them like that. Not only do these girls rock, they are perfect ladies who, I am sure sometimes curse under their breath in a fit of anger, but I never saw anything like that. I just love them all.

The weatherman called for cloudy periods in the morning and rain in the afternoon but it turned out to be hot and dry. Before I left the club I was able to get up close to Annika as she came off the 9th green by the scorers tent. The crowd let up a roar like I have never heard in golf before it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, what a feeling. She looked a little surprised by the attention she was attracting. Ottawa sure loves Annika.

I almost bumped into Paula Creamer walking to the driving range. That girl has a look of confidence just by the way she walks; she has star quality written all over her. I did get a chance to follow Michelle Wie for a few holes. She sure knows her way around a golf course. I just wish the media would get off her case and give her a break. If I wasn’t so drained from the two days of walking in the heat I might have stayed around and followed a few groups, but we had to go and tend to our wounded bodies. As it happened, the local TV was televising the late starters so we enjoyed a few hours of armchair golf.”

Okay, I’m starting to get jealous. Bill’s got a bird’s eye view of everything and everyone.

DAY 2: Friday, August 15, 2008…

“Today I had my toughest assignment. I was paired with Il Mi Chung and Kyeong Bae from South Korea and Ontario amateur champ Stephanie Sherlockl They are all sweet girls who can hit the ball a mile. Unfortunately, I had never heard of any of them.

The two South Korean girls where about the same age, same stature and wore similar clothing. Part of a scorekeeper’s job is to record the proper score to the right golfer, but by the second hole I was starting to panic trying to figure out who was who. Fortunately for me, one of the spectators outside the ropes could sense this and approached me with some help in separating the two girls.

One of the girls, II Mi Chung, was wearing shorts with Daisy Duck embroidered on the back pocket. Knowing this made a big difference and thankfully everything went well for the rest of the way.

A friend and I hurried off to keep a 2:30 tee time at Cedarhills G&CC it is a short drive from the Hunt Club a nice course from the back tees. It started to rain around the 7th hole but we waited it out and completed an enjoyable round but we had to share the 15th hole with a gaggle of geese who thought they owned the hole. It wasn’t until we arrived back to the hotel that we found out that the LPGA had suspended play and left half the field to complete play in the morning.”

Daisy Duck saves the day! Haha…that’s too funny, Bill.

DAY 3: Saturday, August 1, 2008

“I had received a text message advising all volunteers to report for their scheduled assessments as per posted. I arrived at the course at 7:30 and was advised that 1:30 was my assignment. I was later told that the 1:30 tee time was He Young Park of South Korea, Giulia Sergas of Italy and Louise Friberg of Sweden. At last I get to meet Louise! I read her diary every day — she is the real deal and regularly posts a story on her web page every day. What a nice surprise to meet her.

Because of the later start, I had some time to enjoy some of the golf. Half the late starters from Friday where out on the course completing their second round so I picked a nice spot on the 18th fairway to cover their approach shots and putting. The weather was sunny and hot but I picked a nice shady area to spend the morning. The 3rd round was scheduled to start at 12:00 noon and Natalie Gulbis and Suzann Pettersen were scheduled to tee off at 12:20. I made sure I was there on the first tee inside the ropes, I actually held the ropes for Natalie Gulbis and she gave me a huge smile and a cheerful thank you. She is actually more beautiful in person than her photos or TV appearances tell you. I lost all sense of time and ended up running to the 10th tee for my assignment.

The first three days I packed for rainy and cool weather and I lugged this pack sack around in the heat but today I took a chance a left it back at the hotel. Finally I had made the right decision. It was hot, hot, hot, and the blister on my heel was getting sorer. We started on the 10th hole and Giulia chipped in for eagle while He Yong and Louise one putted for birdies. Wow what a start! They played steady golf for the rest of the day. He Young Park is a lovely girl and my guess is that she would weigh about 120 lbs. Some of her tee shots were averaging 285 yards!!! I don’t know where all that power comes from — it amazes me, it just amazes me. “

At 5′ 7″ and with my average yardage, it’s hard for me to believe what these ladies can do – and they make it look so easy. How do they do it?

DAY 4: Sunday, August 2, 2008

Unfortunately, Bill couldn’t attend the final day in Ottawa and watch Katherine Hull win the trophy, but he took away wonderful memories and a plan…

“Everyone of those ladies on the LPGA tour are very special people and it was my pleasure just to be associated with their world. I am unable to spend the Sunday with them but I will enjoy them on TV while soaking my feet in Epson salts. I have already put my application in to the 2009 LPGA Canadian Open in Calgary Alberta.”

Yup, now I’m really jealous. I could have been in Ottawa in Bill’s shoes had I planned better and not booked my vacation in Mexico with the family during the event. ARG! Not only did I miss a once in a lifetime opportunity to voluneer for an LPGA event in my home town, I’m also missing all of the Highway 18 shows for two whole weeks!

Oh, sure, the sun, surf and sand are great, and I’m getting to play golf in 90 degree weather, but that’s not enough. I want it all! Next year, I’m planning our vacation in Alberta during the Open and I’m going to be there with bells on!

Thanks Bill for sharing your experiences at the Cdn Open. I look forward to meeting you in person next year in Calgary!


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One comment

  1. I envy the volunteers. It would be an honor being a volunteer for an LPGA tour. Imagine the golfers that you would meet.

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