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Shoprite LPGA Classic opens in Galloway Township, New Jersey

If you have never been to a live golf tournament, do yourself a favor and volunteer or attended the event.

The 54-hole Shoprite LPG Classic, which returned last year after a two-year hiatus, opened Friday to a moderate crowd, but beautiful temperatures in the mid-70s, a slight breeze and sunny skies.

I volunteered at the event for 10 years, carrying the walking score placards for a group of golfers. More on that later.

The tournament was held at the bay course of the Seaview Marriot Resort in Galloway Township.

Holes 2, 6, 8 and 15 face the bay with beautiful scenes of the casinos in Atlantic City.

Marriot seaview country club

As a golf fan, you can stay at one hole and let the players come to you, or as I did, follow a single group of players, which includes the player you want to see.

I decided to follow Michelle Wie’s group, which included six-foot tall Swede Anna Nordquist, and Mi Hyun Kim, a petite South Korean woman with a big swing.

I joined up with the group on Hole 7 tee, with Wie at -2, Kim -1 and Nordquist at even par.

They would not stay at those scores for long, as the wind and the long fortescue grass did some of the players in.

Wie proceeded to bogey the next five holes, before paring hole 12 and birding hole 13. Michelle Wie

On hole 10, a par 5, she placed her ball behind the green in two, but took two shots to get out of the fortescue grass behind the green and bogeyed.

Wie started outdistancing her playing partners off the tee by at least 30 yards in the back nine, and played even par until birdying the 18th hole to finish at +1.

By the time I left, the round had not finished, but the leaders were at about -4.

Nordquist finished at even par, while Kim +3.

Kim likely will not make it past Saturday’s cut, while Saturday’s round will be key for Nordquist’s and Wie to make it to Sundays' final round. Anna Nordquist

Wie, who is the 10th leading money winner on the tour, had one of the bigger crowds of the day.

At the 18th hole, I positioned myself near the golfers to get them to sign my hat.

I could have gotten them as they went into the scorers’ tent, but I respect golf, and know that theplayers have to concentrate on the scorecard, because a mistake could disqualify the golfer from the tournament.

So I stood as close as I could for the public outside the scorer’s tent and waited for the golfers to come out.

Kim and Nordquist came out first and they patiently signed all the 30 or so people’s programs and hats, including mine. Hi Hyun Kim

Wie signed two autographs and left.

I was told she would sign autographs later, but by the time I got to the public area, the line was 60 people deep and I did not want to wait.

Wie, who played in a couple of men's golf tournaments, is one of the LPGA's biggest draws.

The volunteers, including the time I served, who walk with the group get a golf ball from the golfers after they finish the 18th hole.

The ball is marked in magic marker on the dimples in a certain pattern, as most of the golfers use Titleist balls.Golf hat 001

One volunteer said he had to pay $35 to volunteer, but it included a round of golf at the course after 3 p.m. in the afternoon. I imagine it costs at least $100 to play and the course, and the bay course (one of two courses) is private.

I think the pines course is open to the public.

I have things to do at home on Saturday, but may check out the final round on Sunday, which is minutes away from my house.

The cost of the tournament?

A total of $5 for parking and the cost of consessions.

I just had to show my Shoprite card for free admission.

Pretty, pretty, good, eh?


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