Fort Wayne Looks To Cash In On Golf Frenzy

By Jeff Neumeyer

August 30, 2013 Updated Aug 30, 2013 at 5:13 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- The Web.com Hotel Fitness Championship in Fort Wayne will crown a winner on Sunday, but the city itself hopes to be a winner too.

The economic impact associated with the tournament is expected to be positive.

Some of the money is flowing in now, while there could be a delayed effect for the rest.

The golfers are competing for $1-million in total prize money.

Fort Wayne is competing for a big payday as well.

" The PGA estimated about $4-million to $5-million in economic impact. We could definitely see that this week," said John Felts, a board member with the Northeast Indiana Hospitality Association.

Felts says he's been speaking with managers of hotels, restaurants and other businesses, mostly those in southwest Fort Wayne, which is close to Sycamore Hills.

They’re claiming to have picked up customers from the golf venue.

But since this is the first time the city has hosted such a tourney, putting a firm number on what money will be generated may take a week or more to compute.

Many of the spectators will come from within a 50-mile radius of Fort Wayne.

Most, but not everybody.

" I've been sitting over there on hole number 7, what a beautiful hole that is," said Gary Wallen from near Anderson Indiana.

The golf fan, who came to watch the action, is not real familiar with Fort Wayne.

But the first impression he's getting, through the top-notch golf course, is a good one.

" If this is all I see of Fort Wayne, I'm sold."

This year and the two years that follow, The Golf Channel coverage will focus millions of eyes on Fort Wayne.

Some of them will be corporate executives and other decision makers, trying to figure out where to put their money through future investments.

" Oftentimes, when it comes to making a decision about where to grow from an economic development standpoint, corporate decision makers have to decide, is this a place where they'd want to live,” said John Sampson, the President of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, which markets this area to companies looking to locate plants and create new jobs.

“Bringing that kind of leadership into our community, getting to see what it is like here, is very special."

There are forces that could steal some of the gate, like people drawn to lake cottages in the region over the Labor Day Holiday, plus the Auburn car auction, and the opening home football game for Notre Dame on Saturday.

But community leaders are hopeful that the top golfer at the end of Sunday won't be alone in cashing a winner's check.

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