While the masses flock to the unincorporated community of Haven in Sheboygan County this weekend to take part in the pageantry and patriotism of the 43rd Ryder Cup, the event's economic impact is being felt far and wide across southeastern Wisconsin.
About 60 miles south of Whistling Straits, in greater Milwaukee, businesses representing a cross section of industries are benefitting from the influx of dollars being spent by out-of-town attendees as well as the corporations tasked with putting on the global event.
With limited lodging in Sheboygan and the entirety of Kohler's hotel properties booked by the PGA, many travelers are staying the night in downtown Milwaukee. Ahead of Ryder Cup week, Saint Kate - The Arts Hotel and The Pfister expected to be fully booked Wednesday through Saturday with visitors and members of the media from around the world.
Staff were prepped to handle two main rush times, in the early morning as guests board shuttle busses to the course and in the evening as guests returned to the hotel to patronize bars and restaurants on site or nearby.
For travelers visiting Wisconsin for the first time, said Brandon Drusch, general manager at Saint Kate, the hope is that they will now see Milwaukee as an option for future golf excursions.
"When we look at the traveler that's coming to Milwaukee for the Ryder Cup, most are golf enthusiasts, I want them to take home that southeastern Wisconsin has some amazing golf courses, and you can set up home base in Milwaukee, enjoy some amazing hotels, restaurants and hospitality and make a day trip to all the courses in the area," said Drusch. "Hopefully this is not just a nice week for the hotel, but it's a launch pad for continued success in the golf tourism world."
Milwaukee Food Tours is among the many companies providing Ryder Cup shuttle services to hotel guests staying in downtown Milwaukee. As of Friday morning, the business had shuttled a total of about 1,400 riders on its fleet of 20 busses, ranging from mini coaches to double decker coaches.
Riders are picked up from downtown hotels and brought to Sobleman's Pub & Grill on St. Paul Ave., where shuttles depart several times a day. The service includes a Sobleman's Bloody Mary and breakfast sandwich for the road.
All of Milwaukee Food Tours shuttle customers are from out-of-state, said founder and owner Theresa Nemetz.
"Many of them travel for golf tournaments throughout their lives and so being able to attend the Ryder Cup is a bucket list destination. We have heard the word 'bucket list' all week," said Nemetz, adding that the service has also attracted corporate clients who may not be Ryder Cup sponsors but are hosting a group of clients at the event.
Due to a driver shortage and high demand for transportation, Milwaukee Food tours had to rent some of its shuttle busses from five or six different bus companies. It also hired 15 additional people to help support the operation.
Despite supply chain hiccups, the financial boost has been a "blessing" as the ongoing pandemic continues to put a strain on the tour company's main source of revenue from its walking and bus tours. Additionally, the whole experience has allowed Nemetz to think about what the future holds for her business and for the area.
"This has been a really amazing learning curve to be able to see how we can scale up and also see where the holes are, so as Milwaukee looks to host other large events like this, that we can be looking at how many Ubers are there? Are there enough coach drives? Are there enough vehicles? That's been a real struggle," she said. "If Milwaukee wants to continue to hold large events, I think that Ryder Cup gives us a chance to see how to do it and improve on it."
For Waukesha Floral & Greenhouse, the contract to create the floral arrangements for the Ryder Cup's massive hospitality chalets built off an existing relationship with PGA's event vendor.
The company had done the floral arrangements for 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, but this project is five times larger, said Marty Loppnow, vice president of Waukesha Floral.
"We do conventions and we do holiday decorating that's actually dollar amount more than this, but for a one week event, this is a significant floral project. I'm sure we're putting in the most flowers out of any event in Midwest this week," said Loppnow.
The business was tasked with producing more than 1,500 fresh floral arrangements, amounting to tens of thousands of flowers throughout the property. That includes 3,500 cymbidium orchids from New Zealand and 1,500 tropical green plants. Arrangements for almost 20% of the corporate hospitality tents are custom made to match the company's logo or corporate colors, giving the space that "over-the-top look," he said.
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An added challenge, Waukesha Floral ran into its own supply chain issues, specifically in sourcing certain types of vases as well as roses, which are currently in short supply across the nation.
Loppnow said the project has been a "labor of love" for its 12 designers, including freelancers and retired designers that were brought on specifically for the task. The team worked tirelessly for 10 days leading up to this week, producing about 250 arrangements per day. During the event, the designers will check on all the arrangements to keep them looking fresh.
The contract has not only been a boost for Waukesha Floral's business but its brand.
"We had a man call yesterday to order flowers, and he said, 'You're the Ryder Cup florist -- you should be absolutely honored that you got that contract.' And we are, we're over the moon. It's so exciting to be included in this worldwide event," said Loppnow.