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Memories at the Memorial: Ohio State alumna reflects on 44 years of volunteer service

Jack Nicklaus (left), Arnold Palmer (center) and Gary Player (right) pose for photographs at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 Augusta, Ga. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

When golf legend and Ohio State alum Jack Nicklaus created the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, in 1976, Sunday’s winner Patrick Cantlay was still 17 years from being born.

Volunteer Shere Everett, a 73-year-old Ohio State alumna, saw Cantlay capture his second-ever PGA win at the Muirfield Village Golf Club Sunday, but that was nothing new for her.

Everett saw Tiger Woods win his record fifth Memorial in 2012. She saw Nicklaus win his own tournament for the last time in 1984. In fact, Everett has laid witness to each winner in the tournament’s 44-year history: She’s worked as a volunteer every year since the Memorial came into existence.

Months before the tournament debut, the Columbus Dispatch put out a request for volunteers as this was the Memorial’s inaugural year.

Everett, then 30 years old, got home from work and picked up a copy of the Dispatch off her concrete front step and noticed a request for volunteers for the PGA golf tournament.

She grew up on golf, as her father, older brother and mother all played. Everett was 12 years old when she got her first set of golf clubs. Though her passion for golf was evident, she said what reeled her into volunteering for the Memorial was what it sponsored: Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

In 1967, Everett’s niece celebrated her fourth birthday over the 10-week period she spent in Nationwide Children’s burn ward. In appreciation for saving her niece’s life, Everett said the least she could do to give back was volunteer at a tournament that’s proceeds benefit the hospital.

“That is what got all of us into it,” Everett said. “My dad was a marshal. My brother worked as a spotter for CBS. I was a volunteer. My mother was a volunteer. One year we had three generations of us: My father and mother, me and my brother and my niece, the one who was in Children’s burn ward.”

On May 27, 1976, the very first day of the tournament, Everett said she was in awe of the sights and sounds on a sunny day at Muirfield.

“It was incredible,” Everett said. “Jack [Nicklaus] was still playing and it was his tournament so he was looking at everything, as he still does. He was going around the course to make sure everything was as perfect as could be for the touring pros who were playing.”

Everett said she can still envision Roger Maltbie, the Memorial’s eventual first winner, approaching the 17th hole on the tournament’s final day.

Members of the crowd held their breath as Maltbie’s ball hit one of the stakes holding the fencing in place. Everett watched as the ball bounced back onto the green and landed a mere six-inches from the cup. Maltbie walked up to his ball and tapped it in for a playoff that he ultimately won.

Since that Memorial Day weekend in 1976, Everett has been an annual fixture at the tournament. Her long-standing commitment has granted her the opportunity to boast being the only person who has twice been invited to serve on the committee that oversees 3,000 volunteers.

“Shere is great,” Angie Fallon, captain of volunteer services for the Memorial Tournament, said. “We are blessed with long-term volunteers who selflessly give their time.”

While Everett is not the sole volunteer to claim 44 years of consecutive service at the Memorial, her hard work has garnered the reverence of even her longest-running contemporaries.

Shere is one of the most giving people I know,” Michele Joseph, also a volunteer of 44 years, said. “She works full-time, serves on various boards [and] committees and still finds time to volunteer for the tournament. And she doesn’t just work one day. She works the entire week.

Attendees of the 2019 Memorial Tournament may have seen Everett in her customary post on the leaderboard at the 18th hole, which she said is the best hole on the course. When asked how long she plans to continue volunteering for the PGA tournament, Everett was unwavering.

“As long as my knees hold up and I can climb the 22 steps up to the board,” she said.

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