Thousands of spectators from near and far descended on Chaska June 18-23 for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Many of those golf fans were youngsters.
Lily Cooley, 9, of Cottage Grove, said it was her dream to see the tournament.
“We thought we’d show her what women can do,” said her father, Peter of Cottage Grove. “They can play as well as the boys.”
For Caleb and Tessa Forstrom, the event was not only a new experience, but a good way to expose their young son Zayne to golf. The two northern Minnesota residents, traveled to Chaska, after they received free tickets from work.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Caleb.
Jesse Sumstad, of Chaska, was visiting the championship on Saturday with his sons Will and Owen. Jesse related how the grandmother of one of the pro golfers had asked the boys if they were having fun, and gave them free tickets to attend another day. One of the caddies also challenged them to try and pick up a golf bag. (They were able to hoist it about six inches.)
Between cartwheels, Annie Johnson, 8, was watching fellow Plymouth native Sarah Burnham play golf. Father Alan Johnson noted that he belonged to the Burnham’s home course — Rush Creek Golf Course in Maple Grove and that his daughter looked up to Burnham.
The tournament also attracted a number of international visitors. The players hailed from countries around the world, including South Korea, China, Australia and Belgium.
Erica and Ken Nicholson of Ontario, traveled from their home with their adult daughter to watch family friend and fellow Canadian Brooke Henderson play golf. The rain was not much of a problem, according to Ken, indicating they always had their “survival gear” (raincoats) tied around their hips.
The most important garment was the Canadian flag hanging from his back, he added.
“It’s a tough course,” Erica said. “We think she’s played great.”
The Nicholsons, who were staying in Eden Prairie, said they thought Minnesota was a beautiful state and everyone they had met were very friendly.
While fans were enjoying the golf, crews from several agencies, including Chaska Police, Chaska Fire and Ridgeview Medical Center, kept them safe.
The emergency personnel saved a man’s life on June 18.
The man suffered a cardiac arrest near Hazeltine National Golf Club’s clubhouse during a heavy downpour of rain, according to Police Chief Scott Knight. First responders were at the scene in less than two minutes and the man was rushed to the hospital.
He is alive and is expected to make a full recovery, Knight said, noting crews had to operate equipment in the rain.
“It just happened to happen during the most intense rainfall, which made the rescue efforts more difficult,” he said. “Our team saved a life.”
There were also a couple of people who were escorted off the grounds. One was disorderly and another had too much to drink.
Typically, there’s always a few of those cases during golf tournaments, Knight said. “Those numbers are always very low.”
Overall, public safety coverage went smoothly.
“Everything went very well and according to plan,” Knight said, noting the team worked with a model similar to previous golf tournaments and police had training prior to the tournament.
“I’m very proud of our officers who put in very long hours,” he said.
Though Hazeltine was bustling with thousands of people, it was business as usual for many local establishments.
Cuzzy’s Brick House in downtown didn’t see any increased traffic during the week of the Women’s PGA tournament.
“There wasn’t much people that were here because of that at all,” said Manager Lynn Hudson. Many of the visitors who drove to Hazeltine likely had very few reasons to head through downtown Chaska, she added.
“We had a pretty slow week.”
Heartbreakers Bar and Grill, located across Hundertmark Road from Hazeltine, saw a slight increase in customers during the mid-afternoons, and on June 20, when hoards of people left after a downpour of rain.
“It wasn’t like the (Ryder Cup), when they came into town,” said General Manager Doyle Schultz.
Staff anticipated attendees would be interested in stopping by in the mornings and opened the establishment at 8 a.m. with bloody Mary drinks and breakfast specials. Usually the restaurant opens at 11 a.m.
“It didn’t seem like it caught on,” he said.
Over in Chanhassen, Bonsai Korean Cuisine, saw a slight uptick in customers. There were a few LPGA Korean athletes who stopped by for the restaurant’s authentic Korean food, according to owner Nicole Kwon.
There were also a few fans who stopped by, trying popular menu items such as the Korean barbecue.
“There wasn’t a big increase in traffic,” Kwon said.
Minnesota’s food was put front and center — that includes our famed tater tot hotdish and juicy lucy “sliders,” in the Premium Hospitality & Media Center tents.
Also on the menu were walleye tacos, walleye sliders, Minnesota cheese curds, Honeycrisp apple slaw, local craft popcorn from Candyland in St. Paul, popovers and seven layers bars, according to Women’s PGA officials.
Hot dish last made an appearance during the Ryder Cup’s media party in 2016. There it had looked mostly untouched.
The hot dish this time around drew a few more takers, with several scoops gone.
Savory seasoned beef, carrots, peas, mushroom cream sauce and tater tot topping.