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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Volunteering at Open Championship a career-defining moment


Chris Sheehan, Jim Fitzgibbons, Rick Tegtmeier and Ronnie Myles form a lasting friendship at the Open Championship. All photos courtesy of Rick Tegtmeier

Tiger Woods wowed the golf world when he completed the career grand slam in four straight championships spanning two seasons. The feat, which included winning the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship in 2000, followed by the 2001 Masters and made Woods the first player in the modern era to hold all four major titles at the same time. became known as the Tiger Slam.

The Tegtmeier Slam might not be as well known around golf, but it is no less impressive.

Iowa Golf Association Hall of Famer Rick Tegtmeier, CGCS at Des Moines Golf and Country Club, completed his own career grand slam of sorts in July when he was selected to work the 150th Open Championship at The Old Course at St. Andrews as part of the BIGGA Volunteer Open Support Team. 

"I've worked a Ryder Cup. I've worked a Solheim Cup. I've been to PGA Championships. I've been to U.S. Opens, and I've been to the Masters," Tegtmeier said. "The only thing I hadn't been to is the Open Championship.

"Now I have. I don't think a lot of superintendents can say that."

Tegtmeier is no stranger to golf in Europe. He earned BIGGA's Master Greenkeeper designation nearly a decade ago and has maintained relationships with those he meets overseas because he says the level of camaraderie is different there.

"There were many of us in our 60s who will never rake bunkers together again, but we will be friends forever now," Tegtmeier said. "And we're from all over: Denmark, Scotland, England, Sweden, Iowa. It's pretty cool."


For those who think raking bunkers is the same anywhere, thing again. A head superintendent for more than 40 years, Tegtmeier and the rest of the Open Support Team went through training to learn the Old Course way of raking sand according to Old Course manager Gordon McKie.

"We had a lesson with Gordon on Wednesday before the tournament," Tegtmeier said. "He jumped in a bunker, messed it up and had one of his guys fix it.

"I don't know if there is much different about the way they do it, but we were going to do it they way they wanted it done. We wanted it done right for TV and right for the players."

During his four days on bunker duty, Tegtmeier was on the rake for some of the game's biggest names, like Justin Thomas, Shane Lowry and Hideki Matsuyama, but one in particular made a sizable impression.

"Bryson DeChambeau came up to us before the round, and introduced himself to all of us," Tegtmeier said. "He even interacted with us during his round. I was very impressed with him."


Tegtmeier has immersed himself in Euro golf culture since he learned Des Moines G&CC would be the host site of the 2017 Solheim Cup. Two years prior to the tournament, he earned BIGGA's Master Greenkeeper designation. When he was inducted into the Iowa Golf Association Hall of Fame, Tegtmeier was one of only 80 people worldwide to have earned certification from the GCSAA and Master Greenkeeper  designation from BIGGA.

Although the Solheim Cup, which is a distant memory in the rearview mirror, was the impetus for Tegtmeier getting involved with golf on the other side of the ocean, he continues to embrace the connections he has made through BIGGA.

During his stay, he and other volunteers were boarded at Parker House in Dundee. The facility, 15 miles north of St. Andrews, is housing for students at Abertay and Dundee universities. Before he arrived in Scotland, Tegtmeier was contacted by retired Loch Lomond superintendent Ronnie Miles. The two had never met before, but Miles reached out with an offer to play tour guide for Tegtmeier and wife Sherry.

"He took us to dinner and gave us a driving tour. He showed us the William Wallace monument," Tegtmeier said. "He contacted me out of the blue. I'd never met him before and he got me everywhere I needed to be. Who does that?

"What he did made the stay that much more enjoyable, and it taught me a valuable lesson, which is how to treat people - to treat them the way you would want to be treated."

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