PGA plans for onslaught of happy and hungry fans at Oak Hill

PITTSFORD, N.Y. Final preparations are underway for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford. On Friday, the 50,000-square-foot PGA shopping pavilion opened to the public.

“It’s nice for Rochester,” says Ann and Doug Llewellyn, who were shopping for some family members. “The last time we were here, we were here for the Ryder Cup and that was nice and we were here for the PGA in 2003 too.”

Bryan Karns is the PGA Championship director and has been planning for next week for the past four years.

“We’re outdoors, in a very unusual environment,” he says, “Oak Hill is not meant to have 40,000 people out here a day. It’s not meant to have a 50,000-square-foot PGA shop and so for us, it’s solving that. … It’s one big puzzle.”

Karns says the hope is that the event can inspire even casual spectators.

“People that maybe aren’t golf fans or have never been to a golf course before, getting a club in their hands, so that they’ll learn the game, get excited about the game,” he says. “Because at the end of the day, we’re here for one week. The goal of the PGA of America is to grow the game of golf. We hope that somebody comes out here and it piques their interest in the game and inspires them to start playing regularly.”

Hours for The PGA Shops opening weekend are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. No ticket is required. Parking is complimentary and located at 3750 Monroe Ave., Rochester, NY 14534. Complimentary shuttle service will be provided to and from the main spectator entrance at Oak Hill Country Club.

When it comes to food and drinks, options are plenty. The Patina Restaurant Group, a division of Buffalo-based Delaware North, is the official catering partner of the PGA Championship. It will be supplying food for the seven on-course concessions markets, nine bar outlets, 34 chalets, 27 suites, Club PGA and the Media tent.

Eric Babcook is the general manager of the PGA of America Championships and tells News10NBC the food and beverage planning process has taken the last 48 months. Power, water, gas, stoves, and refrigeration all had to be brought in. The main prep kitchen was constructed in a parking lot behind the plazas along Monroe Avenue that back up to Oak Hill.

Starting this weekend, it’s a 24/7 operation to keep the food and drinks flowing. All adult spectator tickets include food and non-alcoholic beverages.

“We’re seeing about 80,000 burgers served throughout the seven days, 75,000 hotdogs, 5,000 bottles of Tito’s, 3,500 bottles of Elijah Craig,” explains Babcook.

And then there’s the higher-end cuisine for the specialty tents.

“We’ve got fish being flown in from Japan for this event, our executive chef in Asia is coming up too,” Babcook says.

In addition, a number of products have been sourced locally. In all, 700 people are working in food and beverage for the event.