Farmingdale will soon be the center of the golfing universe as the Barclays PGA tournament comes to Bethpage State Park and business, political and community leaders are predicting a financial and public relations windfall for Long Island.
"It's a great opportunity to showcase our county," said Nassau Executive Edward Mangano, who joined Long Island Rail Road president Helena Williams, Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand and others Tuesday to hype the PGA's Long Island debut. "That's certainly going to help our economy."
Mangano said that with 35,000 spectators expected at the four-day tournament daily, the event, which includes practice rounds, could generate more than $34 million in new spending and create 415 jobs.
Moke McGowan, president of the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and Sports Commission, said the event will give the region a boost not only by bringing in thousands of tourists, but also by showcasing Long Island "on a global stage."
"We will be aired around the world, because of the international flavor of golf today and really having our message of Long Island as a visitor destination reinforced," McGowan said.
To help attract the scores of visitors expected for the event, the Village of Farmingdale plans to transform Main Street into a "pedestrian mall" on the night of Aug. 24, with several local restaurants and other businesses offering specials.
And to help golf fans get to and from the tournament, the LIRR is for the first time allowing riders to download train tickets onto their mobile phones or print them at home. During the tournament, LIRR will offer increased service to and from the Farmingdale station, where riders will board buses to get to the course.
Although the USGA has twice held its U.S. Open tournament at Bethpage Black, the Barclays marks the PGA's first visit to Long Island. Peter Mele, executive director of the Barclays, said the golf course is one of the best public links in the country. "It's just a great test of golf. It's fair and it's not tricked up," he said. "It rewards good shot-making and penalizes bad shot-making."