It's clear that Celeste Repsher has been asked the question before. Because when I asked her how the director of human resources for The Olympic Club found herself involved with helping to organize the chaos that is the 100-plus members of the maintenance team prepping for this week's U.S. Open, she had a quick reply.
"I asked Pat (Finlen, CGCS), 'Do you need any help with anything,'" she says with a laugh. "And now, here I am."
Far from her normal duties overseeing HR at The Olympic Club, Celeste has moved into a role this week as the Jill-of-all-trades for the club's maintenance department. She's helped organize the volunteer recruitment effort, arranged lodging and transportation for those volunteers, took the lead with the outfitting of the maintenance hospitality tent directly behind the permanent maintenance facility ... in essence, she's become the glue that is holding things together this week, a description I heard from more than a few members of the maintenance team as they described her role in getting them to San Francisco for the Open.
"Before all this started, I emailed a friend, just telling her how exciting all of this (meaning the U.S. Open) was," she told me Monday afternoon. "But I also told her that for once in my life in HR, I wasn't really going to have to be involved in anything. Well, she kept that email and sent it back to me this weekend, and asked, 'So, how you feeling now?' Lot of work, but it's been a ton of fun, too."
Repsher's duties began months before the tournament as she oversaw the recruitment effort for volunteers. She created a special email address — email@example.com — to collect requests from those interested in volunteering, then combined that list with one provided by Finlen, Olympic's DGMO (yep, going with the acronym!), that included folks who had contacted him personally about volunteering.
Those on that list received an application form to gather more information on the interested parties and their experience level in golf course management. If you passed that test, along with a USGA-required background check, you had a week's worth of 3 a.m. wake-up calls ahead of you. "People have dropped out, people have dropped in, but that's basically how we got to where we are," she said.
In addition, Celeste tackled a host of other volunteer-related logistics, from lodging at nearby San Francisco State University to their transportation needs while they were in town and the uniforms they wear on the course each day. And in the meantime, she's learned more than she ever thought she'd know about golf course maintenance.
"I had done two days of training with these guys when I first started at The Olympic Club, so I did have at least a concept of what was going on down here," she says. "But the scope and the numbers and the details that goes into it ... I really had no idea. It's all pretty amazing."
And at least to the members of the maintenance team working this week at Olympic, so is Celeste.