It’s Sunday evening and the last four days have been long – I’m sunburned and my feet and calves hurt. If you’re anything like my wife though you probably don’t want to hear my complaining – she claims it’s all self-inflicted since I didn’t use sun block on Friday and I eat too much and don’t work out enough. If you didn’t know, the Valero Texas Open has just completed here in San Antonio and Martin Laird pulled off an unexpected victory and stamped his ticket to Augusta. Me on the other hand, I’m in recovery mode from my four days of volunteering at the Valero Texas Open.
As I was walking down the fairway with another volunteer today we started talking about how many volunteers it actually takes to put on a successful PGA Tour golf tournament. We both agreed it was probably close to 1,000 if not more. If you asked any tournament director how important volunteers are they will surely tell you there is no way in hell they would be able to successfully host the event without an army of volunteers behind the scenes.
This was my first year volunteering since the tournament had moved to TPC San Antonio four years ago. I had done it one year before when it was at La Cantera but after getting an email at my work requesting help this year I decided to jump at the opportunity. My assignment was with the NBC Sports/Golf Channel TV team. I would get to walk inside the ropes with an assigned group and radio back to a producer in the TV trailer with the scores for each player after each hole.
On Thursday when we were first being told what our job consisted of, I thought to myself surely in 2013 NBC Sports and Golf Channel have better technology to get the players scores on TV rather than having someone walk with a group and radio back to the truck after each hole. Come to find out they actually do have live scorers who walk with each group and enter every shot into a Palm Pilot which is relayed back to a live scoring system. My job was actually just a back-up to the live scorer to verify the scores before they were posted on the leaderboard on TV. As the week progressed, our back-up role was actually needed quite a bit when the live scorer would enter the wrong score or miss a shot.
So enough about my job duties, I’m sure you are more interested in which groups I got to follow each day. They were actually awesome:
Thursday: Rod Pampling, John Daly, Bud Cauley
Friday: Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, Jodan Spieth
Saturday: Brian Davis, Bob Estes, Ken Duke
Sunday: D.J. Trahan, Martin Flores, David Lynn
Thursday’s group was pretty uneventful. John Daly did not have any meltdowns and it was a pretty boring round. Daly shot a 76 in the first round while Rod Pampling shot 71 on the Thursday. Both of these players ended up missing the cut. Bud Cauley on the other hand fired a 71 on Thursday and actually went on to make the cut and have a decent weekend. I was quite surprised at how far Bud Caulely hit the ball. He out-drove Daly a couple times on Thursday.
On Friday I was assigned the premier group. To say it was a circus was an understatement. Security, cameras and large crowds followed every shot and it was so cool to be right there next to Rory McIlroy and see him play golf so close up. It’s so amazing the way these guys swing and the ball is compressed compared to how my ball comes off the club face. The highlight of Friday was of course the closing three birdies McIlroy had but on #8 at TPC San Antonio I was right there to see McIlroy hit that 5-wood about 270 to reach the par-5 in two.
I guess in exchange for having the premier group on Friday I got stuck with two lesser known groups on Saturday and Sunday. I actually should take that back because they guys were all cool and they are all great players in their own right. On Saturday I was able to see Bob Estes get hot and put himself in contention for Sunday. Also on Saturday I was able to see Brian Davis throw a couple clubs and get pissed more than once. That was actually entertaining. On Sunday I was able to see a local guy in Martin Flores get hot and make a run up the leaderboard. He ended up with a T10 and a $155,000 paycheck.
I was happy I made good on my commitment and worked all four days. I almost backed out on Wednesday because I wanted to go fishing but decided against it since I did make the commitment. If you are wondering, yes I was on TV quite a bit over the four days and yes I did go back and watch the coverage after recording it. Come on, you would have watched it again as well!