Carolina Trace members helping Opens roll

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 10:18 PM

The USGA makes the U.S. Open happen. In this year's case, the staff of Pinehurst Resort and Country Club along with those who made five-year-long restoration a reality have, too.

As for the actual play, handling of the huge galleries on the course each day and tons of tasks behind the scenes of the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open, more than 6,400 volunteers are making the big show run right.

Carolina Trace Country Club members are taking care of the 11th hole all two weeks.

It's fun inside the ropes. It's great seeing the likes of Phil Mickelson up close. Even then though, said hole captain Michael Losquadero, there's work to do and rules to follow.

"You can't start a conversation with a player, but you can answer them if they say something to you," Losquadero said.

A practice round group including Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, even on Tuesday, drew a big crowd all the way around the course.

"Some of the players are outgoing. Some are so focused," he said.

Down the right side of the fairway on the 483-yard hole, Bill Terrell and Jerry Keith were controlling a crosswalk. Some 70 or so Carolina Trace volunteers are taking shifts this week and next week.

The process for being a U.S. Open volunteer started last July or August Terrell and Keith said.

There was a USGA-led training session at Carolina Trace.

"The USGA is very, very thorough and it blows my mind, but it's all very professional," Losquadero said.

Volunteers move from station to station around the hole about each 45 minutes. Switching spots shares the shade and keeps everyone on their toes.

Some 300 yards from the tee box, marshals are spotters for drives.

"You've got to really pay attention," said Terrell.

The wiregrass, pine straw and soft sand can make finding wayward balls interesting, even from a short distance away.

Volunteers along the holes are at Pinehurst No. 2 and in position by 6:15 a.m., Keith said. Even during practice rounds, when the gates opened at 6 a.m., there were fans out and about right away, he said. The hole marshals are set before the first playing groups arrive at the first or 10th tees.

Losquadero has planned for these two weeks since last summer. He has his fellow volunteers in mind as much as helping the golf tournament roll smoothly.

"We're more worried about heat stroke out here than anything," he said.

"I was shaking in my boots. I didn't get any sleep before the first day (Monday). I'm being honest. I was nervous," he said.

"You know what they say about the best-made plans. They're no good after the first shot is fired."

Joining the Carolina Trace team is about 20 more volunteers from spots ranging from New York, Massachsette, California and England.

"We've tried to make them feel very comfortable," Losquadero said, "some of them are actually staying with families at Trace."

Once the Opens pack up, the Trace members will get back to being on the course for themselves.

Keith plays, "every day," Terrell joked. "Yeah, there are four groups I play in," Keith said.

Terrell plays at Carolina Trace and courses in the Raleigh and Durham areas "only" two or three times a week. Losquadero, a New Yorker who moved south seven years ago, "and I love it," he said. Is back to playing about four days a week, and playing better, after a hip replacement.