News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Deb Peppers checks a golfer's score at the Spirit of America golf tournament.
Daily photo by Brennen Smith
Deb Peppers checks a golfer's score at the Spirit of America golf tournament.

Scorers' tent volunteers learn to stay positive
And they try to pass that along to Spirit golfers

By Michael Wetzel 340-2462

Ellie Callum estimates she has totaled about 3,000 golfers' scores during her 10 years as a volunteer at the annual Spirit of America golf tournament at Burningtree Country Club.

Callum, 84, said most of her discussions with the golfers pertain to a tough hole or weather conditions during a just-completed round. But she finds some questions a little difficult to answer.

"A couple of years ago, I had a fellow ask me where he should go for a little action in town," Callum said. "I didn't know what to tell him. I was past my nightclub days a long time ago."

Callum is one of 15 volunteers greeting the 156 Spirit golfers this week at Burningtree.

The scorers say some golfers wear smiles and others long faces as they approach the tent.

"Some of the guys come in with tired and discouraged looks on their faces," said Susan Bast, a third-year volunteer under the tent. "I try to make sure to keep them positive. The guys are always so gracious. Regardless of what they shoot, most of them tell us they are just glad to be playing golf."

Bast and her co-workers on the three-hour afternoon shift agree that their volunteer positions give them the opportunity to meet and talk with each of the golfers.

"I love the job," Bast said. "Getting the opportunity to interact with each one of them is something special."

Even Betty Byars over at the scoreboard is a bit envious of the scorers.

"The scorers have it nice," said Byars, who has volunteered at the tournament for more than 20 years, including several as a scorer. "I miss talking with the guys."

Spirit tournament co-chairman Vikki Bautz worked as a scorer volunteer for three years and said wearing a smile is vital for the position.

"You usually know how the golfer shot on how he walks up to the tent," she said. "If they're not happy with their score, I tried not to talk about numbers. I let them initiate the conversation. Sometimes, they don't want to talk. Other times, they want to talk about a certain holes and shots they either hit or didn't.

"If they're playing well, sometimes I would ask them to sign a ball. I would always detour away from the negative."

Bautz said selecting the right personnel for the scorers' tent is a big priority.

"You just can't ask any club volunteer to work under the tent," Bautz said. "You've got to have someone with the right temperament. You want just a select few who will say the right things."

In her 26th year as a volunteer and committee chairwoman, Shirley Hammons turned committee chores over to Joy Mills this year. Why? Hammons is on an Alaskan cruise.

Mills said receiving and applying the scorecard labels can be stressful at times, but overall it's running fine without Hammons.

"It's been smooth sailing this year," said Mills, who is working alongside Bobbie Perrin. "We've been busy passing out the scorecards. We usually compliment the guys on their outfits or tell them we like their accents and wish them good luck.

"Yes, we just can't put anybody under the tent, but the group Shirley left me has been wonderful."

Mills said that the three wooden scorecard boxes used in one of the first Spirit tournaments decades ago are still used today.

Bautz said the boxes were constructed by the husband of Bonnie Shephard, who served as the tournament's first scorers' tent chairwoman before turning the reins over to Hammons about 20 years ago.

Spirit scorers

Fifteen volunteers greet the golfers as they finish their rounds at the 40th annual Daikin America Spirit of America golf tournament at Burningtree Country Club this week.

They are Joy Mills, Bobbie Perrin, Helen Willis, John Willis, Kathy Codding, Norma Looney, Deb Peppers, Robert Peppers, Ellie Callum, Susan Bast, Lesley Heidecker, Walter Mills, Sue Bowers, Norma Looney and Linda Craig.

- Michael Wetzel

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