Saturday, April 21, 2012

Photos, Soccer and Bathrooms


The most expensive camera I've ever used cost about $10,000 and it wasn't even made by Nikon or Canon. It couldn't take anything scenic like a sunset or a family at Disneyland or waves crashing at the beach. In fact, every image had the same background, everyone in it looked elongated and I doubt there was ever an image I'd want to frame.

But it was the best camera I've ever come across.

In actuality, the camera wasn't like anything you're suspecting. It was made by a company called FinishLynx and is specifically used to time track and field meets, among other similar sports. It's taken timing to the most accurate level possible and is truly impressive when you see what it can do.

Today, during the annual Woody Wilson Classic during Picnic Day, the FinishLynx was getting a full workout.

Sean Laughlin is the owner/operator of and, in my opinion, one of the most talented people in making sense of the cables, cameras and computers needed to make the system work flawlessly. In the olden days, as my folks liked to call them, there'd be a bleacher full of people at the finish line holding stopwatches, starting them when they heard the gun and stopping them when the runners crossed the finish line. 

That system worked for many years but it's not the most reliable. For example, everyone has a different reaction time in starting their watch after hearing the gun. There's also a delay from when the gun fires to when the timers hear it - the sound does take a noticeable split-second to travel from one side of the track to the other - and then there's the guesstimation of the exact moment a person's torso crosses the finish line, which by rule is when they're deemed to have finished a race. Oh, and there's also the reaction time from that best guess to stopping the watch. Overall, not all that accurate.

At best, meets only use hand-timing as a backup in the event the automatic timing system - also called Fully Automatic Timing (FAT) - fails. If it's used in the results, a total of .24 of a second has to be added on to each time to account for the inaccuracies listed above. But even with that, most big meets don't accept hand times for entry purposes and they're usually not accepted for record-keeping purposes.

Technology has changed all that. The FinishLynx system - and there are others out there - eliminate the deficits mentioned above. So how does it work?

In most cases, the starter holds a small metal sensor in the same hand as they hold their gun, although there are wireless systems that can detect when the gun is fired. At the slightest hint of the gunshot, a signal is sent to the timing system, which is basically a small computer, and the clock starts instantaneously.

Sitting on a pole above the finish line is the FinishLynx camera - and in Sean's case, a backup as well - which is trained to look right down on the finish line, in fact, just a small piece of the line about a quarter-inch wide. Sean is sitting in a tent at the finish line, controlling the camera with his PC. As runners cross, Sean signals the camera to begin taking images of the finish line.

But, here's the catch. It doesn't take just one image. It takes thousands of images, each of them catching a tiny slice of the runner as they pass. Each sliver is assigned a time from the system. When the race is over, Sean calls up what looks like one image but is really many thousands of images strung together. He slides a cursor line across the image, lines it up with the torso, pushes the return key and, bam, the time is recorded.

The image below was actually taken from Saturday's meet. At first glance, it looks simply like a photo of a runner jogging on the track. In reality, what look like lanes are actually the finish line. What appear to be gray lane lines are actually black markings painted on the finish line to help differentiate the lanes. Without them, the whole background would be one color, just like the finish line.

This image is actually many thousands of images of a runner crossing the finish line on Saturday.

FinishLynx can be set to take hundreds or thousands of frames per second. The more frames per second, the more separated the runners will be on the image which is useful for sprints when athletes are separated by barely a strand of hair.

I remember using the system and having a coach swear to me we had the results wrong. He chastised me for screwing up his athlete's win in a hurdles' race. So, I called up the image and he meekly walked away. And I got an apology.

So does the system fail? Sure. Technology isn't perfect. Sometimes the gun sensor fails, sometimes there's too much light on the image or maybe something else falters. With Sean, I can't recall any of that happening though in the many years he's worked our meets. He's been throwing perfect games time and time again.

