Parker a Tired, Grateful Volunteer for U.S. Open
by Patrick Hussey
BROOKLINE, Mass. – As Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris and Mathew Fitzpatrick battled it out down the stretch at the U.S. Open this past Sunday, Steve Parker, course superintendent at Mountain View Country Club (MVCC) in Greensboro, was on his way back to Vermont from the Brookline course after volunteering there all week.
Fitzpatrick would eventually win his first major championship at the 2022 U.S. Open on Sunday, and, back at work at MVCC. on Monday, Parker reflected back on his long week helping out as a groundskeeper. He was one of 100 volunteers who prepared and cared for the course all week at the U.S. Open.
During the summer of 2021, Parker first heard that the head superintendent at The Country Club in Brookline, David Johnson, was soliciting help for the 122nd edition of the U.S. Open championship. Parker was interested, and after he got support from MVCC president Rick Ely, he decided to go to a meeting in Massachusetts about the event.
Parker attended the informational dinner, then had to fill out a few forms and write up a couple essays. He eventually got selected to become a volunteer last summer. So on the Sunday prior to the 2022 tournament, Parker made the trip down to Brookline to begin work.
He attended the orientation meeting with the country club grounds staff, and they told the volunteers what they were trying to do with the course and what they were hoping to achieve. So the group got together and walked the grounds to discuss the plan.
The 100 volunteers were put up at Boston College, and each day, they had a 15-minute bus ride to the event. Parker said he had to be up in the morning by 2:30 a.m. They would get to the course very early, break up into teams of three with their country club captain, and go out and mow the greens and fairways. They would start mowing by 5 a.m. with headlamps on.
Parker said he was primarily responsible for mowing the same three greens, the seventh, twelfth and sixteenth holes. They would double cut the greens in the morning, roll them, and once either the practice rounds were complete or the tournament players finished up, they would go back out late in the afternoon to double cut the greens and roll them again. Parker said the greens became extremely fast.
The grounds crew volunteers, during their down time while play was going on, took great satisfaction watching how players were performing on the greens they were responsible for mowing.
Parker said Johnson was determined that no golfer would shoot a low score at the Open. He didn’t want anyone to reach double digits under par. Fitzpatrick won the four-day tournament by shooting six under par.
Parker said the grass on the fairways was as short as the greens at Mountain View. They were being mowed and rolled constantly. But when players started taking advantage of the great rolls they were getting, Johnson stopped mowing them so fine and began watering heavily to slow the carry of balls.
In addition to caring for the lightening fast greens, Parker said Johnson would also have all his volunteers fluffing up the roughs and the long grass around the bunkers. Johnson did not want any grass to be bent over, his mission was to make golfers work very hard if their ball landed in the long grass. Judging by the many swings and misses, as well as the numerous miss-hits from the rough, Johnson accomplished his goal.
“All week David (Johnson) was just so happy,” said Parker. “It’s not very often you can take 100 volunteers and make them all do what you want. But he was very comfortable with us, we knew what he wanted done, and he didn’t have to worry, he knew we would get the job done. We had a great crew, everyone worked really well together, and in the end they were real proud of the work we did for them.”
Parker said it was a nice learning experience. However, it was a long week of double shifts. He was tired, yet grateful for the experience. Parker was one of the older ones on the crew and decided that the schedule was a better fit for younger workers. So he will not return next year.
“It was a great experience, I learned some stuff,” said Parker. “I got a chance to talk about some things with their supervisors, and I talked to Dave a little bit. I got a chance to ask him how he did certain things. So he was great to me, taught me some things, and he is just a wonderful guy, very down-to-earth. So I had a great experience there.”