Golf volunteers miss the green PGA: Instead of being paid for their work, 1,000 people paid $70 each to serve as marshals, parking attendants and caddies at the Senior Tour's tournament at Hobbit's Glen.

July 05, 1998|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

Joan Lonnberg came 500 miles to Columbia to work for free. Indeed, she paid $70 for the privilege of sweating in the summer humidity last week. All for the love of golf.

Lonnberg, 50, of Boston was among 1,000 people who paid to serve as volunteers at the PGA Senior Tour's State Farm Classic, which ends today after a week at Hobbit's Glen Golf Club in Columbia's Harper's Choice village.

In return for their $70, Lonnberg and her colleagues received two golf shirts -- one red and one blue, with the State Farm Classic logo -- and a pass for the course.

"My husband and I have gone to tours to watch, but to get up close and be able to watch is exciting," Lonnberg said, as she marshaled the 10th hole. "They hit the ball like we'd all like to be able to play."

The volunteers, whose ages range from 11 to 83, came not only from the Baltimore-Washington area but also from as far as Illinois, North Carolina and West Virginia.

They work jobs from scorekeepers and course marshals to concession sales persons, caddies and parking attendants. For some, it was their vacation. Others work for companies that paid big money for skyboxes on the course; they were able to serve as "volunteers."

"I'm like a kid in a candy shop," said Bob Pulliam, who lives in Columbia and took time off from his job as a quality assurance manager at a Germantown electronics company to volunteer at the tour. "You get to rub elbows with Arnold Palmer and some of the greatest golfers out there. When I was a kid caddying in the 1950s and 1960s, these guys were big. This is a big thrill for me."

As chairman of the 450 marshals for the back nine holes, Pulliam's biggest concern is controlling the gallery.

In golf, where the fans are not supposed to act like crowds at hockey or baseball games, Pulliam takes the job of controlling the spectators that surround each hole seriously.

"When you get Palmer out here, it means more hot dogs, more Cokes and more viewers," Pulliam said, as he inspected the course last week. "It makes my job a little tougher. I've got to make sure there is maximum viewing for the spectator and minimum interference for the player."

Terri Layne, 32, who works is a State Farm customer representative, and does not play golf, was taught a lesson in the game while serving as a marshal.

As a few pros practiced their shots, Layne said: "They move a pin and look in these things to measure the distance to the shot. They're using all these nifty little things to chart the course. And then they're making all these little marks on pads," Layne said, referring to caddies aiming a binocular-like device called a range-finder at the flags that mark the holes to measure the distances to various parts of the course.

"It's really cool," Layne said. "I'm realizing there's a lot of talent and science involved. They're actually thinking."

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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