Hosting A Golf Major Event Is Nothing Without Major Support From Unseen Heroes
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
For the 150 plus professional golfers coming to Charleston in hopes of winning the 74th US Women's Open Championship, the week in the Lowcountry is all about, eat, sleep, practice, and compete. For the thousands of fans making their way out to the Country Club of Charleston, it's more about watching the best of the best showcase their talents in pursuit of a 'major dream'. Of course there's the occasional cocktail, great food, conversation, shopping, and shared memories years down the road.
For another thousand or so attending or tending to the US Women's Open Championship, their week on the course is about providing the players and the fans with an enjoyable and safe experience. When they say 'it takes a village' the staff on the USGA, PGA and LPGA really mean it. While the location of the Open is determined years in advance, it takes years, months, and weeks prior to the event to pull the tournament off without a glitch.
Of course the Country Club of Charleston in conjunction with the USGA (United States Golf Association) and the LPGA governing body painstakingly prepare the course for the professionals. While greens keepers and local officials are readying the course, thousands of others are working behind the scenes to help present the golf outing and Charleston to attendees and those watching on television.
The company that sets up the dozens of permanent tents arrives more than a month out to begin setting up the structures, making certain they are secure. Vendors and television crews come in weeks prior to establish their logistics on the property. All this long after the residents at the Country Club of Charleston are well informed on what is taking place, minimizing their disruption.
It goes without saying, there are thousands of volunteers (young & old, local & visitors) who will receive little or no mention, however the Open would not take place without their participation. Some receive compensation, while others do it for the love of golf, or better community spirit. From merchandise vendors and mobile beverage attendants, to shuttle drivers and security, most volunteers and workers go unnoticed, but their contribution is essential.
Some volunteers may oversee parking lots miles away from the course. Others may be set up to provide first aid, or check badges at many of the hospitality tents situated throughout the property. There are even workers who just open and close roped areas, providing fans access through fairways when permissible. Inside the tents are retail clerks, food servers, clean up crew, and personnel doling out information.
There are workers that work after hours, and some who come in during the wee hours of the morning. The same may be bringing more food and drink out, or cleaning restrooms and hospitality tents. Let's not forget the hundreds of police (on and off duty) patrolling the grounds and the immediate perimeter, all with one singular goal, keeping everyone safe.
Away from the golf course there are still many others stepping up without recognition. Local hotels, restaurants, businesses, retail shops, and homeowners have offered players and fans incentives during the week long festivities. Most of the civilized world know Charleston is one, if not the most hospitable community on God's green planet, and by all accounts Charlestonians have risen above that threshold this week.
While thousands of patrons get lost in the pomp and circumstance a golf tournament such as the US Women's Open Championship unfolds, most fail to recognize all that takes place behind the scenes years, months, weeks, and more importantly on a daily basis to provide the attendee a really enjoyable experience. In essence, that is the role of a volunteer, the USGA, and LPGA staff, to make certain players and fans have a great time.
The expected weather for the four days of competition is expected to be hot, hot, and more hot. So fans beware. Seek shade under the various sculpted trees or duck into the merchandise tent, or perhaps wrap your taste buds around some cool Ben & Jerry's ice cream. It's time for Charleston to once again shine on national television, and be the gracious southern charm host and hostess.
Maybe while you're out enjoying the professionals, including 12 past champions vying for one of the LPGA's coveted titles, take a moment to thank volunteers or your shuttle driver for their service. Kudos to all the behind the scenes workforce for their dedication to the 2019 US Women's Open Championship. You have our gratitude.