CHASKA, Minn. (WCCO) — Golf fans grabbed snapshots over their lunchtime on Tuesday, striking up poses with a golden trophy. It’s a sure sign of growing excitement for the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National.
“There’s nothing like the Ryder Cup, players will even tell you,” said golf fanatic Cal Franklin.
This is one golf tournament where standing out is better than blending in. Franklin and Jeff Drimel witnessed the Europeans doing just that when they attended the event in 2008.
“The Europeans were all dressed up in outfits and singing and chanting, getting the crowd all nuts,” Franklin said. “Meantime, the Americans were just sitting and watching.”
That’s when their golf buddy, the late Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders, got the idea to form the American Marshals. It’s a group of about a dozen golfing fanatics who become the unofficial ambassadors of America’s Ryder Cup team.
It is their job to lead the fans in singing and chanting, to inspire the American golfers over their European challengers.
“We’ll be singing on the first tee,” said Jeff Drimel, an American Marshal. “Our job is really to engage the U.S. fans and make it a home field advantage.”
The original Helga horns and purple Viking’s jerseys have been rebranded into a patriotic red, white and blue. They actually have three versions of the jersey to wear on each of the three days of competition.
“The PGA asked us to be transformed it into the USA instead of the Vikings,” Franklin said.
But what is so special this year is that the jerseys will sport a shoulder patch in memory of the guy who got it going in the first place.
“We carry Flip with us wherever we go,” Drimel said. “But to have his patch from Wolves is really special.”
So next week, all you Ryder Cup fans can get ready to let loose, dress crazy and be loud and proud – with a little encouragement from the American Marshals.
“This is not a normal golf event,” Franklin said. “This is something way bigger.”