TODD TICE LEARNED A VALUABLE LESSON ABOUT DOING BUSINESS DURING A U.S. OPEN THE LAST TIME IT TOOK PLACE IN PEBBLE BEACH IN 2010. The owner of The Club, a retail men’s and women’s fashion boutique on Ocean Avenue in Carmel, Tice thought he’d catch shoppers late in the day like he does each August during Car Week. He extended his closing times, but it didn’t work.
Thanks to television, the top players tee off late in the afternoon to capture the prime time audience on the East Coast. Carmel’s streets were quiet between 5pm and 8pm.
Sales overall for that week were “incredible, but we didn’t plan it well,” Tice says.
This time Tice is ready. He now owns three clothing stores in downtown Carmel – The Club; Luciano Barbera Club, a men’s store; and Club Di Lusso, for women. He’s opening each of them an hour early, at 9am. Golf fans who flew to the Monterey Peninsula from the East Coast will be on East Coast time, he reasons. They’ll be up early and looking for something to do before heading to the tournament.
With more than 250,000 spectators – that’s more than half the population of Monterey County – expected to visit for the U.S. Open and several thousand more in temporary employees, media and volunteers who come from outside of the area, Tice says all those visitors will spend money at lots of businesses, not just retail, lodging and restaurants.
“Some [visitors] will need to get a pedicure or a manicure or a haircut,” he says, as examples.
The United States Golf Association estimates the total economic impact to Monterey County will be in the range of $165 million-$175 million, according to Janeen Driscoll, USGA director of communications and community involvement. That estimate is based not just on the week itself, but on all direct and indirect spending and corporate giving surrounding the event. It ranges from the offices the USGA rents in the area two years before the Open for preparations to real estate sales made long after the last tents come down at the temporary tournament village set up inside Pebble Beach and everything in between.
The economic stakes were raised after Tiger Woods won the U.S. Masters on April 14 and fans realized he would almost certainly be at the Open after years of injuries kept him out of past tournaments. Single-day ticket sales surged after the win.
“I would be the first to tell you the Tiger effect is real,” Driscoll says. “There is no doubt that we’ve had a really good response to tickets, especially in the California area.”
That bit of news about ticket sales was an asset to local hotels, not just in the immediate vicinity of Pebble Beach, but also Seaside and Marina, according to Joy Anderson, executive director of the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. Months ago, hotels were requiring minimum stays of several days for reservations during the tournament and sales were slow. As single-day ticket sales rose, hotels lifted the minimum night requirement and rooms quickly filled up. There are reports of hotels in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties getting spillover reservations.
Hotels in Salinas and beyond are doing good business thanks to the hundreds of workers who support the tournament, representatives of corporations marketing themselves, or staff at media outlets that broadcast or report on the tournament worldwide. The Monterey County Convention and Vistors Bureau estimates occupancy rates are in the “high 90s,” according to a spokesperson.
One week before the official tee off, there were rooms advertised online at the Embassy Suites in Seaside for over $800 and at the Monterey Tides for more than $750. Two-star hotels were going for over $330.
There were still a few rooms left in Pacific Grove for $300-$550. As of the Weekly’s deadline, P.G. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Moe Ammar didn’t expect them to last long.
“We’re going to sell out everything,” Ammar says.
Restaurants were already reporting weeks out they were booked up the weekend of the tournament. Anderson reports the same is true in other cities.
Ammar, who’s been with the chamber for 27 years, says, “This is my fourth U.S. Open and without a doubt it’s the best one based on the data.”