Lancaster golfers, businesses prepare for unseen benefits of U.S. Women’s Open

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – This week, Midstaters are living in a golfer’s paradise.

The U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament kicks off Monday in Lancaster County with practice rounds. By all accounts, the week-long event will be a big boost for local businesses, and for local fans.

Longtime golfers see an opportunity.

Elliot Foster, a Manheim Township man, has played for 15 years. He said Sunday the Open is just what the Midstate needs.

“I think it’s great for Lancaster,” he said. “I think it puts Lancaster on the map.”

Foster teed off at the county’s public Overlook Golf Course over the weekend. (The tournament will be played at the Lancaster Country Club.)

He and his wife brought their two young daughters, who are just now learning the game. For them, too, the Open comes at a good time.

“It can only help,” Foster said. “You know, good female role models.”

Nearly 2,000 role models, in fact — the best of women’s golf. The tournament’s web site boasts a record-setting 1,873 golfers signed up to play.

They’ll need a little help from people like Tom Briggs, one of 2,500-plus volunteers that make his hometown tourney tick, and stick in people’s minds.

“You go places and people go, ‘Oh, you’re from Lancaster, Pennsylvania; that’s where the Amish are, right?'” Briggs said as he, too, took a few swings at Overlook Sunday.

Tournament heads expect the event to draw 100,000 spectators (most from within a 100-mile radius) and generate $25 million in revenue for local business.

Organizers also say they use primarily local vendors for things like flower arrangements.

But, they argue, that’s nothing.

“You have to look at the long-term tailwind of the media exposure, of 18 hours of television coverage where they’re going to say Lancaster, PA to the world,” said Barry Deach, director of the tournament.

That long-term effect is what restaurateurs like Ray Hottenstein, and other hospitality professionals, are counting on.

“It’ll expose the Lancaster County that we all know,” Hottenstein said.

His establishment, the Greenfield Restaurant, about a two-mile drive from the tournament course, will extend its hours this week, starting service from 2-5 p.m.

His son and daughter even created a golf-themed afternoon menu.

But that’s the short game.

“I know that if it’s not this week,” Hottenstein said, “it’ll be good for us for two or three years, or maybe even longer.”

In the case of his young daughters, Foster’s hope is for a much longer impact.

“Things like this don’t happen in Lancaster but every so often, so it’s good for us,” Foster said as he prepared to take a swing.

The tournament runs all week, but the effects may run a lifetime.

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