RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — The group of John Huston, Y.E. Yang and Robert Karlsson teed off at 12:30 p.m. ET on Friday in the first round of the Galleri Classic, a PGA Tour Champions event at the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.
Between them, they have one major championship. The volunteer keeping their score? She has six.
World Golf Hall of Famer and LPGA icon Patty Sheehan was the walking scorer for the group. Sheehan, who lives at Mission Hills Country Club, signed up to be a volunteer for the tournament, and she was given the role of walking scorer on Friday and again on Sunday.
During Friday’s round, she walked the exact same course that was the site of one of her six major championships, having won the tournament now known as the Chevron Championship in 1996.
She said it went well, despite one minor malfunction.
“I felt pretty comfortable the whole time, then around the 14th or 15th hole something happened and the thing went wacko,” Sheehan said, referring to the automated scoring device that looks like an oversized cell phone. “And I couldn’t reach the guys on the radio and I was starting to freak out, but it all worked out. It’s just great to be out there and watch these guys play. Most of them know who I am and that’s really nice of them.”
A tradition for golfers at every level is to give an autographed golf ball to the volunteer walking scorer. Sheehan was excited to be on the other side.
“It was great, I got two autographed golf balls … and I gave two autographed balls back,” she said with a laugh, proudly pulling her freshly signed Y.E. Yang and Robert Karlsson golf balls out of her pocket. “It was a fun experience. I just signed up to be a volunteer, and thankfully they picked my name on the list.”
Sheehan said walking the course without the pressure of hitting golf shots was a treat, specifically that iconic walk up the 18th hole in front of the grandstand and past Poppie’s Pond.
“It was much better as a scorer walking up 18, I didn’t have that pressure and it was fun. I got to just look around and enjoy it,” she said, adding that she didn’t interact much with the players during the round. “I talked very little to them because I hate to bother them, but if I had a question I could go up to a caddie, and they were very sweet to me.”
And did they ask for any reads on the green?
“You know they can’t do that,” she said with a grin.
After the players and Sheehan left the scoring tent, Karlsson’s caddie Alastair McLean asked Sheehan for an autographed ball and she was happy to oblige.
“Why wouldn’t I? She was the most famous person in the group,” he said. “She knows what it’s all about just from the other side of the table so she was great, wasn’t in the way at all. I wish a lot more scorers were like her.”
Shad Powers is a columnist for The Desert Sun. Reach him at email@example.com.