Next year's U.S. Senior Open at Omaha Country Club will be only the second time in the USGA golf tournament's 34 years that ticket sales will require advance application and a random drawing.
No single-day tickets are expected to be sold, tournament officials said Wednesday in announcing the opening of the ticket campaign.
All ticket packages, priced at $150 and $250, include admission to the four championship days, July 11 to 14, 2013, along with the three days of practice rounds that begin tournament week.
Championship Director Liz Leckemby said it is undetermined how many tickets will be available through the drawing, which has an Aug. 10 application deadline. Space constraints on the course are expected to limit daily galleries to about 30,000, including the volunteer force of 3,000.
The only other time Senior Open ticket sales were restricted was at the 2001 tournament at Salem (Mass.) Country Club, said Tim Flaherty, the United States Golf Association senior director for the Senior Open.
“Omaha is raising the bar,” Flaherty said. “To need only 200 more volunteers is pretty good testament to the support for this event. And we have the highest corporate sales numbers in my (17 years).”
The 2013 Senior Open will be the first USGA tournament in Omaha since the 1941 U.S. Amateur and the first of the three USGA open events — professionals and amateurs both eligible — to come to the state. Patrick Duffy of Omaha, the tournament's general chairman, first suggested OCC as a possible host course to Flaherty during the 2006 Senior Open at Prairie Dunes in Kansas.
“The community support has been incredible,” Duffy said. “We hope we have the same response for tickets, and we anticipate we will.”
The 2009 Senior Open champion, Fred Funk, who was on a Skype hookup during Wednesday's press conference, said “we get the crowds” when the Senior Open goes to courses in the Midwest.
“Some weeks on the regular tour or the Champions Tour, the 2,800 (volunteers signed up) would be more than those who come to watch,” Funk said. “If nobody else shows up (in Omaha), we'd still have a pretty good crowd.”
The ticket options, which include free parking and free shuttle transportation to the main admission gate, are the Weekly Grounds Ticket Package at $150 and the Trophy Club at $250. Both include one ticket for each day with access to the grounds and grandstands. The Trophy Club ticket also provides access to an air-conditioned pavilion.
Throughout the week, children 17 and under will receive free admission and front-row grandstand seating when accompanied by a ticketed adult.
The tournament has an operating budget of close to $10 million and could generate more than $30 million for the area's economy.
The Senior Open wants to raise $500,000, Duffy said, to provide access to golf to disadvantaged youth across the state. A pilot program starts this summer at Omaha's municipal courses.
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