September 20, 2017

Our team: volunteers who make a difference

With nearly 1,000 volunteers, hosting the Genesis Open is truly a team effort. We sat down with one of our long-time volunteers to get his perspective on the Genesis Open and professional golf at Riviera. Heading into the 2018 Genesis Open, Steve Underwood has taken on an elevated role within the volunteer program as he is the new marshal chairman. Enjoy getting to know Steve as much as we have.

Julia Schmitt: how many years have you volunteered at the tournament?
Steve Underwood: I’ve been volunteering with the tournament for 38 years.


JS: in your years as a volunteer, what different roles have you held as a volunteer?
SU: In my 38 years at Riviera, I have been a hole marshal, walking marshal, hole captain, marshal vice chairman and marshal chairman. I have worked with TV crews during the broadcast of the tournament and I was even lucky enough to be asked to be in a commercial for TaylorMade Golf.


JS: as marshal chairman and a member of the marshal leadership, what duties does your role and the rest of the marshal leadership hold?
SU: the golf course is divided into three areas, each consisting of six holes, which are supervised by the vice chairmen. Each of the six holes has a hole captain, who supervises his or her assigned hole and is responsible for assisting in scheduling volunteers to staff the hole. The marshal leadership is divided into several categories: the marshal chairman oversee and supervise the entire marshal program on course. The executive vice chairman assists the chairman in his duties and oversees four vice chairmen, [three on-course and one in marshal headquarters.] The marshal leadership is responsible for working with the Genesis Open staff and PGA TOUR rules officials to ensure that tournament play continues successfully and efficiently. All of these individuals work together to make a smooth-running operation.


JS: what are the various duties of a marshal at the tournament?
SU: a hole marshal is primarily responsible for gallery control, ensuring that the gallery remains quiet at the appropriate times and that no gallery members enter the playing area. The hole marshal is positioned inside the ropes, usually one arm’s length from the ropes. Marshals also assist players and caddies by helping locate lost golf balls and providing a pathway to exit a green or enter a tee box.


JS: what are you most excited about in filling the role of marshal chairman?
SU: I’m excited to be part of a team that is responsible for the successful operation of a professional golf tournament. I look forward to the challenge of filling a new position and living up to the high standards set by those who came before me. I’ve been a marshal at this tournament and others for many years, and it’s exciting to work with such a great group of people.


JS: what is your favorite memory or experience while volunteering at Riviera?
SU: There are so many it’s hard to choose. I got to walk 18 holes inside the ropes with Fred Couples one year as a marshal. I got to meet and have several conversations with my golf idol, Jack Nicklaus. And, of course, I got to make a commercial for TaylorMade/Adidas Golf with Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen and David Toms. Those are just a few, but there are too many great experiences to count.


JS: why do you keep coming back to volunteer each year?
SU: as an avid golfer myself, I love the excitement of being directly involved with a professional golf tournament. I love seeing and interacting with the best golfers in the world. I have made many good friends over the years and I enjoy seeing them each year.


Join the Genesis Open volunteer team and experience a PGA TOUR event from inside the ropes.



Julia Schmitt is an events manager for TGR Live, working primarily on the Genesis Open. Managing the Genesis Open volunteer program is among her top responsibilities.