If You Have To Work, There Are Worse Places Than Augusta National
Several of us have been fortunate to travel to Augusta National for The Masters over the years.
Former Vikings linebacker Mark Dusbabek (above) is making his 14th visit there this weekend. However, the 56-year old Dusbabek is not a tourist in Augusta but rather he is there to work. He has been one of the leading rules judges on the PGA Tour since 2006.
“The Augusta National officials do an excellent job,” says the Minnesota native. “They’re so precise in all the levels of putting on a golf tournament. As a PGA rules official, I’m just a guest there. My first couple of years really felt awkward and I felt like I was being watched, and maybe I was. But I feel very comfortable there now.”
Dusbabek’s transition from football to golf had a few stops along the way. He retired from the Vikings in 1992 due to injuries after a three-year career. He worked in finance for a few years but he kept thinking of golf, one of his youthful passions. He made up his mind to get out of finance after reading a book “Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow.” Dusbabek moved to California and spent a year as a volunteer with the Southern California Golf Association. His volunteering led to a job with the PGA of America’s Metropolitan Section and eventually he was hired by the PGA Tour for his current role.
The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf is 522 pages. Rule officials have to know the book from cover to cover. Even then, Dusbabek and his colleagues must be ready for unique circumstances on the course.
A couple of years ago in the Puerto Rico Open, a ball was hit into a penalty area. The golfer who put it there was looking to Dusbabek for relief from an animal hole where his ball rested.
“It wasn’t a hard ruling,” recalls Dusbabek. “You can’t get ‘burrowing-animal relief’ in the penalty area. But, as we were discussing the point, the small animal came out and pulled the ball down into the hole.”
We at NFL Alumni will be looking for Mark Dusbabek on television this weekend when he works the 2020 Masters. We expect that all requests for rulings from him will be routine. After all, there are not many animal holes in the penalty areas or perfectly-groomed rough at Augusta National.