Their accents let you know pretty fast that these guys weren't raised on Philly cheesesteaks.
Dan Ganley (far right) and Sam Keats, though, know a little something about Pennsylvania. In particular, they have gotten to be well-versed on Merion Golf Club. It is here where they are in the middle of being part of a major production that certainly will look neat on their resumes.
Ganley and Keats, who have come all the way from New Zealand, are serving as interns for the Green Department under director of golf course operations Matt Shaffer. Ganley and Keats, who have been at Merion since last year, are here as part of The Ohio Program, an international exchange program that specializes in internships for horticulture, agriculture and turfgrass.
"It's definitely the biggest tournament I will be part of," says Keats, 23, who previously served an apprenticeship at Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
"We don't want to be seen as cheap labor. These guys are getting a great education," says Michael O'Keeffe, program manager for the Ohio Program. O'Keeffe is here this week.
Ganley, 25, confirms that he is receiving quite an education, lessons that will pay dividends long after this event is completed. He also has been given quite a task for the U.S. Open; Shaffer made him bunker leader.
"I have learned so much, like how you handle so many people, and that networking with these great guys could be important down the road. With all the rain that we have had recently, I also have learned that you keep soldiering on."
Australian Chris Allan participated in the Ohio Program in 2003. He was at Merion then, and has returned 10 years later. How far has Allan come? He is superintendent at Keysborough Golf Club in Melbourne.
"Before in Australia, the average age to become a superintendent was 40. I became one at 30," Allan says. "No way in Australia I'd be a superintendent now if I hadn't come over here. If I hadn't come here in the first place, I probably would've been a victim of falling out of the industry."
Allan credits Shaffer for teaching him so much.
"Having Matt Shaffer as a contact for life paid off straightaway," he says. "He's got worldwide exposure. You learn a lot from him. How to be self-confident, to be an individual thinker, how to live out of your comfort zone. All these are things you can use the rest of your life."
Ganley and Keats' visas will expire this fall. They will return to New Zealand with so many memories, new friends and a chance to take what they have been taught to their part of the world. Keats says he has grown fond of those Philly cheesesteaks, but they can't replace a taste of home.
"I really miss meat pies, the ones with steak and cheese in them," Keats says. "I'll have some when I get back. When I get back, I hope to further my career. Being here has helped make that a possibility now I think."