After returning back home after my unforgettable summer in Lahinch, I was set to volunteer at the 97th PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. I had made the commitment to volunteering before I was lined up to go to Ireland, and Brian assured me the experience there would be just as valuable as an extra week in Lahinch. It was hard to leave, but knowing what was waiting back home eased the transition.
I was a part of the ProGreens staff for the tournament. My morning responsibilities included stimping the 12th and 14th greens, reporting the speeds to the decision makers and knocking dew off the 13th and 15th tees. Everyone met in the volunteer shed at 4:30 in the morning. Doughnuts and drinks were provided before we went out, and a full breakfast buffet with eggs, bacon and hashbrowns was waiting upon our return.
The volunteer shed during our pre-departure meeting in the morning.
Sunrise over the 12th green, where I spent my mornings all week long.
After our morning job was complete, we were free to do whatever we desired, which meant I was off to watch some golf. Personally, I enjoyed watching the players practice on the range and putting green the most. Being a golfer, I was in awe of the consistency in their ball striking, their intensive putting repetitions and their unique warm-up routines.
A sampling of the equipment on hand and ready to go in the maintenance area.
In the evenings, we were required to be back by 4:30 for dinner and our pre-departure meeting. My post-round responsibilities, along with three other volunteers, was to walk the front nine and fill divots and remove the displaced turf from the fairways and surrounds. It was a prime opportunity to see the course and set-up up close, and I enjoyed every second of it.
Everyone getting their jobs on the 12th green done early Thursday morning.
Looking back on the picturesque par 5 5th hole.
Overall, Whistling Straits and the PGA went out of their way to accommodate volunteers and make us comfortable. The opportunity to help set up for a major is appealing enough. When you add on the chance to watch the tournament for free and meet other people in the business, it truly was a can't-miss event. It also served as the perfect cap to my summer, and lead-in to my final semester of school.