It may not be as large of an event as last year’s U.S. Open, but Montgomery County businesses are preparing for an economic boost from this week’s AT&T National Golf Tournament.
The tournament will bring 120 of the top PGA Tour professionals—including Tiger Woods—to compete at Congressional Country Club. Woods, who founded the AT&T National Golf Tournament, was the winner in 2009—the last year it was played at Congressional.
The tournament returns after Congressional played host to last year’s U.S. Open, which drew nearly 230,000 attendees and had an estimated economic impact of between $130 and $150 million in the county.
While it’s too soon to tell how many will attend the AT&T National this week and how much spectators will spend, “if there’s 20,000 or 25,000 people a day over the weekend, that’s a large number of people spending in the local economy,” said Kelly Groff, executive director of the Conference and Visitors Bureau of Montgomery County.
More than 194,000 attended the AT&T National at Congressional in 2009 over the course of the week, according to the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Besides players and spectators, media, sponsors and tournament contractors are among the groups that may be filling up county hotels, restaurants and shops this week, Groff said. Hotels in Bethesda and Gaithersburg—where satellite parking lots for the tournament are centered—are already reporting an uptick in guest reservations, Groff said.
“It’s kind of quiet as we get into the summer, so this has been a good thing for us. We’re definitely seeing some lift,” said Bob Daley, general manager of the Bethesda North Marriott hotel.
Because the tournament isn’t located in an urban area with lodging close by, guests tend to fan out, offering pickup for many county hotels, Daley said.
Daley reported his hotel is nearly sold out.
Restaurants, of course, are also preparing to feed hungry tournament-goers. Eateries in nearby Potomac Village and downtown Bethesda are expecting an increase in guests.
“Last year, the U.S. Open was one of our best weeks of the whole year,” said Amanda Early, marketing manager at Redwood. “We had a lot of high-profile people in the restaurant and we were super busy.”
The Bethesda Lane eatery made headlines during the Open after famed golfers Rory McIlroy—who went on to win the tournament—and Lee Westwood stopped by to sample the fare.
This week, Redwood is prepping for the AT&T National by adding extra waitstaff and bartenders, Early said.
“It tends to drive a lot of bar business, as well as dining,” Early said. “When people are going out to a big event like this, they’re going to want to continue the festivities.”
Adding to the tournament’s appeal are reasonable ticket prices, and the ability to buy online at the last minute, Groff said.
Then, of course, there’s the Tiger effect.
“It won’t be the magnitude of the U.S. Open, but it’s a very important event to our community, and we’re very glad it’s back,” Groff said.