Fans take in the golfers teeing off at the 12th hole, during practice rounds of the 70th US Women's Open at Lancaster Country Club Monday July 6, 2015. (Photo/Chris Knight)

Public savors first chance to see Women’s Open players up close

Posted: July 6, 2015 11:34 pm

The opening round of the U.S. Women’s Open might not be until Thursday, but that did not stop legions of fans from flocking to Lancaster Country Club on Monday.
As the golfers navigated the course and strategized on the first of three practice days before their scores officially count, spectators young and old took the opportunity to experience the game in a whole new way.
“I think it’s a fun sport and I like to watch them play, seeing the different tools they use, seeing them use different things, different strategies,” said York resident Betsy Klinedinst. “You get to see them do different things on different holes and maybe take three or four shots at a time.
“It would be fun to see them play during the real game, but you get to see a little more of their strategy and how they’re thinking and even with some of their coaches.”
While parts of the course are roped off to the general public, the early days of the tournament have given locals the opportunity to connect with the players they usually can only see on TV or read about in the news.
“We did get really close to some of them when they were practicing,” said Klinedinst’s daughter, Molly.
The 11-year-old, who is just learning the game from her father, wasn’t quite so enthusiastic about possibly playing on the course.
“I don’t know,” she laughed. “It’s really big.”
At 6,483 yards, the course can be quite intimidating for visitors navigating the rolling landscape, but many agreed that the Monday’s practice round provided great accessibility to the professionals.
Aside from learning each player’s club selection in different scenarios, fans could also peek in on the golfers meeting with their coaches and caddies and discover what tools they use to measure the greens and determine distance before they take their swings.
But while some were following the pairings around the course, others stayed close to the main gates and watched the players practice on the driving range. That left them mere feet away from the competitors and in a great position to grab a quick autograph from their favorites.
“It’s exceedingly cool,” said Andy Edison, of York, who estimated he had about 20 signatures after just an hour. “Otherwise you’ve just got to throw them in the mail and cross your fingers and hope.”
Edison added, though, that LPGA players were also “fantastic” at mailing autographs.
Harrisburg native Bryan Hock guessed he had the majority of the field’s autographs on his picture of Lancaster Country Club.
“Probably 100 plus,” said Hock, who will volunteer as a leaderboard captain Friday through Sunday.
But what he is looking forward to the most is being able to bring his 12-year-old daughter out to watch practice today.
“She takes it seriously now, but I think this is going to do wonders for her,” Hock said of showing his daughter the professional game.
While many admired the course’s beauty, Hock believes the LPGA members might run into some issues.
“I think the rough is higher and it’s thicker from when I played (last fall),” he said. “There’s going to be something drastically wrong if the women run away with this course.”