By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The local connections to the 3M Open extended beyond some players.

Mark Dusbabek was a standout athlete at Faribault who played for both the Gophers and the Vikings. Now, he’s on the PGA Tour with a unique position.

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He came from Faribault High school, went on to be a big, strong linebacker at the University of Minnesota and then play for the Minnesota Vikings – he made a name.

When he left the rough and tumble life of the NFL, he found a new calling as a rules official on the PGA Tour.

“Well, I didn’t set out to be a rules official. I wanted to be an executive director of a golf association, so I worked with some of my golf pros in Minnesota, who helped me get introduced to some people in Southern Cal where I was living at the time,” Dusbabek said.

He is on the course keeping the pace of play and making calls – a much different perspective than football.

“It’s so different than football. In football, we’re always trying to cheat the system and hide something from the referees, but here it’s all in the open and we’re just trying to be honest, and all the players are good, good people,” Dusbabek said.

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This is a homecoming week, finally a stop in his native state where he knew for a long time there was an appetite for golf.

“Always been pushing for an event in Minnesota. I know from my background and my time here that Minnesota has, per capita, some of the greatest and most golfers in a state,” Dusbabek said.

His family roots are rich in the sport. He’s always loved to play it.

“It was my family’s sport where we as a family could always do it, my friends and I do the same thing, so I found my time going on vacations or whether I come back home – everything’s always centered around golf,” Dusbabek said.

But for 28 weekends a year, he is an observer on the course making sure the game is held to a standard.

“I’m sitting there and I’m watching play, and I’m keeping an eye on what’s coming through my area and if there are any gaps in the play,” Dusbabek said. “Otherwise, you sit and listen to your radio and then wait for somebody to call for a ruling at a certain location, and if you’re near it, go out and do the ruling.”

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When you think about it, it’s kind of a perfect fit – a football player serving as an enforcer of rules.

Mike Max