With only a few days left before thousands of visitors arrive for the international Ryder Cup golf tournament, many area towns are in high gear making final preparations.
Addison, Bloomingdale, Roselle, Wood Dale, Glendale Heights and Itasca dubbed themselves "host towns" for the tournament, which runs Sept. 25-30 at the Medinah Country Club in unincorporated Medinah. Now, they are finishing more than a year's worth of preparations to make their communities look their best with an eye toward welcoming visitors and attracting tourist dollars.
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In Bloomingdale this week, workers were planting flowers near banners that herald the Ryder Cup. All six host towns will have similar banners on display throughout next week.
Many municipalities also are encouraging area businesses to offer promotions and discounts timed with the tournament.
Some are holding special events, such as the Ryder Cup Challenge Golf Tournament at 9 a.m. Sunday at Addison Park District's Links & Tees. Both junior golfers and adults are invited to participate in the event. Registration is still open at addisonparks.org and in person at Links & Tees, 950 W. Lake St.
Park district spokeswoman Deb Pfaff said representatives from PGA of America have been working with the six towns for almost a year to make sure they are ready to roll out the red carpet.
"They have been instrumental in promoting it and getting the surrounding communities excited," Pfaff said. "And, of course, we want to welcome all the fans that will be in town and celebrate. It's a big deal to have 45,000 out-of-town guests (per day) right here in our back yard. We want to be welcoming and make sure they have a great time here."
In most of the host towns, hotels are completely booked next week with Ryder Cup guests, and they are taking advantage of that, too. They have banded together and spent about $700 each working with Wood Dale-based Alpha Graphics to create a concierge map and mobile website that incorporates a Quick-Response, or QR code. The map will allow tourists to find what's nearby with the goal of keeping them in the immediate area.
"We wanted to do what we can to keep people in our communities while they are here," said Ross Klicker, Wood Dale planning and economic development coordinator. "We've even included convenience stores, because if someone is here for a week they might need to know something like where to find a bottle of Tylenol."
Users will be able to search for restaurants, entertainment, grocery stores, convenience stores, recreational shopping and more on the site. They will have several search options, including by town or by convenience, Klicker said.
Some of the changes happening around the Ryder Cup are a happy coincidence that will benefit towns and retailers, officials said.
Itasca will host two special events during Ryder Cup week that officials hope will attract golf fans. The first is a new event, a craft beer tasting from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 28 at Holiday Inn of Itasca, 860 W. Irving Park Road. The event will feature roughly 75 brews, including beers from Itasca's newest breweries, Church Street Brewing Company and the Itasca Brewing Company. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door and are available at itasca.com/beer.
Itasca officials said it happened to work out well that the breweries were granted business permits shortly before Ryder Cup week.
In addition, Itasca will sponsor its annual "Benches on Parade" Art and Wine Festival Sept. 29-30 in downtown. The event happens every year at the end of September, but Village Administrator Evan Tiech said last week he hopes it might get a boost this year from the tournament.
Other coincidental changes to the suburban landscape are coinciding well with the Ryder Cup, such as the spring opening of two PGA Tour Superstores in Schaumburg and Downers Grove. The PGA Tour is not involved in the Ryder Cup (PGA of America runs the international tournament), so officials at the Downers Grove location said both store openings were in progress for many months prior to the tournament -- but they, too, are hoping for a boost in Ryder business.
• Read more coverage of the Ryder Cup at dailyherald.com/sports/pro/rydercup