Megan Woodlief already knows she’s winning at Chambers Bay, unlike the pro golfers vying for the U.S. Open title at the Seattle-area course on Sunday.
Woodlief, a 2012 graduate of Knightdale High, is a rising senior at East Carolina University, majoring in hospitality management with a focus in major events and conventions.
She sees herself pursuing a career in operations for large sports events. Her internship with the United States Golf Association, working in merchandise for the Open, is a good step in that direction.
“Meeting all the people that work with USGA, not just the USGA, we meet vendors from Nike, Under Armour, Ralph Lauren and some smaller vendors too,” Woodlief said. “It’s fantastic, especially if you want to be in professional sports like I want to be.”
This isn’t Woodlief’s first round with the USGA. Last year she worked a similar internship with the USGA at the U.S. Open in Pinehurst, where her father’s company was a sponsor. But this year’s event is a different animal. It’s all the way across the country and Woodlief has had to adjust to life on her own in a place a long way from home.
“We are so busy, you don’t even get a chance to miss home,” she said. “With all of us (interns) living together, it makes it really easy to make friends and hang out. The biggest struggle is finding our way in a new place and adjusting to the time difference.”
She applied to work at the will call ticket window at this year’s Open and won the part, but was later recommended for the merchandising position.
Woodlief arrived in Washington May 10 for the internship, which will run through July 1.
She and her peers were given a day off prior to the start of pre-tournament activities to explore Seattle, check out the Space Needle and take in a Mariners game. Otherwise, it’s been all business.
The interns at Chambers Bay have been busy since they arrived. Once the 41,000-square-foot main merchandise pavilion was installed, it had to be filled.
“It was kind of crazy,” Woodlief said. “We stocked it in about a week. It’s a cool experience to see and take pride in something you know you helped put together.”
Her days leading up to the tournament ran 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Things got even busier starting Monday, when her hours extended to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
As workers prepared for an increase in foot traffic for the opening championship round on Thursday, Woodlief had a clear understanding of the value of the volunteers helping staff the site.
“The managers kind of told us to get ready, it’s going to be quite a ride,” she said. “Volunteers are a big part of our operation. Twenty interns couldn’t run a whole tent.”
Woodlief’s day was split into three shifts during the tournament: volunteer check-in in the morning, midday work with a visual merchandiser “making sure the flow of the tent is as profitable as it can be,” and manning the bag check tent in the evenings.
While Woodlief doesn’t “really play” golf, she comes from a family that does and she enjoys watching the sport. She hadn’t had the opportunity to meet any of the pro golfers as of Tuesday, noting the job didn’t allow for much time out on the course.
“We have had golfers come by the merchandising pavilion, but other than that we have giant TVs set up all throughout our tent so we at least get to catch the action while we’re working,” she said.
For now, she’s just hoping for another day off to relax before the internship ends.
Woodlief is the daughter of Gary and Robin Woodlief of Knightdale.