AUGUSTA, Ga. — Every April, Mike Dorman finds out how popular he truly is.
For the 10th straight year, the pharmacist at Baton Rouge General Mid-City is here at Augusta National Golf Club, serving as part of the Masters’ data collection team. He works the right side of the fairway, using a range finder to record the distance of players’ tee shots on the demanding 455-yard, par-4 fifth hole.
“You get a lot of friends this time of year,” Dorman said with a chuckle.
His son David is on the opposite side, tucked in among the azaleas and two cavernous bunkers that guard the inside of the dogleg in case a player winds up down there.
The Dormans, like other members of the data collection team and course marshals, come to Augusta every April on their own dime. Their only compensation are meals during the tournament and the opportunity to come back in May — again at their own expense — to play Augusta National Golf Club during what Dorman said is known as “volunteer week.”
“I’m not a very good golfer,” Dorman said, pointing to David. “He’s the golfer. But to play the course no matter what you shoot and see what the pros do and how they play the putts, for a golfer it must be what heaven is like.”
Sometimes, though, it can be a little hellish.
“You can’t imagine,” Dorman said. “On several holes, I would be right in front of the green in regulation, and I would chip up and it would go up to the flag and roll back past me. And you keep doing that. It’s just a phenomenal course.”
A longtime marshal at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Mike Dorman applied for and earned the right to purchase two series badges, which his family uses each year. But he wanted a job as well and applied to be a Masters marshal.
“The list is long, and I got turned down every year,” Dorman recalled. “Then I kept on pursuing it and, about three years later, they said they were opening up a new group called data collection and they put my name forward.”
This is the third Masters for David Dorman, who grew up in Baton Rouge and now is an insurance agent in Glendale, Ariz. His first time playing the course, he shot a respectable 79.
“It was the greatest day of my life to watch him play,” Mike Dorman said.
“It’s beautiful,” David said. “But once you get done, you’re exhausted. A good putt you barely miss is a 4-footer. And that’s all day.”
Volunteering to work the Masters is a labor of love for the Dormans — and an extra chance each year for David to see his father and mother, Rosemarie.
“What David and I are able to do, very few people ever get to do,” Mike said. “You have to appreciate the opportunity. How many people have ever gotten to play Augusta or get to come here?”
Perhaps a better question: How many would jump at the chance to join them?