Annika Sorenstam helps unveil the logo for the 2015 U.S. Women's Open, to be held at Lancaster Country Club. (Mike Gross / Staff)

Army of U.S. Open marshals numbers over 1,000

Posted: March 25, 2015 11:33 pm


King Knox and Ken Phillips, two of the area’s most accomplished amateur golfers, won’t be teeing it up much between now and, oh, mid-July.

From now to then, when Lancaster Country Club hosts the U.S. Women’s Open July 6-12, they are generals to an army of marshals who have volunteered to work the event.

About 2,500 people will work the event as volunteers in such areas as merchandise sales, parking and transportation, ticket sales and scoring.

Almost half of them, over 1,000, will work at marshals.

According to the Open’s website, marshals
“welcome, offer assistance, provide spectator etiquette advice and usher spectator movement for both spectators’ and players’ fair play mutual enjoyment.

“Marshals will also be asked to watch for errant golf shots, to report medical/first aid and to provide security needs to the appropriate on-site Championship contacts.’’

They’re the folks with the “quiet please,’’ signs, and the ones who moves gallery ropes and spectators around when errant shots go into the crowd.

“They’re like the teller at the bank,’’ Knox said Wednesday, before he and Phillips met with United States Golf Association officials at L.C.C. “For most people, they’re the first contact.’’
“They’re really going to be ambassadors for the event to the public,’’ added Phillips.

It’s an interesting group, about 75 percent from Lancaster and surrounding counties, but also from 15 states, Canada and the United Kingdom. There are people, many retirees, who volunteer at golf tournaments as a kind of hobby/working vacation.

Knox for example, has two golf buddies who live in the Carolinas and have worked U.S. Opens. PGA Championships and even the British Open at St. Andrews.

The L.C.C. property has been divided into six zones for the Open for operational purposes. Among the marshals will be 15 zone leaders and 77 hole captains.

“We will basically tell the hole captains, ‘(Your hole) is like a corporation, yours to run the way you want,’’’ Knox said.

Marshals will report to hole captains, hole captains to zone leaders and zone leaders to Knox and Phillips. Marshals will work 4 to 4½ hour shifts starting with practice rounds Monday morning (July 6) and continuing through the final round of the tournament Sunday.

“Some people have told us they want to work every day, whenever you need me,’’ Phillips said.

Many of the marshals signed up in groups from local golf clubs and courses. Others are veterans of the Lanco Golf Association.

Phillips and Knox have tried to place many of the groups together.

Roughly 50 marshals from Overlook Golf Course have signed up. Bon Air Country Club in York County and Whitford Golf Club near Exton are sending sizable contingents.

During the Open, the first hole will be run by the Overlook Ladies’ Golf Association.

The 18th hole will be monitored by the L.C.C. Ladies Association. Foxchase Golf Club will handle the sixth hole. Jim Fuhrman and Don Landis, two longtime Lanco golf stalwarts, will work together at the 14th.

The hole leader for the first hole, Lynn Mercein, works as a starter and ranger at Overlook and has worked U.S. Men’s Opens at Winged Foot in New York and Overlook near Pittsburgh.

“The first hole is the best one to have, as far as I’m concerned,’’ Mercein said Wednesday. “I’m pretty excited. I spent the last three hours working on my schedule. Now I’m done.’’

The preparation is nowhere near done. The marshals haven’t been trained yet and don’t even have their uniforms. These last weeks and months will go fast, but the hope is that when the golfers arrive here, all the hay will be in the barn.
“King and I have done enough of this to know that a great day is when there’s no chatter on the radio,’’ Phillips said. “That’s what I’m hoping, that the radio never goes off.’’