BELMONT, Mich. — Saturday was the third day of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give at Blythefield Country Club in West Michigan, and it's one of the larger events since the pandemic began.
Tournament officials said the attendance this year has surpassed 2019. While they didn't know how many to expect because of the pandemic, they said people seemed to be excited to get back to some form of "normalcy."
"They are glad to be out with a whole bunch of people, seeing friends, doing things that they used to do. We are just glad that we could be the place that they started that at," said Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give Executive Director Cathy Cooper.
Crowds surrounded the 18th green on Saturday during the third round of the tournament. With it being a larger event since the pandemic began, tournament officials said safety was their top priority in planning.
This was the sight at the 18th green at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give’s third round.— Lauren Kummer (@LaurenKummerTV) June 19, 2021
Tournament officials say attendance has surpassed 2019 numbers. @FOX17
Courtesy: Doug Ripley pic.twitter.com/wWRieSPVa2
"As we kind of worked through building this tournament, we really had to consider all that has been going on the last 15 months from safety, how many people could attend and all of that," said Cooper.
Cooper said deep safety protocols like temperature checks and testing were planned until many of the mandates and guidelines were lifted. She said attendance three days into the four-day tournament showed the crowds didn't mind.
"We actually are above 2019, which is great because 2019 was a record year," said Cooper.
In addition to spectators, the volunteers and tournament workers that help make it run smoothly are also plentiful.
Doug and Michelle Ripley have been involved since the start eight years ago, volunteering at all seven tournaments held.
"We like to contribute. It is a great cause for Simply Give. We do some of our own charity work. To have an opportunity to help out and watch golf at the same time, that is what makes it work for us," said Doug Ripley, a longtime volunteer in the hospitality suite at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give.
The couple said they have fun doing it especially as golfers themselves. They said the women make it look so easy as they play the game, but that's not the only thing that keeps them coming back year after year.
"There are also a lot of people who have been coming year after year. We see a lot of the same faces [...] and we are very social people, so we just enjoy the mix of the event with the people," said Ripley.
The last day for the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give is on Sunday, June 20.
All fathers are able to get in for free in honor of Father's Day. Children who are 17 and under are also able to get in for free with a ticketed adult.
For information on the tournament like hours, ticket prices and the schedule, click here.