In the years before my retirement, I covered several professional golf events for The Sun News.
It started with the 1990 Masters, then the 1991 U.S. Open at Hazeltine in Minnesota and the Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island that same year.
Besides the World Cup at Kiawah in 1997, I worked several Heritage Classics at Harbortown in Hilton Head Island, _ not to mention the Senior PGA Championships and LPGA tournaments here on the Grand Strand.
I also covered various other events such as a Wonderful World of Golf competition between Dotty Pepper and Anika Sorenstam at the Ocean Course and something with Hootie and the Blowfish.
Several of these included a Media Day, held to remind the public to buy tickets. Media Day usually included a round of golf -- how else would they get us to come? -- and that meant I got to play the Ocean Course and Harbortown several times.
As a member of the media, I was always a pampered guest. Only the players got better treatment. The media tent always had at least a continental breakfast. Lunch was served most of the day, a buffet of good eats. One time in Hilton Head Payne Stewart came to the media tent for lunch because we had the best stuff.
On the final night of the World Cup they even brought us stragglers a bucket of beer for working late. I shared one with a young Padraig Harrington.
Life was good.
It was called work, but it was more of a perk.
Some of us barely left our chair over the four days of the tournament. Why should we? Out there, we had to struggle with spectators. Who needed that?
In the media tent, we had everything. We had a scoreboard. We had several TVs. We had PGA officials at our beck and call.
Player interviews? We barely had to move. The players were brought to us. We only had to get up from our chairs and walk to a small room.
I contrasted those wonderfully pampered experiences with the volunteer work I did two weeks ago at the PGA Championship in Kiawah.
Instead of a round of golf, we got three hours of training and a discount that brought Ocean Course greens fees down to about $140 (extra for the caddie). I passed, thank you.
Instead of a continental breakfast, we got coffee and a donut -- “Only one donut, please,'' the sign said.
We got lunch. A ham-and-cheese sandwich or a chicken wrap or a hot dog, along with chips and a drink and a banana or apple. Payne Stewart would have passed on it.
No one brought players to us. No, no. As a volunteer, I had to walk everywhere -- and as a walking scorer, I sometimes had to run. These PGA players walk fast.
The point is, for three days as a volunteer I worked harder than I ever worked as a member of the media.
I'm not complaining, because I enjoyed my job over those three days. I volunteered because I wanted to be a part of the tournament and because I love the game and want to support it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
I'm just saying: Volunteers earn their pay, which is, you know, nothing.
Members of the media, God bless 'em, maybe not so much.
Contact BOB BESTLER at email@example.com.