U.S. Open tees off
(AP, ABC7) U.S. Open crowds might be one of the only remaining mass gatherings of people in America in which no one has a cellphone.
While the PGA Tour has started allowing cellphones at tournaments, the USGA isn't ready to follow suit at its big events.
"We put competition first and foremost," said Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA. "We're focused on fans, but if we were totally focused on fans you'd have the rope lines closer to play. We're more focused on the competition itself. And until we as an organization are convinced that we can conduct a U.S. Open, a Women's Open, U.S. Amateur, Girls' Junior, with spectators using cell phones, we're going to continue to prohibit them."
Golf fan Tee Sombatapium disagreed. “What’s wrong with have a cell phone? And you can turn it off. I think golf is getting a little ridiculous,” he said.
For golf fans who park at the Mongtomery County fairgrounds on day one of the U.S. Open, it’s best to remember this rule before starting the long walk to the security checkpoint.
“It’s actually nice not to have a phone for a day if you think about it,” said another golf fan, Bob Parnes.
Once through security, free shuttle busses are ready to take fans to the grounds.
“It’s always fun to come to a U.S. Open. I just love going to it,” said Bob’s son Zach Parnes.
Meanwhile, a man collapsed at the Congressional County Club Thursday. Police officers, fire and rescue personnel and physicians from George Washington Hospital, who are members of the event's medical team, immediately administered CPR. The man was taken to a local hospital in serious condition.
While the parking lots at crown farm are the recommended way to go, some entrepreneurial-minded neighbors are renting out their lawns. For $50, visitors can park there.
“It's a great opportunity in the summer to bring in a little extra money,” said Bethesda resident Chris Slowinski. “We're all out here being a community trying to be friendly.”
Last week’s heat with temperatures close to 100 degrees stunted the growth of the grass at Congressional Country Club. Crews had to cut back on the number of mowings and rollings. The heat, combined with a long dry spell, got officials behind as they prepared the Blue Course.
"Last week was brutal," said Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA, who is in charge of setting up the course. "We had not only humidity, but the temperatures were way up. We had to come into this Open not exactly where we want to be."
The USGA likes to have the course in its ideal U.S. Open setup when players arrive Monday for the first practice rounds. Instead, the rough wasn't quite as high as hoped, and the greens weren't playing at the targeted speed.
The revised goal was to have the course ready by Thursday's first round.