|Minnesota 10 - U.S. Open Volunteers|
|Retired Bayport police officer Pat Logan, shown holding the trophy with newly crowned U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, and the rest of the Minnesota 10 as they celebrate the conclusion of another hectic week of work for the USGA this past summer at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash. (USGA photo by Darren Carroll)|
RJ SmileyIn this article you will learn about The Minnesota Ten (MN10), a team of volunteers, who are preparing for the 26th edition of their annual pilgrimage to the U.S. Open. This small, but vital group of 14 volunteers bring a continuity to the continually changing Communications Center at U.S. Open Championships.
Pete Kowalski, Director of Championship Communications for the United States Golf Association (USGA), "The Minnesota 10 are an extension of our service. The media knows them by face and they have relationships that are very meaningful with those who cover the U.S. Open."
When most golf fans think of volunteers working at a professional golf tournament, we picture a group of older semi-retired men and women wearing uniforms (that they had to paid for) standing inside the ropes looking and feeling very important. The mental picture shows volunteers creating a path so the professional golfers can move from the green to the next tee, or giving information about porta-potty locations. These well-trained volunteers are an important part of the success of every golf tournament, but this story will be vivid prove that not all volunteers can be painted with the same brush.
As the Minnesota 10 are preparing for the next chapter in a book that is still being written, the specialized team of nomadic volunteers eagerly studies site plans, flyovers of the golf course and stories of previous Oakmont championships. Before they arrive at Oakmont, our Minnesota 10 lads will know every detail of the course and property. Three members of that original team, from the 1991 Open, are willingly doing their homework, accept 12 to 14 hours work days and the unknown twists and turns of working the fast pace of a communications center. Experience has given each member of this easily identified team. Yes, they have their very own "team uniform," shirts, slacks and caps, complete with the Minnesota 10 logo. The outfits change daily. They have the confidence to deal with the demanding and sometimes rude and insulting media from around the world.
It all started in 1991 when the USGA was seeking volunteers to help with the media during the U.S. Open at Hazeltine National Golf Club. Bruce Bahneman had signed up to help and asked his friend, Pat Logan, a policeman and member of the National Guard who had just returned from a tour of duty in Desert Storm, if he was busy during the Open. Bob Seeger, not the musician, a retired architect, was the third member of the original group still actively traveling with the team.
After the 1991 Open where the hard working Minnesota attitude came to be appreciated, "The USGA asked if anyone wanted to come out to Pebble Beach for the 1992 Open," Bahneman said. "Obviously, you do not turn that down. When the time came, 10 of us signed up to pay our own way and help out again." Thus, the Minnesota 10 was born.
"We paid for everything; they put us in dorms at nearby Robert Louis Stevenson boarding school dorms. We had a blast though," continued Bahneman.
Rather than list the detailed duties in the seven page job description prepared by the USGA, I will discuss a few interesting little known duties performed by the Minnesota10 and a few humor filled stories that explain some of the things that the Minnesota 10 does during their annual one week job. "This is certainly not a vacation!" said one of the group of nomadic volunteers who for the past 25 years have followed the U.S. Open all across the USA.
Bahneman tells the story involving Bob Seeger, a frantic, serious man with a great sense of humor - if you can get his attention. At Oakmont in 1994, Bob, who was manning the land line phones, was receiving calls from someone who kept inquiring about Ernie Els.
Caller: "Say, mate, how did Els do on the last hole?"
Seeger: "He made birdie"
Caller: "Yes, mate, can you tell me what Els made on the par 3?"
Seeger: "He made a three. You sound like you have an accent; where are you calling from?"
Caller: "South Africa."
Seeger: "Isn't it expensive to be calling so often from there?"
Caller: "Yes, but we are on an 8-minute delay here and I'm betting on what Els makes each hole and I'm doing quite well."
Prior to the start of each U.S. Open the Minnesota 10 checks credentials and issues press passes to the media members. Different lanyards, for inside the ropes access, are given for different media member types. By Wednesday, each player in the field must identify his caddie for the week. The name and vital information on each caddie for the Championship is gathered by the Minnesota 10. All this information is listed and printed on a USGA form with a special area for notes. Working closely with the media, the Minnesota 10 must prepare each day a complete description of exactly what each player is wearing, cap, shirt, slacks and shoes, so that the media can easily identify that golfer. (Much like the jockeys in a horse race wearing different colors of silks.) Of course the pairings and starting times are the first thing media members want early in the day.
With Logan's police and military experience, he has earned the right to accompany the final group of tournament leaders as they make their way around the golf course. Logan's responsibilities include crowd control when an off line shot is hit into the gallery and controlling photographers and other media inside the ropes. "We go from five in the morning until nine or ten at night, so it's a long day," Logan said. "When I work with golfers, I run all 18 holes and by the end of the day, I'm beat."
The U.S. Open at Bethpage in New York presented Logan with a huge challenge. "Have you every tried to move a New York crowd away from a ball?" asked Logan. "I was using my platoon sergeant voice. You know how to get a New Yorker to move, you insult them."
Logan who was accompanying Tiger Woods on one of those occasions efficiently created a window for Woods. "I didn't know he was watching, but Tiger said, 'That was good.'"
Readers of the upcoming July issue of Tee Times will be the first to learn of the exciting new tales from the Open at Oakmont provided first hand by members of the Minnesota 10.
Visit the Minnesota 10 website at https://sites.google.com/site/minnesota10golf/home to see original photos of past Open Championships and read the complicated job description for volunteers at the Communications Center.
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