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Majors bring big boost to local economies

A golf circus is rolling into town, and William and Carol Ruby are rolling out.

For upward of $1,000 a day, the couple decided it was worth the disruption to rent their home during the PGA Championship in this upscale Rochester suburb. The four-bedroom colonial, with pool and hot tub, is a 3-wood shot from the fifth hole at Oak Hill Country Club.

Ruby, an attorney, and son, Brett, 16, will move in with friends. The 14-year-old twins, Alyse and Alexis, are booked into a YMCA camp in the Adirondacks. And his wife is staying with a former college roommate in Syracuse, 75 miles away.

The windfall will buy a few luxuries, although it is $5,000 less than the family took in during the 1995 Ryder Cup at Oak Hill.

"We're very fortunate this has happened a second time," Carol Ruby said. "It's not as big as the Ryder Cup but it's a fun experience. It's like an adventure."

The golf calendar's last big tournament -- and Tiger Woods' final chance to win a major this year -- will bring an estimated $30 million to $40 million to this metropolitan region of 1 million people along Lake Ontario's southern shore.

A good chunk will flow directly, and tax-free, to scores of temporarily displaced homeowners, many of whom live within walking distance of Oak Hill.

Not everyone is cashing in.

Steve and Jackie Braverman, who picked up $25,000 eight years ago for their Cape Cod-style house along the 14th fairway, sniffed at the $6,000 dangled by a real-estate agent.

"Who needs that aggravation?" said Braverman, who owns a money-management firm. "By the time you clean the whole place out and take the risk of them breaking something or burning a hole in the couch, it just doesn't seem like it's worth it."

Others would jump at any offer -- if only one came their way.

"I was geared up for it. I just can't believe there's not a demand," lamented Clark Pratt of Royal Real Estate. "I've got probably 40 listings on my Web site and rented one.

He added: "To me this is bigger than the Ryder Cup."

The 85th PGA Championship, which runs from Thursday to Sunday, is expected to draw some 35,000 spectators a day -- up to one-third of them out-of-town visitors.

Most of the 6,400 hotel rooms in the city and surrounding Monroe County are booked, some since last summer, and hotel chains as far as an hour's drive away are filling up.

Visitors who opt for home rentals are splurging anywhere from $2,000 for an apartment to at least $20,000 for a six-story mansion. The ranch and colonial-style homes bordering the course have mostly been snapped up by corporations entertaining clients.

Some neighbors also are renting their driveways or allowing sponsors to erect hospitality tents on the lawn.

Dozens of locals picked up $1,000 or more on rentals during the 1989 U.S. Open at Oak Hill. With the pot so much heftier in 1995 -- for the matchup of America's and Europe's top golfers -- as many as 500 homeowners took advantage.

Retired Hallmark Cards salesman Dick Reddington and his wife, Ann, didn't think twice about turning over their five-bedroom house to a corporate customer. They own a second home in the Bristol Hills 30 miles away.

"It's not a big hassle for us," Reddington said. They're giving back their time at the PGA Championship -- working as unpaid volunteers.


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