PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — When Mark Zembrowski talks, people listen.
In his volunteer role at the Honda Classic, the Jupiter, Fla., resident directs fans to keep quiet as golfers line up to putt on the 17th green at PGA National Resort and Spa’s famed Champion Course.
His booming voice commands attention, and fans rarely ignore it.
“It’s amazing,” said the 63-year-old Milwaukee native, who is stationed inside the 1,050-person capacity Skysuite that overlooks the 17th hole. “There’s 1,000 people up there, and I’d say 95 percent listen.”
Those who don’t, get a personal visit from Zembrowski, an avid golfer who has volunteered at the Honda Classic for the past 14 years.
He’ll speak to the offending fan — in a nice way, he says — and point out the importance of every putt in a tournament with a $6.8-million purse.
“I kind of go over there after it’s done and say, ‘Come on guys. This is not social hour. These guys are putting for big money,’” he said at the start of Friday’s second round. “I’m nice about it.”
Zembrowski, who was nicknamed “The Voice of the 17th Hole” by PGA Tour golfer Lee Westwood more than a decade ago, has spent 13 of his 14 years as a Honda Classic volunteer quieting fans at the 17th hole.
He took over the position on his own after spending his first year as a volunteer holding ‘Quiet’ signs at the 17th and 18th holes.
“I just did it,” he said. “I’m kind of a leader. I always have been.”
He’s always had a big voice, too.
Zembrowski, who takes a week off from his job as a Realtor to volunteer at the Honda Classic each year, said he inherited his voice from his dad, who worked in construction.
Today, he’s recognized regularly for it.
Fans often will stop Zembrowski when he’s walking around the Champion Course and say, ‘Quiet please.’ Two weeks ago, he ran into another fan at a Macy’s store. That fan addressed him as ‘Voice of 17.’
“It’s cool,” he said. “I’m often recognized at this tournament.”
The players appreciate his efforts at noise control — PGA Tour golfer Camilo Villegas once bought him a beer — and players’ wives do, too.
“I get a lot of wives who want to take me home to yell at their kids,” Zembrowski said.