Sean, along with his coworker Jim Hume, handle the timing, process all the results and send it all to the web instaneously so fans can see what happens as soon as an event in the meet ends.

As a sports information person, what Sean and Jim do is invaluable. It's not much fun getting results for 75 athletes at the same time when a meet finishes, and then having to digest them, figure out what's happened and write a recap for the media while facing a late-night deadline. Live results allow me to work through the meet a little bit at a time.

Sean handles most of the big meets in Northern California. When I see he's working, I know my life is a lot easier. I was always stressed beyond belief when I was running the system. Sean is cool as a cucumber and always the friendliest guy on the track.

Timing meets and handling results used to fall on our shoulders in this office. Getting that darn camera to line up perfectly on the finish line was the most frustrating job. Then making sure all the pieces - the sensor, the computer, the camera - all work seamlessly was not easy either. Thank goodness for timers who do this for a living.



Sometimes the best assists don't happen on the pitch. Just ask Tom Hinds, the campus's director of marketing, who witnessed a good deed on a recent morning involving the Aggie men's soccer team and made sure the world knew about it.

While riding the Unitrans L line, Tom noticed some passengers in Aggie men's soccer team apparel. Not long after, a female student boarded the bus but she didn't have the necessary ID nor fare to ride. Without prompting, one of the players sprang into action and handed the bus driver a dollar so the student could ride to campus.

No fan fare and no cameras, just a simple act of kindess so a fellow Aggie could make it to class on time.

Tom posted the encounter on UC Davis' Facebook page and within a few hours it had generated a few comments and more than 250 "likes".

Tom relayed the story to me when our paths crossed later that morning and, after perusing the roster online, he thought he recognized the player but wasn't 100 percent sure.

It's probably best that way. Give credit where credit is due but anonymous acts of kindness are sometimes the most appreciated. And it's nice to think that any of the players I see around campus might've been the one who made someone else's day just a little bit brighter.



You know there's not much on TV early Saturday morning when I stop on the DIY Network, intrigued by a show called "Bath Crashers." 

Don't get me wrong, I think "House Crashers" is a pretty good show which led me to occassionally watching "Yard Crashers" but I don't generally seek them out while channel-surfing. I didn't even know there were other ".... Crashers" out there - until a couple of weeks ago when "Bath Crashers" entered my life.

My dog Annie and I set upon "Bath Crashers", me moreso than Annie who decided to just listen while closing her eyes. In case you don't watch these types of shows, an unsuspecting handsome couple goes into a Lowe's or Home Depot looking for some inoccuous items such as, well, light bulbs.

A film crew ambushes them, convinces them their bathroom needs to be flushed, and then follows them home to redesign a whole new sanctuary of peace. My question that morning was, "how come those shows never come to a store in Sacramento?"  

I half-heartedly watched the couple explain their bathroom woes to Matt Muenster, the show's host. Watching TV in the mirror's reflection was only possible on the wife's side of the sink. The shower head, sink and "throne" were too low for the husband. Yeah, I thought, that makes sense. He IS pretty tall.

Dominic Callori and his wife Kassidy talk bathroom plans with Matt Muenster, the host of "Bathroom Crashers".

Moments later, the magic of TV had contractors flooding the house to begin work on a new bathroom. That's when I noticed those shows DO come to Sacramento since all the contractors had local phone numbers. That's cool, I thought, and decided to tape the show and watch it later. 

My wife and I finally cued it up a few nights later, I gave her a brief background of the few minutes I barely watched and told her about the unthinkable odds that "Bath Crashers" had actually come to Sacramento.

(Stop yelling "Bath Crashers" fanatics, yes I now know the show is mostly taped locally although it plays throughout the country).

It didn't take long for the show to hit even closer to home. The husband looked familiar. Really familiar. And when they said his name, "Dominic" and later "Dom", it hit me like the toilet hit the ground they later threw from the second floor of their house.

