The fact that golfers and spectators from across the country come to Augusta for the Masters each year is common knowledge.But what about the gallery guards, the people who make sure spectators are where they're supposed to be?One might assume that these are area residents who are just looking for extra dollars. The reality, though, is that golf fans from all over apply to volunteer for the job of tending the ropes at Augusta National. While there's no pay involved, one benefit of the job was obvious to Michael Vinson of Montgomery, Ala., who works hole No. 14."I love working the tournament," Vinson said. "The carrot was you get to play the course."Vinson has seen tennis stars Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert in attendance as spectators during his four years. Inside the ropes, he looks for fellow Auburn grad Jason Dufner, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson - whom he described as a "class act" - and defending FedEx Cup champion Keegan Bradley."I've enjoyed watching (Bradley), even though he beat Dufner in the PGA in a playoff," Vinson said.For the last 11 years, the 18th hole has been Gary Hadfield's territory, and the Layton, Utah, resident said he had no favorites in the field."It's just fun to see all of them," he said.The guards are assigned a hole when they start, and they rotate between four stations on that hole. John Ham of Dallas, in his second year on the first hole, said he'll get to stay on that hole every year he's a gallery guard."Once assigned a hole, generally, unless you ask for a transfer, you keep that hole," Ham said.The guards' main responsibility is monitoring the areas where patrons cross the fairways, blocking the entry points with ropes when a golfer is hitting or passing through. They also give directions and back patrons away when an errant shot finds its way into the gallery or beyond.Ham said the aspect of the job he enjoyed most was the relationships with other gallery guards."The camaraderie with the other guys - it's basically just a bunch of middle-aged guys who are golf fanatics," he said.Jeremy Timmerman covers sports and entertainment and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010. He has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has lived in the CSRA at least part-time for most of his life.
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