|The Minnesota 10 Returns From Oakmont|
|Joel (NG) Hanson searching for phones|
|Pat Logan taking a break|
By R.J. SmileyThe Minnesota 10 returns to Minnesota tired from long exhausting days, but happy with the end result - a dramatic and controversial finish to the U.S. Open at Oakmont.
As the final curtain had dropped on the 8th U.S. Open Championship held at historic Oakmont, Dustin Johnson claimed the trophy. But members of the Minnesota 10 shared an adult beverage and celebrated the completion of their 3rd U.S. Open at Oakmont. For the past 26 years this aging group of golf nomads have served as a major cog in the U.S. Open wheel; working tirelessly at jobs most golf fans do not know exist.
In a recent conversation with Pat Logan, unofficial spokesman for the group, I asked, "With all the trees removed from the golf course, did you notice the difference?"
Logan replied, "To tell the truth, I am so busy doing my job I really never notice the golf course."
With a few probing questions, Logan, with a military and law enforcement background, opened up and explained in detail his invisible, but extremely important, job walking the fairways inside the ropes with the marquee group each day during the Championship.
"My job is a combination of security, protection of the players in my group, and controlling a herd of cats - the media. The photographers and TV cameramen want the best shots possible. In each U.S. Open there are certain tees and other situations that do not allow the media the position that they desire. My job is to politely (most of the time) let them know what is acceptable. Then there are the players. Most players have restricted areas where they don't want to see a cameraman out of the corner of their eye. I explain this to the cameramen, but many times they conveniently forget."
"Then there is the gallery, you know the public who have spent their hard earned money to get a ticket to watch these exceptional athletes. Some of the cameramen are in the habit of moving ahead to the next tee and setting up their cameras in key locations. Many times these cameramen don't respect the members of the gallery, especially, the kids. Two different times during the recent Open I moved kids inside the ropes, in front of a cameraman to get a perfect view. Of course I ask their parents first, before picking them up and lifting them over the ropes."
I asked, "Pat how many grandchildren do you have?" The he answered, "Five." I said, "I thought I heard a grandfather talking!"
Logan went one to tell me that he worked about 27 holes each day during the first two days with all the rain delays and attempting to finish rounds. "I was pooped at the end of those days."
I chatted briefly with Minnesota 10 members Bob Seeger and Bob Melander recently at Braemar. They worked primarily in the communications center while at Oakmont. Seeger said that in his 26 years at the U.S. open this was the most trying of all. "There was always something that interfered with a smooth operation. Rain delays and golfers constantly changing from rain gear back to golf clothes made identification of players difficult."
Dean Miller, a long time member of the Minnesota 10, got his first opportunity to walk inside the rope with marquee groups. He worked Lee Westwood's group in the morning and Jordan Speith's in the afternoon on the second day. Dean said, "I loved being that close to the great players, but I truly enjoyed feeling the reactions from the galleries from inside the ropes. I also have a better understanding of what the cameramen are attempting to get."
Dean also works the microphones during the press conferences; moving the mic around the room so the public could hear the questions from the media. He was impressed with some of the younger players who really gave a good interview. Dean also worked the "Flash Area," where individual interviews are conducted between a media member and one particular player. He again expressed how important it is to be able to recognize players, especially the unknown golfers. It is the job of the Minnesota 10 to direct golfers to the media representative who wants the interview. "Even the unknown players have hometown newspapers and radio stations that want a personal visit."
The Minnesota 10 have had few personal changes over the years. They use the initials "NG," meaning "new guy" for new members of their closeknit group. This year NG, Joel Hanson, who is the city manager for the city of Little Canada, was assigned the task of looking through the trash for the missing radios used by the group to communicate early on Friday morning. The cleaning crew did such a good job of cleaning the night before, they threw away the box of radios.
Now that the Minnesota 10 have recovered from their trip, they are playing golf together and planning next year's trip to Erin Hills. A few of the members have relatives or friends who live near the tournament site. They look forward to not having to travel in a bus caravan each day.
The Minnesota 10 is a group of behind the scenes laborers who work because they love their job!
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