We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Last week the Ladies Professional Golf Association came to the Fort Worth-Dallas Metroplex for the first time in over two decades. As an avid golfer and fan of the LPGA, I was thrilled.
The North Texas LPGA Shootout was only placed on the calendar in January, an extremely short time to organize an event like this. I have no idea how many late nights and early mornings the organizers put into this tournament, but an LPGA representative said it normally takes two years to put one together.
For years, I’ve thought about volunteering to work at Colonial, on the men’s tour, but I never actually did. This time, I had to. These ladies are my heroes. I’d much rather watch them play than the guys on the PGA tour.
When I submitted my volunteer application, I checked “walking marshal” as my first choice of jobs. I learned that the bare minimum number of marshals needed for a tournament is around 100 and that most established tournaments will have 300 to 400. I think they said there were about 70 of us.
Due to that shortage, they didn’t have any walking marshals at the beginning. Those are the ones you see on television walking along with the players as they make their way around the course. Instead, they had to assign us to specific holes, where we stayed for our entire shift rather than following a group.
Stationed at the third green, I got to see a lot of interesting shots. Number three is a par five that most of the players could reach in two. I saw Paula Creamer, my favorite of all golfers, almost hole out her second shot in the pro-am for a double eagle.
During the tournament, you don’t speak at all to the players. They’re busy trying to concentrate on winning a golf tournament. But during the pro-am, it’s okay to talk to them, and I got to speak to a number of my favorites, including Paula.
Two players really impressed me during the pro-am: Morgan Pressel and Juli Inkster. Morgan is a young player with a major championship under her belt. Juli is the senior among active players at 52 or so and has won practically everything out there at one time or another.
The ball Morgan Pressel’s team chose to play on my hole was in a sand trap beside the green. In this format, they choose one player’s shot and then all hit the next one from there, so she and all four of her amateur partners had to hit shots out of the trap. One guy almost completely whiffed the ball, so Morgan took about ten minutes to give him a lesson on sand shots before she hit her own. Her kindness to this man really blew me away.
Juli did something similar. One of her partners hit a horrible shot trying to chip onto the green, and Juli took a good five minutes to give this lady a lesson on chipping.
Things like this really set the LPGA apart from other sports organizations, in my opinion. Most professional athletes are all about $$$. If they’re not getting paid for it, they lose interest quickly. In fairness, the PGA and Champions tours have pro-ams also, but somehow I don’t see those guys taking the personal interest in a pro-am partner these two ladies did.
I spoke to each of these lady pros as she came off the green on pro-am day, and every one of them at least said hello. Most of them even thanked me for serving as a volunteer.
None of my favorites contended seriously for the title, but I’m coming to admire Inbee Park, the world’s number one player, who won the tournament. Behind a stroke or two most of the day, she just patiently persisted in playing her own game and waiting for her opportunity. When it came, she was up to the challenge.
In a world where so many professional athletes expect the world to be handed to them on a silver platter, it’s refreshing to be around a group like this in which everyone is so appreciative of any little thing anyone does for her or her tour. I salute these very special ladies, and if you’ve never watched them compete, I urge you to do so.
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