Championship golf on its way
By Christian Davis
C & G Staff Writer
Golf fans will turn their attention to a patch of land in Lake Orion July 9-15 as Indianwood Golf and Country Club plays host to the U.S. Senior Open.
“It’s been a long time coming, about five years, and here we are down to the last eight weeks and finalizing every little detail,” said Kelley Aldridge, the head of tournament operations for Indianwood.
Her brother agreed.
“Since the new year, it’s been on hyper drive,” Indianwood’s Vice President/General Manager Keith Aldridge added. “Only eight weeks out, and it’s just coming quicker and quicker.”
A challenge in every way
Several changes have been made to Indianwood to make it a perfect fit for such a prestigious championship.
Kevin Aldridge, brother of Kelley and Keith, has overseen the addition of six fairway bunkers and the repositioning of 11 other bunkers for strategic purposes. The course has also been lengthened by 150 yards.
The United States Golf Association’s Matt Sawicki, the manager of rules and competition for the tournament, likes what he sees.
“Indianwood is really a hidden gem as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “It’s a very difficult golf course, and certainly one of the caliber to host a national championship. … It has a links feel to it with the fescue, and when we’re looking for a venue, we’re looking for a firm and fast course that can challenge the best in the world. I think we have that in Indianwood,” he said. “I think this course is going to require them to use every club in the bag.”
Kelley Aldridge said members can play the course until just a few weeks prior to the event, giving them a taste of what the pros can expect.
“The difficulty of the course is extreme. The rough has grown longer, and the greens are super fast,” she said.
Getting in on the action
Volunteer opportunities are still available for those who want to do more at the national championship than spectate.
Keith Aldridge said the only volunteer group that is full is marshalling, but people are still needed to work the scoreboard, among other opportunities.
“(Working the scoreboard) is outside, right in the mix of knowing what’s going on in the tournament,” he said.
The cost to volunteer for an adult is $120, which includes a championship shirt, wind jacket, hat and commemorative pin, and a one-time discount on merchandise, along with other perks. An additional shirt is available for $20.
For juniors between the ages of 13-17, the price is $50 and includes many of the same benefits. An additional shirt is available for $20.
“I think two-thirds of our members have volunteered,” Keith Eldridge said. “They’re really pumped up, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”
All volunteers are asked to attend a training seminar June 9 at Lake Orion High School.
For more information and to register, visit www.2012ussenioropen.com.
Seeing is believing
The U.S. Senior Open routinely brings in a field that reads like a Who’s Who of professional golf.
Players who have registered include defending champion Olin Browne, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Fred Couples, Mark O’Meara, Fred Funk and Tom Lehman, among others.
“It’s a national championship. When you talk to players on the Champions Tour, and we have some great players, when you ask them what event they want to win on the tour, each year I think 100 percent would say the U.S. Senior Open,” Sawicki said. “It’s the most prestigious event on the tour for them. The other part is that it’s really family oriented. The players are accessible, and kids under 17 are in for free. It’s meant to create truly a spectacular atmosphere.”
Tickets for adults are $20 for a single-day pass Monday through Wednesday and $40 for a single-day pass Thursday through Sunday.
It’s $120 for a weekly grounds ticket, which is good for the entire week, and $250 for the Gene Sarazen Club, which is good Wednesday through Sunday and includes access to the clubhouse with indoor seating and viewing.
Parking for the entire week is free.
Kelley Aldridge said they expect 140,000 people to pass through the gates during the week.
“There will be plenty of seating. The course has rolling terrain and natural amphitheatres around many greens, and you can see a lot of areas from just standing in one position,” she said. “It’s just breathtaking to stand on the high ground and see all the undulations and the contrast between the fairways and fescue. It’s just incredible.”
To purchase tickets, visit www.2012ussenioropen.com.
Wednesday of tournament week is Free Military Day.
All retired and active servicemen and women receive free entry after showing their military ID card.
Brad Chalmers, a golf fan and the U. S. Navy’s Chief of Joint Operations for European Command, said he’s excited about the opportunity.
“I think it’s great that the USGA is doing that for all the military members, and we all have a chance to take advantage of it. Frankly, I think it’s a win-win,” he said.
“If I can get a day off, or even a half of a day off, I’ll definitely be there,” the Chesterfield resident added.
Keith Aldridge said he’s happy to give back to those who serve or have served.
“We do have the greatest country, and I think there’s a reason for that. There’s a lot of people that have … created our freedom, and I happen to like our freedom,” he said. “We should acknowledge these people that sign up and put their lives on the line for us.”
A true family atmosphere
Keith, Kelley and Kevin Aldridge’s father, Stan, purchased Indianwood in 1981, and since that time, his children have helped put on three major championships. The U. S. Women’s Open was played on the grounds in 1989 and 1994.
“It’s a real sense of pride. In 1981 or 1982, my dad almost bought the Detroit Red Wings, but Mr. (Mike) Illitch outbid him,” Keith Eldridge said. “We refer (to the championships) as my dad’s Stanley Cups. … It’s our Super Bowl, our World Series. It’s a big deal for us.”
“It’s the Aldridge family, but really, it’s the Indianwood family,” Keith Aldridge added. “For me, personally, it’s a lot of fun working with my brother and sister. I’m having the time of my life right now … and to be able to share it with them, it’s been kind of special.”
Kelley Aldridge agreed.
“It’s special to be able to work with family, especially in an event that comes up and then is gone. It won’t be here forever, so I think that adds a little more meaning,” she said.
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