Lancaster Country Club fast becoming a stadium

Posted: June 20, 2015 8:07 pm

That tranquil elegance that usually pervades Lancaster Country Club?

Kiss it goodbye for a while.

There were the sights and sounds of construction last week as workers began turning the club into a golf stadium for next month’s U.S. Women’s Open.

Stacks of materials filled one portion of the parking lot. Drivers of European sedans sat and waited in the driveway as less stylish vehicles backed in and out, picking up and hauling here and there.

Much of the work is already done, and in fact had to be done before the obvious construction could be.

Along the far reaches of the property, beyond the driving range in the direction of Lancaster city, are three gravel roads that will be entrances to Fox Sports’ TV compound, a parking area on some of the unused nine holes at the club, and a VIP/player’s entrance.

The roads are the work of Horst Excavating, a Lancaster firm that moved about 1,250 yards of earth, and put down about 2,000 pounds of stone.

When the Open’s over, the company will come back, pick up the stone, re-sod the grass and in effect erase its own work..

“You are ripping up a nice green golf course,’’ Horst Vice-President Brian Kane said Thursday.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s what we do every day.’’

Yes, Kane is a golfer.

“It’s a beautiful course,’’ he said. “Its great for us to be a part of something like this, but when it’s over you want to return it back to the way it was.’’

Metal bleachers went up fast all over the course. They will turn the 18th green complex into an amphitheater and create a solution to congestion issues on several high-traffic areas of the course..

A mini-village of buildings to be used for corporate hospitality sits on and around L.C.C.’s tennis courts, and is already largely finished.

At most big-time golf tournaments, corporate hospitality tents are literally tents. That was the plan here, too, until tournament director Barry Deach met with Dave Zook of Horizon Structures in Atglen.

Turns out Zook’s company – normally known for horse barns and chicken coops – could create wooden buildings that would be nicer, more substantial and cheaper than tents.

When Zook said that his construction time would be measured in hours, not days, Deach was sold.

“Nothing like this has ever been used for golf before,’’ Deach said. “It’s something that could have applications for future championships, for sure.’’

Most noticeable as you drive by the property on New Holland Ave. are the dozen large (in the 1,200 square-foot range) metal-framed temporary buildings that have shot up.

They are the work of Select Event Group of Norristown and Laurel, Md., a firm that has included the Super Bowl and the Preakness Stakes among its clients.

“Everything’s gone great so far,’’ Select Event Senior Account Executive Nick Gerace said Thursday. “This is an all-weather event, and it is a golf course. You can’t trash the course, so there are some challenges.

Select’s buildings can be relatively tent-like and open-air, such as the ones along the driveway to the club, which will a volunteer check-in center and headquarters for event sponsors Lancaster General Health and Lexus.

They can also be more substantial, with glass or solid walls and doorways, air conditioning and even hardwood floors. Among the larger Select buildings at L.C.C. will be the main merchandise store beside the 10th tee, the media center beyond the driving range and the “1761 Club,’’ set next to the 13th tee, not far from the 12th green and 16th fairway.

The Club will be available to badge holders ($225 for the entire week; 99 percent sold out as of Saturday) who will have access, according to the event’s web site, “to artisanal cuisine, specialty beverages, exclusive indoor and outdoor spectator advantages and luxury amenities.’’

As Gerace leads a media tour of the club, workers busily unload trucks. A large, antique-looking bar is already in place. A wrap-around porch is coming.

You will be able to see a lot of golf from there.

Gerace is clearly proud of that particular part of the project.

“We’re pretty excited about the way it’s turning out,’’ he says. “It’s gonna be pretty awesome.’’