Pat Murtha doesn’t get paid a dime to drive nearly three hours round-trip from Tawas City to Midland and back to work at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. And that’s perfectly fine with him.
Murtha is excited to be one of hundreds of volunteers helping the GLBI run smoothly and efficiently.
“Everything – the people, the energy. I think that’s just wonderful for a community of this size, ”Murtha replies when asked what he liked about the GLBI and the Midland Country Club. “They are doing a great job here in preparation. I got three or four prep emails and materials in advance, and the (volunteer) shirts were sent out in advance and instructions on how to prepare for the day were sent out.
“And then when you get here they will give you further instructions. I think it’s very organized and everyone seems to be having a great time,” he added. “I think it’s a great place. The players seem to like it.”
Murtha spent the afternoon during Wednesday’s opening round leading the players from the 18th tee to the green and then from the green to the steps to the clubhouse level, keeping the walkway clear of spectators while the players and their caddies came through.
“I’m just trying to give them a clear path (to the green) and then when they get out of the way, the same thing comes back. I’m trying to keep the crowd out here so they can go back upstairs (towards the clubhouse), “Murtha said, adding that he volunteered after watching the GLBI opening ceremony in 2019 – and at the urging of his family.
“My son and daughter-in-law live in Midland … so I had only come to watch before. I loved the atmosphere and they suggested that I might want to volunteer, “he noted.” I’m half retired but I play golf so I had an interest and I decided it would be fun to do do do. And so far it has been. “
Like Murtha, Hemlocks Debbie Shepherd was busy leading the 18th place players to and from the tee on Wednesday. Like Murtha, she decided to volunteer this year at the suggestion of a relative.
“My sister cheated on me to help her. And now I’m here and it’s not, ”Shepherd said with a laugh. “… She said, ‘Oh, it’s going to be fun. You should do this to me. It’ll be fine. ‘ And it’s good. “
Shepherd said she was enjoying her shift, especially since it saw a lot of world-class golf.
“The nice thing about this spot is that I can watch them teeing off at 18, I can watch them putting at 18, I can watch them teeing off there (at another hole) and then there are even more putting (on another adjacent) hole) so that I could see something wherever I stood, “she remarked.” It was interesting, and there is a nice breeze here (from the water hazard at number 18). . “
Wendy Lehner from Saginaw Ward was another out of town who went to Midland on Wednesday to volunteer. And she didn’t have to be talked into by anyone.
“I was here for Dow Employees Experience Day two years ago, so I went through the course and thought, ‘Wow, this is a really cool environment and a really fun place.’ A group of us who were here said, ‘We will definitely do a voluntary service next year,’ “said Lehner, who worked in the hospitality tent next to Green 18 on Wednesday and admitted that she regretted the end of her shift .
“… I thought it was great. I’m kind of sad that I only had one shift,” she said with a smile as she slouched in front of the clubhouse and watched the action on No. 18. “I originally signed up for that Eat Great Festival, which was supposed to be in Bay City, but they canceled it so they assigned us shifts here instead. I’ll definitely be signing up for more next year because I had a great time. “
Like Lehner, Midland’s Bill Thomson signed up as a volunteer last year but couldn’t do so when the 2020 GLBI was canceled due to the pandemic. On Wednesday, Thomson had a lot of fun transporting players and their caddies from the Midland Country Club to the driving range at the Currie Municipal Golf Course and back.
“It’s a wonderful event. The course is beautiful. The players are very nice. Their caddies are great to work with. It’s just fun to come to this event, ”he said. “… I do a number of different things. You can sign up for any activity you want. I drive a car today, but I’ve done a number of other activities as well.
“That’s what I enjoy the most,” he said as he tossed the players around. “I did it for the Dow Tennis Classic too, and you get a little chance to interact with some of the players and their caddies. It’s just fun to get a little personal touch.
“… The caddies are more talkative, I think, than some players,” he added with a smile.
Thomson said he appreciated the opportunity not only to volunteer but also to see world-class golf in his hometown.
“For me, it’s the convenience of being in Midland. It’s a wonderful place. The Midland Country Club is a great facility and the course is in great condition. It’s got a lot of texture and it’s fun to play at first, ”he said. “And it’s just a beautiful place. I haven’t been to many other tournaments, so that’s very nice for me. “
Lehner fully agreed, noting that she was overwhelmed by the course on her first tour two years ago and really enjoyed seeing the 2019 GLBI.
“I’ve never been to the golf course before and I thought it was beautiful,” she said. “It was just an electrifying atmosphere out here to have these professional ladies in town, so I just enjoyed being out here and being part of something special in the area.”
When asked if they play a lot of golf themselves, both Lehner and Shepherd admitted that they’d rather watch the pros than hit the links themselves.
“I don’t play a lot. I play, but not much, “Shepherd said, laughing as he referred to the large pond in front of the 18th green:” This water would intimidate me. “
“No, I don’t play,” Lehner replied to the same question. “I got a few golf clubs as part of my Service Award last year, but I haven’t really been out yet.
“I was out in the back yard hitting wiffleballs (with my clubs),” she added with a laugh. “I hope to get better one day. I have the tools now.”
Both Murtha and Thomson said they would not hesitate to volunteer at GLBI again this year or in the future.
“I only work one day, but I’ve talked to (the tournament organizers) and I know they already need more volunteers, so I can actually help out again on Saturday,” said Murtha, adding that he “absolutely” plans on himself to volunteer again in the future.
Thomson will split his time between volunteering and watching for the remainder of the tournament.
“Tomorrow my wife and I will be out here to avoid the raindrops and watch them play. And I’ll be back to work on Friday, and on Saturday a buddy and I will be back as fans, “he said.
As for Lehner, on Wednesday she soaked up the atmosphere long after her shift.
“I’m not quite ready to go home yet so I’m sitting out here waiting for more action to be seen on the 18th green,” she said with another smile.