The USGA has more than 1,300 volunteers who serve on 39 committees, plus thousands more who help at our national championships. Here is another in a series of Volunteer Spotlight stories
Bethesda, Md. – It was a long week at the 111th U.S. Open Championship for Bev Lane – from 5:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Sunday. But here’s the thing: she can’t say she didn’t see it coming.
“I told my husband, you’re not going to see me for a week,” said Lane, of Great Falls, Va., who was in charge of the standard-bearers, the group of youngsters who carried the placards for each grouping last week at Congressional Country Club.
Lane had helped out in a similar capacity for the AT&T National, a PGA Tour event that had been held at Congressional for three years. But the level of involvement from the community was ramped up appreciably when the U.S. Open came to the club for the first time since 1997.
“We have 120 standard-bearers, about 30 of whom are from Congressional,” said Lane, a member of the club. “And they didn’t need recruiting. We had a wait list 15 months before the championship. This is different from the AT&T – this is special.”
Lane is originally from Pittsburgh, but she and her family moved to the Washington, D.C., area when she was in high school. Growing up, she played tennis. But over the past two decades she has become a self-described golf addict. In fact, she hasn’t played tennis in two decades.
“My husband also plays, but I’m the one sneaking out of the house with the clubs,” said Lang, who plays to a 7 handicap at Congressional. All of four of Lane’s children – they range from 13 to 20 – also play golf. “We walk, we carry our bags. I’m dying to play right now.”
“Bev was a natural fit for the role – she’s very involved with the club’s junior program,” said Hank Thompson, U.S. Open manager for the USGA. “She was great, as were all of our committee chairmen.”
The juniors and young adults who volunteered to carry a sign for each group, starting with Monday’s practice rounds and ending with Sunday’s championship conclusion, ranged in age from 14 to 21, and each was given a time to report for duty. The assignment came after they reported.
“I like organizing things,” said Lane with a smile. “Someone – not me – said this job is a bit like herding cats. But the kids have been great. The local private schools are out for the year, but the public schools aren’t. Some of the kids had to go [ask] their teachers to switch their final exams so they could be here. A lot of them have played on their school’s golf team. They get it – this is a huge deal for them.”
The toughest part of the week, according to Lane, were the practice-round days, when players went out at loosely arranged times, sometimes having a player drop out at the last minute, or join them on the third hole. And even the championship-round assignments carried surprises.
“One of the kids had an early assignment today,” Lane said of Sunday’s final round. “It turned out she had Phil Mickelson’s group… you just never know.”
Sue Johnson, a longtime USGA volunteer, took note of Lane’s efforts from the adjoining “Scoring Central” trailer.
“The way Bev interacts with the kids is wonderful,” said Johnson. “She makes them take responsibility for what they are doing, and she also sees what is going on around her and helps out in many other ways. The ramp into our compound went missing, so she went and found some boards to replace it.”
Last week’s volunteer effort was also a family affair. The four Byrne siblings – brothers Jeb and Will; sisters Katherine and Julia – from McLean, Va., also got involved. Jeb and Will served as standard-bearers for the last and next-to-last pairing, respectively. Lane’s own son, Joey, 16, carried the scoring banner for the third-to-last group, Robert Garrigus and Fredrik Jacobson.
Lane worked as a systems analyst before her children were born, and now she is getting involved in graphic design. But even as the last of the names and numbers were being taken off the scoring placards, her job at Congressional wasn’t quite finished.
“I’m going to try and put together a manual, for future reference,” Lane said.
Ron Driscoll is the USGA’s manager of editorial services. E-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.