A Midwest tradition
A group from Minnesota has been volunteering at the U.S. Open for more than 20 years

By RALPH CHAPOCO - Daily News

June 20, 2017

Members of the Minnesota 10 pose for a photo inside the media center Sunday at the U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills Golf Course in the town of Erin. The group started with 10 men who began volunteering at a golf tournament in 1991.
Nicholas Dettmann/Daily News

Few events, including a major golf tournament where world-class athletes compete in front of thousands of spectators, can operate without the help of volunteers who fulfill several roles: guiding fans to their destinations, operating the stands and managing the crowd to allow the competition to continue.

For many, the opportunity to volunteer at a major is a singular event, a windfall that allows them some perks, but does not occur on a continual basis — unless you are part of a group that has volunteered at the U.S. Open Championships for the better part of 20 years.

“We started in 1991,” said Bob Seeger, a member of the group. “The Open was at Hazeltine (National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota), which is in our backyard. Bruce (Bahneman) and I had a friend of ours who belonged to Hazeltine who was going to be the chairman of the media. Back then they got volunteers from the club to be volunteers from the tent. They had trouble getting volunteers from Hazeltine so invited a few of his friends, Bruce and I and four other guys. We were out there for a week and had a great time.”

That opportunity led to another chance to volunteer for the subsequent U.S. Open major at Pebble Beach in northern California.

“The person in charge of the media tent was having a tough time getting volunteers because it was a resort and they don’t have members there,” Seeger said.

They were invited to the West Coast and worked the tournament once again, and that tradition continued this year. They call themselves the Minnesota 10, a group of mostly retirement-aged individuals living in The Gopher State who consistently volunteer for the tournament.

They began negotiating with officials who organized the event, including the airfare, vehicle rentals and lodging accommodations. In exchange, they provide a needed service every year and because they possess the institutional knowledge from previous experience — they require little to no supervision or assistance.

They were there this weekend, helping to manage the operations of the media center. They reviewed the credentials of the reporters, broadcasters and radio personalities. They pass out the identification badges, answer questions and direct media personnel to the appropriate area.

The job requires they manage multiple projects and most of all — are reliable. They believe in hard work and responsibility. They report to an assignment on time, are adept at solving problems and consistently complete tasks they are assigned.

Bahneman and Seeger want to recruit others to join, especially people who are younger than they are because they are looking to quit in a couple of years. There is a committee that reviews resumes and there is an interview process.

They are looking for people with similar personalities, people who enjoy the game, believe in hard work and are pleasant to be around.

“The ability to go see some of the finest courses in the area, I mean how many guys have that opportunity?” Bahneman said when asked why he consistently volunteers for the tournament. “We have been able to go and play these courses. We have been able to play courses in the area. The USGA (United States Golf Association) lines up some courses for us to play.”