Dominic Callori. Longtime Aggie fans will remember Dom as one of the top front line basketball players in school history. He's just one of four players on both the Aggies' all-time scoring (9th, 1,339 pts) and rebounding (3rd, 844 rebs) and was an all-region selection. And one of our all-time nice guys.

And he's got a new bathroom to boot.

He and his wife Kassidy, who played hoops at Chico State, got a pretty cool remodel. A huge shower with an embedded flat-screen TV on the shower wall, appropriately heighted his-and-her sinks and - most importantly for Dom - the best seat in the house and one that saves his knees. He embarrassingly tried it out for the cameras.

The unsuspecting handsome couple had a quite bit of fun with the show and visa-versa. Check your local listings. You might just catch the rerun or, if not, maybe another Aggie.

Mike Robles is Assistant Athletics Director for Communications at UC Davis. He still marvels at the technology of FinishLynx and is grateful he doesn't have to try and run it anymore. Robles also hopes that "TV Crashers" - if there is such a show - comes in and saves him from his Emerson special which provided the image above. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Tale Of Two Tournaments

Both of my spring sports -- women's water polo and women's lacrosse -- are one week away from their respective conference tournaments.

The 11th-ranked Aggie water polo team competes in the Big West Conference, for which the championship tourney takes place at Schaal Aquatics Center from April 27-29. (You can buy your tickets at The lacrosse team competes in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, for which the championship tourney takes place at Stanford.

Both conferences are brutally tough. Five of the six Big West teams have ranked in the top 20 at some point this season, and top-seeded UC Irvine sits at No. 6. The league will get tougher next year when Hawai'i and San Diego State enter the fray.

In lacrosse, the league roster features a who's who of some of the major athletics programs on the West: Stanford, Cal, Oregon, Fresno State, San Diego State. USC joins next year. And the league favorite this year has the second-smallest enrollment of the bunch: Denver University.

Both teams recently earned automatic qualifiers to the NCAA Championship. The Big West wraps up its fourth year sponsoring women's water polo, which means its members spent a few years hoping only for an at-large. The MPSF finishes up its second year of qualifying a team to a play-in game; this year's champion will face the Patriot League winner.

With a week and change left before the tournament, it's worth looking at the playoff scenarios for both teams.

Women's water polo closed out the conference portion of the season with wins over UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge. A delayed start to Saturday's game against the Gauchos meant the Aggies already knew of CSUN's loss at Pacific. In other words, they knew a win would clinch the No. 2 seed and the quarterfinal bye at their own tourney. UC Davis took care of business with a thrilling 9-8 win over UCSB, then dispatched the Matadors the following day.

The lone remaining game in the Big West Conference is Thursday's Long Beach State-UC Irvine matchup. The outcome of this game determines seedings. If the 49ers upset the No. 6 Anteaters, they move to sole possession of fourth place. UC Irvine earns the tiebreaker over UC Davis by virtue of the head-to-head matchup. With their 1-4 conference marks, Pacific would become the No. 5 seed and Northridge would slip to the sixth spot:

A Long Beach State win...
1. UC Irvine 4-1
2. UC Davis 4-1
3. UC Santa Barbara 3-2
4. Long Beach State 2-3
5. Pacific 1-4
6. Cal State Northridge 1-4

If UCI beats LBSU, the conference must resolve the three-way tie of 1-4 teams. In fact, according to the conference brass, the seedings would boil down to goal difference among the three teams. Northridge beat the Beach by four and lost to Pacific by one. Long Beach defeated Pacific by three and lost to Northridge by four. Pacific edged Northridge by one and lost to LBSU by three.

A UC Irvine win...
1. UC Irvine 5-0
2. UC Davis 4-1
3. UC Santa Barbara 3-2
4. Cal State Northridge 1-4
5. Long Beach State 1-4
6. Pacific 1-4

Odd that the Mats could either be fourth or sixth, all from a game involving the league's top seed. If ever there was a case for the gravity of regular-season contests, that's it.

