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Golf tournament will infuse about $1 million into Victoria economy, experts estimate

By BY ALLISON MILES
July 14, 2010 at 2:14 a.m.
Updated July 15, 2010 at 2:15 a.m.

Golfer Matt Anderson, of Minneapolis, talks to  Realtor Lee Swearingen  at the Victoria Country Club.

If you goW: NGA Hooters Pro Golf Tour

W: Victoria Country Club, 14 Spring Creek Road

W: Thursday through Sunday

: Call 361-575-6161

The Victoria Country Club parking lot was overflowing Wednesday, and license plates boasted more than the Texas cowboy.

Others featuring Florida oranges, Louisiana fleurs-de-lis and more sat in their midst.

Golfers from all over are in Victoria for the NGA Hooters Pro Golf Tour and they brought their wallets.

It took about $70,000 to put the tournament together, but the event will infuse about $1 million back into the community, said Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

"That's bang for your buck right there," he said.

The money comes in the form of restaurant meals, hotel stays and retail sales, he said.

It's usually difficult to find an empty hotel room in Victoria throughout the week, but during the tournament, it's likely impossible, he added.

"It's doubly hard now," he said. "I don't believe there's a room in town available."

Candlewood Suites has taken in guests visiting for the tournament, said Martha Hamilton, the hotel's director of sales.

"We've done our best," she said. "If there was no availability, we helped try to find other accommodations for others who came in without reservations."

Spectator tickets are available for hotel guests visiting Victoria but not associated with the event, Hamilton said.

"I'm very happy to have the golf tournament here," she said. "Not only are the people staying in our hotels, but they're also eating in our restaurants and enjoying our community."

Montana Mike's Steakhouse has seen business pick up by about 15 percent since people began arriving, said David Garcia, the restaurant's managing partner. The increase covers both the lunch and dinner shifts.

"It's been a nice little increase in business," Garcia said.

The local event brought in 132 players and some brought spouses, caddies and family, said Ryan Waters, the tournament's director. A six-man staff and five Hooters representatives also joined the mix.

Most people remain in town between five and seven nights, he said, adding the host course did offer housing for 20 or 30 players.

Waters agreed they add to the local economy. He ate at Athena Seafood and Steak House on Wednesday and got in trouble with his wife for a $200 shopping spree at Walmart.

Round Rock resident and tournament competitor Danny Gonzales got into town Wednesday. Although he tries to cover his bases when packing, he spends money on food and, sometimes, incidentals.

During a previous tournament, for instance, he had to replace a broken pair of sunglasses.

One issue players did have, however, was finding a bar open early in the week. They tried a couple, Waters said, before settling in at Shooters.

"Our weekends are Mondays and Tuesdays," he said.

Not everybody sees a boost with the tournament.

Things will likely slow for the Victoria Country Club's golf shop once it gets under way, said Joe Mitchell, assistant golf pro.

The event takes over the course and because professional golfers already have sponsors and equipment, the shop doesn't make many sales.

"Our big days are Tuesday and Wednesday, when the amateurs are playing," he said.

As a whole, the country club is used to sponsoring big events such as tournaments and parties, Mitchell said. Besides bringing on extra staff to meet with demand, the club doesn't see many effects.

"It's more an economic impact for the city than anything," he said.

The impact spans beyond the revenue it brings in.

The tournament also gives Victoria a chance to reach a national TV audience because ESPN and the Golf Channel will report on the event, Vivian said.

"This is a national tour, a big money tour," he said. "I'm not really sure people understand how big this is."

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