hit more fairways. make more putts. avoid the hazards. play by the rules.
Back From The Congo

Posted on Monday 13 June 2005

What a wonderful week. Starting last Monday at about 11:30AM I spent 52.5 hours on Congressional’s golf course, Alex graduated on Saturday, the Bub was home for the weekend, plus our old and dear friends Susan and Mark were in town to help us celebrate. I’m slowly digging out from under the mountain of stuff left unattended last week but I did want to note a couple of things about the golf tournament.

First of all, the spectators. For some reason there were fewer drunks, fewer cell phones ringing and in general fewer problems. For example, there were only two people removed from the property on Saturday, which is a remarkably low number. One of them, whom the cops referred to as ‘Nessie,’ took a brief dip in the pond at 18. His wet footprints let the security detail to a spot on the hillside where the dufus was trying to hide in the crowd. He’d taken off his shirt, but Nessie couldn’t do anything to hide his wet chinos. The cop who escorted him off the property told me that the swimmer couldn’t understand how he got caught. I’ve got one word: Budweiser!

The golf course is absolutely spectacular. You’d expect a world class venue like Congressional to be attractive, but its poa greens, bent fairways and fescue rough were in perfect condition and manicured to portrait quality. The Tour didn’t set it up to be as difficult as it would be during a major championship, but it was plenty tough. The rough was about 3 inches on Monday and wasn’t cut the rest of the week; most of the flags on the weekend were set within 4 paces of the edges. You’d better not short side yourself on the Blue Course. Davis Love noted the remarkable difference between Congressional and the TPC at Avenel this way: “Avenel’s not a bad golf course unless you have to drive past Congressional to get there.” Wish I’d said that.

Since we marshalled the 18th this week, instead of the 17th at Avenel, I had lots and lots of interaction with the Tour staff, specifically advance man/Rules official Steve Rintoul and security director Tom Cherrigo. They shared my concerns about the way the hole was set up for crowd control, then let our team try a few things to improve the set up. I’m proud to say that in the end they agreed our ideas were sound and let us run with them.

Speaking of our team, I have to brag a bit. We’ve got the most wonderful group of energetic marshals you can imagine. While the average age of the typical marshaling squad is about 70, ours is about 50. These folks really love being out there; you can tell by the way they interact with the spectators, even when there are 40,000 of them trooping through the middle of your hole and it happens to be the 18th hole on Sunday afternoon.

Rookie marshals are always surprised at how difficult it is to be able to spot a potential problem before it happens and then take the right steps to either prevent it or fix it, all while blending the right amounts of diplomacy and discipline. Marshalling is definitely not a job for the shy. When you add in the factor of working a new hole, that hole being the 18th, and it being dead smack in middle of the major path between the entrance and the clubhouse, you begin to understand why I’m so pleased by our performance. Did I mention that our marshals all volunteers?

Our team was just brilliant all week. Thank you all: Tim Hall, Debbie Huguely, Rick Spencer, Chris and Diane John, Ann and Jerry Effer (our rookies), Bill McLachlen, Rick Meade, Steve Dorman, Jim Connell, Pat Haggerty, Vince Kiernan, Tony Shore, Ken Millian, and Dick Evans, our chairman emeritus.

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