UC Davis host the eighth-ranked San Jose State as part of Saturday's Picnic Day festivities. This is the fourth meeting between the two teams. If they get any more familiar, they'll start Facebook-friending each other.

Unlike the Big West water polo tournament, not all conference members are guaranteed a spot in the MPSF tournament. In fact, only the top four will play in next week's bracket. Denver and Oregon both have clinched berths due to their 6-0 records. The Pioneers and Ducks square off on Saturday for the regular-season title.

Three other teams compete for the last two spots: Stanford, California and your own UC Davis.

If the Aggies lose to the Cardinal, they're out of the race: the best they could do is tie for fourth place in the conference, but they would lose the tiebreaker.

If UC Davis can beat Stanford, your blue and gold team remains in the hunt. All Aggie eyes will be focused on the Golden Bears-Cardinal game on Friday. A Cal win, paired by a UC Davis win over 0-5 Fresno State on Saturday, would put our team into the playoffs.

Bottom line: put down what you're doing, set the DVR to record Modern Family (mine is set for series recording) and get yourself out to Aggie Stadium on Wednesday night.

This is the 30th meeting between UC Davis and Stanford in the varsity women's lacrosse era, and the Farm holds a huge edge over the University Farm. But that was then, this is now, and we're talking playoffs.

Here is my slate in a nutshell. Just so my mom knows how to reach me.

Wednesday, Apr. 18 - Women's Lacrosse vs. Stanford, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 21 - Women's Water Polo vs. San Jose State, Noon
Saturday, Apr. 21 - Women's Lacrosse vs. Fresno State, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, Apr. 24 - Women's Lacrosse vs. Saint Mary's, 3 p.m. 
Friday, Apr. 27-Sunday, Apr. 29 - Women's Water Polo hosts Big West Conference Championship 

Mark Honbo, assistant athletics communications director, extends wishes to the families and friends of Scott Heinig, the former Davis High and UC Davis baseball player who tragically passed away one year ago today. Blue Devil/Aggie football player Josh Reese wore an orange wristband in Scott's honor for a department-related portrait taken last week, while water polo co-captain handed out printouts of John Wooden's teachings, which Scott cherished. Other Aggies have paid tribute this year, so his memory remains in many hearts in this town.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Aggie Baseball: The Honolulu Chronicles

UC Davis baseball just got back from a four-game series in Hawai'i and, despite going 1-3 against the Rainbow Warriors, the Aggies still had plenty of stories - and sunburns - to go around.

Back on the mainland, I could more or less guess how the scene was unfolding. Of course the skies were blue. Of course the temperature never wavered from 81 degrees. Of course the sands were white and the water was crystal clear.

But I got to see a little more than I thought I would thanks to two of the four games being featured on It may not be ESPN in the truest sense, but it's still pretty fun to see this as part of the worldwide leader in sports' family of channels:

So on Thursday night, I settled in for a night of Aggie baseball.

From the broadcast, I could tell that Les Murakami Stadium is pretty impressive and the team wholeheartedly agreed that it was a really great place to play. First baseman Eric Johnson told me that there is even a third level of seating that hangs over the field, causing an echo that makes the stadium sound even louder than it really is.

Also noticeable? When third baseman Paul Politi forgot to take his hat off during the national anthem... right as the camera panned over UC Davis lined up outside of its dugout. Oops. Luckily he remembered, slyly glanced from left to right to see if anyone else noticed, then slowly slipped his cap off as shortstop Adam Young smiled next to him.

If you saw Thursday's game or took a look at the box score or postgame recap, the highlight of the night was another stellar pitching performance from senior Dayne Quist. In seven innings, he struck out nine Hawai'i batters and gave up just four hits as the Aggies took the 5-3 win.

But it seemed the crowd, and then the cameramen, were much more interested in another situation that was unfolding. All of a sudden the camera was pointed on senior second baseman Ryan Allgrove as he was... shagging foul balls?

