August 21, 2011 Leave a comment
By Christa Lawler
Duluth News Tribune
Joe Mauer’s putt stopped inches from the hole on No. 18 at Northland Country Club. The Minnesota Twins star took a gimme.
“Someone should tend the flag for him,” a woman remarked from the veranda.
Mauer, a four-time American League all-star and 2009 AL
Most Valuable Player, has spent part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star break in Duluth. The Minnesota native, who grew up in St. Paul, said Tuesday it’s his first trip to the area.
Mauer made his comments Tuesday evening in an impromptu media moment as he finished a round with a woman he would identify only as his girlfriend. Buzz around town suggested the woman was a schoolmate of Mauer’s at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul and also had attended the University of Minnesota Duluth, but Mauer would not confirm that.
He also did not discuss his performance on the greens.
“I didn’t try to keep score,” Mauer said. “I’m just trying to relax. Trying to lay low. I guess that didn’t work out too well.”
The local Twitter contingent posted Mauer sightings starting with Burrito Union, where he had stopped for lunch (he had two chicken tacos, according to the staff). He was allegedly spotted at a handful of locations: Portland Malt Shoppe, Sir Benedict’s, Hawk’s Ridge.
Word spread quickly that Mauer was at Northland Country Club. About a dozen teenage boys, the course’s staff members, ejected trespassers from the parking lot and along the course. They had kicked out about 20 people, mostly boys and a few girls, they said. But that didn’t mean they weren’t a little giddy about catching a glimpse of the athlete.
Bag boy Zach McKinnon worked up a little ditty about it, which got equal parts laughs and groans from his friends:
“Here at Northland, it’s not amateur hour, it’s Mauer hour.”
“We’re just going to act a little normal and get some autographs hopefully,” McKinnon added.
Michael O’Connor, whose father Joe O’Connor is the pro at the private course, admitted it probably isn’t the most fair thing in the world, but he got to shake Mauer’s hand.
“He’s a Minnesota boy,” Michael O’Connor said. “Humble, great guy. He was wearing his golf glove when we shook hands.”
By the time Mauer got to No. 17, pockets of gawkers had gathered. Women from around the state playing in the Northland Women’s Invitational hung out on the veranda with cameras aimed in Mauer’s direction.
“We came off on the 18th hole and he was teeing off,” said Robin Stewart, a golfer from the Twin Cities area. “It was good. I heard some guys from the pro shop saying Oh, that was a beautiful fade.’”
Paige Bromen was on the driving range with Mauer, who was getting a lot of attention.
“I just let him do his thing,” she said. “I was working out my own kinks.”
After No. 18, Mauer’s girlfriend drove off with the cart. He walked up the grass toward media and fans wearing a light blue and white mesh baseball cap, sunglasses, a white collared shirt, khaki shorts and Nike shoes.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” he said of the crowd and cameras.
Mauer said he doesn’t golf much and when he does it’s in Florida. He said he liked the different elevations of Northland Country Club. He took some photographs on the course with his Nikon.
He greeted fans, signed autographs and posed for photographs.
“I’m shaking,” said Amy Loftsuen.
“We were just eating dinner,” she said making air quotes around the words “eating dinner.” This was no coincidence: She and her friend Alix Hyduke had heard Mauer was at the club.
Kyle Chmielecki, a caddy, just happened to be wearing his Twins cap and got it signed.
“I’m never washing my hand again because Joe Mauer shook it,” he said.
This story ran in the July 13, 2011 edition of the Duluth News Tribune.