Glade resident gets up close look at U.S. Open
Special to The Vista
Fairfield Glade resident Tim Tewalt recently had the unique experience of serving as a volunteer at the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C.
Tewalt served as a walking scorer at the event — his third U.S. Open and 17th tournament overall.
Tewalt kept a daily diary of his activities and experiences and has shared it with The Vista and its readers. Here it is:
Monday, June 9 — Left the hotel early and drove to the general parking “Red” lot for spectators coming from the north. Shuttle in took about 15 minutes. Arrived at the course around 8:45 am and with camera in hand traipsed around the course stopping by the range on three occasions, and walked holes 1 through 8, then 11-14 and finally 18. Took several early pictures of the 18th fairway and greens area showing the changes made since the 2005 Open was held here. Took pictures of: The Welcome Entrance, Payne Stewart Statue, Bubba Watson, Aaron Badderly, Jim Furyk, Fluff Cowen (Jim’s caddie), Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson, the massive crowd walking along #1, Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Jeff Olivie, Rickie Fowler, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Robert Allenby. Left the course around 3:30 pm and drove to my new hotel for the next six nights in Rockingham, NC which was about 38 miles south of Pinehurst.
Tuesday 6/10 – Had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and drove to the course; after parking in the volunteer lot arrived at the course about 12:30 pm. The Walking Scorers mandatory training was at 4 pm so I spent some time just sitting in different grandstands watching the players go through. Saw two hole-outs by unknowns while sitting in the top row of Hole 12’s greenside grandstands. Went to the NBC Hospitality tent at 3:30 pm to await the training. Said hi to my friend Maddie Dubberstein who is the Director of Volunteer Relations for the USGA and who I had met at previous tournaments. We had 1 3⁄4 hour of training indoors and then went out to Pinehurst #7 to practice scoring with two of the Pinehurst Pros providing the play on three holes. Since they only had enough scoring devices for half of the group I helped a fellow who had never done this before. No changes from the past in how to score the device or on paper. Just record every shot, note where it was hit from, access any penalty strokes (if any), confirm the ball went in the hole, and then advise your standard bearer what to put on their tote board. We finished up around 7:15 pm and I got back to Rockingham around 8:45 pm for a late dinner at a pretty good Mexican restaurant called LaCabana.
Wed 6/11 – Skipped the hotel breakfast since there wasn’t much there the day before and instead ate things I had brought from home. Left the hotel early and drove to the General Parking “Blue” lot for spectators coming from the South. Brought the camera and spent the next 7 1⁄2 hrs watching play and snapping pictures. Taken today were: Angel Cabrera, Jim Furyk, Fluff Cowen, Justin Leonard, Greg Norman (walking with Gary Woodland), Gary Woodland, Matt Kuchar, Martin Kymer, Jeff Maggard, Casey Whittenerg, Retief Goosen, Miguel Angel Jimeniz, Ernie Els, Charls Swartzel, Ernie Oosthazin, Franscesco Molinari, Adam Scott, Steve Williams (Adam’s caddie, formerly Tiger’s), Kevin Stadler, Graham McDowell, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink, Aaron Badderly, and Luke Donald.
Met a nice young black man on the shuttle bus back to the Blue Lot and he told me he lived in Rockingham and suggested a couple of restaurants. Went to one of them call FATZ and he was right, it was excellent. A huge storm blew in around 9 pm and knocked out the WiFi, cable, and AC in the hotel so went to bed by 10 pm. Woke up wide awake at 4 am due to the warmth of the room. Checked the AC and it turned on; couldn’t go back to sleep so was up at 5:15 am.
Thurs 6/12I still did not know for sure what group I would be scoring today so I arrived at the course by 11 am thinking I would have the 12:41 or 12:52 tee time off the 10th tee. Checked-in at Vol. HQ and with the Walking Scorer chairperson. Was thrilled to find I would have the 1:03 pm tee time with 2003 Open winner Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Bill Haas. It was very hot and draining but drank plenty of water and made it through. Although Furyk and Stricker both got to -2 twice neither could hold on down the final six holes with Furyk lipping out two par putts. The group finished +3, E, +2 respectively. Had a nice chat with Furyk’s wife and kids while walking to the scorer’s trailer. As usual, no player asked me to read back their scores in the scorer’s trailer (most Champion’s Tour player do). After they had signed their cards Stricker thanked me and provided an autographed ball; next Furyk shook my hand, said he appreciated that I had volunteered and also provided a signed ball. Haas thanked me and I told him he made the first father-son combination I had ever scored. He grinned when I told him I had scored for his dad, Jay, on three occasions and the last time was when Jay won the Constellation Senior Player’s Championship (a Champion’s Tour Major) at Baltimore Country Club in 2009 – still the only time I scored the winning player on the last day.
Friday 6/13Woke early and decided to head up to Pinehurst and watch the action in the Volunteer Hospitality tent where they have free drinks, free shoulder, back and neck massages and nine 55” tvs to watch. Before having lunch enjoyed a nice 20 minute massage by a physical therapist from Luftkin, TX. Later he and his wife joined me for lunch.
