Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Look From Inside the Ropes at the BMW Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament

I am part of this year's BMW Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament.

Those who know me are not even entertaining the thought that I am participating as a player. Are you kidding?

But I am participating inside the ropes, as they say. I am what is known as a "standard bearer." I walk with one of the foursomes carrying a big placard with the players' names and where they stand compared to par.

I have a little green apron loaded with numbers from 0 to 8, as well as the letter "E" for Even. At the end of every hole, the walking score keeper, who is also with my foursome, tells me what changes to make to the scores and I make them.

I launched into panic mode midway through Thursday's round when one of the teams hit 9 under par. I dug around my apron, but couldn't come up with a 9. WTF! Where the hell are my nines? The score keeper laid a hand on my shoulder and said, "Why don't you turn a 6 upside down?"

What, you expect me to think of everything?

In any event, I'm a standard-bearer.

Yes, I know I'm not an indispensable part of this event, but just because you shovel elephant crap doesn't mean you're not part of the circus.

I thought it would be fun to give you an up-close-and-personal look at what life is like inside the ropes at a big golf event. Sadly, my hopes were dashed before getting off the first tee. I was snapping some photos when the tourney's Grand Poobah, hustled up to me, and told me to stop and desist. At one point I thought he was going to confiscate my camera.

It seems taking photos during the rounds is strictly verboten. I was unaware they have Nazis at the PGA.

But, being the good, little law-abiding citizen that I am, I did as asked. I didn't even blurt out a wise-ass remark. I am mellowing in my old age.

I have been at Greenville's Thornblade Country Club -- well, it might actually be in Greer -- the past two mornings at 6:30.

The parking lot at that hour is a ghost town.

I have to get on a big yellow school bus and travel to the volunteer drop off. There I board a golf cart that whisks me off to the Volunteer Village.

"Volunteer Village" is what they call it; it's actually just a big tent, but "Volunteer Tent" doesn't have the same ring.

After checking in with the standard-bearer marshal, I can wander around, eat a free cinnamon roll or bagel, and drink a little coffee. Basically I just waste about an hour before I get the signal that it is time to suit up and head to the first tee.

Both mornings I have been assigned to the first foursome off the first tee. There are also foursomes starting off on the number 10 tee.

I know lugging the score card in sign form up and down all the hills populating this course -- particularly the front nine -- sounds wonderfully romantic, but you would be wrong.

My back aches, my feet hurt and my legs are like two lead rods. I'm in pretty good shape and this is killing me.

Most foursomes consist of two pros, a nobody amateur and a celebrity. The organizers are stretching things a bit to call some of these celebrities celebrities, but I've at least heard of most of them.

I was lucky and on Thursday my foursome's celebrity was Jeffrey Donovan -- an actual celebrity. He's the male lead in the USA Network's TV show "Burn Notice."

After six hours of yukking it up, we are quite the pals. I call him, Big Jeff. And he calls me, That clown carrying the score standard. Maybe we aren't quite as close as I thought.

When I did play golf, I was good for about 12 holes and then began looking for the clubhouse and a beer. After 15 holes, I would bludgeon to death a koala bear with my nine iron for a Miller Lite. I always chalked it up to growing weary of concentrating on trying to make good shots after a dozen holes or so.

I have learned from my standard-bearer experience that that is not the case. After 12 holes, I am just bored out of my mind. Yes, walking the course with pros and celebrities is somewhat more entertaining than watching golf on TV -- how do people do that? -- but not by much.

I have one more day. I just keep telling myself that I am doing it for charity. I volunteered on behalf of the Pendleton Place. It's a shelter for girls abused in the foster-care program. I met the director and toured the facility when my buddy with Rent-A-Center came to Greenville to give Pendleton Place six grand and a couple of refrigerators. I think they do good work and wanted to help out in some way. To qualify for a cut of the tournament's charity pie, each charity must supply a minimum number of volunteers.

So I suffer, but not in silence.

Oh, and for you country music fans, the celebrity in my foursome on day two was Steve Azar.

Just another chapter in "I Love Being Me!"

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