Kayakers and Conoers paddle along the Conestoga River through Lancaster Country Club during the 2013 U.S. Women's Open Saturday. (Photo/Blaine Shahan)

Canoeing, kayaking fans make a splash at US Open

Posted: July 11, 2015 8:51 pm

If you’ve tuned in to the U.S. Women’s Open on TV at all this week, at some point there’s probably been a shot of kayakers floating on the Conestoga Creek, some in the background as golfers teed off from No. 7.

The creek flows down alongside the No. 7 fairway, separating Holes No. 3, 4, 5, 6 and the tee box of No. 7 from the rest of the course on the other side.

Kayakers on the Conestoga River watch Morgan Pressel tee off at hole #7 at Lancaster Country Club in Round 3 of the 2013 U.S. Women's Open Saturday. (Photo/Blaine Shahan)

Kayakers on the Conestoga River watch Morgan Pressel tee off at hole #7 at Lancaster Country Club in Round 3 of the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open Saturday. (Photo/Blaine Shahan)

Folks on the water are allowed to float on the creek while observing the action up close because Lancaster Country Club has no jurisdiction over the creek — it’s defined as a public thoroughfare, according to a USGA medial official.

As a result, people in canoes and kayaks have been allowed to watch the Open free of charge from one of the best — and perhaps most unique — viewing areas of the whole course. It’s something usually only seen at Major League Baseball games in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, where fans hang out on boats, canoes and kayaks, some hoping to shag a home run ball.

Of course, there’s no shagging golf balls on the Conestoga Creek during the U.S. Open. As one fan, overheard earlier this week, said, “These golfers wouldn’t be here if they were hitting it into the creek.”

So where do these canoers and kayakers on the Conestoga come from? Apparently, all over Lancaster County.

[iframe id=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/Cat3Pue7w4g”]

On Saturday at around 2 p.m., Steve and Wilma Wagler, of Upper Leacock Township, had just arrived at the Lancaster Country Club section of the Conestoga Creek after putting their canoe in the water south of Lancaster Country Club and paddling upstream for about 15 minutes.

“Our son did it on Thursday and said he had a good time and no trouble,” Steve Wagler said. “So we decided to give it a try today.”

Right behind the Waglers were a group of four kayakers who had also paddled upstream after getting in the water south of LCC.

“I’ve been boating on the Conestoga my whole life,” said Max McPherson, of Lancaster City.
McPherson paddled alongside friends Sarah Dommel, of East Lampeter Township, Jen Willmer, of Lancaster City, and Shawn Leed, of East Cocalico Township.

Some on the creek Saturday could be seen fishing, while others observed golfers teeing off from No. 7 while parked in the shade under the lone bridge that gives spectators access to Holes 3 through 6 on the other side of the creek. It’s about the only reprieve from the sun for canoers and kayakers who come down the creek through LCC.

And while others might be big fans of golf and paying close attention to the action from the water, Leed acknowledges he’s just enjoying the whole experience.

“I do a little pitch-and-putt, but I just thought it’d be cool to check out the event,” Leed said.