SAUCIER, MS (WLOX) - The Opening Ceremonies of sporting events are almost always must-watch events. With the Senior Tour returning to Fallen Oak for the tenth year, many expected a show, and they didn’t have to wait long.
All the crowd had to do was turn their eyes to the sky, but birds and planes were not the only things that caught their eyes. Retired Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman was parachuting down to Earth. The target was the tiny tee box, which stars like Vijay Singh would soon tee off from.
Making the mission even harder was a grandstand that was overflowing with hundreds of volunteers and patrons. Yet, that did not stop the Bowman from nailing the landing.
Defending Champion Steve Stricker among the many applauding the man for his service to our country. The applause grew even louder when he revealed he actually brought the golf balls for the ceremonial first tee shot.
Once the ball was teed up and blasted down the first hole, the tournament officially began. Overall, the ceremony was emotional for many. Tournament Director Stephen Schoettmer had trouble even finding words to describe the opening ceremonies.
“I mean, words can’t really describe the ceremony and just the sight of Sgt. Bowman coming back,” Schoettmer said.
While hundreds came out to watch the opening ceremonies, many of them were volunteers preparing for a shift out on the golf course.
“The volunteers are the life blood of this tournament, but without the 700 or 800 volunteers who dedicate their time and effort, we just couldn’t do it without them,” Schoettmer said.
Many of them have actually volunteered every single year of the tournament, earning them the exclusive title of Legacy Volunteer.
“I enjoy watching these guys hit the ball so well and dream I could do it also," said David Rogers. "I just like being outside and coming back every year to watch them play.”
Legacy Volunteers aren’t the only ones that are being wowed by the golfers’ skills.
“I feel inadequate because I tell you what ‘Boom,Boom, Freddie,’ he hit over there about 310 yards," said Mike McKinnon. "It is incredible. Makes me want to come out here and try to do the same thing.”
McKinnon was serving as a marshal on the front nine and was able to witness professionals such as Fred Couples, Vijay Singh and many others hit phenomenal shots. While many enjoy watching the front row view seat, many of the volunteers just enjoy helping put on the tourney.
“This is for everybody. There is people that are 90 years old and I am 75. There are people a lot older, and they get out here. It is interesting and we all have fun," McKinnon said.
The Rapiscan Classic resumes Saturday morning and entry is free to all who attend.