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Published: Thursday, 7/20/2006

Farr's hard-working volunteer army is 1,200-strong

The 2006 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger ended Sunday, but stories linger as volunteers share their experiences.

Jim Murray, general chairman, seemed to be everywhere throughout tournament week, giving Mike Burns, chairman-elect, pointers on what's in store for him next year.

More than 1,200 volunteers chipped in to drive the 22nd annual tournament to another successful year. They came from near and far - all over the country and Canada, too. Most come back every year; in fact, several have been a part of the Farr since its inception.

Updating the leader board are Steve Fudge, left, and Chuck Haton, two of the many volunteers at last week s Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger.
Updating the leader board are Steve Fudge, left, and Chuck Haton, two of the many volunteers at last week s Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger.
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Among them is first-hole greens reporter Hazel Allan of Lambertville. She has volunteered since the tourney started and said she wouldn't miss it.

The volunteer force includes captains for the holes, score keeping, caddies, tables and chairs, parking lots, players' services, and more. Just a few of them are Kathy Isola, Jerry Baum, Dave Lick, and Barbara Bobo.

Volunteers range from elementary-school students - who usually serve as standard bearers - to retirees. Some people use vacation time to support the tournament. Hours are grueling, and volunteers pay for their uniforms, too: $55 buys a logo golf shirt and a cap/visor for those who work on the course. Younger volunteers, parking attendants, and people in a few other jobs pay $12 for a T-shirt and cap.

Long hours are the norm. Carl Hovey of Lambertville, the course refreshments guy for 22 years, is in charge of getting water and ice on the course for players and volunteers. His days start at 3:30 a.m. to ice down the water and replenish it all day, and don't end until the last golfer leaves, which can be after 9 p.m.

Operations chairman Dick Flaskamp of Toledo was there before dawn every day, too. His duties included getting the electric golf carts charged and shuttling players through floodwaters.

From left, Don and Venice Michel, Joy and Jamie Farr, and Kay Murray gather at a private dinner at the Beirut restaurant for tournament sponsors and the current and past general chairmen.
From left, Don and Venice Michel, Joy and Jamie Farr, and Kay Murray gather at a private dinner at the Beirut restaurant for tournament sponsors and the current and past general chairmen.
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Lee Meserve of Bowling Green, who as the hands-on tournament chairman works behind the scenes with all the volunteers, said he and his wife, Marge, moved to a Toledo hotel for the week to conserve on gas and time, and to have someplace close to change and rest when possible. But he didn't get much rest.

Mr. Meserve said the most fun he had all week was on Saturday and Sunday when he shuttled players and caddies from the second tee and green and the third tee because of high water.

"The players were very complimentary of the course, the hospitality, and Toledo, and kept their humor," he said. On Saturday when he was carting Laura Davies around the high water, she joked, "It's a bit like Disneyland. Where are we going now?"

The Farr is a big reunion of friends. And it's not uncommon for romance to bloom. Robert Smith, an LPGA official, proposed to his girlfriend, Carolyn, at the Jamie Farr last year, and brought her back as his bride this year.

Player services' chairman Tammy Snyder was assisted by co-chairmen Jo Lyman and Phyllis Wadley and a host of others. Carrabba's Italian Grille and Michael's Cafe and Bakery provided breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the week.

Ms. Wadley, in charge of the food services, said the golfers followed healthy diets that included skim or low-fat milk, diet and decaf pop, oatmeal, eggs, and grab-and-go fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, and grapes. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were packed to take with them on the course. "The golfers were very nice and most appreciative," Ms. Wadley said.

Media folks were treated to tasty treats by Carson's Steakhouse. Running the show in the media room were Pat Fitzgerald and Pat Koehler of Bowling Green.

Other volunteer chairmen included Laura Draheim, Gayle Campbell, Carol Gibbs, Becky Brott, Jeff Easton, Jim Gee, Herold Humphrey, Sherri Kaspar, Heather Kolar, Steve Krzyminski, Bob Monard, Jerry Osswald, Scott Sanders, Tammy Snyder, Chris Wicks, and Rob Wininger.

Picking up trash day and night were the Anthony Wayne Bandboosters. They were paid for their work, and the money will go towards a band trip to London this year.

On Monday, after getting some rest Sunday night after the tournament ended, volunteers, charity recipients, and LPGA and golf course staff pitched in all morning and afternoon to clean up Highland Meadows Golf Club so that it looked just as it did before the tourney.

Course superintendent Mark Mixdorf said the community responded after heavy rain flooded the course. He and his staff were up until 1 a.m. as they tried to repair the damage after the first storm on Wednesday, returning to work at 5:30 a.m.

After Friday's storm, they were lucky to get an hour of sleep overnight. But he said everyone - LPGA volunteers and staff plus local suppliers - chipped in and helped, working around the clock to squeegie water off the fairways to the pumps.

Slipping and sliding in the mud, wading through flooded areas, umbrellas blowing away, no electricity for awhile - it was a real challenge.

Roger Parker of Gladieux Corp. said a concessions tent near the 10th green was surrounded by water, which meant that employees had to don boots and wade through the water to serve customers.

Tonight, volunteers will have a chance to relax at the annual volunteer party and share stories of the past week. Many of the volunteers - who come from all walks of life - will not see each other again until next year, when the bond of friendship and excitement will inspire them to come back again to the event in which they all feel a sense of ownership.

Jamie Farr, who is the biggest volunteer of them all, sent a message since he will not be there tonight: "I want to personally thank each and every one of you for everything you do. The tournament would not be possible without all of you. Have a great time, and I'm looking forward to seeing you next year."



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