Senior Women's Open delivers 'inspirational' week at Chicago Golf Club

In a solitary sport, it seemed like an incredible moment: Your competitors are the ones giving you a tearful toast after a dominating performance on the golf course.
But in a championship that so often felt like a high school reunion, it wasn’t so stunning that many of the players who had missed the cut stuck around to see England’s Laura Davies lift the first U.S. Senior Women’s Open trophy after a 10-shot victory Sunday at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton.

That gracious reception was an appropriate end to a week of milestones recorded at an inaugural and long-overdue championship for the greats of the women’s game.
“It was indicative of how committed these women were to this tournament, which was really inspiring,” said John Moran, a club historian.
As they close the book on USGA’s new major, championship organizers and club members are recapping their top moments and starting the process of returning the historic venue to its usual, quiet ambience.
“On the whole, this is by far the most personally fulfilling championship I’ve ever worked,” said Matt Sawicki, USGA’s championships director. “To see this group of women and what they’ve accomplished throughout their careers, to have them here on-site, and not just that the USGA was celebrating them, but an entire golf community here was there to celebrate them, and to be a part of that was pretty special.”
USGA organizers will remain on-site for up to a month removing tent pavilions, temporary roadways and the other remnants of the first Open championship at the members-only club since 1911.
“The golf course itself really is the same today as it was yesterday,” Sawicki said. “What’s so amazing about Chicago Golf is it really is in championship condition every single day, and that’s a great tribute to the superintendent, Scott Bordner.”
USGA officials weren’t releasing attendance figures, but it was clear from the size of the galleries and a crowded pro shop that fans wanted to take advantage of a ticket inside a storied and famously private golf club.
“We always expected good crowds. I think where it exceeded our expectations was the number of people who came out and experienced the championship Thursday, Friday and ultimately came back Saturday, Sunday,” Sawicki said. “We expected a lot of people to come out once simply to see and understand what this championship was all about, but what ended up happening was people saw how great the golf was, what a neat fan experience it was, and decided to come back.”
That fan experience stood out for the chance to walk Chicago Golf’s pristine fairways behind players. The USGA only roped off the greens and tees around the links-style course.
“I thought visually it presented itself well on television, and at the end of the day, I think it’s something that we’re going to look to continue to do moving forward,” Sawicki said.
Wheaton city spokeswoman Arin Thrower said the police and fire departments saw no issues on their end during the smooth-sailing event. City, park district and library representatives built anticipation for the championship through “Summer of Golf,” a season-long series of events that included a downtown display of golf ball sculptures painted by artists.
“I can’t speak highly enough about this community, in particular, the city of Wheaton and everything they did to make this championship a success,” Sawicki said.
He’s received a flurry of text messages and emails expressing gratitude for a special event and a special venue.
“It played out well for the competitors, and the membership did a wonderful job in hosting the players and organizing the committees and really opening their doors to the community at large,” Sawicki said. “And I think what they wanted to do was give back to the game of golf, and I think they accomplished that goal this week.”
Moran will preserve that contribution as a custodian of the “history room” in the 105-year-old clubhouse. Among the new artifacts he’s adding to the club’s collection are plaques signed by Davies and low-amateur Martha Leach and a scroll autographed by the entire 120-player field.
“It’s an important part of our history,” he said.

Source: Sports

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