Senior Open A Match Made in Husker Heaven


NGA assistant executive director Justin Ahrens served as a walking Rules official at the Senior Open. (USGA/Fred Vuich)
By Greg Midland, USGA
July 14, 2013

OMAHA, Neb. – Craig Ames is the executive director of the Nebraska Golf Association, not a matchmaker. Yet he can’t help but allude to romance when discussing the NGA’s role in bringing the 2013 U.S. Senior Open to Omaha Country Club.

“It was like setting two people up on a blind date,” Ames said. “We have a good relationship with the USGA and a good relationship with the club, so once we helped make that connection we kind of went away for a while. And now it’s like coming to the wedding.”

Just like a typical wedding reception, U.S. Senior Open week in Omaha has been filled with smiles, kind words and applause. It has also allowed NGA volunteers and staff members – led by President Patrick Duffy, who also is the U.S. Senior Open chairman and a member of Omaha Country Club – to participate in all aspects of a national championship, an opportunity that, in Nebraska, doesn’t often present itself.

“I think we’re starved for things like this,” said Ames, who has worked at every U.S. Senior Open since 2006. “It’s all about the community support; they just had to find a golf course that made it work.”

Omaha Country Club fit the bill by providing an outstanding venue for the players  and spectators, and was well able to accommodate the thousands of volunteers and support staff who traveled from near and far to assist in the preparation and execution of the championship.

It was an all-hands-on-deck kind of week for the NGA, which is headquartered in Omaha and comprises nearly 170 member golf clubs and approximately 23,000 golfers. The association has a small staff, so in order to stage an event such as the Senior Open, it must rely on a cadre of volunteers and interns during the busy summer months.

“I don’t think there’s anybody left in the office this week,” quipped Ames.

Ames, who has been the NGA’s executive director since 2001, is Rules-certified and has served as a walking Rules official each day of the championship, as has the association’s assistant executive director, Justin Ahrens. They were joined by more than half of the 20-member Board of Directors, who serve on all manner of committees related to the championship.

Maddy Moser, who is in her first year as executive director of the Nebraska Women’s Golf Association, helped facilitate player interviews in and around the media center along with NGA seasonal intern Connor Stange.

“It was a great experience to help out and see how the [USGA] staff and the players interact in a national championship,” said Moser.

Stange, a journalism major and rising senior at the University of Nebraska, added, “It was hectic at times, but it was fun to be involved.”

As Ames surveyed the scene and saw people wearing NGA-logoed shirts walking around Omaha Country Club playing integral roles in the championship, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

“I was very curious to see how the community would react,” he said. “Corporate [hospitality] set a new record, the crowds were out, the volunteers were golf-savvy. It’s been a great week.”

Perhaps great enough that he decides to put his matchmaker hat back on and tries to bring more national championships to the Cornhusker State.

Greg Midland is the USGA’s director of editorial and multimedia content. Email him at gmidland@usga.org.

Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @usopengolf
World Amateur Golf Ranking
WAGR Counting Event
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
Chevron
   

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image
Rolex
   

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.



Rolex image
IBM
   

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image
Lexus
   

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express
   

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment


AmEx image