By Mike Fields
Randy Maynard doesn’t play much golf anymore.
“It’s no fun to go out and shoot 130 and lose a dozen balls,” he says with a deep laugh.
That doesn’t mean Maynard’s love for the game has waned.
Last summer the retired United Methodist pastor was named the Barbasol Championship’s Volunteer of the Year for all of the work he put in during the inaugural PGA TOUR event at Champions at Keene Trace.
“It was such an enjoyable experience,” Maynard said. “To be around all the other volunteers and get to know them. And just being outdoors in the fresh air, on a beautiful golf course in a beautiful setting. It never seemed like work. It was fun.”
That’s why Maynard, 65, has already signed up to volunteer again when the $3.5 million Barbasol Championship returns to town July 18-21.
“I’d encourage everybody to come out and work a shift or two,” he said. “They’d enjoy it thoroughly. You don’t even have to know anything about golf.”
Civic pride was part of Maynard’s motivation to sign up last year.
“Hey, this is Kentucky’s only PGA (Tour) tournament, and I wanted to do whatever I could to make sure it was a first-class event,” he said.
“It helps local charities, too, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Maynard went above and beyond the call of volunteering last year. Starting two weeks before the tournament even began, he worked about 180 hours. He did a little bit of everything, from working in transportation to merchandising to checking credentials to helping clean up debris after storms hit the course.
Yes, he got soaked when the rains came, but that didn’t dampen his or anybody else’s enthusiasm.
“The players and caddies, everyone, was complimentary of the course and the work put in by so many people,” Maynard said. “And I know the spouses and significant others were so appreciative of being able to tour the horse farms and go on the Bourbon Trail.”
Maynard may not be much of a golfer anymore, but he has a special appreciation for the sport that he gained from an up-close perspective.
As a kid growing up in West Virginia, his dad took him to his first golf tournament in 1969 – the American Golf Classic in Akron, Ohio, at Firestone – and that’s where he first got to know a journeyman pro named Bobby Mitchell.
(Mitchell’s claim to fame was that he tied for runner-up in the 1972 Masters behind Jack Nicklaus, then two weeks later beat Nicklaus in a playoff to win the Tournament of Champions.)
Mitchell and Maynard got to be friends, with Maynard even caddying for Mitchell when he played in North Carolina, where Maynard was serving as a United Methodist pastor.
“He basically told me there were three rules of caddying: show up, keep up and shut up,” Maynard recalled. “I followed those three rules.”
The highlight for Maynard was when he looped for Mitchell in the 1984 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek.
Maynard said watching the pros from inside the ropes gave him an appreciation for their dedication to the game. “They all have talent, but they know they have to work continually to get better because if they don’t they get left behind.”
Maynard, who lives in Lexington with his wife Cindy, got to watch the pros up close again last year as a volunteer at the Barbasol.
Troy Merritt wound up winning the title on a gray Monday at Champions at Keene Trace.
Before Merritt was awarded the championship trophy, dozens of tournament volunteers gathered on the 18th green and were recognized and applauded for all of their hard work.
Maynard wasn’t among them. He was somewhere else on the property, still busy with the business (and fun) of volunteering.
If you’d like to volunteer for the 2019 Barbasol Championship at Champions at Keene Trace, go to barbasolchampionship.com/volunteer/.