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Orion township, Indianwood, USGA collaborate



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June 13, 2012 - Hosting the 2012 U.S. Senior Open is likely the biggest sporting event to ever happen in Orion Township but key officials from the United States Golf Association said they could not pull the event off without the community.

"Every community is different," said Matt Ziwicki, the manager of rules and competitions for the USGA. "Orion Township is helping us get this ready as is Oakland Township by providing some parks, providing police and at the end you have to have community buy in to make an event like this work. If the locals don't buy in it simply does not work - there are too many moving pieces to not have complete dedication."

Ziwicki was quick to point out that the community of Orion stands to gain from from the Open, including a spike in revenue. He added the tendency Detroit has for being a sports town and how flexibility from local officials would encourage the USGA and others to come back.

One of those local officials, Township Supervisor Joann Van Tassel, detailed some of the attributes of the growing relationship between the two entities.

"One agreement has been reached over a year ago between Indianwood and (Orion) is for Friendship Park to be used as parking. We're working with them to be sure things are set up right so it's easy to get to the site, get parked, get to the shuttles and get to the country club," said Van Tassel. "Indianwood decided early on that admission to the (Senior Open) would include parking.

"We've worked with the road commission to have no parking in the residential streets around the club so people aren't tempted to park and walk in to get in that way. The shuttles will let people off on the St. Andrews Estate side on Joslyn Road. For security, Indianwood will contract our sheriff's deputies through the township."

The shuttles, now provided by national private school bussing company First Student, originally were planned to use Orion Township school buses but liability restrictions from the USGA prevented this plan. Even the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce has chipped in and will put together a brochure for visitors at the Open. Information within will guide patrons visiting Orion Township to local restaurants, hotels and attractions.

"Any time you have an event of this magnitude and of this scope the community gets an opportunity to be on national television for 16 hours," said Ziwicki. "It's being broadcast to 50 countries around the world and when you speak to trying to draw people to Michigan, to Oakland County, to Orion, you can't have anything better than this. Local business will be affected in particular - there will be 5,000 or more hotel room nights and they're not cooking in those rooms so they'll use the restaurants too. These are tangible sources for economic impact for Orion but there is also an intangible source from being in stories and articles around the globe for seven days."

According to Van Tassel, the event is expected to surpass the 1989 and 1994 Women's Opens but 30 or 40 percent attendance, though tickets and volunteer spots are still available. She remembered those events being exciting to watch, with player followings developing frequently when players had hot streaks.

According to Indian Keith Aldridge, the township could not be more helpful.

"The planning for this event started with (former Supervisor) Matt Gibb and now Joann has been a huge help," said Aldridge. "I cannot say enough good things about (the township), specifically from the Supervisor and Park Maintenance Supervisor Dave Osstyn who have really helped out no matter what we need. It's really refreshing to see."

For more information on the 2012 Senior Open, Indianwood Country Club or to purchase a ticket, visit iwgcc.com or call Susan Brown at 248-693-6736.

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