Volunteers joke, labor at GHC

Champions Tour Golfer Jay Sigel walked up to the first hole at Rock Barn’s Robert Trent Jones course Wednesday and quickly teed up his ball. He eyed the slight dog-leg to the left briefly before approaching his ball. With a smooth swing that looked as effortless as it did beautiful, Sigel blasted his Titlist Pro V1 golf ball down the middle of the fairway.

“You’ve got about 146 left to the center of the green,” said Bill LePage, a Greater Hickory Classic volunteer who has marshaled the first hole all week.

Sigel, intrigued by LePage’s confident remark, turned and faced the Conover resident. “Oh yeah, and how do you know that?”

LePage told Sigel that he lived at Rock Barn and had played the Trent Jones course quite a few times.

“Alright,” Sigel said, “If I drive down to my ball and its 146 yards to the green, I’ll turn around, get on my knees and bow down so you know you’re right.”

“You’re on,” LePage said.

The bet decided, Sigel returned to his cart and drove down to his ball in the middle of the first hole’s fairway. He approached the ball, walked off the distance to the green and bowed down on his knees, raising his torso up and down as if he was praying to the GHC volunteer gods.

The spectators back at the first hole’s tee box praised LePage for his accurate estimation, comments that he only answered with, “I’ve come out here and played the course for years.”

LePage is one of more than 500 volunteers that will help run the 9 th annual Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn this week. While LePage marshals the first hole at Rock Barn, GHC volunteers will participate in a wide array of activities this week ranging from chauffeuring players around town to operating the food and merchandise stands inside the course.

Kim Bolick, chairman of the tournament office administration committee, said the GHC would not be possible without volunteers.

“We have a lot of local volunteers, but we have a lot of people from out of town as well,” Bolick said. “There are people that take vacation just to volunteer at the tournament.”

Bolick said Rock Barn officials as well as tournament players are very appreciative of the volunteers’ service.

“The players always say there’s nothing like southern hospitality, and we give them plenty of that,” Bolick said.

Each volunteer pays a $55 fee for clothes and an all-week grounds pass, but Bolick said the fee “isn’t an issue with most of the volunteers.”

All the food and drinks for the volunteers is provided by corporate sponsors to the tournament, Bolick said.

Joyce Reidenbach has helped volunteer at the tournament for five years.

“Everyone is very pleasant to work with and you have a sense of feeling like you’re helping,” Reidenbach said. “We really do feel very appreciated.”

LePage agreed when he said that the players always show support of the volunteers.

“The players are really, really receptive and very appreciative,” LePage said. “I think they recognize that without the volunteers, there would be no tournament.”

LePage said his favorite part of volunteering is getting to know some of the players he sees year after year. He said that Sigel, Jeff Sluman, and D.A. Weibring are just some of the players he’s gotten to know over the last five years.

“You do get a chance to joke around with the players and the caddies you get to know over the years,” he said. “It’s just really enjoyable.”

And even though LePage’s schedule is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, he said helping out with the tournament is worth it.

“You do it for a few days and then all of the sudden the tournament’s gone and you go back to your regular routine,” he said. “And in the end, you’re glad you did it.”