‘It’s timing:’ Man who served on committee to bring US Open to Erin Hills deployed during championship

HARTFORD -- "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry," is a saying adapted from poet Robert Burns "To A Mouse." It can also describe the events of last summer for Doug Fry.

"The committee that I was running was called Encore Separations, so that was taking care of the practice facilities," said Fry.

The success of the 117th U.S. Open at Erin Hills couldn't have happened without the work of thousands of volunteers.

Doug Fry

"One of the big things to do is to be able to find volunteers, you know, at the committee level, who are willing to work for years to get the championship," said Fry.

Doug Fry

That attention to detail is nothing new for Fry, the former Wisconsin State Golf Association president who has volunteered with the USGA for many events.

"Believe it or not, one of the biggest jobs was sorting balls, you know, because you can't give a Callaway to a guy who plays a Titleist," said Fry.

By the time the Callaways and Titleists were flying at the range, Fry was flying somewhere else.

"It was exhilarating. It was fun, but it was also frustrating because I was supposed to be a part of that. I was on a couple of committees to help be the host committee for the championship," said Fry.

Instead of being there, he watched the championship on TV, halfway around the world.

"There's only two sports channels, so fortunately Armed Forces Network picked up the Fox coverage and we were able to watch it. Total luck. If curling was on, there would have been no golf," said Fry.

A chief warrant officer 2 and medevac instructor pilot with the Wisconsin National Guard, Fry was deployed to Afghanistan, flying a Blackhawk helicopter.

"You're on 24 hours a day for five, six days before you get a break, so I'd stay up all night and sleep all day. Got to see every minute. Enjoyed it," said Fry.

Mainly stationed in Kandahar, those breaks would abruptly come to an end.

"It's hours of boredom with moments of terror. We're like the fire department. We sit around sometimes days where you don't have any call. Then when it happens, we have to be off the ground within 15 minutes. We're usually off within six to seven, and we have to have that injured person back to a medical facility within one hour. There is no exception to that," said Fry.

When he wasn't in the air, passing the time was the task at hand, and his true passion wasn't an option.

"Unfortunately in my case, there wasn't a nine-hole golf course, so we didn't get to do that," said Fry.

But he did get some golfing in.

"I was lucky to have some friends ship some clubs and a mat over to me, so we did that quite a bit," said Fry.

While it wasn't a golf course, it was still golf.

"I didn't want to be, you know, embarrassed when I got back and played golf again, so it was nice to be able to hit balls," said Fry.

Missing the U.S. Open was difficult, he said, after putting in so much effort to make it a success.

"It's timing. You know, you pick some things and I can't say that being here was more important than serving my country. In the scheme of things, that was a small emotional drag. You know, you've got your family back home that misses you, wants you, needs you," said Fry.

He was missed by the people at Erin Hills, as they still considered him part of the team.

"John Morrissett from Erin Hills sent me the committee blue blazers, so we had a picture taken of me and my entire company with me in front of one of our aircraft with the blue blazer," said Fry.

He said he's hoping for another opportunity to get it in person.

"I would love to see Erin Hills get another U.S. Open and whatever other championships it can get," said Fry.

HARTFORD, WI - JUNE 18: Brooks Koepka of the United States poses with the winner's trophy after his victory at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 18, 2017 in Hartford, Wisconsin. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Fry recently volunteered at the U.S. Senior Open in Colorado Springs. He also shared his experience golfing while deployed in Afghanistan. CLICK HERE for more.