WEDNESDAY: Rocky Randall looks out over her vast domain—16 is a 609-yard par-5—like a visored Napoleon surveying the Russian steppe. This is the first time I have worked with her. It is apparently Rocky's belief that before she can build a marshal up, she must first tear him down. In her eyes I can't do anything right. I am manning the ropes between the 15th green and the 16th tee, but I am doing it all wrong. Do not simply drop the rope on the ground after the players have passed, Rocky says. Loop it around your arm in a neat coil.
Soon after, Rocky dispatches me to marshal Siberia, Area Five left fairway. It's in the shade, in the wind, in the rough, close to nothing. Golfers who enter Area Five arrive in a dark mood. After a half hour or so, José María Olazábal pays me a visit. His ball is entombed in eight-inch rough.
"Merry Christmas," I say when Olazábal arrives. He shows zero amusement, briefly glares at me, in fact, before hacking his ball all of 50 yards. As he walks off, I can't help thinking "Feliz Navidad" might have been the way to go.
By his legions we shall know him. Tiger's imminent arrival on the 16th tee is presaged by the approach of an unruly, cablinasian mass. His entourage—three San Francisco police officers, four roving marshals, an unspecified number of whom are FBI agents, and others—is a small, well-armed army. The logistics of having Woods at one's tournament make for a huge headache. Later marshal chairman Frank Clifford tells me, "I know the USGA would like Tiger to make the cut, but we'd love it if he didn't."
When Tiger's Army is in my neighborhood, I make it a point to strike up a conversation with one of three police officers accompanying Woods. I am hoping the gallery will see us chatting and think of us as a couple of authority figures to be obeyed unquestioningly. Representatives of, respectively, the thin blue and thin green lines.
Someone behind us asks the cop to please get down. "Like I'm going to kneel," she says, not budging.
How I long to be similarly belligerent! Instead, I am constantly kneeling and scraping. Each night, at home, I rub Shout, the stain remover, into the right knee of my khakis before laundering them. I kneel because I am determined not to give the appearance of a privileged onlooker. I want to give my hole captain zero grounds for criticism. In this quest, I fail.
After an hour in Siberia, Rocky moves me to Area Four, up the fairway a piece, where I am the gatekeeper at one of the more bustling crossways on the course. The work does not suit me. Even after I have asked the spectators to stop, they stride past as if I am wearing a sign that says: IGNORE ME.
I experiment with the following increasingly desperate admonitions:
"C'mon—you're making me look bad in front of the other marshals."