Sanford area preparing for U.S. Open patronage

Jun. 23, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

In less than a year, the best golfers from across the world will descend on the Pinehurst area for the Men's and Women's U.S. Opens — and local businesses are already preparing for the onslaught.

The Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce hosted hospitality tents on U.S. Highway 1 when Pinehurst hosted the Men's U.S. Open in 1999 and 2005 with mixed success, according Chamber President Bob Joyce. The local Chamber is considering its course of action on how best to market to the Men's and Women's U.S. Opens' visitors and fans next year, he said.

"We have about 500 hotel rooms (in Lee County) and I believe we will be able to fill every one," Joyce said. "That is a very significant increase in our economic activity."

Anytime there is a party of overnight visitors staying in your town, the N.C. Department of Commerce estimates they spend an average $500 per day, Joyce said.  

"I think that tells you the power of having these extra visitors in our community," he said.

The Chamber has engaged in some meetings with the golf planning committee in Moore County, Joyce said. The Chamber will form a marketing team to promote Sanford and Lee County during the tournaments. The challenge, he said, will be developing the plan with limited dollars.

"I think that is our community's challenge for a while," Joyce said. "To have the funds to get our message out there and attract people to stop and see us."

The 2013 Men's U.S. Open ended this past week and Hampton Inn Director of Sales and Marketing Denny Woodruff said the Sanford hotel has received a number of inquires about next year.

"We have not committed to any of the rooms yet for a couple of reasons," he said. "We have a group of businesses interested and we are building a waiting list of names."

The increased traffic should fill all of the hotel rooms across Lee County and the economic impact will be dramatic, he said.

"I used to work with Holiday Inn in Augusta," Woodruff said. "And we referred to The Masters (golf tournament) as the 13th month. You could get as much revenue for that week as we normally got in a month. I imagine it's the same situation next year."

Holiday Inn Express Assistant General Manager Angie Minnick also expects to sell out of rooms.

"It's going to have a big impact," she said. "We are very excited for the business."

Prime Time Limousines & Sedans Owner Jerry Thomas said his fleet of cars will make several trips from Raleigh to Pinehurst during the tournaments, and phone queries have already begun. 

"It will be tremendous," he said. "During the last U.S. Open, we stayed sold out for the whole week, and we rented several vehicles from other companies, too. We expect a big two weeks."