Yesterday marked the start of my third year volunteering at the Valero Texas Open. I’ve been with the NCB/Golf Channel Broadcast committee for three years now and it’s a really cool gig. While there are certainly some downsides, I think the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. I think you have to enjoy it especially since you’re spending 40+ hours at the golf course over four days.
What You Get With Volunteering at Valero Texas Open
It costs $50 to volunteer, which gets you several items. Since this is a charitable giving event, I don’t mind paying this one-time fee. It would cost A LOT of money to outfit 1,500 volunteers in shirts, hats, food, drinks, etc. For the $50, I get the following:
- Cutter Buck golf shirt
- Nike golf hat
- Lunch all four days
- Four day passes to tournament
- Parking pass
- Volunteer appreciation party with dinner
- Round of golf at TPC San Antonio**
- ** Additional $25 “cart fee” required
That $50 probably is spread out between the shirt, hat and food so help cover some of the expenses involved with those items. I’m fine with it.
NBC/Golf Channel Broadcast Committee
As I mentioned above, I am apart of the NBC/Golf Channel Broadcast committee. What this entails is basically either a spotter or scorer for the NBC and Golf Channel production team. This year, I am a spotter. The last two years I have been a scorer.
As a spotter, I am assigned to a specific group and I get to walk inside the ropes with the players. This allows me to get up-ahead of them and call back to the TV production truck on who is playing first, second and third. They also want to know things like what they’re putting for, when a player is in trouble and when a player is getting hot; things like that.
It’s actually controlled chaos in the TV production truck. The entire time you’re on the radio listening to what is going on back behind the scenes and they’re yelling at each other and trying to figure out what’s going on out on the course. It’s our jobs to let them know by physically walking with each group and reporting back what is going on. At the end of the day, a lot of what we do is how NBC knows who to go to next on live TV.
Positives of Volunteering
First, I love golf. So being out on the golf course all day and being able to walk inside the ropes is pretty
cool. Would it be the same if I was a Marshal or doing something else and not really close to the golf? I don’t know, I can’t say as I have never done any other jobs.
Second, I walk out of there with a nice golf shirt and two nice golf hats. I have 100+ golf hats and 30+ golf shirts already, but I am also looking to add more to my collection.
Third, all the money and time spent volunteering would have to be paid to someone if it weren’t for us. With 1,500 volunteers all requiring a salary to operate a golf tournament for just the four days would require hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries. Since charitable giving is huge on the PGA Tour and especially at the Valero Texas Open, hopefully that money saved can go to good uses in the community.
Negatives of Volunteering
PARKING! I hate the parking setup this year. The last two years at TPC San Antonio they have allowed the volunteers to park across the street from the golf course in an open field and then you jump on a quick shuttle for the 5 minute ride to the front gates.
This year, we are forced to park much further from the course and then take a 20 minute bus ride to the course. This doesn’t even count the 15-minutes we have to wait for the bus to fill up before it leaves the pick-up area. Yesterday I timed it. From leaving my house it takes 25 minutes to just get to the parking area. Then another 30-40 minutes to get to the course. This adds an additional hour on each way before and after my volunteering shift.
Yes, as my wife says, “Stop bitching about it because you’re the one who signed up to do this..” While I did sign up for volunteering and I have to live with it, I think it’s highly inconvenient for the tournament to make volunteers park so far away from the course.
On another note, this is the same parking to be used for daily spectators as well. For me, being an avid golf nut, I would probably do the shuttle for one day to go see some great golf. But for your average golf fan, I can see this being a huge hurdle to getting them out to the golf course. It’s seriously another two hours you have to add to your trip, which for some people is just ridiculous.
The parking is running low near TPC San Antonio because of all the development so I imagine I am just going to have to get over all of this if I want to continue volunteering in future year.
Day 1 Experience
Okay so now I’ve bitched about the parking and laid out my positives of the tournament. So who was I paired with in round 1?
- Scott Brown
- Lucas Glover
- Ryan Palmer
Pretty good grouping here. Ryan Palmer was apart of my fantasy golf picks this week so I got a good up-close scouting report of his game. It was a pretty slow day for me as these guys didn’t do much to catch the attention of the live TV.
That was until the 17th hole, which is a short par-4 playing straight down-wind due to the strong north winds yesterday. At the time, Ryan Palmer was at Even par and put his drive about 8-feet for eagle. The leaders were 3-under while this was happening so this putt would have gotten Palmer to one shot off the lease. All of a sudden, the TV people wanted to know what was going on. Sure enough, he sunk the eagle putt to get to 2-under. Now it was my turn to let them know each time Ryan Palmer was about to hit the next shot.
On 18, Palmer hit his drive perfectly and the wind had died down enough by this time to consider going for the green in two. After a few minutes of discussion with his caddie he decided to lay up. His approach to the green was not as good as you’d expect which left him with about a 20 foot birdie putt to take the lead outright. He missed.
Heading to #1, their back 9 for the day, he was tied for the lead at 2-under. Unfortunately, Ryan Palmer double-bogeyed #1 to take him back to Even par and effectively losing the interest of live TV. By this time it was ten minutes until 5:00 and the Golf Channel was wrapping up coverage. My day was done on the second green as the players putted out.
Lucas Glover did not play very well and Scott Brown had some spurts of great shots, so I never had to worry about reporting back for these guys.
All and all, it was a great day of golf. The wind was howling all morning and through mid-afternoon and really starting to lay down around 3:30pm, so it made the final groups of the day get a good shot at running up the scoreboard.
Charley Hoffman closed out his round with a 5-under 67 and will be going off around 8:30 this morning. That’s a fantastic score and he will have ideal scoring conditions first thing this morning. Aaron Baddeley is one back at 4-under. Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker and Ryan Palmer all ended their first round strong yesterday and are just three back. They’re going off early this morning as well and should have ideal conditions this morning with winds of 5-10 mph.
Should be a good second round today and we’ll see who can get some birdies going.