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Director of operations is dream job for Towson man But workload is grind on Bussey's family


PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- It sounds like a dream job for a typical weekend hacker: Spend eight months at one of the prettiest spots in the country, improve your game at one of the world's best courses and oversee everything but the golf at the U.S. Open.

For Frank Bussey, a transplanted Baltimorean, being director of operations for the 92nd Open has been both a grand assignment and a terrific grind. It's a great thing to have on the resume, but it takes a toll on his wife, Cynthia, and their 11-year-old son, Evan, back in Towson.

"This has been like a tour of duty, but a pleasant tour of duty," said Bussey, 43.

This tour won't end tomorrow when the 72-hole tournament is scheduled to conclude, or Monday in case there's a playoff. Bussey will stay on a couple of more weeks as the tents and scoreboards are taken down and Pebble Beach slowly gets back to being the most famous public course in the world.

But when that happens, Bussey will be looking for a job. Bussey, who came to Baltimore from West Palm Beach, Fla., when he took a similar position during the 1988 Women's Open at Five Farms, has had some preliminary discussions with Pinehurst for the 1994 Senior Open.

Bussey hopes to speak with the executives at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda about running the 1995 Senior Open and 1997 U.S. Open. Congressional was awarded the 97th Open championship earlier this week. "It would be nice to work close to home again," Bussey said.

The preparations for this week's tournament were a lot different than those for the Women's Open at Baltimore Country Club. There were more people to hire, more spectators to accommodate, more portable toilets to put in, more cable to lay and certainly a few more headaches along the way.

But Bussey seems to be able to take things in stride. When he received a frantic call on his walkie-talkie earlier this week from one of his aides who was trying to help a women with an injured leg who needed to sit by the bleachers at the 18th green, Bussey calmly made a suggestion.

"Why don't you get her a chair?" Bussey asked.

"I guess that makes sense," said the slightly embarrassed aide.

Said tournament director Karen Hunter, who hired Bussey: "He was so mild-mannered that I was a little worried. I said 'how can a guy this quiet command a staff?' But I've never regretted my decision. He's the best person I've ever worked with in that position."

Hunter said Bussey is so popular around Pebble Beach because he doesn't feel any job is beneath him. On top of that, "It's unusual to find someone who is so detail-oriented and organized, yet at the same time can go out and drive a forklift."

Bussey has lost 55 pounds since he took the job, even though he's stopped smoking. (He's on a popular diet that advertises heavily on television.) Hunter kidded Bussey that his wife won't recognize him. Bussey -- who has been home twice -- replied jokingly, "That's the idea."

Though it's been difficult on the family, Bussey's wife seems to understand the nature of her husband's work. Cynthia could detect that as the Open was approaching, her husband seemed to be getting as geared up for the event as any of the players in the field.

"When it gets really busy, that's when Frank's at his happiest," Cynthia Bussey said yesterday by telephone. "He's the kind of guy who likes to do 30 things at the same time."

If that's the case, Bussey must be in heaven here this week, and not just because he's at one of the prettiest places in the country and one of the best golf courses in the world.

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