The U.S. Open Golf Championship begins with practice rounds at Pebble Beach on Monday. The event will bring the world’s best golfers, along with an estimated quarter of a million visitors to the Monterey Peninsula. This is not your average tourist traffic and peninsula cities are preparing for the onslaught.
Jenny MacMurdo walks along Ocean Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It’s a quiet day. She passes lots of open parking spaces while just a hand full of tourists move in and out of stores and restaurants.
MacMurdo is the President of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce. She says this ‘quiet’ is about to disappear. In her words, starting Monday, “It will be to the gills. It will be packed.”
Locals are used to an annual influx of golf tourists every February with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf Tournament. On a scale of one to five, MacMurdo calls the AT&T a five. She says the U.S. Open will be a 10.
“You’re going much higher on the scale at this point. It will be very impactful,” MacMurdo says.
There will be lots of people and lots of traffic. The roads will be full and parking will be scarce. So MacMurdo’s advice is to plan ahead. For example, do your grocery shopping now.
“Be ready for a week where you're not going to really have the ability to run those errands in town,” she says.
Think about your schedule, do you have any appointments, she adds.
“Decide what you're going to do transportation-wise. Are you going to get there much earlier than you need to be and maybe just spend some time you know in that area? Can you reschedule whatever it is that you have for a different time?”
If you have to drive while the U.S. Open is in town, the best time is between 10 am and 4 pm. That’s when most fans will be at the tournament.
Eric Steimer is a Senior Manager with the U.S. Open. He sits at a conference table at the U.S. Open’s headquarters in Pebble Beach. Behind him hang 30 poster board check lists covering everything from ticketing to transportation.
“In general, traffic is going to be heavy on Highway 1 at the Holman Highway,” Steimer says.
That is the entrance to Pebble Beach; traffic in and out of Pebble Beach will be tightly controlled.
“I would recommend exploring alternate routes to and from Monterey,” he says.
Steimer says 15,000 parking spaces will be used at Cal State Monterey Bay and 140 buses will act as shuttles. It is a massive operation and another area commuters should avoid.
“It'll be in the commuter’s best interests to avoid Highway 1. There's going to be heavy congestion; I'll make no bones about it,” Steimer says.
The cities of Carmel, Pacific Grove and Monterey will also offer shuttle service to The Open. The CSU shuttles will be free. The shuttles in the cities will cost around $20 per day.
Expect heavy congestion through the last day of the championship, which is Sunday, June 16th.
As an event, the U.S. Open is so big and its effects so massive, planning began years ago.
“We had three folks move out here, including myself back in September 2017, and our staff has only ramped up ever since,” says Steimer.
The ramp up has also been happening at hotels and restaurants. In Carmel, Chef Soerke Peters sits at a table in his French-American Bistro Etats-Unis. Half a dozen customers are finishing their meals.
Chef Peters says he wasn’t here the last time the U.S. Open came to Pebble Beach, back in 2011. However, other restaurant owners have told him to get ready for something big.
“We have all prepped, ready and we've got, I’ve got to make a lot of gelato and a lot of pastas,” says Peter.
He’s even added more staff.
“I hired extra prep cooks to make sure we work around the clock almost, to get things done so we don't run out of food,” Peter says.
The U. S. Open not only brings visitors and their cars, it also brings money. The Pebble Beach Company estimates the event will have a $175 million economic impact.
In Carmel, more than half of the city’s revenue comes from sales and hotel taxes, so an event like The Open can have a big impact, in more ways than one.