By John R. Crane
For the past five years, Danville resident Tim Brown has spent a week during the summer volunteering at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina.
He arrives at Sedgefield Country Club — where the golf tournament is held — at 5:30 a.m., wiping down carts before later driving volunteers to their holes on the course.
For that week, he works 12 to 14 hours before returning to his home in Danville at about 8:30 p.m.
And he gets to interact with the likes of golfers Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and David Duval.
“It’s just nice to meet people, to help people,” Brown said, adding he occasionally drives spectators with special needs to the viewing area near each hole.
Beth Whitman, who lives in Greensboro and began volunteering a year after Brown, said, “Tim is a very encouraging person that’s always full of smiles and a positive attitude. He never meets a stranger. People just love him.”
Brown trained Whitman her first year, she said.
“He always made me feel comfortable,” Whitman said.
Brown, 61, retired from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in 2015. He just recently finished volunteering at the 2019 Wyndham Championship that took place July 30 through Aug. 4.
The Wyndham Championship was founded in 1938 and is the sixth-oldest event on the PGA Tour, excluding the majors, according to the Wyndham Championship website.
Past winners have included Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Steve Ballesteros. Eighteen former winners are in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
On a typical day during Wyndham, Brown starts picking up volunteers at 6 a.m. and bringing them to the tent, where they are checked in and fed a small breakfast.
Starting at 7 a.m., Brown and other cart drivers take the volunteers to the holes. Brown then leaves the course, goes to the tent at the fairway at the first hole, charges his cart’s battery and continues to take volunteers to where they need to be.
A typical volunteer works about two to four hours on the course before Brown takes them to their bus, where he picks up arriving volunteers.
There are about 1,600 to 2,000 volunteers on any give day during the Wyndham Championship, said Brown, who was selected as volunteer of the year in 2018.
There are lots of jobs for volunteers, including crowd control, food delivery to other volunteers, tracking balls and letting the golfers know when the fairways are clear.
Fellow volunteer Aaron Harris, who lives in Greensboro, praised Brown’s dedication.
“He’s there at 5:30 a.m., bright and early every morning getting the carts ready to go and doesn’t leave until the very last volunteers are off,” said Harris, who co-chairs the volunteer cart team during Wyndham. “That’s great dedication right there. He’s just a joy to be around.”
Brown also has caught glimpses of golf legends, including a Tiger Woods about three years ago. They were only about 5 feet apart when Woods and Brown walked by each other as Woods left the 11th hole to head to the 12th-hole tee box.
Brown waved said “hi,” but Woods didn’t respond.
“He never blinked,” Brown said.
Jordan Spieth was at Wyndham this year, but Brown didn’t get a chance to talk to him.
“He signed autographs for kids,” Brown said. “He was extremely nice to the kids.”
Among the volunteers, Brown has his own fans, Harris pointed out.
“Tim’s got his own certain personality, and certain groups each year, they’ll only ride with him personally,” Harris said, adding two ladies always ask for him to take them to their areas.
Brown loves what he does at Wyndham and plans to continue volunteering.
“I hope to be there every year,” Brown said.
Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.