Several Jacksonville Memorial Hospital volunteers were honored with the chance to watch from “inside the ropes” as professional golfers competed during the Memorial Health Championship presented by LRS.
The four-day golf tournament, part of the Korn Ferry Tour, concludes Sunday at Panther Creek Country Club in Springfield. The tournament features 156 golfers from around the globe playing 72 holes for a $750,000 purse.
Sandy Keesee and Rhonda Cors are volunteers at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital who also serve as the buyers for the hospital’s Auxiliary Gift Shop. The two attended the tournament together on Thursday and followed golfers Grant Hirschman, Brad Brunner and Mark Anguiano during their honorary observer experience.
As honorary observers, the pair received VIP treatment during their day at the tournament and were allowed to stand and walk “inside the ropes,” alongside the golfers, caddies and scorers. From this up-close vantage point, Keesee and Cors had the chance to take in every detail of the playing conditions.
Keesee and Cors are long-time recreational golfers, having played for decades at courses in Jacksonville and all over central Illinois. They especially enjoy playing Spencer T. Olin Golf Course in Alton and Long Bridge Golf Course in Springfield. “We like that one because they have good food and good drinks,” joked Keesee.
Watching the pros at work on the challenging Panther Creek Country Club course was an eye-opening experience.
“We walked forever before we got to their drives,” said Keesee.
“Their two shots would’ve been four for us,” said Cors.
Another notable difference between Keesee and Cors’ playing style and that of the pros is in the level of noise on the course.
“It was so quiet,” said Keesee. “No one talked.”
“We were instructed we were not to do that,” said Cors.
“When we golf, it’s constant ‘yak, yak, yak,’” said Keesee, laughing. “We talk the whole time.”
Being golfers themselves, said Cors, made the experience that much more special for the pair.
“We’ll never forget it,” she said.
“It was an honor to be invited and it was such an exciting day,” said Keesee. “It was so special for us; we said we want to volunteer with the tournament next year.”
Other Jacksonville Memorial Hospital volunteers who were given the opportunity to be honorary observers during the tournament were Gift Shop volunteer Shelley Wessler and her husband, Jay; and Don and Judy Rhodes. Don Rhodes serves as a patient transporter; Judy Rhodes volunteers in the hospital’s physical therapy department.
Both Shelley Wessler and Judy Rhodes are past presidents of the Jacksonville Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.