First to be picked up were the “USGA” tee markers. Then the flagsticks with the red hole flags attached.
Hole by hole, that was done Sunday to thwart souvenir hunters and start the work of returning the Omaha Country Club golf course and grounds to the club’s members after the U.S. Senior Open golf championship.
The tournament wrapped up Sunday with its biggest crowd yet, 34,354 spectators, breaking the day-old record for the highest attendance at an Omaha sporting event.
“The people here were amazing, and that gallery was outstanding out there. Omaha should be proud,” champion Kenny Perry said.
Monday was a day for golfers to pack Eppley Airfield for their trips home and for the approximately 3,000 volunteers to take a well-deserved rest.
It will take until the end of August, said club general manager Jon Davis, to remove the hospitality suites and other temporary structures on the course that were needed for the United States Golf Association to hold its first open championship in Nebraska.
Sunday night, crews were removing the gallery ropes and hauling away trash from the grounds after the last of the spectators had gone home.
Other easily removed items, such as the white fencing along the patio areas of the clubhouse, also were taken down.
The golf course was used Monday for an outing for corporate sponsors, with one group of golfers starting on the course at 8 a.m. and another at 1:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, the club reopens to its members.
“Monday is moving day,’’ Davis said. “Everything is brought out that we packed away in the clubhouse during the tournament, and we move out all the rental stuff that was brought in.”
Monday also meant Tony Pesavento, the course’s PGA head professional, can move back into the golf shop. His merchandise was removed so the shop could be used for the USGA officials’ dining and hospitality room.
Surprisingly to some, it may not take long for the grass on the golf course to recover from the feet of the 157,126 spectators during tournament week, or from the shots hit by the 156 golfers who played.
High traffic areas such as spectator crosswalks left brown grass and bare spots. Those were in areas away from tees, fairways and greens.
“We’re in way better shape than I expected because it was dry,’’ said Eric McPherson, the club’s director of green and grounds. “The course held up more than if it had rained some.”
Last week’s heat and humidity stressed the grass on the greens, but extra water was applied to the greens during the Senior Open and the club can resume normal maintenance.
“The greens have held on,’’ McPherson said. “Even with all these people standing here on the 18th green (during the awards ceremony), I’m not having a heart attack about it.”