Mission Possible: Getting Players to the Green
8/15/2012 (Updated 8/16/2012 11:26:16 AM)ENDICOTT -- Gene Null looks like your typical volunteer, but that's where the comparisons stop. That's because Gene has been around for quite a while.
"My first year in 1974, the BC Open, I started as one of the drivers," Null said. "Now it's my 39th year and I've been with transportation the whole time, and now I'm the head of the chairman of transportation."
Nearly 40 years after he started this retired IBM employee is in charge of making sure nearly every player gets to and from the tournament. Picking up everyone from Tom Watson to Chi Chi Rodriguez.
"Chi Chi Rodriguez, was flying into Elmira and he got off the plane in Ithaca," Null said. "He swore he was in Elmira and we didn't have a driver there. We asked him to spell the name of the terminal, he starts out I-T-H."
He's even driven guys that didn't know they were getting picked up.
"I picked a golfer up in Syracuse at 1:30 in the morning and he couldn't believe we were there to pick him up," Null said. "He says you must have thought I was a name, and I said, we don't pick up names, we pick up golfers."
Now the driver has become a name, at least around the tour. Last year Null was named the Champions Tour Volunteer of the Year.
"I never knew they had such a thing," Null joked about receiving the award. "I thought they were kidding me when they told me about it."
They weren't kidding, and Null got a vacation from the Tour as proof. However, after that he got back to doing what he's been doing for the last 38 years because without Gene, there may be no golfers to play.
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