Prince William County's efforts at branding itself at this year's Presidents Cup has registered with some visitors but has not gotten through to others.
"We're in Prince William County?" asked golf fan Pat Harrison of Houma, La., after former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton addressed thousands of spectators Thursday to begin the first day of play at the prestigious tournament, held for a fourth time at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville.
Hours after the opening ceremony, a story about the event hit the Internet with the dateline of "Gainesville, Fla."
Prince William was hoping to use the tournament, which has drawn tens of thousands of spectators and hundreds of journalists from around the world, to publicize the county and its increasing reputation as a big, wealthy community, said Sean T. Connaughton (R), chairman of the Board of County Supervisors.
After the 2000 Presidents Cup at Robert Trent Jones, county officials recognized that people often did not identify the club -- with its exclusive membership and $100,000 initiation fee -- as being in Prince William, long known as a more rural, unsophisticated neighbor of such Northern Virginia locales as Fairfax County and Alexandria.
The county insisted on a formal agreement with the club and the PGA Tour to be named as the tournament's location on all materials -- from brochures to ads to the side of Coca-Cola cans distributed on the East Coast.
The Prince William County/Manassas Convention & Visitors Bureau is trying to develop the county as a destination for golfers who can play a round and get a bite to eat. A brochure lists golf courses and dining recommendations.
Some Presidents Cup visitors have said the county's booming construction and the lack of a central location for restaurants, with the exception of Old Town Manassas, made dining and sightseeing difficult. The county and City of Manassas have a combined 35 hotels, but none is four-star, so many people, including the tournament's international competitors, head to nicer accommodations outside the county.
Golf fan Joe O'Malley, 47, of Drexel Hill, Pa., had been in Prince William for only one day for the Presidents Cup, but he already was starting to sound like a resident. "This place is great, but this traffic. . . . There's too much construction," he said.
"Thank goodness there's a McDonald's near me," said O'Malley, who was staying at the Manassas Days Inn on Balls Ford Road.
Many visitors said they were opting for more dining choices and day trips outside the county.
Harrison and her son, Jim Harrison, 43, of Patterson, La., turned the Presidents Cup into a full vacation by scheduling visits to Leesburg and Williamsburg.
The Harrisons said they spent part of one day shopping at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax County and eating at nearby Coastal Flats.
The convention bureau promoted Potomac Mills outlet mall -- the area's biggest attraction, with 30 million annual visitors -- and Manassas National Battlefield Park.
The promotion worked on some people. Karee and Trevor Horne of Houston stayed in the county and planned to eat and visit inside the county. A tour of the battlefield topped their list.
"We thought this would be a fun event, and we could throw in some Civil War stuff," Trevor Horne, 36, said.
The Hornes also thought of Prince William as part of the region and had scheduled some time to visit the Mall.
Connaughton said the tournament, which ends Sunday, would bring $5 million to $10 million to the county's economy. That figure would be higher if Prince William had more restaurants, a luxury hotel and conference center, which is being development in the eastern end.
"Hopefully, when the next Presidents Cup is held here, we will have those amenities in place so that money stays in Prince William," Connaughton said.