With galleries of people lining the fairways, the Travelers Championship has always drawn huge crowds. Not this year. Absent are the fans that surround the greens and leave their own green behind.
Larry McHugh is the president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, which includes Cromwell and many surrounding towns. With this year’s tournament being a TV-only event, McHugh says there’s been an economic impact in the region already.
“People come in and fill our hotels up and then go out and eat and buy gas and buy things from the retailer establishments,” explained McHugh. “That will not happen this year.”
Kim Serignese is one of many business owners near Cromwell’s TPC River Highlands feeling the economic impact of this year’s tournament being held without fans. She estimates her restaurant, Zerios, will be down at least 25 percent, compared to this week last year.
Normally we’re very busy. We get a lot of the fans. They come in for lunch, for dinner,” said Serignese.
Typically the tournament draws fans in the hundreds of thousands.
Gas stations will see less traffic. Hotel rooms are readily available. Restaurants are enduring yet another challenge and of course there are liquor stores.
“Normally at this time of day we would be very busy with people going to the tournament,” said Jay Polk who co-owns Willowbrook Spirit Shoppe, located only a couple miles from the golf course.
Polk says golf fans usually frequent his place throughout the weekend, providing a revenue bump and sometimes a brush with greatness.
“It’s usually a good 20 percent increase for us and we have the opportunity to meet some of the golfers and meet some of the caddies,” added Polk.
It’s not just business owners feeling the pinch either. There are many homeowners in the area who usually park cars on their property. Not this year. Instead lots of empty lawns but none as green as the TPC River Highlands course.