Fans by the
thousands attended the U.S. Open at the Erin Hills golf
course from June 15 to June 18. Busses by the dozens
transported attendees from various spots in the
surrounding area including the parking lot created on
the west side of Wisconsin Harley Davidson in
Sue Boyer/Special to the
OCONOMOWOC — While the Sunday
ending of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills makes
it difficult to discern how much of an
impact the golf tournament had on
Oconomowoc, there is no doubt the event did
indeed have a positive influence on local
As the executive director of
the Oconomowoc Area Chamber of Commerce,
Katie Miller had already communicated by
Monday afternoon with a few business that
had been influenced by the presence of the
tournament. Most of those businesses told
her they saw some increased traffic they can
probably attribute to the U.S. Open.
The abundance of patrons
wearing golf wear served as a fairly simple
“Overall, I think there was
most certainly an impact on our local
community,” Miller said.
Sherper’s at 225 E. Wisconsin
Ave. saw a healthy boost in sales due to the
U.S. Open, said manager Sarah Scherper.
While the first player didn’t
tee off until June 15, Scherper said the
store began to reap the benefits of the
tournament’s massive draw as early as two
weeks before its start.
The U.S. Open had come out
with a specific list of items that could be
brought into Erin Hills golf course and
Scherper said she noticed this list being
carried around by customers.
A long line of
busses wait to transport fans attending the U.S. Open
golf tournament Saturday morning. The buses took people
to and from a parking lot created in the field adjacent
to Wisconsin Harley Davidson in Oconomowoc to Erin Hills
Sue Boyer/Special to the
Due to restrictions on
containers, clear 20 ounce water bottles
sold well. The heat also drove patrons to
purchase hats, sun screen, bandanas and
other products related to cooling and
Sherper’s biggest draw was
foldable camp stools or chairs of the like.
These items sold well because the U.S. Open
was not permitting people to lug in chairs
While foldable camp stools
sell well for the store every year, Scherper
said the item moved so fast the last few
weeks that the store had to bring in those
same chairs from its Hales Corners location.
“It was a happy surprise,”
While customers weren’t
wearing any type of wild name tag that
indicated where they were from, Scherper
said her observations led her to conclude
both locals and out-of-towners were coming
to the store for the popular items. Some
customers were recognizable, while others
called Sherper’s asking for these items, as
well as directions from Interstate 94 to the
The importance of pamphlets
In addition to leading the
Oconomowoc Area Chamber of Commerce, Katie
Miller is also a member of the recently
formed Oconomowoc Bureau of Economic
Development & Tourism Commission.
Both the chamber and the
commission had worked to better promote the
city during the U.S. Open. However, Miller
said this promotion was a bit hamstrung by
the fact the tournament put a limit on the
promotional items that could be distributed
at the parking lots where people congregated
before heading to the tournament — one being
the temporary lot the United States Golf
Association created off of Interstate 94 in
Oconomowoc, near the southwest corner of
Miller said one could
understand why the people affiliated with
the U.S. Open would want the event attendees
to stay at Erin Hills and not take their
business too far elsewhere.
Despite this difficulty,
Oconomowoc Economic Development Director Bob
Duffy helped the cause by getting the U.S.
Open to allow the distribution of a
commission-produced brochure at a
hospitality tent at Erin Hills.
Simple and to the point, the
brochure provided a map from downtown to the
Highway 67 area and I-94 and to Highway 67.
It also demonstrated the location of City
Beach, Fowler Park, Roosevelt Park, Veterans
Memorial Park, as well as shopping centers
and a few hotels. Duffy said the brochure
was put together in connection with the
hotels, specifically Hilton Garden Inn at
Pabst Farms, Staybridge Suites and Olympia
Resort and Conference Center.
The 2017 Oconomowoc Community
Guide was also distributed at the temporary
parking lot off of Interstate 94.
Duffy said it’s likely people
who parked at nearby lots to attend the
tournament and then returned home spent
money only at Erin Hills. The people the
brochure targeted, he said, were those who
were staying in area hotels because it was
likely that they would be dining or shopping
in the area.
Duffy said it might take
some time before the exact impact the U.S.
Open had on the Oconomowoc community is
known. He said there were more vehicles in
the area during the event, which creates
more opportunities for customers to be
around the city.
It is possible the U.S. Open
could have an influence on Oconomowoc that
extends beyond 2017. Duffy said any event
like the U.S. Open is a great opportunity to
get the word out about a small community,
especially one, he jokingly said, might be
hard for out-of-state patrons to pronounce.