KSU delivers hospitality at the U.S. Open

Lyndsay Elliott

A group of exercise, leisure and sport and hospitality management students gained hands-on experience in event planning and organization at the U.S. Open Golf Tournament June 11 through 18.

Rob Heiman, assistant professor of hospitality management, and Mark Lyberger, associate professor of sport management, chaperoned the class as it traveled to Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa.

Ryan O’Donnell, senior hospitality management major, said the students learned about the different committees that organize the event as part of the class requirement.

“We got a behind-the-scenes learning experience of working and planning a huge event,” O’Donnell said.

On their last day of class, students gave presentations on what they learned. Their PowerPoint slides featured in-depth overviews about the event. These included interviews with event officials and other volunteers.

“I definitely know I want to do club management after this experience,” said Corey Verchio, junior hospitality management major.

Heiman said 24 students took part in the event, working different shifts every day.

Senior communication studies major Nathan LaRiccia served the golfers food.

“I was able to interact with players on a professional level instead of like a fan,” he said.

Heiman said event planning began in February after a visit from Chris Hampton, Kent State alumnus and assistant general manager of Oakmont Country Club.

“We made some good connections,” O’Donnell said. “Chris offered to write all of us letters of recommendation.”

Being around professional golfers was another highlight for the students.

“I got to brush shoulders with Arnold Palmer,” Verchio said. “He’s the king of golf,”

O’Donnell said it was a valuable experience.

“It was an experience of a lifetime we might not get to fulfill again.”

The U.S. Open Golf Championship is sponsored by the United States Golf Association. It was first played on Newport Golf and Country Club’s nine-hole course in 1895. Today, golfers play a 72-hole tournament over four 18-hole daily rounds. Angel Cabrera won this year’s U.S. Open.

Contact fashion and College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Lyndsay Elliott at [email protected].