Volunteer For Ryder Cup, Don’t Forget Checkbook

Apparently, the PGA of America, the outfit that hosts the Ryder Cup, isn’t clear on the definition of “volunteer.” For most of us, it means to take part in a task without being paid. It’s pretty simple, really.

Ryder Cup volunteers

Unless you’re one of the PGA brainiacs who got the bright idea to make a few extra bucks on the backs of the thousands of people who offer their time to make sure the tournament runs smoothly. No, not the golfers, but the old-timers who hold up the “Quiet Please” signs, and make sure fans don’t storm the port-a-johns while players are shaking off their Cooleys. Yep, that’s right, volunteer doesn’t mean what you think it means.

It’s no secret that the Ryder Cup brings the PGA of America tens of millions of dollars in profits. But you might be surprised to hear that the PGA further pads its bottom line by charging each of its 3,600 volunteers a $220 admission fee.

That’s nearly $800,000 in all.

The fee goes toward costs associated with the volunteers, such as uniforms, food vouchers, securing a parking lot for them off Old Henry Road and running shuttles for them to the course — but it does not cover all those costs, Tara Guenthner, a PGA of America official, told the LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL.

For 16 hours of work the volunteers also receive daily access to the event with the privileges of an upgraded ticket worth $555.

Man, those must be some sweet uniforms. The Ryder Cup isn’t the only tournament that charges people to wear silly outfits, quiet hecklers and pick up garbage, but for the 3,600 “volunteers” who’ll get a chance to be within spitting distance of Sergio Garcia, well, it’s probablly worth the menial chores and 220 clams.

I’m with GOLF.COM’s Alan Bastable: I’d rather watch for home. For free.