Bob Hope Chrysler Classic

commemorative pin

Marshal Paul reporting for duty

21-Jan | 22-Jan | 23-Jan | 24-Jan | 25-Jan

Up at the crack of stupid

21-Jan: Crack of stupid. There is a 7am meeting for all marshals. Leaving time to drive to Indian Wells, park, shuttle to the golf course, I get up at the crack of stupid.

It's cold and raining. A lovely day for golf! Clad in my new uniform, I clutch my KQED travel mug of coffee and drive off into the dark. Remind me, why is this fun?

I have the same assignment as last year: green 6. This is a short hole, 140 yards, with the tee on one side of a deep, wide ditch and the green on the other side, surrounded by sand traps. You're either on the green in one, or you're in trouble.

They give me a radio (walkie-talkie). The price of this prestige is having people yammer in your ear all day about where the lunches are and who's that damned fool in the private cart trying to cut across the golf course. In case of earthquake or inclement weather, for both of which we are provided special instructions, I am ready!

Two near misses for hole-in-one. The first one drops dead six inches from the cup. The second drops on the rim and scoots away (I didn't have the heart to tell the player, an amateur).

22-Jan: Another day, another donut. There was no meeting today, and the first group doesn't get to the 6th hole until about 9:30, so there was no need to drive to the tournament in the dark. However, I'm not sure driving directly into the sun is much of an improvement.

Phil Mickelson had a huge gallery today, easily 300 people. With the tournament spread out over four courses and all the celebrities at one of the other courses, not many players have much of a following, usually ranging from none to three or four.

Spectators must have been somewhere, however, since I heard the guys at the gate calling in twice on the radio to say they were out of tickets.

I got a black mark on my permanent record today for not raising my hands to signal quiet when there was no gallery. "Even if there's nobody, you have to raise your hands," the leader says. Does this make sense? No.

Marshal Paul Mind the marshal!
hat detail Our hats this year have a picture of Bob Hope painted on the brim. We also got a commemorative pin honoring Bob
Tee 6, seen from green 6 6th tee, seen from 6th green
Green 6, seen from tee 6 6th green, seen from 6th tee. Fall short of the green at your peril
The ditch between A ditch runs through it. At least the porta-potties were close by.

23-Jan: Celebrity day. I had the day off. The tournament has a special brigade of Traveling Marshals that move with the celebrity field from course to course. On that day, the Course Marshals are relegated to secondary duties, such as tending the putting green, or are given the day off. Fine. I would be a spectator.

For a while, I parked myself in the bleachers at the 16th green, from which vantage point I could also watch foursomes starting their rounds on the 10th hole. This year it was George Lopez who showed up in golf drag: knickers, argyle socks, argyle sweater, tam with a tassle on top. Dressed like that, it was crucial for him to get off a good drive; he did, and his relief was palpable. On the other hand, it fell to Troy Aikman to deliver a drive that looked more like croquet than golf; fortunately, his ball at least made it over the ditch. (To be fair, when I saw him again at the 6th, he was hitting boomers that anyone would be proud of.)

The 6th green. I also spent quite a while at the 6th green, my normal post. It's a great place to watch: there's always the possibility of a dramatic hole-in-one or an equally exciting shot up the hill from the bunker into the cup. I was fascinated to see that no fewer than five marshals had been assigned to the 6th green, not to mention ball spotters down in the ditch (where balls rarely go). Continuing in this catty vein, I also noted with interest that these elite marshals seldom got out of their lawn chairs, much less raised their hands. (I pointed this out, of course, when I returned to my post on Saturday.)

24-Jan: Final pro-am day. First thing in the morning, the CBS camera crew showed up in advance of Ben Crane's foursome; Crane started the day fourth among professionals. Jocularly, I asked them if their arrival indicated an impending hole-in-one, which is what happened last year on the one occasion the TV cameras ventured to the outback of the 6th. Alas, history did not repeat itself.

By the end of the day, I had seen the 128 professional golfers playing in this tournament, and one observation is almost inescapable: Tiger Woods notwithstanding, PGA golf, for the most part, remains a game of white guys. There were some players of color, but they were mostly from the celebrity and amateur fields. A pleasant surprise in the pro field was Notah Begay III, (PGA site) an American Indian.

25-Jan: Pros only day. I had intended to go down to watch the final round, but when I woke up this morning I reconsidered. Maybe I'll go get my free car wash instead, the door prize I won at our crack o' dawn meeting on Wednesday.