Dick's Sporting Goods Open is a perfect fit for area businesses

ENDICOTT — Since the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open began at En-Joie Golf Course in 2007, it has landed more big-name entertainers, drawn more out-of-state fans and created a livelier atmosphere than its predecessor, the B.C. Open, making attendees and tournament sponsors happier.

The tournament, which costs $4.5 million to operate, will bring an estimated $12 million into Broome County, according to County Executive Debbie Preston’s office. That’s double the economic impact of last weekend’s Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally.

The first round of the three-round tournament, along with a concert by Tim McGraw, is Friday at En-Joie, with the final round Sunday. Practice rounds, pro-ams and other events will be held throughout the week, starting Monday.

Many local officials feared years ago that the Champions Tour event, which features golf legends 50 years old or older, may not match or exceed the B.C. Open, the PGA Tour event it replaced.

The Champions Tour has turned out to better fit the area’s aging community.

“When you look at the B.C. Open, it was a tougher sell because it was not the marquee players,” said John Karedes, tournament director. “They were all at the British Open. Here, on the Champions Tour, they’re well known.”

The B.C. Open waned in its final years, mostly because it was played at the same time as the British Open, leaving the local tournament with mostly unrecognizable names, while the top golfers played overseas.

Boasting some PGA Tour champions, including 1996 British Open champion Tom Lehman, two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer and 1995 PGA Championship winner Steve Elkington, the Endicott event has drawn a loyal following.

The Champions Tour players often travel with their families to the tournaments and are happy to accommodate autograph-seeking fans, enjoy a drink with them at local restaurants, and schmooze with sponsors, business owners and politicians.

One of the Dick’s Open’s major sponsors is Maines Paper & Food Service, one of the nation’s largest food distributors. CEO Christopher Mellon said the tournament is now the company’s second-largest marketing event of the year.