The United States Open, one of four major championships as part of the PGA Tour, is a dream of any professional golfer to appear at.
For Bethel head golf coach Gregg Dick and graduated student-athlete Connor Mickens, it was a dream to volunteer at.
"I'm a USGA member and get all their material, so I saw in 2019 it was going to be in Pebble Beach," shared Dick.
"I've had this on my calendar for probably eight years."
Dick mentioned the draw of the U.S. Open in his eyes was partnered with it being the 100th anniversary of Pebble Beach, as well as his previous experience with the course.
"I had played Pebble Beach about 30 years ago, so I knew the kind of venue it was and how cool it would be to be there."
Dick filled out an application to be one of 4,500 total volunteers in April 2018, honing on his experiences volunteering at other tournaments as well as being a steward for the game of golf.
Mickens was asked by Dick to also apply and found out later last summer that they had both been selected as volunteers.
"I was selected to be a grandstands marshal, and had to monitor the crowd and keep people out when it became full," shared Mickens.
Dick and Mickens were each required to work three total shifts of six hours each during the four-day tournament. Mickens stacked his shifts on Thursday and Friday so that he'd be able to walk the course and be more of a spectator during the final two rounds.
"I followed Gary Woodland around for two full rounds," shared Mickens, who had a previous connection to the 2019 US Open champion, as his dad was an assistant coach for Woodland's high school team.
Mickens shared that his highlight from the tournament was being able to see Gary Woodland's chip-in on 12 on Saturday.
"Being able to see in-person the big shots that Gary made are something I'll always remember."
Mickens and Dick saw hundreds of professional golfers throughout the tournament but each shared in a surreal experience earlier in the week as they followed Tiger Woods throughout a large part of his practice round.
"We arrived the Sunday before the tournament and drove into the course to check things out. We kept going a little further and further, went through the lodge on 17, and walked down to the 18th hole."
Mickens and Dick decided to keep walking the course since Mickens hadn't been there previously, and eventually came across Tiger Woods golfing on his own.
"That's something that not very many people can say they've done. Thousands of people can say they saw him during the tournament, but we saw him by ourselves."
They were able to follow Woods for eight holes during that practice round, but Dick mentioned he also came away with other moments that applied to his job as a collegiate golf coach.
"We hung around on the practice green watching guys putt. We saw a couple of instances of these golfers struggling, and it was fascinating to see the interactions between the professional and the coach, and how to work through the situation. It was eye-opening to see that professionals go through the same struggles that everyone can."
Dick's volunteer duties included manning a piece of equipment similar to that of a surveyor and had the job of laser-focusing on each golf ball hit off the tee-box.
"When the ball came to rest I'd zoom on the ball and it would measure the distance from the tee-box, as well as how far it is from the hole. All the statistics you hear on the television broadcast come from directly what we were doing."
Dick also measured the distance of putts and was told the equipment was accurate up to a quarter of an inch.
Some of those putts resulted in thunderous responses and an atmosphere Mickens and Dick were both excited to be a part of.
"It was crazy, there were a lot of people," offered Dick.
"Pebble is set up nice for the fans, they can just line the fairways. They also had grandstands at almost every green."
Dick was able to find time at holes 6, 7, and 8 during his volunteering duties at the tournament.
"Those to me are some of the most iconic holes in professional golf, and by luck of the draw, I was able to work those. The opportunity to be in that setting is just incredible."
Mickens and Dick each were able to come away with polos, jackets, and other gear to remember their experience at the 2019 U.S. Open, but the memories will likely mean more than any of the material items could.
"It was just a great week, and it was good for us to share it together."