Let the countdown begin.
Now that the last putt has been sunk at the Masters, the center of the golf universe will move to The City, where final touches are being put on the Olympic Club’s Lake Course in preparation for the U.S. Open.
“We’re about 60 days out, so preparations are in full gear out here,” U.S. Open Championship Director Danny Sink said.
After tweaking several holes over the last couple of years, the course itself is almost ready to tee off on. The only thing missing right now is the Open’s notoriously challenging rough and that will thicken up soon with a little sunshine and care.
“That’s the thing [the rough] everyone thinks about when they think U.S. Open,” Sink said.
The real work over the next two months is building the infrastructure needed to accommodate the swarm that of people that will descend on the Olympic Club.
Before practice rounds start June 11, organizers will be busy putting up restrooms, concession stands, bleachers, a 40,000-foot merchandise tent, a corporate hospitality tent and temporary roads for service vehicles.
“We’re building a miniature city on a golf course for one week,” Sink said.
Golf has grown exponentially since the course last held in the event in 1998. Back then, Tiger Woods had won only one of his 14 majors and the sport was just starting to catch a buzz on ESPN. Nowadays, names like Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy are recognizable around the dinner table, so the Olympic Club is preparing for a larger spectacle.
Sink said he expects a full house of 33,500 per day this year, up 5,000 from ’98, in addition to roughly 5,500 volunteers, 1,000 security marshals and 1,500 media and TV personnel. The course is adding 14,000 bleacher seats, including a new, hillside-stadium view near the eighth hole.
“That area is going to be a great vantage point for spectators,” said Sink.
Shuttle buses will run from the Colma BART station to the Olympic Club for spectators who don’t want to fight traffic congestion.
A limited number of tickets are still available for the championship and practice rounds at www.usopen.com and Sink said fans should jump on it.
“I would encourage people not to wait,” he said. “Masters is always a big [ticket selling] week for us.”
WHEN: June 14-17
WHERE: The Olympic Club, Lake Course
DEFENDING CHAMP: Rory McIlroy