It's true. The camera and the broadcasters were transfixed on Allgrove as he jogged up and down the left field line collecting foul balls. He probably had a solid half inning of air time. They showed a graphic with his name, bio info and mugshot. And everytime he ran out, the home crowd heckled him with every step.

Well what could a foul ball shagger ever have done to get a crowd that riled up?

It seems as if our own Mr. Allgrove is a bit of an instigator, I'm afraid. The story goes like this:

There were signs posted all over the Aggie dugout instructing the players to please return all foul balls. So that's exactly what Allgrove set out to do. At one point, one foul shot looked like it was going to hop over the fence and into the crowd, when, at the last second, Allgrove snatched it out of the air. The crowd clamored for the ball and Allgrove tossed... but completely faked the crowd out. The entire section half stood, hands in the air, waiting for the toss that never came, then laughed and applauded when they realized Allgrove had pulled one over on them.

The whole rest of the game they razzed him and the camera followed it, even as he took his cap off to give the crowd a salute as he sat back down after retrieving yet another foul ball.  Nice touch Ryan.

Allgrove wasn't the only Aggie to feel the heat of 2,500 Hawai'i baseball fans.  Turns out, every Aggie got their fair share of heckling after it was discovered that a 15-page "scouting report" was passed out to the fans to give them plenty of ammunition against our boys. Sisters' names, girlfriends' names, and who knows what else were all part of this packet of info and the fans used it all weekend long.

But the joke turned out to be on the Hawai'i fans in one instance.

UC Davis has a set of uniforms that features blue jerseys with gold numbering. If you've seen these at Dobbins Stadium, you probably know which ones I mean. And you probably remember them because the font that the numbers are written in is one of the most difficult fonts to read.

Evan Wolf in the dreaded blue jersey... Is that 36? 38? It could even be 39 maybe? 

Let's say we have a pinch hitter and the Aggies are in this particular set of uniforms.  The exchange from the press box at Dobbins Stadium generally goes like this:

Me: We have a pinch hitter on deck. That's... 19?
Someone in the press box: No that can't be 19. 19 is Johnson and he's on first. 16?
Me: No. 16 is Patrick Hennessey and he's a pitcher.
Someone else: Is it 18?
Me: Yes. Yes that's an 18. Ok so that's Spencer Brann pinch hitting. Good work everyone.

Well Eric Johnson experienced this exact confusion - for lack of a better term - as he stood at first base on Friday night.  Fans kept yelling "Spencer! Hey Spencer!" throughout much of the game. Obviously Eric didn't turn around. They kept yelling "Spencer! Spencer!" but got no response from Johnson.

Later on, it finally dawned on the Aggie senior: They thought he was wearing No. 18 and thus exhausted all of their heckling energy trying to rile up backup catcher Spencer Brann, not first baseman Eric Johnson.

I feel your pain, Hawai'i fans. I really really do.

All in all, a couple more wins could have really made the trip one to remember, but it's back home to Davis and on to the next one. And for a few more days they'll have the stories... and the sunburns... to remember the trip by.

Assistant director Amanda Piechowski was lucky enough to travel with women's basketball to Honolulu in December, so she really didn't want to push her luck with a return trip with baseball. But it would have made waiting for the 9:35 p.m. Pacific first pitch - and writing the post game recap at the end of the three-hour game - a heck of a lot easier...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Best Kept Secret Around

Scan the top 30 teams in Golfstat's Div. I women's rankings and you're likely to see schools more closely associated with the NCAA Final Four or a BCS bowl game. Alabama. Auburn. USC. North Carolina. Ohio State.

Look a little more closely and you'll see a couple of party crashers; two teams that don't come from the so-called "super conferences" but are still considered among the college golf's elite programs.

Say hello to one of them  No. 26 UC Davis.

Amidst programs with deep pockets and even their own campus golf courses, UC Davis sits among the country's best, every bit a part of the NCAA Championship contender conversation as the rest of them.

