Local golf fans help maintain Erin Hills during the U.S. Open

By |  June 15, 2017 0 Comments
Roger Prickette

Roger Prickette

A handful of amateur golfers have turned into amateur maintenance crew members for this week for the chance to be at the 2017 U.S. Open.

Each year golf course maintenance professionals travel from hundreds to thousands of miles away from their home courses to volunteer as members of the U.S. Open maintenance crew. Erin (Wis.) Hills’ group of 110 volunteers does have volunteers from around the world — including representatives from Australia and Great Britain — but it’s fitting that for Wisconsin’s first U.S. Open the crew also has some local golf course maintenance amateurs getting the experience of a lifetime.

Roger Prickette is a retired teacher from Watertown, Wis., about 30 minutes from the course, but this week he is spending his early mornings and evenings with the crew. Prickette says that on rare occasion he has gone out and helped the maintenance staff at the local course he plays at but mainly he just rakes his own bunkers. Luckily he has been assigned to a bunker raking crew.

Prickette steps out of a bunker he raked on Erin Hills' 10th hole

Prickette steps out of a bunker he raked on Erin Hills’ 10th hole.

“I volunteered for this position because I thought this was the one volunteer opportunity that I could be most helpful,” adds Prickette. “I can’t believe that I’m getting to work the U.S. Open, to see the great golfers that are here and it’s as close as it will probably ever be to my home. It’s great working with these guys and they seem to know what they’re doing so I’m just following along.”

Prickette admits that the hardest part of the job has been getting up early to be at the course by 4 a.m., but his wife is there to wake him up on time.

Travis Roethle first heard about the opportunity to work at the U.S. Open almost nine months ago from his best friend’s brother who works for Erin Hills’ maintenance team, Colin Clink.

“I’ve loved golf ever since I was 10 years old. I figured I lived right down the road and I might as well get my feet in the water because of the free entry for the week so that saved me about $500 that I would’ve spent on tickets,” says Roethle, a safety specialist at Pieper Electric in nearby New Berlin, Wis., “I am able to take some vacation time from my job, and I figured this was the perfect week to use that.”

He adds that he is coming away with a whole new idea of how a golf course operates.

Travis Roethle

Travis Roethle

“This is all crazy to me. I’ve been on a golf course three to four days a week pretty much the last eight years and I never even thought about half of the stuff we are doing,” says Roethle. “It’s pretty cool to see both sides of it. Makes me appreciate these guys a lot more than I did at the beginning of this week.”

Roethle is extremely happy to be able to enter the U.S. Open for the price of strapping on a backpack blower and blowing off fairways but it isn’t as easy as he thought it would be.

“When I was given my blower I thought it was the easiest job on the course, but after four days of this my back is pretty sore,” says Roethle.

Photos: BASF


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