When the Presidents Cup starts Tuesday at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William County, more than 1,000 volunteers will help keep score, escort players onto the course, drive golf carts and do whatever else needs to be done.
It promises to be an exhausting week, with 20,000 people expected each day at the tournament, which pits a team of golfers from the United States against a team made up of players from other countries.
The volunteers have paid for the privilege. In a twist on the meaning of volunteerism, those offering to work for free not only do not get paid, but they pay $200 each to sweat it out on the grounds each day.
"I was flabbergasted at the fact that these people are paying to do this," said Mark Elliott, a member of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club who is guiding the work of the volunteers for the first time at a PGA tournament. "I thought, 'How is this going to work?' But people are doing it."
The Presidents Cup has usually required volunteers to pay, a phenomenon that is catching on throughout the golf community. The system helps to offset costs and gives fans a chance to get up close to the world's best players, said George Burger, general chairman of the Presidents Cup.
"I think a lot of the majors are going to start doing it," Burger said.
From a minimal $40 at a golf event in Omaha to the $200 at the Presidents Cup, a check of tournaments across the country this year shows that people are willing to pay to work.
Lindsey Wagner, a PGA Tour volunteer coordinator, said there is no shortage of volunteers, just a scarcity of volunteers for certain duties. There are 30 committees.
"Trash pickup is the least favorite," she said.
Volunteers list three preferences of what they would like to do during the tournament, which ends next Sunday. The marshal's job, which allows volunteers to roam the course with the players, was the most popular. A list of volunteers shows that 436 people signed up for 300 positions.
There are fanatics who know how the system works and follow the tournaments like hangers-on of a rock band, Elliott said.
"There's a small group of people who are like groupies," he said. "They are retired, and they have the time to do it."
Volunteers are coming from as far as Oklahoma, Indiana, California and Iowa, Wagner said. But the Presidents Cup is being worked mostly by local golf fans, she said.
Elliott, who lives in Loudoun County, said the subdivisions of Heritage Hunt, Piedmont and Stonewall Jackson -- all in Gainesville and all with their own golf courses -- are supplying the bulk of volunteers.
"We have a whole pool of people who are golf-oriented," he said.
Jennie Fulwiker of Heritage Hunt said she took up golf 10 years ago when she retired as an office worker.
"I was retiring, so my husband and I decided to take up something. We weren't fit enough for tennis, so golf was our speed," she said.
Fulwiker, 68, said that she has attended the Presidents Cup and other big tournaments but that this is the first year she has volunteered. She said she was surprised to pay a fee, but "it's worth the experience."
"Most everyone I've met that's signed up for it feels the same way," Fulwiker said. "They give you a lot."
She is volunteering as -- what else -- an office worker. "It's been a while," she said, joking.
Like all other volunteers, Fulwiker will get a few things in exchange for her service and fee: two golf shirts, a wind shirt, a golf cap, a weekly badge with access to an exclusive suite, continental breakfast and lunch each day and one of the biggest perks -- a round of golf at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club after the tournament.
To play at the private club, golfers must be invited by a member, and members pay a $100,000 initiation fee. "Oh, yeah, it's absolutely worth it," Fulwiker said.