Golfers began tournament play Thursday morning in an event that draws 100,000 people to Omaha's Champions Run Country Club every year, the Cox Classic. The heat didn't keep fans away.
“Yeah, I'm a huge fan of golf,” said Shauna Hill of Omaha.
"It has been hotter than this,” noted Dick Garner of Lincoln.
"It's another hot day like it's been for the past couple weeks, it's going to be toasty," said Bob Hill of Omaha.
Many were willing to take the heat for this year's Cox Classic. “Mostly because it is just exciting,” said Shauna. “We don't have anything like this a lot in Nebraska and a lot of people want to show their support and it's just something to do during the day."
“We ordinarily golf on Thursdays, but we thought we would take a break with the hot weather and just come watch,” said Garner.
The participants were also sweating it out. “As a golfer you like to watch and see what clubs they're using on certain holes and how they position the ball and play the course,” said Lloyd From of Lincoln. “They hit it a long ways and that is just what every golfer dreams of, being able to hit the long ball and make the long put or make the putt that counts."
“It's just fun,” said Bob. “I think it's cool. It's neat for the city."
Even if you can take the heat you still have to adjust. “Probably drinking a lot, I don't know," said Garner.
“It's tiring, by the time you end up at 13, 14 holes, the heat gets on you besides just playing the golf,” said From. “Take what Mother Nature gives us and the course and play it like you can."
There are 156 players starting out, but over the course of the weekend that number will be whittled down. Hopefully by then the weather will be a little cooler.
Dennis Shannon brought his 6-year-old son Dennis to Family Day earlier in the week. The event offered a children's golf clinic with lessons from the pros. "I can only teach him so much," Shannon laughed.
The younger Shannon was looking forward to spending some time at the Cox Classic "watching the pros."
One of the volunteers who helped organize the day, as well as other special events surrounding the tournament, Emily Gutzmann of Omaha, said, "It's fun. I just feel like it's giving (kids) a chance to meet the pros and experience things that, from a small community, I didn't get to experience growing up."
She and around 850 other volunteers are what have made this entire event possible every year since 1995, said tournament director Chad Mardesen. "The $9 million of economic impact and the $2 million that we've given to charity, that's our biggest sense of pride and that's why we do this event."
The tournament this year is raising money for 12 charities, ranging from the Boy and Girl Scouts to the Shriners.
Gutzmann said that's what makes it worthwhile for her, so worthwhile that she and other volunteers actually pay $45 "for these fancy shirts and hats and badges," she laughed.
Their community service does come with a few perks, as Rob Morrissey of Omaha noted. "It's fantastic. I was watching (the professional golfers) a little bit earlier, trying to figure out my own golf game. I don't know if that's possible, but it's nice getting exposure to these guys."
For the complete schedule and ticket information, visit CoxClassic.com. Organizers advise fans to arrive early. There are a number of air-conditioned shelters and shady spots, providing an escape from the heat.