A bird’s-eye view of birdies and bogeys: Family, friends watch U.S. Open from scaffold

SCARSDALE, N.Y. — When Phil Mickelson putted out on the fourth hole at Winged Foot on Thursday, a roar went up from the crowd.

Golfers are used to that. Just not so used to looking up into the trees to find those cheering.

Well, among the trees, anyway.

But this week’s U.S. Open is like no other. Fans are not allowed. At least not allowed on the grounds of the historic golf course.

But there’s nothing wrong with off-site cheering, including from a seven-foot-high, roughly 20-foot-long scaffold erected behind the fourth green.

That’s where Mickelson threw his ball in appreciation after feeling the love from about 10 fans perched there in the backyard of Drs. Muhammad and Asma Naeem.

The family was one of several around Winged Foot with makeshift grandstands in their yards — including Iona basketball coach Rick Pitino, who watched from his backyard behind hole No. 3.

For the Naeems, the scaffold wasn’t something hastily thought of.

Muhammad, a golfer and huge golf fan, knew the U.S. Open was coming to Winged Foot three years ago when he took a stroll in his neighborhood. That’s where he spotted a realty sign on a house bordering the fourth green.

He had no plans to move. Until then.

Hurrying the two blocks home, he excitedly told his wife and kids about the house, suggesting a move.

“My family said, ‘You’re crazy,’ ” he recalled. “They were just totally against it.”

Then they took a look for themselves.

Their response? Well, eldest child Saadia, who played four years of girls golf in high school and two years with the men in college before the formation of a women’s team, started issuing scaffold invitations long ago.

“I got my invite in 2017,” Elliot Witdorchic said.

Saadia, who has a spreadsheet with times the family’s golf-fan guests are slated to arrive and leave through Sunday, figures about 30 people will climb the scaffold before the championship trophy is awarded.

“We’re not at a loss for people,” she noted, but also lamented that more would be there were it not for the pandemic. That has kept some out-of-staters home, including her college freshman and sophomore year golf captain, who lives in Colorado.

Saadia temporarily left the mid-afternoon crowd that included high school and college friends, friends’ parents and two golf pros from the The St. Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings, where her family are members, to retrieve the Mickelson ball. It had sailed over the scaffold and into the yard.

The scaffold is self-policed, but a sign near the ladders leading up to it make it clear that, while fun is allowed, golf etiquette is required. Spectators are told to keep quiet during putts, that they must wear masks, and to be mindful of the time they’re up there and space they’re taking up.

Lastly, it notes, “We all want

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By: Nancy Haggerty
Title: A bird's-eye view of birdies and bogeys: Family, friends watch U.S. Open from scaffold
Sourced From: golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/09/18/u-s-open-family-friends-watch-backyard-scaffold/
Published Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2020 10:00:54 +0000

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