See a video of the sights and sounds at the U.S. Senior Open.
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LAKE ORION, Mich. — You'd think they were studying a long putt with the U.S. Senior Open golf championship on the line.
One guy intently watched how officials set pin placements on the 18th green.
A woman rubbed shirt sleeves between her fingers, clicked photos with her smartphone and took notes in the merchandise tent.
A colleague consulted with them about what they found.
In a way, the Senior Open is on the line for the three Omahans, leaders of the group that will stage the 2013 Senior Open next July at Omaha Country Club. They visited suburban Detroit last week to see how organizers there coordinated the 2012 tournament, on and off the course.
“The main objective of our trip was to work on a number of little details for next year, primarily the golf course and golf course setup,'' said Patrick Duffy, general chairman for the 2013 tournament. “We're soaking in as much as possible.”
The city of Omaha has much to gain from a successful tournament, its first United States Golf Association championship since 1941.
The Senior Open could lead to future USGA events here. It could raise the profile of Omaha — home of the College World Series and a two-time U.S. Olympic Swim Trials host — as a city that can put on major sporting events.
Duffy said the tournament must deliver “a great experience” for the golfers, volunteers and spectators.
One morning last week he walked the back nine at the Indianwood Golf & Country Club with Eric McPherson, Omaha Country Club's course superintendent. They watched several USGA officials test the green speeds and slopes and set the daily pin placements for the championship rounds.
What generated much discussion within the Omaha group were the electronic screens used for scoreboards and pairings. The TVs were in small tents by the first-hole tee and near the merchandise tent.
Duffy said he preferred a manually operated pairings board for Omaha's practice rounds because it looks more formal and traditional.
Details off the course are just as key.
Merchandise is important because it generates revenue. Spectators next year will exit shuttle buses, walk through a new grand entrance and immediately see a large retail tent — between 8,000 and 10,000 square feet — filled with apparel and other souvenirs.
The merchandise tent at Indianwood was half that size. Liz Leckemby, championship director for the Omaha tournament, chatted with vendors there and showed colleagues clothing ideas. Eventually Leckemby and others will develop a plan on what to sell, how many and in what colors. Among the decisions: Stripes or solids? Go with a bright color? Maybe the green in the Omaha Country Club logo?
As important is the outfitting of the volunteer corps, who will be seen on the course and in the community driving courtesy cars. Each will receive two golf shirts and a windbreaker that must be worn when working a shift.
They also surveyed the volunteer pavilion. The Omahans wondered if theirs would be the right size for 3,000 volunteers. They took note of small details, too. They figured they'd need at least a dozen water dispensers versus the one in Indianwood's pavilion.
Next on the 2013 Senior Open's operations list is setting the final transportation and public safety plan with Omaha city officials. Only a few hospitality packages remain unsold, Leckemby said, and the tournament sales staff will switch to service mode for sponsors.
“Our community is incredibly supportive of major events and we have a great group of volunteers,'' Duffy said. “We'll be ready.”
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Sights and sounds of the U.S. Senior Open
Grounds keepers, volunteers, golfers and fans converge for the 2012 U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood G.C.C. in Lake Orion, Mich.