Not many have had the opportunity to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, the Sanford Health crew conducting the COVID-19 tests for the PGA TOUR have.
And then some.
In fact, Johnny Cash’s song “I’ve Been Everywhere” could’ve been written about them.
Regulars with the pros
They’ve been on the road since Sanford Health and the PGA TOUR announced a partnership in June of 2020.
They’ve been everywhere from South Carolina to Boston, across the country to California, over to Arizona and Las Vegas, and up to Lake Tahoe.
“This is definitely a dream job. Once in a lifetime. Probably never going to happen again,” said Sanford Health lab technologist Bennett Hurley.
Hurley, a self-proclaimed golf fan, said it’s been surreal seeing the biggest names in golf. Especially his favorite golfer, Dustin Johnson.
“I’ve seen him so much, it’s pretty crazy,” he chuckled.
Work hard, play hard
Courtney Stark is the supervisor for the PGA mobile COVID-19 testing units, and said it’s a fast-paced, fun gig.
“The PGA puts us up in a hotel. We test there for about three days. We start at seven in the morning and usually end at six at night.”
So fast, she sometimes doesn’t realize who she’s near.
“There was one time in San Francisco where I walked right past Tiger Woods,” she said.
Randy Pickard is a golf ambassador, and has driven the trucks across the country.
He’s impressed with everyone’s work ethic.
“They get their butts out of bed in the morning. We have to be at work early, and leave the hotel early. Not one of them is late or misses. They’re great, hard-working young people and they’re fun to work with,” he said.
And, speaking of fun, they have a lot of that, too.
“We just love to see each other and hang out. It’s been really fun. I got a nice little family,” said Pickard.
Golf ambassador Cary Ediger, like Pickard, has been driving the mobile laboratories.
“We’ve had a lot of meals together. It’s just like a family meal. You can get the stress of the day gone, and talk about personal lives. It’s fun,” Ediger.
They even get mistaken for family, said golf ambassador Kae Januschka.
“When we go out to eat together, people always assume we’re a family, even though we’re wearing Sanford Laboratory gear. It’s funny — they always give the drivers our checks, and we’re like, ‘oh, no, no, no, we’re all adults here,’” she said.
Hitting the road … yet again
They’ve traveled thousands of miles together.
They’ve got thousands yet to go.
“I’ll go to Florida next week,” said Ediger.
For many reasons, we’re all hoping for a quick return to normal.
Maybe one is to catch up with this crew.
“Don’t be afraid to go out there and see things,” said Pickard.
- Podcast: PGA is among Sanford Health’s unique partnerships
- PGA Tour partnership with Sanford Health is more than golf
- COVID-19 FAQs: What can I do once I’m fully vaccinated?