When Maarten and Gerrie-Eva Mol took up golf in their home country of the Netherlands nearly 40 years ago, the sport’s presence in the nation was nearly nonexistent. According to the Mols, there were only about 10,000 golfers in the Dutch Golf Federation (currently the Royal Dutch Golf Federation) and fewer than 20 courses in the entire country at the time. With golf’s relative absence in the Netherlands, the couple discovered their love for the game in Ireland and has since developed a passion for the sport that has driven their intercontinental exploration.
“When we both were in Dublin in 1975 for an international pharmaceutical congress, we heard about the Irish Open. [It] opened our eyes to the full golf experience,” Maarten said. “Friends and colleagues of mine had just started playing golf, which was still quite an elite sport in the Netherlands at that time.
“We still remember the roar from the crowds when Christy O'Connor Jr. won his country's Open. Not long after our trip to Ireland, I had my first golf lessons.”
Today, Maarten and Gerrie-Eva are golf championship regulars and play the game often, as is now common in the Netherlands. Maarten currently works on course maintenance, and Gerrie-Eva, in addition to having served as a member of the Netherlands national senior team, is finishing her final year as a rules official for the Netherlands Golf Federation. Through the couple’s various golf engagements, they discovered the USGA and joined in 2001.
“I became responsible for our course and thus developed an interest in course maintenance and management, to find out that the USGA Green Section is the impartial, authoritative source of information,” Maarten explained. “Since the USGA – in conjunction with The R&A – is also the governing body of the game, it seemed logical to us to join.”
When the USGA asked for volunteers for the 2004 U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills, the Mols, by nature, were eager to take part.
“When we join a club, a society, an institution, we get involved; that is, we want to do our share,” Maarten explained. “We considered [volunteering] to be great fun on the one hand, and very interesting to see the organization of such a large tournament from the inside on the other hand, so we joined the 5,200 volunteers.”