The 2019 U.S. Women's Open at the Country Club of Charleston is less than four months away and people in the Lowcountry will soon be seeing evidence that the premier event in women's golf is coming to town.
Earlier this week, FOX Sports was on site to scope out locations for their equipment for the event that takes place May 27-June 2. Matt Sawicki, championship director for the 2019 Women's Open, said construction of the tournament infrastructure will begin by the end of the month and people traveling the James Island Connector will slowly see the project building to a city of tents.
"I think eight weeks before the championship that people will definitely notice a difference looking across the bridge onto the grounds. They will slowly see the construction project built up to what will ultimately be an awesome fan experience here on the grounds," Sawicki said.
Sawicki said there's already a lot of excitement among golfers on the LPGA Tour. He said he and other U.S. Golf Association officials attended the season-opening LPGA Tournament of Champions and players had Charleston circled on their calendars.
"Gabby Lopez, who played in the 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur (at the Country Club of Charleston) was talking about downtown, talking about the golf course. I think there's a lot of good talk out there about the golf course and the experience people had in 2013. The players are really excited about getting here and playing in Charleston," Sawicki said.
He added that community support also is going well and that people have "been buying tickets in droves."
One of the best examples of the support the event is receiving is the volunteer program, which is full with a waiting list of 140 hoping for a spot.
According to the USGA, the volunteers come from 42 states and three foreign countries — five from Canada, three from Australia and one from the United Kingdom. The volunteers include one 90-year-old and five 14-year-olds. Fifty-nine percent of the volunteers are male, and 78 percent are South Carolina residents.
"We had a successful ticket campaign last summer when we were a year out, and around the holidays people bought into the idea that this was a great gift. As we get to spring and the rest of the world starts thinking about golf the way we are thinking about golf, we're going to continue to see ticket buyers and that's going to make this place electric," Sawicki said.
"When we are broadcasting this event around the world (120 countries), we want that electric atmosphere. We want people to have a great experience at the Country Club of Charleston, to see wonderful golf and see what this Women's Open is all about. The vibe around this community is going to be awesome."
Sawicki said the tournament, which will be contested at the same time Spoleto Festival USA takes place downtown, has received support from the arts festival, from the Charleston RiverDogs baseball team, and from the Volvo Tennis Open.
"Everyone wants to see it do well and they realize how impactful this will be for the community. It's going to have a $25 million economic impact and everyone wants to find ways to help us do well and support us. You don't get that in every community," he said.
Sawicki said the USGA will be releasing a comprehensive transportation plan in March or early April.
"We think what's great about this venue is its proximity to downtown and the ability for people to just come across the bridge and find an easy transportation option," Sawicki said. "I think we have a good plan that's going to be efficient. We want to promote the fact that this is going to be an accessible championship and parking and transportation shouldn't be a concern for anybody to attend."
• The entry deadline is 11:59 p.m., Feb. 15, for the U.S. Golf Association and MUSC Children's Health art contest for Charleston youth to design the junior tickets for the U.S. Women's Open. Entry forms and complete rules can be found at uswomensopen.com. Three winners will be chosen and their designs will be featured on tickets for all juniors who attend the U.S. Women's Open and will be displayed on site at the Country Club of Charleston during the event.
• Feb. 3: Summerville Country Club Powerball Tournament, 12:30 p.m. start, $60 per player, call 843-873-2210 ext. 1.
• Feb. 19: 19th annual Carolina Youth Development Center golf tournament, Bulls Bay Golf Club, $500 per player or $2,500 for team sponsorship, call 843-266-5218 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• April 1: Hallie Hill Animal Sanctuary Putting for Paws golf tournament, Crooked Oaks-Seabrook Island, visit halliehill.com/putting-for-paws/.
• May 6: Driving to End Domestic Violence, Ocean Winds-Seabrook Island Club, $1,000 per four-player team, contact Tonya at email@example.com or call 843-480-1904.
Rick Pohlman, Jan. 16, Charleston National Golf Club, No. 2, 115 yards. Witnesses: Pete Kelleher, Larry Smith, Ray Lemay.
Jeannie Hillock, Jan. 17, Cassique-Kiawah Island Club, No. 16, 100 yards, 8-iron. Witnesses: Tacey Carroll, Karen Burger, Johnsie Irwin.
John Peak, Jan. 19, Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club, No. 7, 152 yards, 6-iron. Witnesses: Josh Floyd, Kevin Chappell, Ralph Woodward.
Moses Capers, Jan. 20, Crowfield Golf Club, No. 13, 134 yards, 8-iron. Witnesses: Chris Capers, Shawn Pugh.
Dennis Gazes, Jan. 27, Coosaw Creek Country Club, No. 11, 100 yards, 8-iron. Witnesses: Marion Phillips, Jim Deaton, John Bennett.
Tom Rose, Jan. 29, Dunes West Golf & River Club, No. 12, 134 yards, 8-iron. Witnesses: David Graham, Tom Bigelow, Dean Brandt.
Bob Leighty, Jan. 31, Crowfield Golf Club, No. 13, 98 yards, gap wedge. Witnesses: Jon Wimmer, Gene Weir, Lou Cantelmo.