Say a superstar, gallery-attracting golfer wants to schedule a quiet, distraction-free preview round at Chambers Bay for the upcoming United States Open championship.
The point of contact for that is Robbie Zalzneck, the director of U.S. Open player services and on-course operations.
While many might think his job combines the priorities of the FBI and CIA directors, Zalzneck cautions it isn’t that deeply involved. He is more of a facilitator.
“When the course was closed, it was our opportunity to work with the host club to make sure players have a chance to practice,” Zalzneck said.
For Chambers Bay, that has worked out in two waves.
Golfers such as Ryan Palmer, Hideki Matsuyama and Billy Horschel all came to play (and Henrik Stenson walked) the University Place links-style course before it was closed to the public May 25.
Zalzneck noted those players knew at that time they would have to be fitted into the regular tee sheets (usually organized by Chambers Bay professional Brent Zepp at the front desk), meaning they likely would be warming up next to regular amateur golfers on the driving range, or playing in front or behind them during their rounds as well.
Three days after the course closed, Phil Mickelson arrived for preview rounds. Right behind him a few days later was Tiger Woods.
Not only did Mickelson and Woods have their own caddies, swing coaches and equipment representatives with them during their on-course practice sessions, they also had a security detail of police officers walking each hole with them as well.
Some special assurances to those “players ... who attract attention from the public” are given, but Zalzneck said it isn’t near the level everybody expects it to be.
Especially at Chambers Bay, where a lot is still going on with the championship’s infrastructure.
“It’s not always about giving the players privacy,” Zalzneck said, “but keeping the public safe.”