LPGA, PGA tournaments expected to have big economic impact

(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Big names in the world of professional golf are thrusting Prattville into the national spotlight as they gear up for an LPGA classic. The governor has also announced that a PGA tournament is coming to Opelika. The events are expected to have a big impact on the economy.

More than 20,000 people are headed to Prattville to see the top female golfers in the world compete in the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic September 18-21st.

The tournament is just weeks away at the Capitol Hill golf course on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Both the city and the golf course are prepping for the big event.

"We've had a lot of work going on to get this event back into Alabama," said Prattville mayor Bill Gillespie. "We're really glad that LPGA is coming back to Prattville. We're really pleased to see the ladies come back this way."

Gillespie said the city is helping with services like transportation and public safety. First responders- police, fire, and paramedics- will be on scene.

Meanwhile, crews at Capitol Hill are busy getting the course ready.

"It takes a lot of man hours to get us ready for the tournament, mowing heights and getting the grass to the right level, the speed that the tour wants it to be for the players for that week," said Will Fisher, head golf professional at the Capitol Hill golf course.

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail made headlines this week when Governor Robert Bentley announced that the PGA Barbasol Championship will be held next year at their Grand National course in Opelika. The event is expected to have a $25 million economic impact, according to the Governor.

Prattville hotels, restaurants and stores are also hoping for a big boost as LPGA crowds come to town next month. Prattville's mayor estimated that the tournament brings in between $7-$21 million to the area.

"This is very similar to hosting a home football game for Auburn or Alabama," Fisher said. "We're going to fill the local hotels with not only players and family, but also fans that travel in to watch the event."

Chappy's Deli is bringing in extra staff at their Prattville location to handle the crowds.

"We're very excited to know that it's coming. It will have a huge impact. Prattville people get out and support things and of course, it pulls from the whole region too. We know what it's going to do as far as volume for us. One of the reasons we went to Prattville is because they have events like this and this LPGA event is huge,"said David Barranco, one of the owners.

A good chunk of economic impact from the tournaments will come from golfers who see the courses on TV and then want to test their skills on the same course where the pros played, bringing in golfers from different parts of the country throughout the year.

"We're very proud that we are able to put our community and our golf course on the national stage," Fisher added. "This is a great avenue and way to showcase the state of Alabama and what we have to offer."

All four rounds of the LPGA classic at the Capitol Hill course will be aired on the Golf Channel, and WSFA 12 News will also have fill coverage of the event.

Volunteers are still needed for the Prattville tournament. You can learn how to get involved here.

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