You have to be quick and nimble to work any of the 10 manual scoreboard towers at the U.S. Senior Open. Being tall helps, too. Oh, and a good speller.
Typically, each of the manual scoreboards are staffed by three to four volunteers and working the scoreboards was one of the most heavily requested jobs from the 2,600 volunteers. There are also two digital scoreboards that are not staffed.
“We’re changing something on the board about every 30-45 seconds, so we’re pretty busy,” said Ellery Schwartz, of Placerville.
The 11-foot-high boards hold the names of the top-10 players and also give spectators the lowdown on their scores, the hole they’re on and their current score. Scoreboard staff gets updates on a hand-held computer. Most of the manual scoreboards also have “through” boards that change every time a group of players play through the hole where the scoreboard is stationed.
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The United States Golf Association could have gone with multiple digital scoreboards and added TV coverage at all locations. But the manual scoreboards are a link to the past and the USGA isn’t planning on changing a thing.
“Our fans have told us, year after year, that they love the traditional look,” said Matt Sawicki, director of championships for the USGA. “The players appreciate having their winning photo taken with the scoreboard behind them. It’s a coveted volunteer spot, as well. Everyone has to earn their way to the 18th on Sunday.”
The letters and numbers are magnetized and do heat up, as Schwartz and his scoreboard team of Theo Petsalis, of Sacramento, and Stephen Spence, of Philadelphia, found out earlier in the week.
“I brought some gloves the first two days but we haven’t had to use them today,” Schwartz said of the cooler temperatures and cloud cover Saturday.
Each is responsible for checking the spelling of players’ names. Sometimes, those names are difficult to fit. Mark Calcavecchia’s last name, for instance, barely fits and the asterisks that denotes he started on the back nine, as he did Friday, goes over the green, vertical demarcation line.
But for every Calcavecchia there’s a (Chien Soon) Lu.
“We like that guy,” Schwartz said. “That’s a quick change.”
It may be the only time in Dave Ryan’s golf career that a bogey was a good thing.
Ryan’s bogey on the par-4, 460-yard 18th hole Friday changed the cut to a plus-5, 145. With every USGA championship, the cut is 60 golfers plus ties. The bogey tied the amateur from Taylorville, Ill., with 11 other golfers, 10 of them professionals such as Scott Simpson. That’s 12 players who have Ryan’s poor final hole on Friday to thank for allowing them to play two extra days and earn a lot more money.
“Had I not bogeyed No. 9 myself it wouldn’t have mattered what (Ryan) did,” said Simpson, who beat Tom Watson by one stroke at the 1987 U.S. Open. “I don’t know him, but I would like to thank him for letting us all in. You don’t want to say ‘good job,’ but I definitely wanted to play the weekend.”
The 72 players teeing off for the third round Saturday is the most to make the cut since the 1992 U.S. Senior Open at the Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa.
Hale of a rule
Hale Irwin would have started Saturday just 1 over but suffered a two-stroke penalty on No. 16 Friday for violating the one-ball condition rule. USGA Championship rules dictate that players must use the same brand and type of ball throughout a round. Irwin plunked a ball into the water on No. 16 and was handed another type of TaylorMade ball by his caddie, John Venn. It wasn’t until Irwin later went to mark his ball on the green that he noticed the error. He notified his playing partners and the rules official that follows each group and was penalized.
In 1998, the last time the U.S. Senior Open was held in California, Irwin edged Vicente Fernandez by one stroke at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades to become the seventh player to win both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Senior Open.
Irwin, 70, is at 9-over 219, tied for 64th going into Sunday’s final round. Irwin missed the cut last year in Oklahoma, but has made the cut in 16 of his 20 U.S. Senior Open starts.
Irwin trails only Jack Nicklaus for the most senior major championships. Nicklaus has eight major wins, his last coming in the 1996 Tradition. Irwin has seven major victories. His most recent came in the 2004 Senior PGA Championship.
Watson is next with six and Langer, the co-leader, has five. Langer won his last major two weeks ago at the Senior Players Championship.
Not Made in the USA
Some people have expressed concern about the USGA providing uniforms made from other countries to its volunteers.
“I’m not super conservative, I just think that some of the products that the USGA provides for its volunteer marshals should come from the U.S.,” said Roberta D’Arcy, whose husband, Roland, is a volunteer at the U.S. Senior Open.
The USGA’s Sawicki said that Cutter & Buck – which provides the shirts the USGA gives its volunteers – has its headquarters in Seattle, and that their distribution and embroidery are done in the United States. The uniforms that the volunteers paid as much as $150 for were made in India.
“A good number of our manufacturers are from the U.S.,” Sawicki said.
A number of hats and shirts being sold at USGA’s merchandise tents at Del Paso were made in Nicaragua, Bangladesh, China and Vietnam. The spectator chairs and plastic water cups are made in the United States.
Mark Billingsley: email@example.com. Jose Olivar contributed to this report.