Paula Burnett knows how to jump.
At 51 years old she can still do a "herkie," the cheerleading jump she learned as a high school cheerleader in her hometown of Paw Paw, Ill. She jumps with her forward leg extended, toes pointed, and her back leg folded behind her.
It's not a pep rally; it's her spirit cheer for the 120 volunteer committee chairmen, chairwomen and hole captains of the Quail Hollow Championship.
Burnett, the volunteer coordinator for the Quail Hollow Championship, is an energetic woman whose passion for the tournament is much greater than her golf skills. She plays golf but "not very well," she admits.
Never miss a local story.
So how did this so-so golfer begin working for a tournament that has hosted some of the best golfers in the world?
It started in Silvis, Ill., at the John Deere Classic, almost 30 years ago, when Burnett got her first taste of volunteering. After an exhausting 10-hour day, Burnett said, "I was hooked."
She still returns to the John Deere Classic every summer to volunteer. In 2002, she relocated to Charlotte with her husband, Curt, and her three daughters: Calli, Kate and Kirbie.
Shortly after moving to Charlotte, she heard about the Wachovia Championship - renamed the Quail Hollow Championship in 2009. Excited to offer her services, she called to volunteer. A few days later, the newly named executive director for the tournament - Kym R. Houghman, who knew Burnett's work from the John Deere Classic - offered her a job.
For Burnett, working with the volunteers at the Quail Hollow Championship is like working with family, which may be why many of the same volunteers return every year.
Carole Hagan, a co-chair for the Marshals' committee, agrees with Burnett's sentiment, calling Burnett a "delight."
Hagan says many of the volunteers "keep in touch beyond the tournament."
This family of 2,500 volunteers even shares its own language. Burnett developed the "PFF," a sort of hand wave with a flick of the fingers, which volunteers exchange as they perform their various duties at the tournament. "PFF" is more than a greeting; it is also the volunteer motto - "patience, flexible and fun," which Burnett has instilled in them.
Burnett knows that for the professional golfers at the Quail Hollow Championship, "The golf course is their office." So she instructs the volunteers to create an environment where the golfers can perform at their best.
Michael Pruner is co-chair of Paula's Pool, a special committee of approximately 70 versatile volunteers who support the other 24 volunteer committees. He calls his experience at the tournament his "best week of the year." Burnett is part of the reason; her support and unwavering attention to the many volunteers is legendary.
Burnett's work for the tournament is year-round. During the tournament, Burnett works as long as 17 hours a day.
On Sunday, when the last ball is hit, the trophy is awarded, and the volunteers have gone home, what will Burnett do?
"You start cleaning up and getting ready for the next one."