One of Us

Nancy Nichols

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How did you first become involved with THE PLAYERS?

I was involved in the National Association of Insurance Women. We worked closely with a lot of the insurance agencies in town, and one of those agencies was Haynes, Peters & Bond.

Hank Haynes later became one of the volunteer tournament chairmen. Hank asked me and other people to come out and help him – he was over commissary that year.

So, there was a group of us that went out and helped run the commissary committee. It was a different vendor than we have today. So, Kiwanis might have had a hot dog and hamburger stand and then Rotary might have had something. Those types of things.

My older brother had volunteered for a number of years, even all the way back to when it was the GJO. So, I was aware of it, and what it lent to the community and all of Northeast Florida, actually, and the charities and that whole aspect of it.

But, that was my first year out there, working with Hank Haynes on the commissary committee.

What committees have you been involved with?

I went from commissary to the patrons committee. There was a bank here in town called Atlantic National Bank, and Al Sinclair was president. The bank sponsored the patrons at that time; it had a tent located off the green on No. 9.

We would go out and pick up patrons when they came and parked in the club parking lot. We had food, and they had some bars and a TV set. We had a telephone in there – back before the days of cell phones. It was just basically a chalet-type tent for patrons.

I did that for a few years. Then I moved over to marshal committee, and I’ve been on marshal committee in some form or another since then.

This year, it got changed to gallery management. The name is more reflective of the duties of the committee.

What do you do on the committee?

I have been chairman of the committee for the past four years.

I started out as a hole marshal, and hole marshals are the folks that stand out there and put their hands up and tell people to be quiet, man the ropes and kind of help spot balls and whatever else needs to happen out there around the hole.

Then, after a number of years being a hole marshal, I was asked to become a hole captain. My first hole that I was captain on was hole No. 5. I did that for a number of years, and then I was asked to become what at that time we called majors, but now they’re called coordinators. As a coordinator, you manage three holes.

This year, we have 451 volunteers for that committee – in years past, it’s been about 700 – and you can’t just have a chairman. You know, you’re trying to manage 700 people. That’s impossible. Or it would not be very well run.

So, there’s sort of an internal hierarchy. You’ve got the individual on the hole. You’ve got captain, and then you’ve got a major or coordinator. Then you have assistant chairs: one over the front nine and one over the back nine.

I also have a third assistant chair who is over our personal headquarters area. And then I’m the chairman of the committee.

How has COVID affected what you do?

Last year, we had to shut the whole thing down on Thursday. And this year has been interesting for everybody, because of the challenges with trying to put on a tournament the size of THE PLAYERS and reintroducing gallery – even though it’s a much lesser number of galley spectators.

So, everybody will wear a mask, including spectators. You’d be wearing them the entire time you’re there during your volunteer shift, and there are sanitation stations around.

The gallery management volunteer stands right there by the ropes. They’re stationed all around the hole. And when it’s necessary – let’s say the player’s ball came over and was resting just a foot or two from the rope and you want to try to maintain at least six feet – they’re going to be asking people to step back.

Tell me about your volunteers.

Over 45 years, obviously, there have been some wonderful times and great experiences meeting amazing people from our local community and people that come in from all over the United States.

We have a lady that lives in California, and she comes every year to volunteer and be a hole captain. And we have people come down from Canada. I have one gentleman, he lives in Scotland; he’s been coming over here for years and years volunteering. And he’s bummed out because he can’t come this year.

Do your volunteers interact with the players?

I’ve always tried to impress this on all the volunteers in this particular committee: the players, although they’re wonderful, nice people, they’re at work. So, they’re not going to walk over and joke with you and tell you stories. So, while there are times when you have some interaction with players, it’s kind of rare.

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