Submitted photo: Dave and Sue Sergeant of Fort Dodge pose together after a day of working the PGA Championship in
Kiawah Island, S.C.
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Dave and Sue Sergeant weren’t in front of the cameras or making headlines during the PGA Championship golf tournament here last month.
Without the Fort Dodge couple, though, players in the major field would’ve struggled to make the turn or even complete their respective rounds.
The Sergeants were part of a volunteer staff who worked the Ocean Course event, famously won in historic fashion by 50-year-old Phil Mickelson. Dave — who recently retired after 50 years as a full-time lawyer — and Sue — a loan officer with Green State Credit Union — were responsible for shuttling golfers to and from the tee boxes and greens as members of the transportation committee.
“It was quite an experience,” said Dave, a local legend and Iowa Golf Association Hall of Fame member. “They gave us times and shifts. We had to be there by 6:30 a.m. in the mornings. We worked two of the three practice rounds, then three of the four days (during the tournament). We’d take players from the practice area to the tee box, or from greens to tees — wherever they needed to go on our eight-seat cart.
“I kid you not: from the No. 9 green to the 10 tee, it was a full mile. And it was a mile from the clubhouse to the first tee. Just unbelievable distances. So we stayed busy.”
The Sergeants initially signed up to help when they were visiting Sue’s sister, Cindy Hadley, for Thanksgiving in 2019.
“Cindy lives down in the area,” Dave said. “We thought we’d put our names in (through the PGA) and see what happened. Lo and behold, we were accepted. Then COVID comes along, and everything was kind of hanging in the balance. We were getting constant notifications and updates about rules, regulations, schedule updates and instructions. But for a while, we weren’t even sure if they were going to have this tournament at all.”
The Sergeants shuttled a number of well-known PGA stars to their destinations.
“Jordan Spieth, Stewart Cink, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Patrick Reed,” Dave said. “John Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter and Phil Mickelson walked right past us when we were parked by the clubhouse. We never really knew who we were going to get. The rules said we weren’t supposed to talk to them unless they talked to us, and we wore masks (due to COVID-19 protocol) the whole time, so it wasn’t exactly a ‘normal’ experience. But quite a few of them struck up conversations with us, as did some of the caddies.
“It seems like Sue had more players talking to her than I did. She had Spieth one day and I had to explain to her this is one of the top players in the world. Almost all of them were friendly and unassuming.”
Sergeant said there were “special routes” for the shuttle service to avoid large crowds and get the players around.
“It was kind of a ‘back’ way, so we weren’t really as visible (to the fans),” Sergeant said. “Working behind the scenes, so to speak.”
Sergeant admitted he “broke protocol” when he saw Iowa native Zach Johnson.
“I felt OK about calling him over, since we know each other,” Sergeant said. “He came up and said, ‘Dave, how the hell are you?’ I think he was surprised to see us. We talked a little about the golf course, the tournament and everything else. Zach is still good friends with (former Fort Dodge Country Club course superintendent and Algona native) Donnie Teeter, so we have a local connection of sorts (Johnson also played in the Fort Dodge Amateur during his collegiate days at Drake University).”
Sergeant followed Johnson for a few holes during one of his off days.
“It wasn’t exactly a spectator-friendly course,” Sergeant said. “I couldn’t see Zach very well; it was hard to get in a real good position. An exhausting course to walk and get around on. I think that’s what made our job unique — the shuttle service was something players needed, rather than it being optional.”
The 76-year-old Sergeant was named the Iowa Golf Association’s Senior player of the year four times: from 1997-99 and in 2001. The 1963 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate, who was inducted into the IGA Hall of Fame in 2014, qualified for the U.S. Senior Open in 1998 and again in 2003.
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