By: Jacob Arvidson
The anticipation is palpable.
Outside the Five Points Washington community center in Washington, Illinois, more than a thousand amateurs wait excitedly for their 2021 Ledgestone Insurance Open player packs.
Those at the front of the line arrived over 2 hours prior to the 8 a.m. opening time to ensure they were the first to set eyes on the limited-edition Ledgestone products. The early risers also gained first access to the on-site pro shop featuring more special-edition items.
Just before the doors open, the Ledgestone crew inside is on edge. They’ve spent days gathering supplies and organizing thousands of items into a system to expedite the check-in process. The staff and volunteers can see most of the line through the window, but they believe they’re prepared. However, their system’s efficiency will not be known until the masses are upon them.
Just outside, the line has now added three hundred more people. From the double-door community center entry, the line wraps around the outdoor patio, bends toward the back of the building, and then turns back around to encircle the large front parking lot.
Some players just want to be able to say they were first. They immediately post pictures with their new swag on social media, becoming popular icons as thousands of curious fans get a first look.
There are also those who will take their new gifts and upload them straight to auction sites, looking to make a quick dollar off those who are not lucky enough to make it to this year’s tournament.
Still others want nothing more than to put their new acquisitions to use, donning their Buzzz hoodie and heading straight to the course to fling some new discs.
Trevor Hofman, an amateur traveling about five hours from Michigan, is one of those people.
“I am planning to use the bag right away,” he said. “I’m excited to keep that. The discs will be fun to try out too, but I’d like to keep some on my shelf at home as a memento. I want to remember this event that I’m playing in because it’s my first A-Tier.”
As the doors open and excited amateurs flood in, the well-thought-out organization of the Ledgestone team proves itself worthy.
First up is the check-in table, where each player is checked off a list and given a blue or red ticket (blue for a ZUCA cart or red for a Grip Equipment bag). Then they follow the row of tables around the room, picking up their division-specific tournament information sheet, collecting a shirt and Buzzz hoodie, trading their ticket in for a cart or bag, and finally stopping at the St. Jude table to purchase raffle tickets to help raise money for the fight against pediatric cancer.
Players who purchased a VIP Pass or extra discs enter a separate line after purchasing raffle tickets in order to pick up their added items.
Even for those who ordered bonus items, the time from entry to the community center to exiting with their player pack totalled under five minutes.
This is Hofman’s first time at the tournament and his first time attending the amateur check-in. The efficiency of it all floored him.
“It was pretty hot waiting outside, but once I got in the building, things ran super smooth,” he said. “It was really easy to get my stuff and get out of there. I ordered the extra discs too with my player pack and it still only took a few minutes total. I expected to wait a lot longer, but the process was extremely organized.”
Hofman said he is most excited to use the Special-Edition BX backpack bag from Grip Equipment.
The items included in this year’s player pack are a shirt, a lightweight Buzzz hoodie, a Grip Equipment BX bag, a Tour Series Raptor, a Z-Glo Flex Buzzz, a Jawbreaker Scorch, a Sparkle SP line Rift, a Ledgestone hat, a Grip6 belt, a water bottle, a tube of Zanfel, an erasable scorecard, and 2021 Washington shopping coupons.
Volunteers and staff worked long hours in the days leading up the Am Check-in to make sure everything was pre-packaged and the process was smooth.
The long line of amateurs who showed up early to get an early spot in line at Five Points. The line length would double by the time the doors opened.
Hundreds of amateurs had picked up their player packs by the end of the first hour. It was all made possible by the Ledgestone staff and volunteers and the setup they provided.
After checking in, each amateur could visit the on-site pro shop where several limited-edition discs were available for purchase.
The player pack for this year's tournament, highlighted by the choice of a ZUCA cart or GripEq backpack.