ManoaDNA Weekends: Sony Open Hawai’i – Part One

“With dew on the ground and quiet in the air, Alex & Nick approached the 18th fairway without a care in the world.” Well, that’s not true. We cared about the sun, getting hit by a ball, finding tiny golf balls among the six inches of grass in the rough, not getting in the way… I think you get the picture. We cared.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Alex and I were volunteer marshals at the 2011 Sony Open in Hawai’i. The Sony Open is Honolulu’s only professional mens golf tournament held annually at Waialae Country Club. Featuring top golfers from around the world, the Sony Open draws thousands of people to the course and showcases Hawai’i on television. It is a big event, so Alex and I decided to help out for the first time.

First, I must submit my disclaimer. According to the PGA Tour, Sony Open, and marshal crew, we were strictly prohibited from taking any pictures while we were in uniform and on the course. Therefore, I decided to share the story with you as best I can with words. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 13th. The word of the day was RAIN! No, better yet, FLOODING! As a normal PGA Tour event, the Sony Open was originally scheduled to be played over a four day stretch, Thursday thru Sunday. However, as Thursday rolled around it was clear this wasn’t going to be a normally scheduled event. The rain made it impossible for tournament to start as planned, so round one was rescheduled for Friday with round two on Saturday and a 36-hole marathon on Sunday.

On Friday, Alex and I reported for our first shift of duty at 8:15 am, as instructed. Our assignment was the 18th fairway, searching for errant golf shots and controlling the crowds as necessary. We signed in and headed out to the fairway, not really knowing where to go or where to sit. The sun was already up and began heating the dew that had settled overnight. Crews were busy trying to dry out the course from the flooding and were trying to get everything as nice as they could before the first golfers came through. If they had paid that much attention to every hole on the golf course, they must have been up since 3:00 am!

As we approached the fairway, we searched for a shady spot to sit and setup our chairs. The first group wasn’t scheduled to hit the 18th for another 20 mins or so, so Alex and I just hung out and discussed our best guess at what we were actually supposed to do. Soon enough, a fellow marshal came over and showed us where we were supposed to be and instructed us on the basics of the job. He sent Alex across the fairway, and instructed me to stand in an area without any shade. I was immediately bummed because by now it was 9:00 am and the sun was out in full-force. With the humidity from the grass and no wind, it felt like it was close to 90 degrees! Not a fun start to the weekend.

I begged for relief! This was going to be painful if we had to stand in the sun with no shade for 10 hours! Just as I begged, as if by the hand of God, our marshal captain came up to Alex and I and told us we had been reassigned! Anything would be better than that! And boy was I in for a surprise…