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Published: Thursday, 7/21/2011

U.S. SENIOR OPEN

Volunteers keep tourney running smoothly

About 2,500 will be working at Inverness

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Jim Wiegand is a retired police officer who prefers spending hours of his free time working his way around a golf course.

Jim Weigand, left, a volunteer, Heather Warga, volunteers coordinator, and Kathlee and Larry Ulrich, co-chairpersons overseeing seven committees, are just a few of many working at the U.S. Senior Open. Jim Weigand, left, a volunteer, Heather Warga, volunteers coordinator, and Kathlee and Larry Ulrich, co-chairpersons overseeing seven committees, are just a few of many working at the U.S. Senior Open.
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An ideal summer for the 64-year-old Toledo native is playing golf at least three days a week.

Golf is his passion, whether he's playing or watching someone else swinging the clubs.

His fondness for the game is also a major reason why he plans to serve as a volunteer during the U.S. Senior Open at Inverness Club.

"I've been involved in golf since I caddied at Toledo Country Club back in the 1960s," Wiegand said. "I love golf. That's my hobby and when the big tournaments come to Toledo I like to volunteer my services."

Wiegand is one of an estimated 2,500 volunteers expected to work at the Senior Open. Wiegand will serve as volunteer director for security, which is a role he handled during the 2003 U.S. Senior Open at Inverness.

Jamie Farr Classic volunteer coordinator Heather Warga, who is responsible for the volunteers at this year's Senior Open, appreciates the opportunity to have individuals like Wiegand committed to help.

"It's good to have good people in place that you can rely on and know they'll get the job done," Warga said. "We haven't done this [U.S. Senior Open] for quite a few years, but I just know it will get done."

Warga's summers are normally spent preparing for the LPGA's Farr Classic at Highland Meadows in Sylvania. However, the Farr staff has spent this year preparing to host the Senior Open, which is a more high-profile event and a considerably larger tournament to host.

By comparison, Warga needs only about a thousand volunteers for the Farr or less than half the amount needed for the Senior Open. It also requires organizing more than 30 volunteer groups such as the security, transportation and ecology committees.

Larry and Kathleen Ulrich are Inverness members serving as co-chairpersons overseeing seven committees, including uniform distributions and emergency medical. The Ulriches volunteered during the 2003 Senior Open.

"It gave me an opportunity to be involved with the community," said Larry Ulrich, 71. "We enjoy working on it and seeing it come together. It really is an amazing thing."

Committee sizes are also significantly larger in some instances. The transportation committee, which is a group of volunteers assigned to drive and pick up PGA players and their associates from the airport, consists of 150 for the Senior Open compared to only 25 for the Jamie Farr.

In general, volunteers are asked to work between 12 to 16 hours during the week or roughly four hours for 3-4 days. All volunteers are required to go through training sessions. Volunteers must also pay a volunteer fee ($50 for 17 & under, $125 for adults), which covers the cost for the volunteer uniforms, parking and admission to the tournament.

A golfer hits a shot near the bridges over the Inverness burn, a creek which slices through the property and comes into play on eight holes. A golfer hits a shot near the bridges over the Inverness burn, a creek which slices through the property and comes into play on eight holes.
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Warga said the commitment to volunteer for an event like the Farr or the Senior Open usually attracts certain individuals.

"A lot of people do this and they're retired and use this as their vacation," Warga said. "I would say 35 to 40 percent of the volunteers [for the Senior Open] are volunteers from the Jamie Farr.

"In general, it's pretty much golf enthusiasts combined with the love of volunteering."

For the Ulriches, volunteering during the Senior Open at Inverness is also an opportunity to help promote the Toledo area.

"I'm proud to be a member of Inverness and I'm proud of the club for hosting the Senior Open," Larry Ulrich said. "It's a showcase of Toledo, not only locally, but to all over the world. This is a thing of pride and I think everybody who works on it take volunteering seriously."

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com or 419-724-6302.



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