My Experience as a PGA Tour Honorary Observer
By mustang6560 on 7/24/12
As I mentioned last Wednesday, I spent this past weekend volunteering at the True South Classic in Madison, Mississippi. It was my second time to volunteer for the tournament and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience, even though I spent 13 hours at Annandale Golf Club Saturday because of weather delays.
There's an old joke here in Mississippi that if you want to make it rain, just host a golf tournament. The True South Classic was delayed several times over the course of the week and some were speculating that the tournament would be reduced to 54 holes (or worse!). In the end, the weather held up long enough for Scott Stallings to win his second PGA Tour event.
While I had a great time volunteering for the True South Classic, my highlight from the tournament happened last Friday. I was invited to be an Honorary Observer for the second round, which meant I got to walk inside the ropes and follow a group of PGA Tour players. So instead of recapping my experience as a volunteer, I wanted to share with you my experience from "inside the ropes".
I arrived to Annandale around 2:30 p.m. to get trained with my partner in crime joeldeer. There wasn't much to the training. The PGA Tour just wanted to make sure we behaved ourselves and didn't do anything to disrupt play. He said the golden rule was stay off the fairway and as long as we abided by the golden rule, we were free to enjoy the experience.
I was super pumped to be an Honorary Observer, so I was going to be happy regardless of which group we were assigned to. However, my excitement quadrupled when I found out we would be following Bud Cauley's group. In case you didn't know, Bud is one of my favorite players, so I was like a kid in a candy store when I found out! It won't be long before the opportunity to watch one of my favorite players in my backyard will be gone. Bud is a fantastic talent and I fully expect he will qualify for The Open Championship next year, which means he won't be at the True South Classic.
The second round didn't start until late Friday afternoon because of the weather delays, so we had a few hours to kill before Bud and fellow playing partners Brendon de Jonge and Ken Duke teed off at 5:55 p.m. local time. As Honorary Observers, we were given clubhouse passes so we decided to go
We walked over to the clubhouse and accidentally went in the wrong door, which putt us inside the 'Players-only' section. As soon as we walked in, Jerry Kelly came out of the locker room and sat to the table next to us. Normally Jerry is a fairly talkative guy, but he turned away from our table to watch TV. We quickly decided we should leave because the last thing we wanted to do was get into trouble when we're supposed to be "honorary". Plus, I'm pretty sure the bartender was onto us because the same door we came in through was locked as we tried to go out.
We finally made it upstairs to the part of the clubhouse we were allowed to be in and to our surprise, there were a ton of pros sitting in the lounge area. We saw my man Bud, Erik Compton, Joe Durant, Alex Cejka, Robert Gamez, Ryuji Imada, and Skip Kendall to name a few. They're no Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, or Bubba Watson, but it was cool to sit among PGA Tour players.
After spending an hour or so in the clubhouse watching a tape delay of the True South Classic with our new friends (we didn't actually talk to any of them), it was time to head to the first tee. Bud, Brendon, and Ken made their way to the first tee shortly thereafter and each player introduced himself to us, which was awesome! I am not a huge fan of autographs of or pictures with celebrities or professional athletes, but I do enjoy shaking their hand. You can tell a lot about a person by their handshake (yes, I know I'm a dork!).
As is customary on the first tee, the starter introduced each player to the gallery. But, the coolest part of the experience was about to happen that I was not expecting. After the starter introduced Bud, Brendon, and Ken, he said "And as Honorary Observers, we have Joel Deer and Nathan Trifone". My eyes lit up as the two people in the stands clapped for the group. I had a smile from ear to ear for the entire first hole.
Since the rain delay pushed the start of the second round back nearly 12 hours, we only got to follow the group for seven holes. But it was an experience I'll relish for a long time. The one thing that stood out to me after following the pros was how quiet they were. I'm not sure if it was because they were tired or didn't like each other or what, but wasn't much chitchat going on between the players. I was hoping to hear some juicy off the record fodder I could report back, but I didn't get much out of the experience conversation-wise.
I'm sure everyone here would jump at the opportunity to be an Honorary Observer at a PGA Tour event. But, if you ever get the opportunity, it's a must! Even if it's hot and muggy (like it was here), it's worth the sweat. As they say, "No pain, no gain."
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[ comments ]
Duke of Hazards says:
that's cool. i don't quite understand the purpose/role of an Honorary Observer (is it because you work in golf media?), but I'd like to volunteer at a local event some day, even if it's just holding up the 'shut up' sign.
joe jones says:
I carried the sign board for Billy Casper and Rod Curl at one of the Western Opens at Midlothian CC one year. Casper who I consider to be one of the greatest putters and most under rated golfers of all time won the tournament in a drizzling rain. The highlight of the day was when I commented to Curl that Casper was a cool customer and he laughed and said " You don,t know the half of it. He pisses ice water". What a great compliment for a player.
Very cool story. Watching the professionals on TV or the stands, no matter the sport/game, can make them seem almost inhuman. It's pretty awesome when you're up close and realize they're just normal people with an amazing talent. I've had similar experiences while doing volunteer work at MLB games.
Torleif Sorenson says:
I'm envious of you, Nathan - that was a great story and I hope you had a great time!
That's our boy.
Wow, great experience and story.
Matt F says:
Good story Nate! Glad you enjoyed yourself.
kingwood hacker says:
Sounds like you enjoyed volunteering Nate. I volunteer every year for the Champions Tour event here in Houston. I work on the range, and you get to hear lots of fun banter between the players (especially on the pro-am days when they're more relaxed).
Nice write up.
But did you see Charlie? Did he say hi? Did you pat him on the back with an oobgolf bumper sticker?
Nate, if you are going to be in BTR for the 11th of August...we are having our (225)PGA Championship at Pelican Point....MANY OOB'ers will be playing...
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