And it's not like the Aggies are showing up late for the dance. They're only in their seventh season as a program yet they've made a meteoric rise. Four Div. I seasons and already appearances at three NCAA finals and four regionals. Back-to-back Big West titles in 2010 and 2011. Rankings in and around the top 25 most of the past three seasons.

Under the radar on a local level but already a highly regarded (and feared) program nationally.

It didn't take long for the Aggies to announce their presence, doing so in 2008 - their first at Div. I - when they stunned perennial powers Ohio State and Stanford in a three-team playoff at the NCAA West Regional to earn the final berth to nationals.

UC Who? That was the collective cry that season, especially when the Aggies were reportedly the last team selected to the tournament field yet earned their way to the national finals. Former coach Kathy DeYoung initially built the program before retiring in 2008, giving way to current head coach Anne Walker who's taken the program to even higher achievements.

There was 2009 when UC Davis, ranked 27th, dominated No. 1 UCLA, No. 8 USC and No. 10 Cal to win the Turtle Bay Invitational in Hawaii by nine shots. If the Aggies were only slightly known before then, well, they let the cat out of the bag after that one. More tournament wins followed, keyed by former standouts Alice Kim and Chelsea Stelzmiller who were consistently honored on the All-Big West teams through their four years while also playing in the U.S. Women Open. Yes. THAT U.S. Women's Open.

But the Aggies' profile continues to grow. They checked in at No. 11 during the early parts of this season, winning two tournaments before evening taking fall quarter final exams. This spring has already provided a second, third and a tie for fifth place, the latter coming last weekend at the PING/Arizona State Invitational when they tied (No. 3 USC) or beat (No. 7 Vanderbilt, No. 8 LSU) three top-10 teams.

That was noteworthy enough but Demi Runas added another feather in the cap, tying for the individual title for her second career win.The ASU tournament is one of the oldest of its kind in the country and featured a slew of players more likely suited for an NCAA Championship than a regular-season event. 

PING/ASU Invitational co-medalists Demi Runas and Ani Gulugian (UCLA)

Watching UC Davis climb to the top of "Mt. Div. I Women's Golf" is a story in itself. Knowing that this year's team is doing it without a senior in the bunch might be even bigger. That's right. Five players in the starting lineup and two of them are freshmen (Blair Lewis, Beverly Vatananugulkit), another is a sophomore (Jessica Chulya) and two are juniors (Runas, Amy Simanton).

John Calipari would be proud.

It's a talented quintet. Runas is one of Golf World's top 50 college players to watch this season. A different player led the team at each of the five fall tournaments. Four of them have shot 68 or better in a round. Each of them has at least three top-20 finishes.

With no seniors in the lineup, it'd be easy to say the Aggies' future is bright. Well, the future is now.



Speaking of women's golf, UC Davis hosts its lone "home" event of the year with the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate on Apr. 16-17 at The Ocean Course in Half Moon Bay. Golf is a scenic sport at just about any location, let alone sticking it up against the Pacific Ocean with the Ritz Carlton next door. 

  The Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay and The Ocean Course. (

So what's up with a home event that's not really at home? Welcome to college golf where Wyoming's men's team can hold a tournament in Arizona and Ohio State's women's team can host one in Rancho Palos Verdes in Southern California. Heck, the Aggie men's squad even goes south to co-host The Prestige at PGA WEST in La Quinta which in the past decade has evolved into a premier event on college golf's schedule.

The women will co-host this second annual event with Oregon and bring in a field that was rated by Golf Digest as one of the toughest of the spring. No. 1 UCLA, No.3 USC, No. 11 Oklahoma State, No. 14 Cal, No. 19 Arizona and No. 23 Washington are other top 30 teams besides the Aggies and No. 22 Oregon that'll compete.

