Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Scoreboard volunteers enjoy insiders’ view of Kingsmill Championship

Mark Osborne slides a number into the scoreboard at the Kingsmill Championship. (Photos by Ty Hodges)
Mark Osborne slides a number into the scoreboard Thursday during the opening round of the LPGA Kingsmill Championship. (Photos by Ty Hodges)

Like a lighthouse overlooking a large body of water, the scoreboard overlooking the 18th green of the River Course at Williamsburg’s Kingsmill Resort is hard to miss.

Situated above a well-manicured patch of grass that features the Kingsmill logo etched in the middle, the scoreboard this weekend welcomes LPGA professionals competing in the Kingsmill Championship as they walk down the 18th fairway.

However, behind the aesthetically pleasing exterior of the scoreboard is a hard-working group of volunteers who continuously update the board so that spectators and players alike always know who’s leading the tournament.

One of those volunteers is Mark Osborne, a Kingsmill resident who has spent the last six years volunteering at the Kingsmill Championship. For the past four years, Osborne has been the lead volunteer working the scoreboard.

As the grizzled veteran of the scoreboard team, Osborne knows all too well about the pressure that comes with trying to keep the board accurate and up to date while juggling challenges such as weather, lead changes and the demands of television networks.

“It can get pretty hectic at times,” he joked. “It can be high stress, but the stress lasts for five minutes and then it’s easy again.

“Luckily we don’t have a lot of turnover up here with people, so everybody knows what they’re doing.,” he added. “If I got hit by a beer truck and didn’t come in one day, everything would still happen.”

While working the scoreboard has its perks, including one of the best views of the 18th green, it can be incredibly demanding throughout a six-hour shift.

Scorekeepers placed at each hole log every shot taken by every golfer and digitally transmit that information into a central database. Within seconds, that scoring information is relayed from the database to computers across the facility, including those in a tent behind the scoreboard.

Inside that tent are large cards with the names of every tournament golfer and stacks of numbered cards used to show each player’s score.

Black numbers are bad news, as they indicate how many strokes over par a golfer is shooting. Conversely, seeing red is a good thing, because those numbers indicate how many strokes below par a golfer is shooting. A green “E” next to a name means indicates that a golfer’s score is sitting right at par.

The scoreboard overlooking the 18th green is one of the most iconic parts of the course.
The scoreboard overlooking the 18th green is one of the most iconic sights at Kingsmill Resort’s River Course.

The Kingsmill scoreboard can accommodate the names and scores of up to nine golfers at a time. Which nine names appear on the board at any one time is decided using less-than-scientific methods.

“We are obligated to use the leaders, but often times there is a tie. We wing it on ties,” Osborne said.

“If we’ve got a girl coming up on the 18th hole, we put her up so she can see her name on the board,” he said. “Otherwise, it could be where they are on the course, what we think they will do based on their past history.”

In an ideal world, the volunteers working the scoreboard would have few lead changes to record, so they would only occasionally have to enter the behemoth. However, crew members must remain vigilant once inside the scoreboard.

The scoreboard has three levels, each allowing access to the score lines for three golfers. With the scores of the tournament leaders sitting at the top of the scoreboard, a volunteer must climb three sets of stairs to update their scores.

In addition to climbing stairs, the volunteers must be mindful of low-hanging metal bars at each level. Bumping heads on the bars is so common that volunteers are provided hard hats for the job, though they’re seldom used.

And while some volunteers go home at night complaining about sore backs and legs, Osborne said the pride that comes with keeping the scoreboard up to date makes the job worthwhile.

“We enjoy what we do. I have no problem getting people to come back year to year,” he said. “Most people really like it.”

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