Arnie's Army came to town yesterday for the 2003 U.S. Senior Open, and they brought with them a host of weapons - umbrellas, folding chairs, hats, and plenty of bottled water.
While fan favorite Arnold Palmer battled the greens at the Inverness Club during his first practice round, his groupies took on the sun during what turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far - 89 degrees at 5 p.m.
“It's very, very hot,” observed 48-year-old Thomas Lee of Point Place.
Expect even higher temperatures today, forecasters said, but don't panic.
“At no point are we expected to be in the so-called danger category,” said Bob Larson, senior meteorologist at Accu-Weather, Inc., a private forecasting service in State College, Pa.
Bob Miller carries a mounted poster of Arnold Palmer for his mother, Eileen Miller, riding beside him. Their mission was to get the storied golfer's autograph on it. Mrs. Miller obtained the poster nearly 20 years ago at Sears, which used it to promote an Arnold Palmer line of clothing. Mr. Palmer doesn't sign autographs until after the 18th hole.
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It should be mostly sunny today with temperatures in the low 90s, he said.
As tomorrow approaches, it should get muggier with some more clouds and cooler temperatures in the low 80s. A new front rolling in could trigger some showers or thunderstorms that could linger into Friday morning, he said.
Friday should be partly sunny with lower humidity and highs in the lower 70s. There should be some sun left for the weekend, with temperatures around 80, though there could be a shower Sunday afternoon, he said.
Golf tournament officials said they're prepared to help anyone who might be affected by the scorching sun.
More than 100 volunteer medical personnel are on hand, most of them stationed at three first-aid trailers. They are located near the Hill Avenue entrance, Dorr Street entrance, and the 12th hole.
Additionally, about 15 first responders are sprinkled throughout the course with portable defibrillators.
Medical personnel treated between 5 and 10 people for heat-related problems yesterday afternoon, one official said. Some of them needed intravenous fluids, others just a moment lying on a cot in the air conditioning.
In a more serious case, a man collapsed in the grandstand at the driving range and was taken to an area hospital. Officials would not provide information about the man's identity or condition, except to say that he probably was in his 70s.
Dr. James Brenner, supervising physician, said personnel are ready for just about anything.
“Any of the trailers can deal with anything from a blister on the foot to a cardiac arrest,” he said.
To prevent a visit to the first-aid trailers, golf aficionados should bring sunscreen and drink plenty of water, while avoiding caffeinated beverages and alcohol, which contribute to dehydration, he said.
To stay cool, Dr. Brenner recommended that visitors stay in the shade and wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, including a hat.
Eleven-year-old Peter Bach, Jr., of Morenci, Mich., certainly had the right idea yesterday afternoon, lying in the shade of a tree near the first hole with arms outstretched, eyes closed, and mouth open.
A couple of holes over, Doug Guhl was a bit warmer standing in the sun in blue pants. He dropped by during his lunch break from work in Maumee and joked that he won't make the same mistake when he returns later in the week.
“I'll be wearing the Speedo,” he said.
Officials yesterday afternoon said they had provided more than 250 gallons of water for players and volunteers so far this week. For fans, there are some water fountains and, of course, concession stands litter the course. Water was their big seller, along with Bud Light beer, vendors said.
“It's flying out of the coolers,” said concession worker Chris Shuherk, of Temperance. “Everybody is hungry and thirsty.”
Volunteer Jerry Sutter, 69, of Springfield Township, said the sizzling heat wasn't so bad as long as there was a breeze and a little bit of shade. But he predicted it would affect play by drying out the greens, making them faster and harder.
One player in the tournament, Greg Harmon of Arizona, said he was just fine with the heat.
“I'm happy to be here, and the heat doesn't bother me a bit,” he said.
Golf fan Connie Yablonski, 80, of Lambertville, who said she was part of Arnie's Army years ago, wasn't about to complain either.
“A little cooler with a little bit of a breeze would be nicer, but when you get to see them play, it's worth it,” she said.