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July 14, 2014

U.S. Senior Open field marshal makes it look easy

EDMOND —

     If you’ve got a problem at the U.S. Senior Open Championship, odds are Charlie Pierce will know.

As the chief field marshal, he’s the man who is in charge of more than 1,000 volunteers and by default, the resident problem-solver at Oak Tree National. This week’s senior championship, which runs through today in Edmond, marks the eighth time he’s volunteered at a senior open; he’s worked six women’s opens; and one PGA Open.

And he does it all for free.

The soon to be 56-year-old Hutchinson, Kansas, resident volunteers at an average of two big golf tournaments a year, leading thousands of volunteers a year. As the volunteer who is often among the first to arrive each day — at 6 a.m. — and the last to leave — at about 8 p.m. — the U.S. Golf Association even gives him his own golf cart that has his initials on the front when he volunteers.

“I don’t lose my patience very often,” he says.

When people mob a golfer seeking an autograph, he is the one who steps in to help a golfer escape. He’s the one who helped re-arrange walkways after this week’s rainstorm made the existing ones a muddy mess. His people also deal with guests who have imbibed too much alcohol. He oversees the gatekeepers who make sure people stay off the course when golfers are playing.

“Every golf course has got something crazy,” he said. “This golf course it’s (holes) 10, 11, and 18. That’s where most of the trouble is. They all cross over and they all mix up. So you’ve got a lot of people going different directions. So you’ve got to figure out what’s the best way for them to go, the most efficient way for them to go.”

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