PGA event a boon for local economy


While some Morgan Hill hotels were underwhelmed by the
Open golf tournament, which brought professional athletes to South
County from all over the country, restaurants and other businesses
in the area reported stronger sales than normal.
While some Morgan Hill hotels were underwhelmed by the Open golf tournament, which brought professional athletes to South County from all over the country, restaurants and other businesses in the area reported stronger sales than normal.

Tournament winner Rocco Mediate, a Florida resident, ate dinner at Westside Grill in Gilroy during the Oct. 14-17 tournament at CordeValle golf course in San Martin, according to the restaurant’s executive chef.

The restaurant, a “hidden gem” of Gilroy, typically relies on word of mouth for publicity, and last week that advertising scheme proved successful.

“The (San Francisco) Giants were playing (on TV), but there was definitely a golf crowd here,” said Steve Catalano, executive chef of the restaurant and sports lounge.

He estimated the Thursday through Sunday sales were up “maybe 25 percent” from normal.

Neither a thorough study of the tournament’s economic impact on local businesses nor a count of the event’s attendance and revenues has been completed, but anecdotal evidence suggests the area was busier than usual.

Some of the biggest winners will be local charities. The American Institute of Mathematics, Adoption Services of Santa Clara County and a local chapter of First Tee, were selected by Open organizers to receive donations funded by proceeds from the tournament. When the money is counted, this year’s Open is expected to exceed the revenues raised at last year’s event in Scottsdale, Ariz., according to spokesman Manuel Valerio. Last year’s Open raised about $660,000.

And while attendance has not yet been tallied, Valerio also thinks attendance exceeded that of the same event in Arizona last year.

This year marks the first time the Open was played at CordeValle, and tournament organizers expect to conduct the tournament at CordeValle at least for the next two years. The long-term goal is to bring the tournament to Morgan Hill at The Institute private golf course as its permanent home.

“Thousands of people were involved in one form or another,” Valerio said. “Feedback has been very good (from the players). It was very exciting to play this venue for the PGA Tour for the first time.”

CordeValle resort staff estimated about 10,000 spectators attended Saturday, the busiest day of the tournament, said CordeValle director of golf Michael Marion. About 1,000 volunteers assisted with logistics, and many told tournament staff they are looking forward to volunteering again next year.

“The community really got behind the event,” Marion said, noting Mediate’s wire-to-wire win against younger competitors – some less than half his age – likely contributed to the anticipation for next year.

Some hotels fared better than others because of the Open.

The Holiday Inn Express in Morgan Hill saw about 50 percent more business than usual – most of which is attributable to the golf event, according to manager David Dworkin. He added some guests, who were repeat customers from the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach this summer, told hotel staff that they thought the local tournament was better-organized than the major.

Smaller hotels on Condit Road said they had more guests than usual, likely because of the PGA event, but not as many as they expected.

“I think what they need is more publicity,” said George Rante, general manager of the Quality Inn. “The organizers should be more aggressive.”

While Rante’s weekdays were busier than normal last week, his weekend was about the same. He added “very few spectators” stayed at the Quality Inn. Most of the patrons were players and caddies attracted by the low rates.

Rante and other Morgan Hill hoteliers thought more out-of-town spectators opted to stay at hotels in San Jose.

Sports bars in Morgan Hill also reported higher than normal, but not staggering, sales. El Toro Brew Pub on Monterey Road had about 10 to 12 extra customers per day, owner Geno Acevedo said.

At Box Seat Sports Grill off Vineyard Boulevard, sales were a little bit higher than normal, according to server Julie Bennett. The restaurant hosted a number of repeat customers who seemed to be in town for the week.

“We had a couple of guys here every night from Boise (Idaho),” Bennett said.

Local restaurant guides were available at the CordeValle venue, drawing customers to certain eateries, said Chris Giusiana, Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. She added she heard hotels and restaurants in town reported a steady stream of new and out-of-town customers.

And in Gilroy, Susan Valenta, Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said the “trickle-down” effect of the tournament can’t be immediately tallied, but is evident by the likelihood that motorists purchased fuel at local gas stations, ate at restaurants and even shopped at retail stores such as the Gilroy Premium Outlets.

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