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CLINE: TOUR Championship offers unique volunteering opportunity

Todd Cline

Todd Cline

Eight is not a number golfers generally like to associate with. No one wants to sign for the dreaded "snowman" on their scorecard. But this weekend 8 is Gregg Mooney's number.

The Suwanee resident will be stationed on the eighth hole at the East Lake Golf Club, and as a volunteer course marshal he'll help handle crowd control as the PGA Tour's best players come through at a rate of once every eight minutes. The elite field is playing in Atlanta this week in the TOUR Championship, the event that crowns the PGA's FedEx Cup champion.

While the golfers are competing for the title with a bonus of more than $10 million to the winner, Mooney thinks about other numbers. Like the amount of money that is donated to charity with the help of he and his fellow volunteers.

"A lot of charitable giving by the PGA wouldn't be possible without the volunteers," he said.

Mooney, an environmental engineer, has been volunteering at golf tournaments for 20 years. He started out at the old BellSouth tourney at the TPC at Sugarloaf when a friend asked him to give it a try. He did and has never looked back, enjoying the combination of being able to have an up-close view of a sport he loves while making a contribution to the community.

He's one of 1,350 volunteers who will be helping at East Lake this week, a group that is divided into 65 committees and puts in a combined 24,300 hours of work. It just doesn't feel like work.

"It's a lot of fun. You get to see the best golfers in the world up close," Mooney said. "(Most of us volunteers) are golfers and golf fans."

Including Mooney's brothers. For Mooney, the youngest of 11 children, nine of them boys, family is important, which makes this weekend a double delight. Two of his brothers -- Dave from California and Forrest from Ohio -- will be here in what has become a family tradition. They bring their wives and while the women visit and sight see the brothers take their posts at the TOUR Championship.

"My famly comes in and works it with me and we treat it as a brothers get together," Mooney said. "We're very lucky to have this tournament in our area."

Mooney says he misses the PGA stopping at Sugarloaf, but it's hard to top volunteering at a tourney with such an elite field. So Friday he and his brothers will be back where they always are at this time in September -- at hole No. 8 having a good time while they volunteer their time.

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.