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1,100 volunteers work behind the scenes to make the U.S. Open run smoothly

Volunteers at U.S. Open
Posted at 4:09 PM, Jun 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-19 19:09:17-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV)- — Hosting the U.S. Open, which is being played at Torrey Pines this week for the first time since 2008, is a monumental undertaking which takes years of planning. It also requires a lot of help. This year, 1,100 people, many of them San Diegans, are volunteering to make the tournament run smoothly.

“Just to be here. I know the site. I know the course. To be part of this, to be here, makes it extra special," said Vicki Wilson, who has volunteered at many San Diego tournaments dating back to the Buick Invitational. This week, Wilson's husband is the hole captain on the first tee, while Vicki is assigned to the merchandise tent. She gets to interact with fans and help them find what they want. Then, when her shift is over, she's free to go watch the tournament. “A lot of people use this as their vacation. Wherever the us open is, that’s their vacation. They go and volunteer and they make it a trip for themselves," she said.

There are volunteers posted on each hole, tasked with helping with crowd control and even helping find errant shots. “Making sure that the players understand where their ball lands when it’s in the rough. Try to help them mark the ball," said volunteer Larry Olivas. "Make sure the patrons stay back and stay quiet while they’re trying to hit. Just keeping order on the course.”

Olivas was also a volunteer in 2008. He was assigned to be a marshall on the 18th hole and he was standing next to a sand trap when Tiger Woods found the bunker. After a poor shot, Woods' caddie asked Olivas for a favor. “Stevie comes up to me and says do you mind raking the bunker so I can calm him down on the next shot. So I jumped in and started raking the bunker. And then Tiger hits his shot on the green and makes his shot to make the playoff.”

For Olivas, Wilson, and the other volunteers, those are the kind of memories that will last a lifetime, as is the pride in playing a small part to help pull off golf's most prestigious tournament on their beloved home course of Torrey Pines.