When the best female golfers in the world start swinging at the Lancaster Country Club in July, Franklin & Marshall College will have partial bragging rights as a sponsor of the prestigious U.S. Women's Open.
The College is joining other community institutions in supporting this year's tournament, which marks the first time Lancaster -- or central Pennsylvania -- has hosted a major sports championship. The USWO, long considered the top competition in the women's game, will mark its 70th anniversary with this year's contest.
"Franklin & Marshall College is proud and excited to be a part of the Open," said President Daniel R. Porterfield. "National and local organizers, community partners, and others have worked very hard for a long time to bring this signature event to Lancaster. I'm sure it will not only be a great tournament, but also a wonderful showcase for all that our community has to offer."
In addition to hosting a hospitality venue at the course and other support, the College played a key role in what organizers call a critical cornerstone of the event: volunteer training. The Alumni Sports & Fitness Center was turned over to USGA staff for a three-day weekend in May, hosting more than 2,000 volunteers who learned what it takes to put on a party of this magnitude.
The volunteers, chosen from thousands who applied to work at the tourney, flooded the ASFC not only to pick up their official uniforms and volunteer handbooks, but to meet the tournament staff and learn how they'll be deployed to handle the anticipated 35,000 daily spectators at the country club, which is on New Holland Pike. Practice rounds start on July 6, with the championship rounds to be played July 9-12.
Vice President for College Advancement Matthew Eynon, who has worked behind the scenes as a volunteer chair of a tournament committee, says the tournament caps years of planning. Lancaster was selected as this year's venue in 2009.
"It has been a privilege to get to know and work with the tournament staff over the last year or so," Eynon said. "They are dedicated to making this a tremendous experience for our community, the fans and for the world's best female golfers. And I am thrilled that F&M has been able to play a role."
The course, designed by iconic golf architect William Flynn (perhaps best known for his Shinnecock Hills course on Long Island) is considered both difficult and beautiful.
"You have to have a championship course, which I believe we have," said tournament Chairman Jerry Hostetter at a media day event previewing the upcoming play.
A field of 156 players will include former USWO champions Paula Creamer, Se Ri Pak, and Cristie Kerr and defending champion Michelle Wie.