This past weekend, many of the best golfers in the world converged in their houses, relaxing with their families during a break in the PGA Tour schedule. For others, however, their destination was the Las Colinas Country Club, playing with a diverse group of sporting legends and celebrities in the Invited Celebrity Classic. Amateurs and seasoned veterans teed off with the likes of Tony Romo, Mike Modano and Larry the Cable Guy for the chance to win a $2 million prize purse, as well as raise money for charities supporting elementary schools and youth golf programs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Joining the action were two University of Dallas juniors, economics major Maureen Riley and business major Kaitlyn Cline, as volunteers. Though both of them are currently soccer players, they have had experience with golf before.
Riley said, “My dad and I have both played golf for my whole life, so I was very interested when the opportunity was introduced. I had already been to a couple Pro-Am golf tournaments for fun, so I figured it would be interesting to see the behind the scenes.”
Similarly, Cline was introduced to golf through watching the PGA with her dad. Cline said, “I thought this would be a really amazing learning experience while meeting other extraordinary athletes.”
Even with their previous knowledge of the game, the volunteers still had a lot to learn on the golf course. “[Golf requires] a lot of moving parts, surprisingly,” Riley said. “There are at least six to eight people working a hole from the tee to the green. Most of my duties were just making sure that people were out of harm’s way, so I would just rope off areas. We also helped drive golf carts back and forth from the clubhouse to the various holes.”
Cline said, “I worked as a course marshall, [whose job was] to spot balls in the fairway, signal to the other spotters which direction the ball was driving, keep patrons quiet while observing, and provide a friendly face to the players.”
Despite their workload, the volunteers found their environment easy to integrate into. “The leaders of the volunteer headquarters were extremely welcoming and supportive in teaching us the ropes,” Cline said, “while also being appreciative of us providing our time.”
Cline also spoke of the perspective she gained while volunteering, especially with her fellow, often older, volunteers. “Speaking to each of them in our down times, I was able to have sincere and genuine conversations and learn things that I would have not done on my own,” she explained.
Riley and Cline’s positions allowed them to meet many of the participants in the event, some of whom they had looked up to for a long time. Both mentioned the moment when Annika Sorenstam, one of the most successful golfers in LPGA history, came to their hole. “I thought that she was super cool as a kid because she was, like, a chick that played golf,” said Riley, “so seeing her now was pretty surreal. She was super nice, too.”
Other celebrities they met included Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, as well as Tony Romo. “[Romo] was driving a cart because he hurt his leg,” Riley said. “He would always come through the gates, smile and say hello.”
At these types of golf tournaments, the celebrities may be getting all the attention, whether through their competitive spirit — like former tennis player Mardy Fish, who sits in first place on the celebrity leaderboard as of press time — or through the pure entertainment of watching them golf —see Charles Barkley, whose old golf swing makes for a hilarious couple of minutes on Youtube. Yet these events would never happen without the quiet yet crucial work of volunteers like Riley and Cline.
“It truly is an enjoyable experience,” Cline said, “and it’s a great way to fully embrace life and relax instead of books, homework, and other stresses.”
“They appreciate all the help they can get,” Riley adds. “I mean, they let me near Tony Romo, so imagine what you can do!”