South Valley gets global attention from Fox Sports television coverage of event
Published in the July 27-August 10, 2016 issue of Gilroy Life
By Lauren Newcomb
Ralph Chellino was effusive about the positive effects the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open golf champion had on the region when it played for a week in early July at the CordeValle Golf Club. The Morgan Hill Intero real estate agent enjoyed time with his wife in the hills west of San Martin watching the professional women golfers on Sunday, July 10. A few hours later, golfer Brittany Lang shot a final round 71 and won the championship and $810,000.
“When you look at the map, who knows where San Martin is? Nobody!” he said of the community where CordeValle is located. “But now that it’s on television, now that there’s exposure, all of the sudden it’s a venue. I think it’s wonderful.”
The golf game helps build the South Valley’s image as an attractive place for tourism, and it helps promote real estate values a little bit, he said.
CordeValle hosting the U.S. Women’s Open is expected to have benefits for the Morgan Hill, Gilroy and San Martin communities both immediate and long-lasting. Through worldwide media attention on the Fox Sports channel and over the Internet and with as many as 100,000 visitors attending the tournament from countries around the world, the South Valley area has received a generous amount of exposure.
Spectators both at the championship and watching at home have experienced the unique beauty of the region. Jane Howard, the executive director of the Gilroy Welcome Center, worked as a volunteer during the event and she spoke highly of the impact the U.S. Women’s Open is having on the region.
“CordeValle and the Santa Clara Valley were showcased so well and mentioned frequently during all four days of the Open telecast,” she said.
Riding the shuttle bus from the parking lots to the golf course for several days, she overheard many positive comments from visitors about the area, she said.
“It was exciting to hear visitors talk about the rural feeling, note vegetables growing along the roadway, and be surprised about the beautiful vineyards,” she said.
Gilroy experienced a marked increase in the number of visitors dining at restaurants, shopping and walking into the Gilroy Welcome Center. For Howard, making a good first impression on these visitors is important to building the region’s brand and carry it to other areas of America and the world.
“One of the goals of the Gilroy Welcome Center was to encourage future visitation by providing Gilroy visitor guides and purchasing a full-page ad in the U.S. Women’s Open Program featuring outdoor activities and shopping, wineries, Gilroy Gardens and the upcoming Gilroy Garlic Festival,” she said.
Two such visitors to the tournament were Chris Morgan and his daughter, Macy, from Fresno. Morgan, who loves golf with a passion, hopes his daughter will “get the bug” and want to learn to golf.
“She’s still young, so the focus isn’t quite there yet, but this was a great opportunity, because kids under 17 get a junior ticket and it’s free,” he said.
Macy definitely has time, considering she’s only 7 years old — actually 7-and-a-half, she insisted.
“The best part of golf is the trophies!” she said with a big smile. “I like trophies. I won a bunch of soccer trophies, and my coach used to call us ‘marshmallows’ and ‘ladybugs.’”
Her father smiled. “I hoped this would encourage her to get into golf, seeing all the women on tour, the things that go into it, and how good they are,” he said.
Rob Fisher, a Morgan Hill resident, decided to come to the championship because it’s close to his home and he wanted to seize the opportunity. As a golfer, he loved seeing the tournament as well as all the positive effects it’s having on the community.
“It was neat being downtown and seeing all the venues full,” he said. “I saw Joe Buck (a Fox Sports announcer) eating at Odeum (in Morgan Hill), which was really great.”
Many people interviewed enjoying the high level of golfing talent at the U.S. Women’s Open observed the championship was a positive force for the South Valley community, providing exposure and creating an image for the region. As a wine club member of Clos LaChance Winery, Morgan Hill resident Julie Klem had seen the golf course from a distance from the back patio area and always wanted to check it out.
“It’s pretty incredible to see people coming here and saying how beautiful it is here,” she said. “I think it’s a hidden little gem and it’s slowly being discovered. This game will bring some visibility in a good way to the region. It’s bringing out the best in the community.”