SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – Anticipation is growing for the 2022 Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores next week.
Crews are busy making sure everything is just right for the start of the tournament, and that’s no easy task.
That’s right, the product you’ll see at the course or on TV wouldn’t be possible without an elite group of unsung heroes 16 News Now interviewed on Friday.
It’s not a glamorous role by any means, but someone has to do it.
Meet the Swampers.
Classy, elegant, and pure. Those are some of the things that come to mind when describing the game of golf, especially at its highest levels.
And then there’s these guys.
“You’ve worn as many microphones as I have.”
“Yeah and that’s not a lot.”
Meet the Swampers.
“My job is to make sure all the finishing touches are up, getting the windscreen up, rope and stake–make sure everything looks nice before the final day,” said Patrick Nemecek, a PGA Swamper.
Patrick and Chris join seven other Swampers that have been here since the start of April, rounding up stray golf balls, setting the stage for off course activities, and getting their hands dirty to make sure everything looks pristine when its time for the players to tee off.
“We take respect in what they do. We don’t ask them to do anything we haven’t done ourselves. At the end of the day, they know it’s all a part of the game and they’re really just the nitty-gritty backbone of this championship,” said Garo Kalpakjian, Senior PGA Championship Operations Manager.
Kalpakjian says this from experience, having paid his dues as a Swamper at this very tournament in 2016. Now he oversees the Swampers.
For the amount of time this team spends on the golf course every summer, they’re not as interested in the playing the game as you might think.
“I actually played more I think before I started Swamping because we’re always here,” said Chris Warburton, another Swamper.
“I kind of learned it as I’m going. I’m not the best golfer but I’m trying to pick it up,” Nemecek said.
Which means their focus is on creating a great experience for everyone else.
“Getting to see it on camera when the tournament comes is pretty unique to see. Like we were there the other day putting up wind screens or fixing something there,” Warburton said.
A group that’s no stranger to getting their hands dirty, they’re made up of everything that golf isn’t.
They’re the team behind the scenes, that make this individual sport so spectacular.
So Chris has been a Swamper at every Harbor Shores tournament since 2012.
And just so you know how deep this tradition goes in the PGA, both the current operations manager you already heard from and the director of the whole tournament started out as Swampers before working their way to the top.
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