Golf carts, moving vans and flatbed trucks buzzed around the gravel track snaking through Hazeltine National Golf Club on Monday, sending up aggressive swirls of dust the day after the culmination of golf’s three-day Ryder Cup competition.
The top U.S. golfers recaptured the trophy from their European Union counterparts Sunday afternoon. The golfers sprayed Champagne on their fans and swigged from the bottles. The organizers, who have worked for two years to produce the largest PGA of America event, tempered their celebrations with the knowledge they’d be back at work before dawn Monday.
“It’s still full-on today,” tournament spokesman Kevin Smith said. “There’s just as many carts coming and going today as there were Sunday.”
Much of the event infrastructure remained visible on the course. Dozens of white hospitality tents wrapped in red scrim stood empty. Blue carpet still lay on the ground and the huge trophy replica remained in its spot near the entrance.
Orange signs on surrounding roads directed drivers to their designated parking lots. But the once-in-a-lifetime hometown party for golf nuts was over, replaced by the serious business of striking the tents and removing 1.5 million square feet of flooring from the grounds. “Everything gets torn down a hell of a lot faster than it goes up,” Smith said.
By midday the white seats of the grandstand bleachers at each green had been folded and loaded onto flatbed trucks to be wheeled off the premises. Golf carts hauled bottles of unopened bottles of wine and beer from boarded-up concession stands.
As tournament director Jeff Hintz whizzed by on a cart, wearing a big smile, a woman called out to him, “I bet you’re high as a kite.” Hintz brightened another notch at the acknowledgment.
The world-class event left fans smiling and seemingly without major complaints. “Winning makes everybody happy,” Smith said.
Smith, Hintz and other staff members will continue to work out of their trailer on the grounds until sometime close to Thanksgiving, when the course will be back to its natural state. Smith called the process “orchestrated reverse chaos.”
The course will reopen to members Wednesday. On Monday, corporate sponsors and partners were allowed to play the club that less than 24 hours earlier had hosted such stars as Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy.
As the leisure golfers could be seen in the distance on the driving range, the massive Ryder Cup 2016 merchandise tent at the entrance was rocking with hundreds of fans trying to snatch merchandise discounted 50 percent from tournament prices. Traffic cops and workers with flags directed the traffic, with many shoppers lined up before the 10 a.m. opening.
Joel Wilson of Richfield attended the tournament on two days and bought a couple things then, but he returned for the sale, scooping up a water bottle, a cover for his driver, a shirt for a friend and a poster. “I took my lunch hour and came out here. I didn’t realize it would be quite the event it is,” he said as he stood some 200 people back in line to check out.
“It was a fun-tired weekend,” he said of the event, noting that the win “made the merchandise worth a little bit more” even for sentimental value.
Lindsay Lundeen, her husband and three kids had rented out their Chaska house for the week and left town. This was her first chance to buy merchandise. Already sporting purple for the evening’s Minnesota Vikings game, Lundeen carried several shirts for her husband and kids. Two of the shirts were purple as well — suitable for a Vikings game, she noted.
Checkout time was noon for her home renters, so Lundeen was headed there after the sale. She confessed to having cruised by the house earlier to make sure it was still standing. “Everything looked good,” she said. “We didn’t get any phone calls.”
Michelle Isaacson of Chaska also took her lunch hour to return to the course and buy a sweater and two shirts at half off. She had attended on Ryder Cup celebrity day and snagged an autograph from Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, so she wanted to preserve the good memories. “I figure it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said.
And life was already showing signs of going back to normal, at least around the course. Roads were reopened after being barricaded to make way for more than 250,000 spectators who came to Chaska during the six-day event, seen by an average 4.3 million television viewers at any time, according to the Golf Channel. Chaska High School, across the street from the club, was back in session.
The satellite trucks that broadcast the event worldwide were nowhere in sight.
Some 400 toilets had yet to be drained and hauled off. The flooring will take longest and likely be the last thing off the course. “They go pretty easily, it just takes time,” Smith said.
Organizers will conduct their personal wind downs. “It’s going to take me months to process exactly what happened,” Smith said. “You work months with a singular focus and in three days, it’s over.”