U.S. Open golf tournament to employ 30 Kent State students

Joe Harrington

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and 30 Kent State students will be working at the 107th U.S. Open golf tournament this summer.

While Woods and Mickelson are putting for millions of dollars on national television, the 15 hospitality management majors and 15 sport management majors will be earning credit hours toward their degrees and experience toward their future careers.

Kent State alumnus Chris Hampton, the assistant general manager of Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh, was a guest lecturer in one of hospitality management professor Rob Heiman’s classes last year. Although Hampton was more than a year away from his golf course hosting the 2007 U.S. Open tournament, Hampton was already preparing for the prestigious week-long event and hiring volunteers to help work the projected sold-out tournament.

Hampton’s visit and Heiman’s vision was the first step to a rare opportunity for management students.

“The needs are incredible for an event like this,” Hieman said. “They had needed a minimum of 3,000 people just for the management and 5,000 people applied. We are very fortunate to be a part of this tournament.”

The event has now been formed into a special summer course that Hieman and sport management professor Mark Lyberger will teach and oversee. The course will be three weeks long and worth three credit hours. The professors will teach the students a variety of skills, from food and beverage operations to player management and player hospitality.

“Many of our students are seeking a career in event planing,” Hieman said. ” This will show our students the planning and execution that needs to be done for a major event.”

For the first five days, students will work six-hour shifts doing different forms of hospitality activities, such as working at concession stands and serving foods and drinks inside the large tents set up around the golf course. The last two days, students will critique, observe and report the different “Golf and Tournament” functions of the past week.

Matt Abegglen, junior hospitality management major, is going to Oakmont. Abegglen hopes to one day manage a country club like Oakmont, but as an avid golf fan, he is looking forward to experiencing more than just serving burgers and beers to spectators for seven days.

“This is something you dream of doing your whole life,” Abegglen said. “The class will teach me a lot of things about handling a golf course and the athletes. But I’d shine shoes and park cars just to be at the U.S. Open.”

Abegglen, along with the 29 other students involved, will only have to pay $50 for food, beverage and lodging for the entire seven-day event, plus tuition costs for three credit hours.

Heiman said that the class is a “hole-in-one” experience for everyone involved. “Just the fact that our students are going to be (at the U.S. Open), learning how an event is executed, is very exciting,” he said.

Contact College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Joe Harrington at [email protected].