INSIDE THE ROPES WITH THE HARCHARIKS
Jim and Anne Harcharik have been volunteering at PGA/USGA golf tournaments around the country for the past 14 years. Their volunteerism at professional golf tournaments includes local service at The Concession Cup, NCAA Championships, and years at Arnold Palmer’s Invitational at Bayhill to working The Ryder Cup, Men’s and Women’s U.S. Open Championships, and PGA Championships, including the U.S. Senior Open Championship, and most recently, the WGC Dell Match Play Championships.
Upcoming for the Harchariks will be more work in Erin Hills, WI, which will be hosting for the first time the Men’s U.S. Open Championship in 2017. Most recently, they have returned from a 10-day stay in Austin, Texas, where they both volunteered at the WGC Dell Match Play Championships at the fabled Austin Country Club, home club of such notables as Harvey Penick, Tom Kite, and Ben Crenshaw.
For several years now, Anne Harcharik has been assisting handicapped spectators to dedicated viewing areas reserved just for them. The USGA takes very seriously its responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide reasonable accommodations to tournament spectators possessing an ADA covered
disability. The Disabled Services Committee assists disabled spectators with transportation to and from specific grandstand locations and facilities throughout the course via multi-person golf carts.
Jim Harcharik volunteers as an Official Walking Scorer, accompanying the players inside the ropes during play. An Official Walking Scorer’s responsibility is to walk with a group and not only keep their score, but other specific statistics on each player’s shot. Volunteer scorers have a responsibility like no other volunteers at golf tournaments.
The Official Walking Scorer is the one individual the players, spectators, and media rely on to keep track of not only the official score, but to provide other statistical information such as color of players’ clothing (which often changes due to weather), club used on each shot by each player, specific type of terrain each shot is hit from, as well as penalty and provisional shots. The Walking Scorer must understand the rules of golf and etiquette; walk 18 holes, rain or shine, sometimes on very hilly terrain; keep statistics, as well as the score, for groups of 2 to 3 golfers, all while wearing the proper equipment which includes a wireless “Palm Pilot” digital computer device while carrying a voice radio and headset for communication with the PGA Tour Truck, on-course digital scoreboards, Shotlink Laser System, and the TV booth. The information an Official Walking Scorer sends out digitally, goes out to the world and the Internet instantaneously. There can be no mistakes. Is it pressure-filled and scary? Terrifying at times might be a better adjective.
At the recent WGC Match Play Championships in Austin, Texas, Jim was the Official Walking Scorer for a first-day match between Chris Kirk and Branden Grace. Match-Play scoring provides some extra challenges for a Scorer since not only is the scoring different from stroke play, but those gathering statistics, and especially TV coverage, want to know when putts or holes are conceded, how long the putt might be, and who gave the concession. Reporting concessions alone requires about 5 additional Palm Pilot keystrokes.
Jim was especially honored to have been appointed the Official Walking Scorer for the Sunday, semi-final match, between Rory McIliroy and Jason Day. While pressure-filled to make no mistakes when scoring, it was fascinating to be inside the ropes overhearing the banter during the entire match between player and caddy, watching every shot up close, and striding down every fairway with David Feherty who was the on-air TV commentator for the match for the Golf Channel.
To volunteer at golf events can be quite expensive: volunteers are not paid. They pay for all expenses including uniforms, airfare, car rental, hotel, meals, etc. Larger tournaments, such as U.S. Opens, utilize 5,000 volunteers per tournament. Some volunteers are local, but many volunteers, like the Harchariks, come from throughout the country. Without this altruism on the part of volunteers, purses at tournaments would be smaller, and more importantly, charitable donations to local needy organizations would be greatly reduced.
Jim and Anne just returned from Augusta, having attended The Masters for 34 years with patrons badges for life. Their annual attendance there is strictly for pleasure, a welcome respite every year from all of their other ongoing professional golf volunteerism inside the ropes.