The People's Golf Writer feels safe knowing the People's Security Dude is nearby
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. — Every morning at 3:30 or, at latest, 4 a.m., the sound of a vehicle splits the quiet of the night at Battle Row Campground. It's my neighbor on Site 30, Scott Dennison (right), revving up his jeep to head over to work at Bethpage Black.Being the People's Golf Writer, I instantly jump out of bed, pour a cup of hot coffee from the fresh pot I always have brewing on the small electric stove in my 32-foot Flair motor home, pull a pan of fresh corn muffins from the oven, and run it all out to Scott.Okay, I made that last part up. I don't drink coffee and I've yet to turn on the stove. But before turning over and going back to sleep, I do think of Scott as he rolls out, often in the rain. By 4:30 he's in meetings at the course, and by 5 a.m. he's at the 7-11 in downtown Farmingdale, talking with the Bethpage maintenance and grounds people to see what went wrong the previous day and what needs to be shored up for the coming round.
Scott, the managing director of Integrated Security Solutions, is a recognized specialist in crowd control and metal detection at sporting events. He was retained by Andy Frain Services, the Open's private security firm. The USGA also has its own security people, and hordes of state and county police, many of them undercover, who also patrol the grounds. "We're all over the place," says Scott, sipping a beer (only one and he was off-duty) in my RV. "You just can't see us."Where I see Scott most of the time is outside his motor home — a "toter" in RV lingo — puttering around, trying to dry his clothes on a giant fan that he's rigged up under a canopy, scooping rain water out of his jeep, walking his German shepherd, Benno, and a yellow Lab, Princess. Yellow labs must be the national campground dog — I've seen at least three others at Battle Row. Benno, as befitting a master who is in security, is a retired Secret Service dog. (Benno's government pension is solid, but the economic crisis did cut into his 401K.) Scott's wife, Denise, comes out to cook, often in bare feet despite the wet conditions, in what she calls her "gourmet kitchen," which amounts to a small grill and a hot plate.And so I hereby declare Scott, the neighbor of the People's Golf Writer, the People's Security Dude at the People's Open.There are campers by economics — older men who lost a domestic battle (or two, or three) along the way; I've met a few out here. There are campers by inclination — families or retired folk who want to see the country and not pay a fortune to do it. There are campers by assignment — that's me. And there are campers by necessity — folks for whom mobility and convenience is essential. The People's Security Dude is in the last group. He, Denise and the dogs have a permanent 7,000-square-foot home in Scottsdale, but they often have to compress their lives into a motor home and drive to the events where he's working. The only convenience Denise really misses, she says, is a dishwasher.Scott's work takes him to Super Bowls, U.S. Tennis Opens and major college football games, as well as the Justin Timberlake Celebrity Invitational in Las Vegas. Let me emphasize that hanging with Justin ("I'm a good friend of the family," he says) does not disqualify Scott from being the People's Security Dude.An additional 42 feet of Scott's rig, his command station, stays parked at the course. It houses all kinds of technical security stuff that I don't understand. Suffice to say that he can get on the Internet even when he's traveling 70 miles per hours on the open road. When the Dennisons drive away on Wednesday or Thursday, the whole rig will be together, which basically means that they're hauling around something the size of a mini-mall. Scott is always behind the wheel. "Denise wouldn't dare drive it," he says.I know where she's coming from. SI photographer Simon Bruty almost talked me into driving my 32-footer off the site one day, but the thought of a $200,000 trip to Wawa — $1.00 for a quart of milk, $199,999 in structural damages — convinced me to stay in place.Besides lack of space, the other enemy of the People's Security Dude has been the weather. Scott, 53, an airline pilot in his first life, has been at Battle Row since May 15, organizing and training his security teams, planning gallery positions, familiarizing himself with the eccentricities of the course, memorizing every secret entrance and egress from the course. "You have to build a mental map," says the People's Security Dude. That's a lot of time spent at a golf course for someone who doesn't play the game. His job is not so much about identifying bad people — "In general, golf crowds are pretty docile," says Scott — but about making sure the fans have a good experience. "The first thing people see when they come through the gates are the security people," says Scott. "You don't necessarily associate ‘security" with ‘customer service,' but, by and large, that's the field we're in. People want to know where the bathrooms are and the ATMs are, and you can't say, ‘I don't know.'" I told him that he's kind of like a concierge who packs heat. He thought that was maybe half-funny; Scott was resolutely careful about staying away from the specifics of U.S. Open security.At any rate, the People's Golf Writer feels extremely safe knowing that the People's Security Dude is living just 10 yards away. Plus, Benno is there as backup."Being here, about a mile from the course, affords me the accessibility I need," says Scott. "At the U.S. Tennis Open we even camp right on the grounds. My only complaint is that's been a little wet. I've been here for a month, and it seems like it's rained every day."The number one lesson in security? Change your shoes twice a day. If your feet are happy, you're happy."The People's Golf Writer is a novice in affairs of the feet. His socks and a soaked pair of sneakers, casualties of Thursday's meteorological disaster, are now hanging from the front grill of his motor home. Scott is probably monitoring them from his command station at the course, shaking his head in disgust.(Photo: Simon Bruty/SI)