Thousands heed call for Senior Open help — and they're willing to pay to volunteer - Omaha.com
Published Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 7:01 am
GOLF
Thousands heed call for Senior Open help — and they're willing to pay to volunteer

Don Dolphin's view of Monday's practice round action at the U.S. Senior Open was a bit obstructed.

Behind the leader board at the 17th green, the retiree from Indianapolis stood on a raised platform and opened small metal doors on the board, carefully attaching magnetic letters before closing them again.

“Give me a B-L-A-K-E, Bob,” he shouted to another volunteer. Bob Rainer, a retired UPS driver from Pender, Neb., searched through neatly stacked piles of magnets to find the right letters and consulted a program to double-check the spelling of players' names.

Up on the metal platform, with the temperatures rising into the upper 80s and the air still and humid, the job was hot, repetitive and not exactly glamorous. And for their trouble, the men won't be paid; in fact, they each shelled out $125 for the privilege.

But both said they were excited to be a part of the weeklong tournament — as is the rest of the army of nearly 3,000 volunteers who signed up to do everything from directing traffic to shushing spectators on the course.

The call for volunteers from tournament organizers was answered loudly and quickly, mostly by locals.

About 80 percent of the championship volunteers are from Omaha, Lincoln and other surrounding communities.

COURSE GUIDE: U.S. SENIOR OPEN
See hole illustrations, insight from course pros, photos and video from every hole and more in our Senior Open course guide.

John Jacobsen, a retired deputy director of the Nebraska Department of Roads, said he read about the search for volunteers in the newspaper and figured he couldn't pass up a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” He'll be spending part of the week as the hole marshal at No. 6, handling crowd control and answering questions, among other duties. He's looking forward to the work, and the chance to see players like Fred Funk and Fred Couples in action.

“It's an opportunity to get inside the ropes,” he said.

Plus, Jacobsen said, lounging in a cushy leather chair inside the air-conditioned volunteer tent, the job does come with other perks.

In exchange for $125 and a commitment to work four shifts, each lasting four hours, volunteers receive a pass to every day of the event (which would otherwise cost $150). They get United States Golf Association polo shirts, hats and water bottles. While they're working, volunteers get meals in a tent that has a pool table and few massage tables.

Many of the volunteers are retirees. Some are people who opted to spend vacation time at the tournament. Several of the youngest volunteers are teenagers who typically spend their summer days at the Omaha Country Club, working as caddies.

This week, those caddies are out in force, selling programs. The money they make will go into a caddies' scholarship fund that some, including 19-year-old John Powers, have already used to help pay for college.

Powers, who has spent six summers as a caddy, said he's been excited to see the course transform for the tournament and he's happy to help.

“It's a way to give back,” he said.

For some of the out-of-town volunteers, Omaha is just one stop on a busy summer schedule of golf tournaments.

Dolphin said he and his wife started volunteering with the USGA when they retired eight years ago. Now they go to at least a couple each year, picking destinations where they can get in some sightseeing. In Omaha, they're hoping to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo and Boys Town.

Kathy Wood, of Ogallala, Neb., got interested in golf after she retired from a data processing job at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She volunteered at a tournament in Lincoln and got hooked. Next month, she'll head to Colorado to pitch in at an event on the LPGA tour.

“It's just seeing all the people and the players,” she said. “You can see them on TV, but it doesn't do it justice.”

Contact the writer: Erin Golden

erin.golden@owh.com    |   402-444-1543    |  

Erin covers the Omaha City Council and the Mayor's Office.

Crack ring's leaders join others in prison as part of Operation Purple Haze convictions
Saturday forecast opens window for gardening; Easter egg hunts look iffy on Sunday
Last day of 2014 Legislature: Praise, passage of a last few bills and more on mountain lions
A voice of experience: Ex-gang member has helped lead fight against Omaha violence
The thrill of the skill: Omaha hosts statewide contest for students of the trades
Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
'The war is not over,' Chambers says, but legislative session about is
A recap of what got done — and what didn't — in the 2014 legislative session
PAC funded by Senate candidate Ben Sasse's great-uncle releases Shane Osborn attack ad
Teen killed at Gallagher Park was shot in head as he sat in SUV, friend who was wounded says
When judge asks, Nikko Jenkins says ‘I killed them’
New UNO center strengthens ties between campus, community
Threat found in Millard West bathroom deemed 'not credible'
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Nebrasks health officials to advertise jobs via drive-thru
Coral Walker named Omaha police officer of the year
Sarah Palin, Mike Lee coming to Nebraska for Ben Sasse rally
Prescription drug drop-off is April 26
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Rather than doing $250K in repairs, owner who lives in lot behind 94-year-old house in Dundee razes it
NB 30th Street lane closed
State Patrol, Omaha police conduct vehicle inspections
Bernie Kanger formally promoted to Omaha fire chief
U.S. House incumbents have deeper pockets than their challengers
Nancy's Almanac, April 17, 2014: Trees save money
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Breaking Brad: At least my kid never got stuck inside a claw machine
We need a new rule in Lincoln. If your kid is discovered inside the claw machine at a bowling alley, you are forever barred from being nominated for "Mother of the Year."
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Kelly: Creighton's McDermotts put good faces on an Omaha tradition
A comical roast Wednesday night in Omaha brought fans of Creighton basketball laughter by the bucketful. This time it was McJokes, not McBuckets, that entertained the Bluejay crowd.
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Jessica Lutton Bedient was killed by a drunken driver at age 26 in 2010. Thursday, the widowed husband and other family members will gather with others at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to dedicate a permanent memorial to Jessica.
Breaking Brad: How much would you pay for a corn dog?
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a new concession item: a $25 corn dog. For that kind of money, it should be stuffed with Bitcoin.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »