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Excitement in the air as fans return to Torrey Pines for U.S. Open

By |  June 21, 2021 0 Comments

During the challenging year that was 2020, many things changed and those changes became the norm. Watching sporting events without fans became one of those things. What was strange at first soon became how we adjusted to still being able to enjoy watching the pros. As time continued, we hoped for the return of normalcy and fans being back to make those games and events that much more exciting.

As we’ve moved into 2021 with vaccines and policy changes, we have begun the journey to returning to normal and gaining full capacity at places such as sporting events and the difference the fans make has been felt. Last month’s PGA Championship offered a perfect example of why sports are meant to have fans in attendance. Sure, Phil Mickelson’s impressive victory that made him the oldest player to ever win a major would have been memorable and achievement to celebrate at any time, but the inclusion of fan’s racing like a mob scene to the 18th hole to see him cement the victory with a final putt was an image that made the entire event a spectacle to witness. Imagine that with no fans … great to see, but it just wouldn’t have captured the same feel.

Turning to the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines brought back flashbacks of the thrilling 2008 tournament at the same course that certainly would have been missing some of that magic if there were no fans there cheering along Tiger Wood’s incredible win.

2021 Torrey Pines Superintendent, Rich McIntosh, spoke about his excitement to have fans back at the course for this year’s open.

“After a Farmer’s with no fans, it’s going to feel good to get back to somewhat of a normal tournament,” McIntosh said.

Cameron Gurtner, assistant superintendent at Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis, Ind. volunteered at this year's U.S. Open and said he was excited to see fans back on the course for a tournament. (Photo: Golfdom Staff)

Cameron Gurtner, assistant superintendent at Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis, Ind. volunteered at this year’s U.S. Open and said he was excited to see fans back on the course for a tournament. (Photo: Golfdom Staff)

It won’t be completely normal, but still seeing people out enjoying golf in the way the sport is supposed to be adds to the experience. Assistant Superintendent at Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis, Ind., Cameron Gurtner volunteered to help keep Torrey Pines looking its best as it hosts the best players in the world. He mentioned how golf may have never really stopped during the pandemic, but there is an excitement that comes with fans being able to come out and not only see the players but get to look at the course firsthand. “Golf never really stopped totally during COVID, as far as playing, but it’ll be great to see the fans out here enjoying the tournament,” Gurtner said.

Turns out the 2021 tournament was able to provide plenty of drama down the stretch, and that was capped off by a difficult birdie putt sunk by winner Jon Rahm on 18. With a fist pump, he took the lead to a ruckus crowd cheering him on that would prove to give him the one-stroke victory over Louis Oosthuizen. An exciting finish that was made even better with fans there to raise the intensity level. In the words of USGA Agronomist Elliot Dowling, “You want fans on a golf course.”

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