US Women's Open gearing up for 2024 return to Lancaster Country Club
Only two golf courses have ever hosted the U.S. Women’s Open twice in less than a 10-year span. Lancaster Country Club will become the third next year.
The club is 13 months from becoming the center of the women’s golf world again after hosting a memorable championship in 2015. Preparations are well underway, and a logo was revealed at a kickoff event Tuesday for the 79th edition of the tournament, which will be held from May 30 to June 2, 2024.
“The general excitement is here. It’s back,” said Jerry Hostetter, a club member who is serving as the General Chairman of the event after manning the same role eight years ago. “A lot of times, I find myself saying ‘last year’ — it’s not last year, it’s 2015, but to me it feels like last year. And I’m really looking forward to 2024.”
The 2015 event broke championship attendance records, as 134,016 spectators strolled through the gates during the week. More than 1,500 people served as volunteers with hundreds more on waiting lists. The golf course, designed by renowned architect William Flynn and opened in 1920, proved to be a worthy major championship test. And the tournament delivered plenty of thrills, with Korea’s In Gee Chun making a late charge to win her first major by one stroke at 8-under par.
Lancaster was selected as the host site for the 2024 event in November 2018, a further validation of the course’s class and the community’s support. Dennis Baggett, the USGA’s managing director of Open Championships, noted that Tuesday’s launch event was more of a reunion than an introduction.
“A lot of times, we’re going (to media days) and we’re almost educating the club and the media and the community on what’s coming to town. People don’t know what to expect,” Baggett said. “Because we were just here so recently, there’s a little bit of built-in excitement knowing the success of the championship in 2015 that we’re building this back.
“So now, our challenge is, ‘What do we do to make sure we’re stepping forward and don’t take a step back?’ How can we make improvements on the experience here for fans on the ground, for players and their entire process, for the membership that gives up their golf course for the week? … It’s less education and more refining.”
The only other courses to host multiple Women’s Opens in a 10-year span are Pine Needles in North Carolina and Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon. Lancaster Country Club is in lofty company among future sites — Pebble Beach will host this year’s tournament from July 6-9, and the stages from 2025-29 are Erin Hills, Riviera, Inverness, Oakmont and Pinehurst No. 2, all of which have hosted men’s U.S. Opens.
Lancaster Country Club has three nine-hole courses; the par-70 “Old Course” features the Meadowcreek and Dogwood nines, while the Highlands course is not included in the championship routing. The course will not undergo significant changes in preparation for the Women’s Open, although additions to the facility in the last decade will force a different site plan. The 2015 tournament ran into issues with bottlenecks and crowd movement that USGA officials are eager to address in 2024.
Ticket sales and volunteer opportunities for the 2024 event will begin in May, with members getting first crack. Official event merchandise will be available in July. The trophy will be brought to Lancaster shortly after the Women’s Open at Pebble Beach is completed.
Plenty has changed in the women’s game since 2015. Chun — who continues to visit the club and has started an educational foundation in the area — has gone from a 20-year-old phenom to a three-time major champion. There’s a cavalcade of young stars that wasn’t part of the tournament last time. The purse for the event ballooned from a then-record $4.5 million to $10 million in 2022 and figures to be around $11 million next year.
After setting the bar high in 2015, Lancaster Country Club and the USGA are ready to rise to the moment again.
“I’ve been a sales and service guy all my life, and usually you underpromise and overdeliver, is the goal,” Baggett said at the podium. “Our challenge is, (Lancaster) already overdelivered for this thing back in 2015, so we’ve got our work cut out for us for sure.”