The U.S. Amateur is much more than hitting drives, making putts and hoisting a trophy.
It takes months, no years, of preparation by the host’s professional staff, the United States Golf Association office personnel and a bevy of enthusiastic volunteers to organize a progression beginning with player registration.
The Pinehurst County Club lobby was transformed into a greeting and education system to welcome the players, document, educate and gift. Each player checked in with a USGA staff member to confirm, “Yes, you belong and congratulations on qualifying to play.”
Next he was given a metal badge with the USGA logo and his name engraved. This is designed to attach to a belt or hat brim or lock carefully on his pants pocket. The badge is his credentials throughout the championship. So much more convenient than a lariat with a plastic sleeve dangling like the rest of the attendees wear.
He moved down a table with fine tip markers to autograph several items to commemorate his presence at the 119th U.S. Amateur.
It began with the official appreciation to the host club poster, followed by an over-sized bordered, empty frame large enough to handle 312 signatures. When the champion is determined, his photo is dropped into the frame.
There was another large bordered mat with the center filled with the U.S. Amateur logo. This one is customarily presented to the host club. There were two duplicate posters with a stylized Putter Boy and finally another poster with an image of the resort. These are also destined to locations within Pinehurst properties.
“Step right up for your mug shot.” Each player was photographed while holding up a sign to identify his name and face followed by a second of just his image. This is how the press office keeps track of who’s who.
He was handed back to the USGA staff to review important information that both the player and his caddie must know to avoid penalties on the golf course. The education included rules about grooves in the irons, types of distance measuring devices that are approved and the types of reference material permitted.
Each player was reminded that he must be fully aware of the caddie’s equipment and resources because if the caddie has an infraction, the player receives the penalty strokes.
Of course, the only thing the player is really interested in is when he can get out on the course for his practice round. When that is taken care of, he still had two more stops.
The first was for his player gifts. Each player received a copy of “The Creed of the Amateur” by Lee Pace, a local author of renown.
Many from around town may be familiar with the Heritage Flag Company in Southern Pines. They manufactured small wooden flags constructed from wood milled from trees that fell on Pinehurst properties during last year’s hurricane. The blue field has an image of the Havemeyer Trophy surrounded by stars and the player’s name engraved in the bottom stripe.
The Heritage Flag Company also provided a large format of the flag that each player signed.
Almost time to let them out on the golf course. Taking care that each player and his entourage felt at home at Pinehurst, members of the Tin Whistles provided guided tours around the large facility. This included showing him his personalized locker already filled with two more towels, a bag tag and Pinehurst poster.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the club house in the “Sun Room” connected to the Donald Ross Grill, a parade of volunteers were checking in for their daily assignments. There are even volunteers to help the volunteers.
All of this was organized and orchestrated by the ever pleasant, ever cheerful Debbie Levy.
She’s not the only one with the weight of organizing over 600 volunteers on their shoulders, but she gets full credit for the first stop for every player competing in the 119th U.S. Amateur.
Contact Betsey Mitchell at email@example.com.