Students, professor, alumni part of staff during U.S. Open
June 29, 2017
blanketed Erin Hills golf course Friday, June 16, during the second round of
the men’s U.S. Open golf tournament, two University of Wisconsin-Stout students
were in the shadows.
Savannah Stock and
Rylee Vincent were on the grounds with about 35,000 other people, but they were
hard at work in the clubhouse and in an adjoining hospitality tent on a hill
overlooking the first tee. The summer hospitality interns tended to the food
and beverage needs of special guests, including the club’s owner and staff from
the United States Golf Association.
They kept beverage
coolers filled on the nearly 90-degree day and helped with buffet lines, which
featured a traditional Friday Wisconsin fish fry. Guests dined in the
air-conditioned facilities as they watched the golf action on large TV screens.
fast-paced. We’re working 10- to 12-hour days and walking about eight or nine
miles a day,” Stock said. “It’s definitely awesome being here.”
UW-Stout, which has
a golf enterprise management major along with a hospitality program, had
multiple connections to the tournament, one of golf’s major championships.
Stock, Vincent and four other UW-Stout students are working at Erin Hills this
summer. Assistant Professor Kris Schoonover and two alumni are employed at Erin
Students at your service
Stock, of New
Holstein, who will be a senior in the fall, is interning from mid-May to
September, with an option to continue into November. The club management
experience is ideal because she hopes to start her career in the food and
“It’s definitely a
great experience being here. I’ve learned a lot, and it was really exciting to
be part of the U.S. Open,” Stock said.
Stock and Vincent
are Erin Hills MITs — managers in training. They are majoring in hotel,
restaurant and tourism management.
At Erin Hills, 35
miles northwest of Milwaukee, they have learned on the job about staffing coordination,
service management, customer service, food safety, sanitation and more. They
updated menus, changed buffet setups and tracked inventory during the Open.
“Keeping the beverage coolers full was a full-time job,” Stock said.
Mukwonago, also will be a senior this fall. “The U.S Open was a week I will never forget. It challenged me to think on my
feet, improve my communication and most importantly taught me the value of
teamwork,” said Vincent, who added that the staff spent weeks preparing for the
“It also taught me that
communication is key, not only physical communication but how to communicate. I
found myself taking on leadership roles during the Open. Erin Hills pushes me,
and I can see myself as a future manager,” Vincent added.
Four other UW-Stout students are
golf operations interns at the course this summer, Mitchell Byrd, of Cable; Ryan
Hoag, of Roseville, Minn.; Robert Luchsinger, of Evansville; and Nolan Pratt,
of Rockford, Ill.
Hoag will be a junior this fall in
golf enterprise management. He began in mid-May at Erin Hills as a manager in
training for golf operations. During the Open, he assisted with turf grass
volunteers and at the players’ practice facility.
“A lot of work went into preparing for the Open, and it all
paid off with a successful tournament,” Hoag said. “When I arrived they were
already at full speed to get ready, and I had to learn on the fly to fit
seamlessly into the operation.”
He called the Open a “tremendous amount of fun” and hopes to
work again at a major championship during his career. “Working with Dr. Kris Schoonover
has given me the opportunity to apply classroom knowledge in a professional,
world-class golf environment.”
Another UW-Stout student, Rachel Hernandez, of Madison, was
a standard-bearer during the Open. She carried a scoring sign inside the
gallery ropes for groupings of players. Hernandez is captain of the UW-Stout
women’s golf team and is interning this summer with the Wisconsin State Golf
Assistant professor has
teaches in UW-Stout’s School of Hospitality Leadership, has worked summers at
Erin Hills since 2007, a year after the course opened.
She is the course’s
operations director, and she had a major role as assistant director of
competition during the Open, working closely with the USGA. She attended the
previous five U.S. Opens with other members of Erin Hills’ staff.
“The USGA puts on a
great show inside and outside the ropes. It’s a seven-day event and all
outdoors so it’s a huge undertaking, with evacuation and safety issues,”
For the Open, she handled credentialing, background checks and access issues for the staff along
with public safety per USGA standards. She typically works closely with staff
orientation and training, customer service and aspects of lodging at the
Schoonover has used
her experience at Erin Hills to provide current knowledge of golf operations
for students and connections at the course, considered one of the nation’s
best. “As a professor, the applicable learning I can bring back in the
classroom is extremely helpful for students who want large-scale operations
experience,” Schoonover said.
Alumni on staff
Two UW-Stout alumni
work full time at the course. Alex Cox has been the dining manager for three
years, and Robert Leist has been the golf shop manager for four years. During
the Open, Leist coordinated 150 volunteers for the Turf Department.
students and Erin Hills interns Savannah Stock, left, and Rylee Vincent work in
the clubhouse at Erin Hills during the U.S. Open.
Hoag, a golf operations intern from UW-Stout, checks out the U.S. Open trophy
at Erin Hills.
Schoonover stands on the 18th green prior to the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
Schoonover is an assistant professor at UW-Stout and works in golf operations
at Erin Hills.