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Chris BaldwinThis Week at June 28, 2006

Golf tournament volunteers are fools

Volunteering is a great, noble deed. Unless you're volunteering at a golf tournament. Especially one run by the USGA - one of the most powerful, rich organizations in sports - at a country club so private that you're not getting in to play without references from an actual Vanderbilt.

Then, you're an absolute fool who shows as much common sense as Britney Spears does in child transport.

And there are an awfully lot of these dolts out there. The U.S. Women's Open in Newport, Rhode Island will use some 2,500 volunteers. That's a group bigger than the population of some towns willingly working for free for the USGA and Newport Country Club, two elitist organizations with plenty of money to burn. (In the USGA's case sometimes near literally on private jet fuel).

Correction, that's 2,500 people willingly paying to work. There's a $95 "volunteer fee" for the U.S. Women's Open workforce. Like a number of tournaments, the U.S. Women's Open makes money off its volunteers on top of all those gratuitous work hours.

Look, I know there are a lot of senior citizens with free time they don't know what to do with, but this is absurd.

Volunteer at the library. Teach some kids how to play chess. Lend a hand at a soup kitchen. Heck, join one of those save the plant organizations loved by losing presidential candidates and heavy on vegans.

Anything but this willing indentured servitude to golf's fat cats. Would you volunteer to stock the shelves at Wal-Mart?

Sure, plenty of prideful civic groups will wail about how that there's no way their area lands one of these prestigious golf tournaments without these volunteer armies at the ready. Really? So sure about that? If a number of states took a stand against this "free workers for the golf rich" plan, here's betting you'd suddenly see money mysteriously becoming available to pay tournament workers.

And no, getting to watch golf for free in the few hours that you're not stuck peddling one of the USGA's $40 T-shirts in the hulking souvenir tents does not count as being paid. Free golf watching is even less valuable than free golf playing.

Yes, even golf course marshals can make fun of these tournament volunteers. Now, that's low.

As always, welcomes your comments.

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