By Whitt Carter, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes, Healdton native Adam Bennett just has to stop, look around and soak it all in.
After all, he's standing in the middle of history.
The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. is one of the most historic golf courses in the United States, and holds closely some of golf's finest stories and most exciting moments.
From the 1913 U.S. Open, in which 20-year-old Francis Ouimet improbably defeated legendary Englishmen Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, to the 1999 Ryder Cup, where Justin Leonard was nearly tackled by teammates after draining the cup that won the title for the United States, The Country Club is one of "those places" in golf history.
And this week, Bennett, assistant superintendent, gets a chance to leave his mark on The Country Club's history, as the 2013 U.S. Amateur comes to town, marking the 100-year anniversary of the famed 1913 U.S. Open tale.
"This place is so special," Bennett says of the course, ranked No. 24 in the country. "Most days, I'll just be walking around, and I'll stop and think about where I'm at and what happened in this very spot over 100 years ago. It's a special opportunity."
The seven-day event is one of the sport's most popular attractions, as it holds the best of the future of golf. Tiger won it three times. Phil was victorious once. Bennett realizes it's a big deal, but he allows that's what makes his job so desirable and fun.
"It's a tournament that's always been on a national stage. The best amateurs are here, and it's our job to put out a course that can challenge them. You know, I watch those guys and learn a lot from just seeing them play my course. It's definitely a grind for them and us. But I love it; we all enjoy what we do," Bennett says.
Of course he loves his job. Bennett spends days during this week at the course from about 3:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. But that hardly makes up for the satisfaction he receives by seeing the creation and maintaining of the historic track he calls home.
"Just being able to look out and see the self-gratification from what you've done is special," Bennett says. "I'm able to give people who pay a lot of money a product that's satisfying to them. It's pleasing to them and very pleasing to myself."
Bennett has been around golf since he was young. Although he now resides at one of the most prestigious country clubs in the country, which coined the phrase "country club," it all began at the Healdton Municipal Golf Course, and he doesn't forget that.
"I started playing golf when I was young, and started working out at the course during the summer in high school when I was 14 or 15," Bennett says. "It kind of just evolved from there."
Bennett, who attended Connors State and Southeastern for baseball, would return home and, eventually, work at Silverado Golf Course in Durant during the summers. That would turn into a full-time gig, which in 2007 led him to where he is now.
The everyday job usually consists of running a grounds/maintenance crew of about 20 workers who are responsible for the care of the golf course.
"It's a challenge to our whole staff to push the course to the brink. It can be stressful to do that to something like grass, but to have the knowledge to know that's what you're doing and know how to do it is comforting. It's a huge challenge to do what we do.
"We deal with members, the golf course, identifying problems with grass and things like that. It's our job to keep one of the best courses in the country at acceptable standards for the membership."
As for the future of The Country Club, hosting this year's U.S. Amateur certainly means good things, at least in his and others' eyes.
"There's nothing scheduled for the future, but it's a great sign that we're hosting this tournament," Bennett says. "Everything is set as far as the U.S. Open goes through 2021, but the USGA usually uses this course as a test for the U.S. Open. They like to use this as somewhat of a trial run. So who knows, we're hoping. It's a good sign."
Bennett refers to his opportunity as a privilege. After all, it is all about the condition of the golf course, and with no one more important than himself, Bennett welcomes the assignment.
"I love coming in to work every day," Bennett saya. "Thousands of people would love to have my job. The opportunity that I have is so rare and special. The history of this place is unbelievable. There's so much that happened here."
And for Bennett, realizing how special things are at the historic 27-hole facility in Brookline is important, because some things are so historic and great, they don't need to be changed.
"Some of the things out here are still original," Bennett says. "Sure, all things require restoration, but some of the holes have the same layout and some of the greens are shaped the way they were over 100 years ago. Out here, a lot of the overall original aspect hasn't changed. It's the same that it's been throughout history."
History. It's something he doesn't want to change, but wants to continue to make.