Being a visitor to a professional golf tournament, which sight do you prefer:
So what does it take to be so close to the action? Apply for a volunteer! The season opening in Abu Dhabi was the tournament I chose, for several reasons: It is the tournament where Martin Kaymer has won three out of four times, OWGR #1-4 are on the start list, Tiger Woods would have his first appearance, and I could stay with a friend, so I could avoid a hotel. When you want to volunteer, here are some things to know:
- You don’t get paid. All your travel expenses, flight, accomodation and transfer to the golf course are your own responsibility.
- You get: Two shirts, a cap, a wind breaker, free food and soft drinks on the course. Free admittance while not on duty.
- In Abu Dhabi they needed every single volunteer, so applying means acceptance.
- In the Middle East the weekends are Friday and Saturday, so expect most people on these days, not necessarily on Sunday.
- You want to learn from those stars? Forget it, they are playing a different sport.
There are different roles you can take: Walking Marshall, Stationary Marshall, Walking Scorer, Carryboard, Stationary Score Board, Ropeman. I made the right decision to carry the flight’s scoreboard. It becomes pretty heavy after five hours, but you are closer to the players than anybody else. You can listen to their talking, you notice their reaction to a good or a bad stroke, if they are relaxed enough you may have a little chat with them, and you almost always get a souvenir, like a ball or even a glove. The marshalls are poor guys, most of the time they have to face the spectators, which means they turn their back to the players, holding a sign saying “Quiet please” or “No cameras, no phones”. The scorers should know everything about golf rules, especially penalty strokes, as they have to count every single stroke of each player and report the score to the headquarter. They also tell the carryboard guys the official score. Now the ropemen or -women. If the marshalls are poor, these guys really struck my pity. Sometimes the visitors have to cross the fairway, of course after the player have passed. Then the ropemen have to open the ropes to let the visitors cross and close it again. They don’t see anything of the action, they have to stand half a day at the same spot, opening and closing the ropes…
Standing next to Sergio Garcia when he hits a hole-in-one is just awesome…
This is my carryboard after day 4: