Officials still concerned about back-nine overcrowding

Posted: March 26, 2015 12:53 am



We’re now less than four months away from the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club, and, as Matt Sawicki of the United States Golf Association put it Wednesday, “the plans are all in place, and now we’re ready to begin executing them.’’

The chairs of the 19 volunteer committees gave progress reports to USGA officials Wednesday. Sawicki and USGA tournament director Tim Flaherty held a town-hall-style meeting with Lancaster Country Club members Wednesday night.

The volunteer situation couldn’t be better. Roughly 2,500 available volunteer spots filled up in about a month, and there is a waiting list of about 600.

“That hasn’t been done before,’’ Sawicki said. “At most events, we’re still recruiting at this point.’’

Transportation, parking, lodging, golf-course prep, safety, infrastructure … in every area, the wheels are turning.

One issue, if it is an issue, remains: The country club’s back nine isn’t get any roomier or crowd-friendly.

“There are areas of this golf course that are really tight,’’ Flaherty said. “We have to take a hard look at the number of tickets we can sell.’’

All ticket sales for the open to this point have been in ticket packages sold over the event’s web site ( Single-day sales will begin next month. They could be cut off well before the event.

Flaherty said organizers decided Tuesday to add to existing grandstands at the 13th, 17th and 18th holes. Seats may be added to the left of the 12th, a scenic par-3. There is already a grandstand to the right of 12.

“We have to do some thinking about how people are going to be moving around the golf course,’’ Flaherty said. “Getting them sitting down helps.’’

Medical services: One area of the operation that could be critical but is hoped to go unnoticed is the medical/first aid service being overseen by Alice Yoder, Director of Community Health at Lancaster General Hospital.

Two medical tents will be staffed by roughly 30 emergency physicians and 60 nurses during the tournament week.

Two Lancaster Emergency Medical Services Association ambulances will be on site, and LEMSA EMTs will roam the property.

Yoder has never overseen a project quite like this. She did travel to the 2013 Women’s Open at Sebonack Golf Club on Long Island to observe that operation.

“The people running this are experienced, and they have a template in place,’’ Yoder said. “The coordination and the way this has been organized is phenomenal. We’re just plugging in to that.’’

Yoder does worry about severe heat.

“It’s water and Gatorade and making sure the message gets out,’’ she said. “We’re just planning on it being very, very hot.’’

Volunteer training: The volunteers will receive formal training and their uniforms at the Mayser Center at Franklin & Marshall College in May.

Seeing stars in May: The LPGA Tour will be in Williamsburg, Virginia, May 14-17 and Galloway, New Jersey, May 29-31, with an off-week in between. Expect many pros to come to Lancaster for practice rounds during that stretch.