My job? I'll be there overseeing scoring. No, I'm not playing. You don't want to see that. But if you follow the tournament online, I'll be making sure scores are updated throughout each day so folks can see players' scorecards as they make their way around the course, watch teams rise and fall in the standings, and see which players are in contention for medalist honors.

Yeah, it's cool from that standpoint. As one of the people responsible for making it happen, it can be a pain-in-the-you-know what.

Basically, the tournament stations volunteers near the putting greens of every third hole on the course and when the players come through they give the volunteers their scores from their last three holes. With the help of Mr. Walkie-Talkie, the volunteer then calls in the scores to me and I put them into a scoring system and the tournament's online scoreboard is updated instaneously.

Typical Golfstat leaderboard

That's how it's supposed to happen. But not always.

Golf courses are big places with hills and trees - in other words, obstacles to radio signals. Optimally, I'd be sitting behind my computer in the clubhouse sipping a Diet Coke while I took down scores. Last year, not so much. Turns out the only place we could pick up radio calls from every volunteer location was, and I'm serious, on a bush near the valet stand.

Five feet to the left was a dead spot. Two feet to the right was a no-go. A foot in front of me was a flower bed and I'm not too sure the groundskeepers would take to kindly to that. Six feet behind me was the driveway. 'Nuff said there. But the hedge, it was almost perfect.

Golfers played back-to-back to rounds on the first day so the Oregon SID and myself would take turns standing by the bush writing down scores which we'd then walk down to a portable table and input into the computer.

How'd we find that one "live" spot? Ever see that Verizon commercial? Yeah, well, a lot of "Can you hear me now?" took place between the volunteers and us before the day started.

The scoring software provides each playing group a number, places them at certain hole to start their rounds and then gives me all the necessary paperwork to help the volunteers and I do our job.

Typically, an exchange between the volunteers and us goes like this:

VOLUNTEER: "Hole 15"
ME: "Hole 15, go ahead"
VOLUNTEER: "Hole 15, group 12. Runas 2-2-2. Johnson 2-3-2. Smith 2-2-2."
ME: "OK, Hole 15, group 12. Runas 2-2-2. Johnson 2-3-2. Smith 2-2-2."
VOLUNTEER: "That's correct."
ME: "Thank you!"

That's the way it's supposed to go. Sometimes it's like this.

VOLUNTEER: "Hole.... (static)"
ME: "Go again please?"
VOLUNTEER: "Hole.... (static) teen."
ME: "Hold on, let me move.... OK, go ahead."
VOLUNTEER: "(static)... 15."
ME: "OK Hole 15, go ahead."
VOLUNTEER: "Hole 15, group (static).... Runas 2-2-2... (static) 2-3, Smith 2-2-2.
ME: "OK, can you repeat Johnson's scores?"
VOLUNTEER: "(static) 2-3."
ME: "What her first score?"
ME: ""OK, Hole 15, group 12. Runas 2-2-2. Johnson 2-3-2. Smith 2-2-2."
VOLUNTEER: "That's correct."
ME: "Thank you!"

Luckily, the paperwork tells me who should be at the 15th hole at any given time so if I have the names, I can usually figure out the group.

And that's just one exchange. Over the course of a 36-hole day, we'll have about 300 of those conversations and there are no breaks. At the end of each round, each playing card is checked by an official and we then double-check them against what we inputted because, let's face it, it's easy to see above how mistakes can be made.

The volunteers, usually course members or local residents, are great people and very, very patient with me. Working a golf tournament is different but that's what makes it enjoyable overall. That and having the Pacific Ocean right next door.

Wanna follow live scoring at the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate? Just go here. (the link will be live closer to tournament time).

Mike Robles is Assistant Athletics Director and will be on site at Half Moon Bay for the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate in two weeks. While he's worked many golf tournaments, he has yet to actually see much of any course but knows every clubhouse inside and out. He'll also go to bed for the two weeks after the tournament with the sequence "2-2-2, 2-3-2, 2-2-2" repeating in his head.