DUBLIN, Ohio (WCMH) — All eyes were fixated on the golfers at the Memorial Tournament with round one starting Thursday.

But there are some people who share the course with players that most fans don’t notice — the volunteers.

Von Downing has been volunteering at the Memorial Tournament for 28 years and ever since 1995, he started handing out Werther’s Original candies to patrons.

Three years ago, he started a new tradition when he met a then five-year-old Marisol Mitchell at the 14th hole where Downing is the captain marshal.

“She sat down here at the corner for five days and for those five days she didn’t say a word to anybody,” Downing said. “She didn’t even ask for an autograph . . . and I thought ‘You know what? I’m going to make her a marshal someday.'”

He’s done just that making Marisol his protégé.

“He brought her up to the hole, taught her the motions and the next thing we know there’s Mr. Von and there’s Marisol the marshal,” Marisol’s grandmother Cathy Sankey said.

Marisol caught on quick to the ways of the marshal.

“One hand means get ready to be quiet and two hands means be quiet,” Marisol said. “Thumbs up means it’s not in the water and thumbs down means it’s in the water.”

The unlikely friendship and mentorship has made for a special tradition at the 14th hole.

“What I’m really thinking about is how lucky and blessed we are to have Mr. Von in our lives . . . to make her Memorial Tournament so special,” Sankey said. ” What an opportunity for a young girl to learn kindness and compassion.”

A former Columbus city employee, Downing said he keeps coming back because of the people.

“The fans really make the tournament. It’s not the golfers. It’s the people,” he said. “I’ve got people who I shake hands with and some of them have been here 30 years. We call if golf reunions!”

It’s a reunion Marisol looks forward to every year.

“I like coming out here with Mr. Von,” Marisol said next to Downing.

“You’re making me blush,” he responded to the young marshal.

Marisol said she wants to be a teacher and a marshal when she grows up. She’s learning from the best.

“You know it takes time to train a good marshal but she’s on the fast track,” Downing said with a smile.