Ron Crow Is Vital Cog in Success of Open
Ron Crow knows volunteering. In fact, he's made a second career of it.
Crow is the man when it comes to organizing volunteers for tournaments in the Sandhills. He was vice chairman of on-course operations for the 2001 U.S. Women's Open at Pine Needles and volunteer chairman for the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
He also chaired the 2000 United States Golf Association Women's Amateur Public Links championship at Legacy, three LPGA Teaching and Club Professional events and a Trans National championship at Mid Pines, and has served as volunteer chairman for both the upcoming Men's and Women's North and South championships at Pinehurst since 2000.
He's been busy, but he's not even close to running out of steam. In fact, he's not only psyched up about the Women's Open coming to Pine Needles at the end of June but is already revving his engine for the North and South Championships this summer.
"This year and next year, the Men's North and South is going to have a top-quality field because of the U.S. Amateur being at Pinehurst in 2008," Crow says. "All the best amateurs will want to be here to get some rounds in on the courses."
Pinehurst Resort has named Crow as the general chairman of the 2008 U.S. Amateur, meaning he will relinquish volunteer duties for that event.
"That's one way of showing Ron our appreciation for all the hard work he has done in volunteering," said Pinehurst President Don Padgett II.
The 71-year-old Crow didn't become a resident of Pinehurst until 1999, but the area has always been a part of his life. He was born in Spartanburg, S.C., and grew up in Lexington, N.C. He was second-team all-state as a high school basketball player and attended N.C. State on a partial scholarship where he played under legendary coach Everett Case.
"I was a good bench warmer," he says, smiling.
He graduated from N.C. State in 1957 with a degree in textile management and an ROTC commission. He spent two years on active duty, and 10 years affiliated with the Army, retiring as a captain.
He later received a six-month certificate from the University of North Carolina in executive management and a certificate in strategic planning from Dartmouth. All of that has served him well in organizing and leading the army of volunteers it takes to put on major golf championships.
"I was forever coming through Pinehurst," he says. "I was in sales, marketing and administration, and we had several meetings at the Carolina Hotel. I started coming here in 1960, meeting and playing golf."
Crow worked in the textile industry for 41 years, including 25 years with the J.P. Stevens Co. in Greensboro. When he retired from Spray Cotton Mills in Eden in December 1998, Pinehurst seemed the logical choice for relocation.
"My brother lived in Greenville, S.C., but he had a home here," Crow says, "and it was through his encouragement to some degree that we decided to come here. Also, my nephew Ken and niece Kathy both were living in Pinehurst."
Ken Crow is general manager of National Golf Club, while Kathy is married to Bob Farren, grounds and golf course manager for the resort.
"I wasn't only interested in playing golf here, but also as a hobby volunteer," Crow says. "I worked as a volunteer for the Greater Greensboro Open and enjoyed it. That encouraged me to volunteer for various tournaments, including the old Kemper Open in Charlotte, the Vantage Championship in Clemmons and the LPGA Henredon Classic in High Point. I worked all the professional tournaments in North and South Carolina. This is my 37th year as a volunteer."
Crow had already volunteered to work the 1999 U.S. Open before making the decision to move to Pinehurst. As it turned out, that provided a great experience.
"I was a walking scorer, but I gave time all week to helping in the organization and with the other committees," he says, "and I was the walking scorer for Payne Stewart in the final round. That was the pinnacle of my volunteering career at that time."
Crow was one of five vice chairmen for the 2001 Women's Open and they're all back for this year.
"We had Shirley Nelson, Richard Lawson, Rich Warters and Kathy Farren and myself as vice chairmen the 2005 U.S. Open and we're all back for the 2007 Women's Open," he said. "That gives us continuity and experience. We're anticipating the best U.S. Open the women have ever had. We want to break all the records, including attendance. And if we have decent weather, I think we can do it."
Although the long hours and number of meetings required for this level of volunteer work mean limited time at home and on the golf course, Crow, who still plays to a 7-handicap, seems to have found the recipe for success.
"Volunteering in this category demands a tremendous amount of hours and dedication," he admits," but it's something that appeals to me and allows me to give a little something back to the game that means so much to me.
"It's been a pleasure and a great experience working with the Pinehurst, Pine Needles and Mid Pines management. They're a major part of my involvement. It's also allowed me to meet people I otherwise wouldn't have met and make friends from everywhere. We had volunteers in 2005 from 47 states and eight countries.
"But we're especially blessed on the local level to have so many great people in this area who are so golf knowledgeable and willing to volunteer and make the events successful. We've got 2,800 signed up with another 600 on the waiting list."
Crow and his wife, Martha, have two sons, Warren and David, and four grandchildren.
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