The People's Golf Writer meets the People's Family at the People's Open

Editors' Note: Jack McCallum will be spending the week in an RV,
experiencing The People's Open with the people, and periodically sharing his adventures with us in Press Tent.
See photos from McCallum's week in the RV. OLD BETHPAGE, N.Y.-- It pains the People’s Golf Writer at the People’s Open to talk about this, but over 25 years ago rain put him off tents and the Great Outdoors. (He likes either independently, especially the Great Outdoors, but not together.) My wife, two sons (both under 5 at the time) and myself had set up at a campsite near the Jersey shore. One tent. Two frying pans. Three bags of dried food. Four days. Five inches of rain.At about the third inch of rain, my oldest son says, far too perkily, “This is really fun.” And I said, “No, it isn’t. It sucks.” He began crying. I’m sorry about that. But it did suck.The rain is falling heavily now at the Battle Row Campground. It sounds like the gods are dropping marbles on my roof. It sounded like that at 5 a.m., too, which is when it woke me up. Still, I am warm and cozy in my 32-foot-Type A Flair motorhome from El Monte RV. And I am much dryer than the Murdoch family of Everett, Pa.Murdochs_600x400 Contrary to what I wrote before, the Murdochs, a.k.a the "tenters," had actually contracted to get the spot with electricity and, according to Paul F. Hores, Battle Row’s manager, were generous enough to move so my RV could get electric. But, then, they’re both the generous type and the non-complaining type. They’re the type who camp in a driving rainstorm as a 30-mile-per-hour wind kicks up the flaps on their tent and decide "to fire up the grill.”And so I am declaring them the People's Family at the People's Open. And the People's Golf Writer is glad he met them. The Murdochs -- Bill, wife Maggie and sons Sean and Daniel -- are spending the Open as USGA volunteers, and the USGA should be glad it has them. The sons are standard-bearers, Bill is posting numbers on the leader board and Maggie is in corporate hospitality. Maggie and Bill worked the 2007 Open at Oakmont and liked it so much that they got their sons involved. The family has committed to memory the future Opens -- all within driving distance of their central Pennsylvania home since Maggie doesn't like to fly -- where they might volunteer. "Congressional in 2011, Merion in 2013, Oakmont again in 2016," says Bill. "We hope to be at all of them."Bill is an avid golfer with a handicap somewhere between 10 and 12. Maggie plays only a half dozen times per year but can't watch enough golf to satisfy her. Sean, who just completed his freshman year at Juniata, is an avid new golfer. Only Daniel, a high school junior, hasn't played, "but I'm getting the urge a little bit," he says. Says Bill: "He'll come around."It's hard to describe how uncomfortable conditions were for the Murdochs at the campground on Thursday. They had left the grounds early, and, when they returned, everything was wet, especially themselves. And as much as they like camping together, the tent scene wasn't what they had in mind. "We're in transition for a new vehicle right now," says Bill. "We've camped in a 29-foot travel trailer, a Class A, a popup, all kinds of stuff.""So we kind of went backward with the tent," added Maggie with a smile.The Murdochs have a three-tent system -- big tent for the parents, "satellite tents" (Sean's wry expression) for the sons. I offered them every amenity available in my Flair -- couch, 'fridge, microwave, bathroom (they use the public facilities on the grounds), steady barometric pressure -- but they waved it all away, anxious to get back to their site by the trees, dry out their stuff, talk about golf and ready themselves for the next day. It all sort of made the People's Golf Writer feel bad for abandoning tent camping years ago. Emphasis on "sort of."At any rate, it was easy to see how much the Murdochs enjoyed being around each other, conditions be damned."The experience will be funny," said Sean, smiling, "one day." Actually, it was fun right now. You could tell that.(Photo: Simon Bruty/SI)

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by Kevin Cunningham