At 12:10 I checked in and got my equipment (radio, hand-held scoring device and paper versions). Met my Standard Bearer named Brian and we headed out for our golf cart shuttle to the first tee. Met our USGA Rules Official Dick and then the three players I would be scoring for Scott Langley, Erik Compton (ask me about his story if you don’t know it by now he finished 2nd) and Spaniard Pablo Larrazable. At the end of the round both Compton and Langley would make the cut but unfortunately Pablo blew up with two double-bogies coming down the last four holes and will be on his way home Saturday. Interesting thing about my standard bearer Brian. He told me he was from Canton, MI and I told him where I live there are a lot of transplanted Michiganers. He asked where I lived and I said Fairfield Glade, TN and he got a big smile and told me he had just finished his freshman year at UT Knoxville. Small world. Took a relaxing drive back to Rockingham listening to one of the many books on CD I brought with me. Watched some of the replay on ESPN back at the hotel and signed on to the USGA website to confirm who I would score on Saturday in Group 39. To my surprise there was no Group 39 on Saturday as the last group is #34. Felt bummed out since I had been told I would be scoring the 2nd to last group on Saturday but I figured at least now I had a free day and could rest my feet which both had developed blisters.
Sat/ 6/14I actually slept in late to 7:25 (usually up by 6 am ever since I retired in 2012). While working the USA Today crossword puzzle my cell rang. It was my scoring supervisor calling to remind me that I would be scoring group #33 today, the second to last group consisting of Kevin Na and Brandt Snedeker. Got to the course a couple hours early, then picked up my equipment and met my standard bearer (Grant from NJ) before being taken to the first tee in a cart. Na stopped and introduced himself and shook our hands before heading to the practice green next to #1 tee. Once at the tee met the USGA 1st tee announcer, two USGA Rules Officials who would be with us, the on-course NBC spotter, and a scoring supervisor. Both players started at -3 but had troubles throughout the round with Na unfortunately having two double-bogies within a three hole stretch. After the round entered the 18th hole scoring area which was located underneath the Pinehurst Clubhouse in what is normally the Caddie Room. Received handshakes and autographed balls from both players.
Sun 6/15/14Got up early and checked out of the hotel and made the trek back up to Pinehurst. Arrived at the Volunteer HQ pavilion around 8:30 am. Today is the day I would be doing scorecard verification in the 18th hole scorer’s room with the USGA officials (a 1st for me). Picked up my ‘Inside the rope access badge and lanyard” and headed over to the first tee to watch the first couple groups tee off. The first group went off just before 10 am which meant no one would be finishing up until at least 1:15-1:30 pm. Since I had the access I went ahead and when to the area outside the scorer’s room where the player’s clubs were stored and next to the player’s locker room. While sitting there ended up having a number of well-known players pass by and exchanged some small talk with several. I was talking to Bill Haas’s caddie and Haas walked up and asked if I had scored for him earlier; I reminded him about my experiences keeping score for his dad and then we got to talking about it being Father’s Day. This kid has a wonderful personality and disposition. While sitting there I needed to use the restroom and didn’t know where it was and surprising enough I was directed to use the one in the player’s locker room upstairs (another first). While upstairs I also had the opportunity to view all of the history (pictures, trophies, medals, memorabilia) which lined the hallways which was off-limits to the general public. Interesting enough while sitting at my station and watching some of the action on the TV in the room (I do have a picture from within this room) Ernie Els stuck his head in the doorway and said “Do you mind if I change my slacks in here?” He had warmed up on the range and chipping area wearing black slacks but evidently they were too hot so he changed into a light colored pair. Finally the first twosome came in and I began my work of confirming that the walking scorer within each group had entered the correct information for where each player’s shot was played from (I can explain this better in person).
Background on how I became a Walking Scorer:
I first worked a US Senior Open in 2000 in Bethlehem, PA which I found out about on the USGA website. They were asking for volunteers. The USGA starts advertising on their website for volunteers about 18 months before the actual tournament. My position was that of a Marshal. I then worked the US Senior Open in Hunts Valley, MD in 2002 as a Contestant Escort (basically was assigned to a player to go wherever he went). The final day I was assigned to Don Pooley who was paired with Tom Watson. Pooley won the tourney after five playoff holes. A new senior event started up later that year outside Baltimore and the new tournament organizers asked the Senior Open volunteers if they would like to work it as well. Since the Walking Scorer position is the most highly sought of all of the positions I said I would ONLY if I would be a walking scorer. I got it and then became friends with the Walking Scorer Committee chairman. I worked that tournament 9 years until they moved it to Long Island. The last 7 years I always kept the final group’s scores on Saturday and the 2nd to last group on Sunday. I submitted my name to the USGA in 2006 to work at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines in CA. I was selected in their lottery as a walking scorer and have since worked the 2011 Open at Congressional and now this year at Pinehurst. This being my 5th USGA event I have now earned status with them and no longer have to go through a lottery. Now if I want to work a US Open, US Senior Open or US Women’s Open all I have to do is tell the USGA. I was the official 18th hole scorer for the 2011 Symetra Tour’s Challenge at Musket Ridge in MD and will be volunteering as a scorer at this year’s final round of the Tennessee Women’s Open at Stonehenge.
Note from Pinehurst: There were 6,200 volunteers across roughly 27 committees with only 77 walking scorers needed for the first two days and this year only 34 were needed for the last two days. To work all four days was an honor.