Gilroy players inside the ropes

Members of the Gilroy High golf team got to volunteer as standard bearers at last month's U.S. Open. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Eight members of the Gilroy High boys and girls golf teams got to go inside the ropes—literally—to watch last month’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Sebastian Nunez, Jackie Torres, Sami Fuhrman, Abby Clark, Ashlyn Torres, Jade Gardner, Leonardo Nunez and Ben Guaracha all served as standard bearers—their job is to carry a scoreboard to inform spectators of the golfers’ score in each group—and those that worked on the last day got to see Gary Woodland win the championship. 

“It was pretty exciting and a different atmosphere than I’ve ever experienced before,” said Torres, an incoming junior who was in Tiger Woods’ group during Woods’ practice round the Monday before the tournament. “Usually the golf atmosphere is quiet and you keep to yourself, but when Tiger was doing his practice round, everyone was screaming and cheering.”

Nunez had an equally exhilarating experience. The incoming senior, like Torres, worked five days during the week of the U.S. Open, in which time he go to meet Jordan Spieth and take a picture with Graeme McDowell. … The energy (on the golf course) was very intense on the last day. Watching Woodland putt in for birdie (at No. 18), you can hear everyone screaming. That was an amazing moment and really got to me.”

The volunteers carry a 10-pound standard, which doesn’t sound like much until you’ve been lugging the thing around for 18 holes. Fortunately for the volunteers, they get to use a harness that keeps the standard on their shoulder takes the brunt of the weight. A standard bearer is an extremely high profile position, as they are in the middle of the action, visible and always counted upon to show a player’s score in a timely manner. 

Gilroy High golf coach John Torres said it’s a once in a lifetime deal for kids to be able to volunteer for free, as an adult volunteer would need to pay $185 to be a standard bearer. Clark was a standard bearer for the Taylor Made Pro-Am last November, and the same group that reached out to Torres for volunteers contacted him again in regards to the U.S. Open. 

“Most of the players I contacted accepted it,” Torres said. “If you’re a golf fan, this is hard to top. Every time we brought them home, they were all excited to come back the next day. They got to see all of the players up close, taking pictures with some of them and getting autographs. It was a great experience and opportunity for the kids and something they’ll never forget.”

Indeed, Jackie Torres soaked in the experience of being inside the ropes of one of golf’s biggest tournaments at a world-class course situated along the Pacific Ocean.

“It was a dream week, simply amazing,” said Torres, who also was a standard bearer in a group that included Matt Kuchar.  

Leo Nunez was in Woodland’s group for one day, among other highlights. Each member of the golf team had to wake up around 5 a.m. everyday and make their way to Monterey. Sebastian Nunez, who counts golf as his favorite sport and basketball second, is currently playing in Gilroy’s basketball camp, hitting balls on the range and working at the pro shop at the Gavilan Golf Course. 

“It’s the perfect job,” he said. “I’m doing golf-related work and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”