Best volunteer job at US Open? It’s got to be standard bearer

Everywhere he goes, the standard goes with him. Hunter Hughes never sets it down, resting it on his shoulder as he carries it up, down, through and across Chambers Bay’s 18 holes.

Even though it’s a near five-hour journey over sometimes slick fescue, no volunteer job at the U.S. Open is better, he says.

Micah DeLeon agrees with that assessment. DeLeon, who is 14 and barely bigger than the sign he carried on Saturday, lives in Gig Harbor and attends Charles Wright. He said he’s having fun despite the workout he gets from lugging a sign in the sun.

“Seeing the pros up really close,” is what DeLeon likes best about his job.

Hughes, 18, recently graduated from Lakeside of Seattle and spent his Friday as the standard bearer in the group of Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott after following Ryan Palmer in a practice round Wednesday. He’s essentially a walking scoreboard.

After Johnson hit a 33-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole, it was Hughes quickly, but quietly, inserting “-7” onto both sides the board next to Johnson’s name, who had just moved atop the U.S. Open leaderboard.

“It’s definitely the best job here,” Hughes said. “You get to walk around everywhere. You get to see every shot.”

As opposed to his dad, who Hughes said was stuck volunteering in the merchandise tent. And Garcia gave him a ball with “SG” on it — Garcia’s initials.

But what about lugging that scoreboard all day? Wouldn’t that be tiresome?

“It’s actually not that bad,” he said. “Here, hold it.”

It’s lighter than it looks, probably weighting less than 10 pounds. And the standard-bearers wear a strap with a pouch that the bottom of the pole sits in. All Hughes had to do was keep it steady.

The real bummer, he said, was that resting it on his shoulder ruins the free blue-and-white striped shirt he was given.

Curtis High School athletic director Terry Jenks was in charge of assigning the standard-bearers for the U.S. Open. Hughes golfed this past season at Lakeside (he’s going to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in the fall) and said he has golfed at Chambers Bay three times this year.

He said Palmer spent most of his practice round Wednesday asking Hughes questions about the course and joking around with him.

“I actually didn’t even know that I had been entered (for the standard-bearer job),” Hughes said. “My dad was the one who probably got the most excited.”

Staff photographer Drew Perine contributed to this report.