LANCASTER, Pa. – As the morning sun peeked through the clouds in south-central Pennsylvania on July 29, a small crowd joined LPGA Tour pros Sandra Gal and Gerina Piller for breakfast inside the newly renovated clubhouse at Lancaster Country Club.
Gal and Piller were on hand to give media and club members alike a playing tour of the host site of the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open, which is scheduled for July 9-12.
Piller and Gal, whose best finishes in a U.S. Women’s Open are a tie for 31st in 2013 and third in 2012, respectively, were welcomed by the Lancaster community, as the buzz being generated already has the locals beaming with pride.
The day began with a tour of the Lancaster Central Market – a popular downtown location for local food and produce – and concluded with a 17-hole round (the seventh hole was under repair). Joining Piller and Gal was USGA Vice President and Championship Committee Chairman Dan Burton, along with local amateur and 2015 U.S. Women’s Open hopeful Allison Weaver.
“Lancaster Country Club is going to be a great site for the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open,” said Burton. “The history of the club, the layout of the course and the outpouring of support from the local community is great for the USGA, and it’s really helping us as we continue to increase recognition for the U.S. Women’s Open – and women’s golf overall.”
As an added bonus, Burton, Gal, Piller and Weaver were wired for sound during the round. Club members and local media were treated to hole-by-hole commentary and insights from all four players. Piller and Gal also benefited by having local caddies Thom Cooper and Ryan Sensing on their bags, who have a combined 38 years of experience at Lancaster.
The foursome squared off in teams of Burton and Piller vs. Gal and Weaver, and all parties were impressed with the course, a William S. Flynn design that opened in 1920, and how it sets up for the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open.
“This is what I envision a U.S. Women’s Open course to be like,” said Piller, who grew up in Roswell, N.M. “I think it’s great. There are different shots you have to play, the par 3s are different, a lot of elevation changes and a lot of slope in the greens. I see nothing but positives.”
“I really like tree-lined and traditional courses and I think they are really good for the U.S. Women’s Open,” said Gal, a native of Dusseldorf, Germany. “I like that every hole is very memorable. You hit a lot of different shots, and you have to be a good putter.”
Although the first ball won’t be in the air for another 11 months, the community is eager to help Lancaster make a big impression on a national stage, having already filled all available volunteer positions.
“I think this is going to help put [Lancaster] on the map,” said Piller. “It’s really cool to hear about the volunteer spaces running out so fast and people wanting to get involved and supporting us. It’s almost like a regular [LPGA] Tour stop … with 20 years’ worth of support.”
Building on the growing strength of women’s golf, the allure of the club and the support from the region, the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open has the makings of a memorable championship.
Jonathan Wilhelm is the USGA’s social media specialist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.