Yeah, yeah, we know: We got in free. One of us picked up a rope too soon during a practice round and sent a caddie ass-over-bandbox. A few of us got yelled at for having a coffee klatch on the second green. We obstructed the views of paying customers and couldn't always tell them exactly where Tiger was. So sue us.
I had given little thought to marshals until, at the request of my editor, I signed up to be one at the Open. I sent away for the uniform—green polyester wind-breaker, green sweater vest, green-and-white cap, green-and-white shirt—and attended the USGA's marshal school, a 90-minute session in a high school gym, where one thing was stressed above all else: Be courteous until it hurts.
Who knew it would hurt this much?
MONDAY: In the temporary parking lot the crowd awaiting a shuttle to Olympic is angry. After standing in line 15 minutes, we are told we must walk a half mile to the bus. "We all just queued up behind that gal in the [marshal's] uniform," complains one agitated oldster. "She looked like she knew what she was doing." A groundswell of antimarshal sentiment surges through the group as it trudges toward the bus. I covertly remove my badge, lest I be bludgeoned by aluminum-stick-chair-wielding septuagenarians.
The most dramatic event on this slow morning is the discovery of an uncredentialed raccoon that has become disoriented in the rough on 15. The offending beast is removed by security.
TUESDAY: While manning the landing area on the par-4 5th, I am approached by two guys in their late 20s. They are smoking cigars and wearing $120 sunglasses. I make them for investment bankers playing hooky. "How far are we from the tee?" asks Stogie 1. A poor judge of distances, I ask him, "What do you think?"
"About 250 yards," he says.
"That would be my estimate exactly."
A ball lands in the fairway, and Stogie 2 asks me, "Who just hit that ball?"
I have no idea.