Fans check the scores at the 18th hole leader board, during third day action of the 70th US Women's Open at Lancaster Country Club Saturday July 11, 2015. (Photo/Chris Knight)

Hand-operated scoreboards still a huge focal point at Open

Posted: July 12, 2015 12:59 am

The crowd forms a gentle stream as it follows the worn-down walkway between the 14th and 18th greens at Lancaster Country Club on Saturday, absorbing the hot July sun in the middle of the afternoon.

Some members of the stream peel away, though, pulling out phones or pausing for a pose under the structural centerpiece of the U.S. Women’s Open, a mammoth, hand-operated scoreboard fixed with 0s and 1s and 2s and 3s on panels that tell the tournament’s story, by hole score and round totals, in real time.

“It’s old school,” says Katherine O’Connor of Madison, New Jersey, after posing in front of the board. “It’s like the Green Monster.”

The simple elements of the 38-foot-wide board fit its temporary home on William Flynn’s classic course at Lancaster Country Club, and its presence emits prestige while it broadcasts the scores authored by the tournament’s leaders. Behind the 0s and 1s and 2s on the scoreboard’s panels, a handful of marshals scurry in the shade to keep the structure up to speed as the 70th U.S. Women’s Open unfolds.

A couple’s tradition

The travelogue for John and Claudia Paul of Willow Grove includes vacation stops in Wichita, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Oakmont, Pennsylvania. The couple, married for 41 years, volunteers at golf tournaments across the country. They’ve seen some 25 U.S. Opens. They served as marshals at the 11th hole in Pebble Beach when Tom Watson outdueled Jack Nicklaus for the 1982 title.

“We had done our shift,” John Paul says, “and we were standing on the 18th fairway when Watson chipped in on 17.”

This year’s Women’s Open in Lancaster — about an hour’s drive up the Turnpike from their home — gives the Pauls their first chance to work the “monster board.” Working in teams of four, the Pauls join Christian Refice of Doylestown and Michael Hogan, their nephew, from West Chester, for the Saturday afternoon shift.

Behind the big board

“We’re going to put a name up on row five,” John Paul says in the middle of his shift. “It’s Park, I. Starting score is minus-2.”

The scores come in to John Paul, the designated captain, through a hand-held computer boasting names and numbers on a touchscreen. A button labeled “GET” lights up and, with a touch, issues highlighted changes from “scoring central,” which funnels information from the walking scorers throughout the course.

“It was pretty easy for two or three hours,” Refice said of his Friday shift, “just change a number here or there. Once the afternoon tee times started, it got crazy for, like, half an hour. We were changing 10 lines, it felt like, at the same time.”

A USGA official checks the board to offering intermittent feedback as the gentle stream of people passes in front of the structure.

“He will tell us,” John says, that, ‘Hey, line seven on hole 13, move the one over a little bit because it’s not centered.’ He does quality control for us.”

Oh, what a view

The USGA officials aren’t the only ones to check the big board by the 18th green. In the days of electronic communication and real-time phone updates, few in the crowd need to check the hand-operated scoreboard to find out the leaders.

But the monster board draws more attention than ever.

“The monster board,” John Paul says, “is the most photographed scoreboard, I believe, in all of sports.”

It wasn’t always the case.

“In the old days,” he continues, “if you saw somebody with a camera, you chased them out, or you called security. People weren’t to bring cameras on the course.”

To the scoreboard operators, the backside of the board offers more than shade as it looks out from the scaffolding onto the long fairways and greens and tee boxes of Lancaster Country Club.

Says Hogan, “It’s the best view on the course.”

Tim Gross is a member of the sports staff. He can be reached at or (717) 291-8666. You can also follow @ByTimGross on Twitter.