ERIN, Wisconsin — As varied and distant as the U.S. Open stops are from year to year, there always is one sure thing. Vincent Cardullo of Farmingdale will be there, working for free.
A golf enthusiast who lives alongside Bethpage State Park, Cardullo has volunteered at every U.S. Open since 2004 at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton. He liked it so much, and made such lifelong friends, that he goes wherever the championship is every June, on his own time and his own dime.
“In every city you have a different story, whether it’s during the golf event or after the event. It has just been a blast,” he said Saturday morning during a brief break from his duties of marshaling the grandstand near Erin Hills’ sixth green.
Cardullo is a certified financial planner who has his own business. “So I can take the time off,” he said. “It is a vacation because we have the same group of guys. We come out here, we play golf, we work the Open and we have some fun.”
He and friends he has made through volunteering gather every June (their group numbers four this year but sometimes they have eight). Each time they find a place to stay, scope out courses on which to get tee times and check out local attractions. Friday night, they saw the Brewers beat the Padres in, 6-5, 10 innings. When the Open was San Francisco’s Olympic Club five years ago, they watched Matt Cain pitch a perfect game.
“I’m going to cities like Milwaukee that I’d never been to in my life. With Chambers Bay, I had never been to that part of the country,” he said, referring to the Pacific Northwest.
The journey actually began very close to home, when he rented his home to PGA Tour player David Duval for the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. During the process, he met someone from the U.S. Golf Association, who suggested he volunteer. He worked on the hand-operated leader boards that year and loved it. When the Open went to Shinnecock Hills two years later, he signed up again and has been going ever since.
He and his crew worked on scoreboards for about 10 years — they had a perfect view of the drama involving Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen down the stretch at Shinnecock. Some years, they worked on the practice tee. This time, they are on grandstand duty. Fans are respectful. “Everyone is here to have a good time. We don’t lose sight of that,” Cardullo said.
When the Open returns to Shinnecock next year, the group will stay at Cardullo’s house. And his 13-year-old son, Dean, already has signed up to be a standard-bearer, launching a second generation of voluntarism.