A maze of 53-foot trailers interlocked with air-conditioned tents and impromptu parking lots for golf carts sat on an old cornfield along 72nd Street’s east side.
This was the hub for the people tasked with providing a memorable experience for fans who attended the U.S. Senior Open this past weekend. And those patrons likely had no idea the bustling area even existed.
All that’s usually down in the bowels of a stadium was crammed just southwest of Omaha Country Club’s 18th tee behind the trees and the fencing.
The roughly 25,000 hot dogs, 15,000 burgers, 3,000 cases of water and 400 kegs of beer (plus an additional 1,000 cases of beer) that attendees consumed were stored on site. Seventeen semi-truck trailers held it all.
Right next door were scraps from three month’s worth of grandstand and villa construction around the course. There were bathroom trailers and storage pods. Empty patches of grass were lined with spray-painted parking spaces for golf carts.
“At around 6 a.m., when everybody first arrives, that’s when it gets fun back here,” said Todd Hanson as he pointed to a circular gravel road, added specifically for this logistical compound.
Hanson’s the vice president for the Minnesota-based Prom Management Group, which sent about 50 employees to Omaha to direct catering services on the course. Some food servers and bartenders were hired; others were volunteers from the community or volunteers who spend their summers working at several other golf events.
Just north of the Prom Management corridor were two more trailers, backed right up to the main retail tent. Every so often, staffers would be crouched on the delivery platform as they placed price tags on the new items shipped in overnight.
The gem of the operations area, though, seemed to be the volunteer headquarters, where 2,000 people ate lunch catered for free by local restaurants each day. Or they played pool. Or got massages. Or read, rested, chatted.
There were stories of an older couple traveling across the country all summer long just to volunteer at golf tournaments. People came from Florida, California and New York. Organizers put up a map of the U.S. and encouraged everyone to pin their hometowns to document it all.
“It’s like our own little city back here,” said Kim Reeves, who managed the tent.
That was the idea, according to Liz Leckemby, championship director for the tournament. A camaraderie-type feel for people who didn’t watch much golf but did their best to make sure that fans had fun.
“You sort of just take a blank canvas and try to figure it all out from there,” she said.