It’s not on the grand scale of last year’s U.S. Open Championship, but the return of the AT&T National golf tournament to Bethesda next month is generating business for area hotels, managers say.
The AT&T National, which started in 2007 in Bethesda, moved to Newtown Square, Pa., in 2010 and 2011 to allow Congressional Country Club to prepare for the 2011 U.S. Open. The AT&T event is back in Montgomery County, scheduled for the last week of June.
Headed by Tiger Woods, the tournament raises funds for the Tiger Woods Foundation — and also generates business for the local hospitality industry.
“We’re seeing some bookings, but not a huge amount so far,” said Tom Wolf, general manager of the 390-room Hyatt Regency Bethesda. “It was successful for us in 2009. Most of our bookings came at the last minute then. We expect to see a similar trend this year.”
Bookings likely will rise significantly if Woods says he will compete, said Selim Soliman, general manager of the 270-room Doubletree Hotel Bethesda.
“If it is announced that he is playing in the tournament, then I expect bookings to pick up,” Soliman said.
Woods is expected to show up at Congressional this month for a media day that includes some fans competing against him in a chipping contest, according to a news release from his foundation. Last year, Woods missed both the AT&T Tournament and U.S. Open because of injury.
The AT&T event in 2009 generated an estimated $29.1 million in direct and indirect spending in the county, with some 23,000 spectators, golfers and others staying overnight, according to a study commissioned by the Montgomery County Department of Business and Economic Development. In 2008, when Woods did not play and about 90,000 fewer spectators attended than in 2009, the total impact was estimated at $16.8 million.
Kelly Groff, executive director of the Conference and Visitors Bureau of Montgomery County, said she thought the economic impact would at least be as large as in 2009.
“We are excited about the AT&T National coming back,” Groff said.
Woods won the tournament in 2009. Nick Watney won last year.
The U.S. Open, which is being played in San Francisco this year, generated an economic impact of $130 million to $150 million for Montgomery County hotels, restaurants, shops and other businesses in 2011, according to the U.S. Golf Association and Conference and Groff’s organization.
The U.S. Open also was at Congressional in 1997 and 1964. Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase hosted the event in 1921; Baltimore Country Club was the host in 1899.