MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With only about 200 of the usual 1,600 volunteers working the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational this year, there are a number of positions going unfilled at TPC Southwind. One scoring official is making sure that the role of starter is not one of them.
In a normal world, PGA TOUR scoring officials like Rick Wild already have a laundry list of duties.
They assist the advanced rules official, and with player and caddie registration. They make sure players have hole location sheets, tees and pencils. Most importantly, they validate the players' scores.
But since resuming play amid COVID-19 this past June?
"We have a couple things added to our plate," Wild said.
First-tee announcement duties being one.
"To be inside the ropes and up close and personal with these guys, but then to actually have a little bit more participation activity is something different."
A formal player introduction in the absence of a gallery seems unnecessary, maybe even comical, but Wild says it is done to create as normal of an environment as possible for the golfers.
"We're doing it to announce the players, part of the tradition of the game, to make sure that they know that it is their time," he said. "But it is strange just to do it for three people and not one thousand people behind you."
Wild has enjoyed this unique chance to fill in, but knows it is a role that belongs to longtime volunteers across the TOUR.
"We know that there is a group of people who are missing out on their annual tradition," Wild admitted. "It's another piece of the puzzle. We're proud and happy to do it, but we can't wait to have our galleries back and our starters back so they have their place back in the game."