PGA Memorial Tournament: Volunteering for the Greater Golf - Chris Wilkin

Each year, my anticipation for the Memorial Tournament builds as soon as the volunteer “Welcome” e-mail hits my inbox in early March. As a self-proclaimed “golf nerd,” I’ve had the time of my life volunteering for the Courtesy Car Team over the last few years.  Registration is similar to buying tickets to a highly anticipated sporting event or concert. You have to be on the system the moment it’s available to secure yourself one of these highly coveted postions. If you’re looking to lock down a specific time slot, you better have lightning fast mouse skills.  I am not sure whether it has been luck or my fast internet navigating abilities, but I have always been able to land shifts the weekend before the tournament at the John Glenn International Airport. As golfers land in Columbus, the team rotates driving them wherever they need to go, usually Muirfield Village or their hotel. 

I’ll never forget my first-time driving.  I was pretty nervous when I got the call that I would be picking up Kevin Streelman. Expecting a “taxi” like experience, I moved the passenger seat all the way forward to allow more leg room in the back.  Much to my surprise, Kevin popped open the front door, moved the seat back to a normal position and sat down next to me.  He promptly put me on the spot with a debate of the best ice cream in Columbus, Jeni’s or Graeters. Next, I was required to give him a detailed summary of how the Toyota Sienna minivan courtesy car was handling because he was considering getting one for himself.  Needless to say, Kevin definitely helped to calm my nerves and make me more comfortable with this whole experience. 

This year, I picked Billy Horschel up from NetJets which required me to be escorted out to the tarmac next to the jet – a very cool experience.  Others I have met or driven: Adam Hadwin, Patton Kizzire, Emiliano Grillo, Ratief Goosen, John Rahm, David Lingmerth, Alex Cejka, Paul Casey, J.B. Holmes, Charles Howell, Soren Kjeldsen, Kevin Kisner, Curtis Luck, and Pat Perez. It has been a golf nerd’s dream.

Oh, and the best part about volunteering: after completing two 6-hour shifts, you receive two weeklong tournament passes!