Prince William County's efforts at branding itself at this year's Presidents Cup registered with some visitors but never got through to others.
"We're in Prince William County?" golf fan Pat Harrison of Houma, La., asked Thursday, after former presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton addressed thousands of spectators to begin the first day of play at the prestigious tournament, being held for a fourth time at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville.
Hours after the opening ceremony, a story about the kickoff hit the Internet with a dateline of "Gainesville, Fla."
The county was hoping to use the event, which has drawn about 20,000 spectators daily and hundreds of journalists from around the world, as a way to publicize the county and its increasing reputation as a large, 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 do 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 Northern Virginia locales such as Fairfax County and Alexandria.
For this tournament, which ends today, 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, including brochures, ads and the sides of Coca-Cola cans distributed on the East Coast.
The Prince William County/Manassas Convention and Visitors Bureau is trying to develop Prince William as a destination for golfers, who can play a round and get a bite to eat. A brochure lists golf courses and recommendations on where to eat.
Some Presidents Cup visitors 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, driving many people, including the international players participating in the tournament, to more upscale accommodations outside the county.
Joe O'Malley, a golf fanatic from Drexel Hill, Pa., had been in Prince William County for only one day for the Presidents Cup but was already starting to sound like a typical resident. "This place is great, but this traffic. . . . There's too much construction," said O'Malley, 47.
"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 43-year-old son, Jim Harrison 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 visitors annually -- 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 here. A tour of the battlefield was at the top of their list.
"We thought this would be a fun event, and we could throw in some Civil War stuff," said Trevor Horne, 36.
The Hornes also had scheduled some time to visit the Mall in Washington.
Connaughton said the tournament would bring about $5 million to $10 million to the county's economy. Prince William could benefit more if it had more restaurants, a luxury hotel and conference center, which is being developed 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. The location for the 2009 Presidents Cup has not been determined.