A ‘major’ week: volunteering at the PGA Championship

Whistling Straits is the host of the 2015 PGA Championship.

Whistling Straits plays host to the 2015 PGA Championship.

The golf season is Wisconsin is unfairly short. Being able to play April through October in the state is considered a rousing success. Because of this, America’s Dairyland was widely dismissed as a golf destination for many years.

Then, 1998 happened.

A golf course in a small town near Sheboygan, Wisc. opened, and golf in the Badger State would never be the same. Whistling Straits took several miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and transformed it into something no one had ever seen. It’s a piece of the Irish coastline plopped right into the heart of the Upper Midwest.

With a design by legendary track creators Pete and Alice Dye, the Straits course had immediate credibility. Within six years, it would host its first major championship, the 2004 PGA. The same tournament returned in 2010, and is back next week. The Ryder Cup will also be played there in 2020.

Whenever a major championship is contested, many people are needed to keep the event running smoothly. In May 2014, an open call for volunteers was made by the PGA, requesting help in all areas of tournament management. From retail cashiers to VIP drivers, thousands of spots needed to be filled.

I answered that call.

Starting next week, I will be working the ShotLink lasers during the season’s last major. I will be working on Hole 2 on Thursday, Hole 11 on Friday, and Hole 15 on Saturday. I’m just a bit excited.

The first steps of the volunteer process included picking up my uniform (a Ralph Lauren polo and jacket, along with a New Era baseball cap. Swanky.). I also received a volunteer manual that serves as the be all, end all reference of assisting at a major golf championship. Other vital information was provided, as were two tickets to both Monday and Tuesday practice rounds.

I will be going through classroom and on-course training in the days ahead, with some spectating mixed in. I hope to document my entire 2015 PGA experience, as this will be my first time attending a golf tournament, first time volunteering at an event like this, and my first time setting foot on Whistling Straits.

My first entry will hopefully come this weekend, as I head to Sheboygan tomorrow for classroom training and the public opening of the PGA Championship merchandise shop. I hope to come away with some photos and a few stories to tell.

Stay tuned…this is major.

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