Marshaling the U.S. Open Golf Tournament

I have been somewhat distracted lately, so it has been a while since I posted. I have been knee deep in a number of projects I am working on with one of our customers, and last week, I was volunteering as a Marshal at the U.S. Open Golf Tournament.

Working as a marshal provided me with a whole new perspective on professional golf. Standing directly behind the pros on the tees really gives you a better feel for the decisions that each of them makes. I was specifically working at the 18th hole, which is a particularly challenging dog-leg left. I began to observe how the percentage of pros who were hitting a 3-wood off the tees instead of a driver changed as the winds changed. (And no, I have no idea why Phil hit a driver on 18, especially after he played it safe by hitting a 4-iron on 15.)

Approach to the green at the 9th Hole of Winged Foot's West Course

What really struck me was coming face to face with the fact that this is their job.

And not everybody seemed to be enjoying it.

Now, this may not be exactly fair, given that golf is one of these sports that seems designed to be intentionally frustrating. (It certainly can be for me.) But it was interesting to watch the interactions. One of the caddies who walked past me exhaled deeply, saying "whew, it's almost over." Here is a human being who is tired and ready to get off of work. How often do you normally think of that? A couple of players were joking around with some of the spectators who happened to be calling out to them with particularly heavy New York accents. (References to The Sopranos were thrown around.) They were having a great time, and they were helping the spectators have a great time.

However, some of the pros never cracked a smile. They would take the path between the green of one hole and the tee of the next that minimized the interaction they would have to have with fans. It almost seemed as if this were nothing more than an exercise in rote gross motor control that happened to have a potentially gigantic reward.

As somebody who makes a living exercising creativity, decision making, and fine motor control (well, I do have to tell my fingers what to do on this little keyboard of mine), it really struck me just how sad I would be if I couldn't exercise what talents I happen to have without closing myself off to others, the joy of what I was doing, and sheer, raw exhuberance.

I want to savor every moment of what I am doing.

So, this little experience not only gave me a great view of a golf tournament (inside the rope access does give you a better view, at the cost of not being able to move around freely if what happens to be in front of you is not what you are most interested in), it also gave me a voyeuristic glimpse into another career where technical expertise is what is valued. From this experience, I have renewed my resolve to really savor the experience of working, and not just the rewards of working.

If you have the right job, then it's just too fun not to enjoy it.

By the way, if you were watching the tournament, the 7th hole is where I shot my first birdie ever. (And one of the only ones - let's face it, gross motor control isn't really my forte.)

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