Fort Worth-local Rob Rooney, is one of 52 standard-bearers at the Charles Schwab Challenge played at Colonial Country Club. A standard-bearer walks behind players with scores on display — it’s the best seat in the house. Starting with Wednesday’s pro-am, standard-bearers walk four of five tournament rounds with one rest day.
“Most guys out here have been carrying scores for more than 15 years,” Rooney tells WBGD. “It’s a volunteer position, but once people get a standard-bearer spot, they keep it for a long time.”
Almost every job: concessions, the media center, ticket booths and standard-bearers are done by volunteers. Volunteer application forms are available at the tournament website. The form asks applicants to select three volunteer positions based on interest — Rooney puts “standard-bearer” in the No. 1 spot. Assignments are made based on timing and tenure, but it doesn’t hurt to know someone.
“This is my eighth year as a standard-bearer out here,” Rooney adds. “I live in the neighborhood and my friend is a member here at Colonial. He heads the committee that oversees standard-bearers, so that helped, but I had to be on top of it and fill out the form. And of course, I have to renew every year, but once you get a job, it’s yours to keep.”
Every player Rooney’s carried for has ended the round with a token of appreciation — a signed ball or glove. He’s carried for Jim Furyk who talked about his experience as Ryder Cup Captain. He’s carried for David Toms and long-drive champion Jamie Sadlowski too, and has nothing but good things to say about them all.
One memory sticks out for Rooney, “I carried for Matt Kuchar a few years ago and he found a baby turtle on the first hole. You wouldn’t believe it, but the markings on the turtle’s underside looked like the Colonial logo. We couldn’t believe it. Kuchar then walked the turtle 100-yards away to a pond. He saved the little turtle and we laughed about that for the rest of the day.”
Below are a few examples of PGA Tour volunteer opportunities. With a bit of luck you can become the standard-bearer you’ve always wanted to be.