If all has seemed quiet since the PGA of America announced in May 2011 that the Senior PGA Championship would be coming to Bellerive Country Club this May, you can rest assured that behind the scenes, people have been plenty busy. Now, roughly two months out from the event, anyone in the vicinity of the St. Louis County club will begin to notice more obvious preparations.
By the end of March, crews will start laying gravel pads around the area, and roughly by Tax Day, you'll notice structures going up to house not only the tournament, but also the corporate hospitality suites on adjacent properties.
Championship Director Jason Mengel said that's when residents nearby will start to notice more construction traffic, but he noted the efforts made to work with local law enforcement agencies and neighbors across the board to ensure a smooth event for everyone involved.
Police say a meeting was held Wednesday with area subdivision trustees about tournament issues.
Something you might want to start thinking about now is the fact that Ladue Road will be closed from Mason Road to Highway 141 during the tournament. Spectator parking will be based at the Verizon Amphitheater and shuttled to the course. The spectator entrance will not be far from the existing driveway.
Some other preparations may only be noticed by members at Bellerive for now. Relocated tee boxes on the 11th and 17th holes and a change to the green at the 8th hole are meant to encourage more exciting play during the tournament, something the golf pros call making it more of a "risk-reward" situation.
Carts are only allowed on cart paths now, and if we see a soggy spring, Mengel said the course could close for a time to help minimize traffic on it. Otherwise, the PGA of America won't "take control" of the property until about mid-May.
Mengel said he already has roughly 2000 volunteers at the ready and could stage the tournament "tomorrow" if he had to based on that amount. He said the region is also already stepping up when it comes to supporting the event through ticket sales and corporate partnerships.
"Everything that we’ve heard about St. Louis being a passionate sports town and a huge supporter of golf events here in the past has kind of rang true," he said, noting that the event has already set a record for corporate hospitality sales at the Senior PGA level and that Bellerive is outpacing 8 of last 10 championships in ticket sales.