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2014 U.S. Senior Open: Why volunteers are the lifeblood of golf events

For majors like the U.S. Senior Open, twice as many volunteers are needed. Of the 140,000 fans projected to attend the seven-day event that starts with practice rounds on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, approximately one in seven will be a volunteer.
By Mike Baldwin Published: July 4, 2014
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Miller sometimes hears complaints that volunteers are required to purchase a $125 all-session ticket.

“Honestly, the cost of the volunteer package basically is the cost for the uniform we put them in,” Miller said. “We also throw a free party with complimentary food and beverages before the championship and they also get a merchandise discount.”

Volunteers who complete a minimum four shifts — 16 hours total — are eligible to play a round of golf on the course that will determine the champion of the 35th U.S. Senior Open.

“We were very fortunate Oak Tree National was willing to include that for volunteers who meet their obligations,” Miller said. “After the tournament they’ll receive a letter that will tell them how they can sign up. It’s definitely a perk. There are not a lot of people that get to play a course like Oak Tree National.”

Limited volunteer opportunities are still available for anyone who signs up before Monday’s first practice round (to sign up, go to www.2014ussenioropen.com and click the volunteer tab). The two biggest needs are access control and admissions will-call.

Miller and her staff have been rounding up volunteers for nearly two years.

“We’re in pretty good shape,” Miller said. “With so much going on here in Oklahoma City like the Thunder and the Women’s College World Series, some people needed to check their schedules before they committed.”

Miller, 28, doesn’t have a permanent home address. She moved to Oklahoma in September and has lived in an Edmond apartment for the past 10 months.

She spent the previous 12 months in Omaha, which hosted the 2013 U.S. Senior Open. After the tournament ends next week at Oak Tree, later this summer she’ll relocate to Sacramento, host of the 2015 U.S. Senior Open. Her boyfriend lives in California. Her family lives in Seattle.

“It’s a job that requires you to be on the road a lot, but it’s exciting to see different places around the country and experience different cultures,” Miller said. “You meet a lot of great people, some who are involved every year. After putting so much time into it it’s always exciting when the tournament finally gets underway.”