Posted: December 17, 2014 8:08 pm
The word comes up often when officials talk about the run-up to the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club.
Revenues for the event, to be played July 6-12, recently exceeded $1 million. Seven months before the event.
“Unprecedented, for a Women’s Open,’’ Tim Flaherty, United States Golf Association Tournament Director for the Open, said Wednesday.
Once the USGA began accepting candidates for volunteer positions to work the event, 2,500 people signed up in three weeks, and there is now a waiting list of 300.
“Unprecedented,’’ Flaherty said again. “Most Women’s Opens, we’re recruiting for certain jobs right up to the event.’’
Ticket sales, corporate investment, community involvement, employment of local resources … in each of these areas, Lancaster’s Women’s Open appears to setting new standards.
The popularity, in fact, is forcing Flaherty and his crew to rethink some things.
Flaherty said his job involves “building a city for a week on a golf course.’’
Construction won’t begin until the spring, but the infrastructure plan for LCC-town — the blueprint for where everything’s going to be — is essentially complete.
Population control is the major remaining variable. Flaherty said he isn’t sure how many spectators the venue can comfortably handle, and the exceptional ticket sales are forcing him to figure that out fast.
The size of the property isn’t a problem. LCC owns or has access to more than 450 acres.
Last summer, Flaherty said, “The parking situation appears to be exceptional. We won’t have to do any shuttling, and that’s very unusual.’’
Flaherty acknowledged Wednesday that the parking prediction, “was based on past Women’s Opens. Here, sales have been so strong that things have changed.’’
There will be shuttles.
Championship director Barry Deach said Wednesday that several parking lots have tentatively been lined up, each of them within five miles of the course.
The size of the property isn’t a problem. But the golf course is an old, classic design. There are some dramatic elevation changes, and some tees and greens are very close together.
A golf stadium it isn’t.
Flaherty said there will be more than the usual number of grandstands, including near the 12th, 17th and 18th greens. There will be a few areas, such as where the 11th and 15th tees abut each other, where spectators won’t be allowed.
It’s also possible that the USGA will have to cut off ticket sales, perhaps long before the event.
All ticket sales thus far have been in packages, most of them for all seven days of the Open (practice rounds July 6-8 and the four actual tournament rounds July 9-12), sold at the event’s website (2015uswomensopen.com).
Prices range from $85 (two people for one day or one person for two days, with public parking, with children of ticket-holders under age 17 admitted free) to $200 for seven-day admission, parking and access to the 1761 Club, a lodge-like hangout that will be fashioned from a farm house and barn property on the course.
Hospitality packages for groups range from $25,000 to $150,000 for space inside the clubhouse, one of a village of cottages alongside the 10th fairway or large tents to be erected on the back nine of the course.
The hospitality packages include multiple seven-day badges, VIP parking, catered food, private rest rooms, spots in pre- and post-tournament golf outings at LCC and other perks.
All of the above packages are available only until Dec. 31. No daily tickets have been made available yet.
“This is a great property for a championship,’’ Flaherty said. “There are a couple places on the back nine where it gets a little tight. We need to be careful here, and make sure we maximize the fan experience.
“We have to see where we’re at,’’ Flaherty said. “If we’re pushing over 25,000 people per day, we maybe would stop sales.’’
Again, unprecedented, for a Women’s Open.