Brookline residents rent out their homes and driveways as U.S. Open returns to town
Khaki pants. Gridlocked traffic. Home rentals going for upward of $4,000 a night.
The U.S. Open is back in Brookline.
The golf tournament is expected to draw tens of thousands of fans as it returns to the Brookline Country Club for the first time in 34 years.
And while some residents say they’re anxious about a week of traffic and detours, others are excited to cash in on a business opportunity.
On Sunday, Brookline Town Meeting member Scott Gladstone peered through the security barrier to catch a glimpse of the shaded fairways.
“It beautiful,” he said. “I mean, on TV, it’s going to look fantastic.”
Gladstone lives a few blocks away from the country club. He said people were caught off guard when detour signs started going up on the streets around the course. He thinks the tournament and the town should have communicated the traffic plans better.
“These questions could have been asked and answered in advance, and put people a little more at ease — rather than, it’s just sort of being sprung on them by the signs just popping up,” he said.
In a statement, the town said it responded to the “core concerns” of traffic and parking after receiving feedback from residents in public meetings.
Regardless, Gladstone said it’s exciting that a major sports tournament will be right next door – and many of his neighbors agree.
Carolyn Thall is also a Brookline Town Meeting member, and has kids at the high school.
“People are scrambling a little bit, just to figure out what’s what, but it’s not rocket science, and it’s not the end of the world,” she said. “I have a high schooler, I just want to get her to her final exams at [Brookline High School], and that’s it.”
And Thall sees the event as a potential business opportunity. She said she’s thinking about renting out her driveway for parking.
“I’m harboring some notions of like, soliciting people who are on shuttle buses and saying, ‘I have a driveway here,’ ” she said, laughing. “But I’m not sure how the whole thing works yet.”
Other people are finding ways to monetize not just their driveways, but their homes. Data provided to WBUR by the website VRBO show home bookings in the Boston area jumped 30% this week compared to the same period last year.
Mona Kelly listed her five-bedroom house in Chestnut Hill on Airbnb for $3,800 a night. She said she’d never done it before – but saw other owners fetching big prices for their home.
“You know, I just did it, and I didn’t know if it would work, but we actually had somebody who booked pretty quickly,” she said.
Kelly said she and her family spent the whole weekend cleaning.
“It’s like a mini-move, we had to empty all our closets, get rid of the food in the fridge, clean up all the cabinets,” she said.
The crowds should also bring money into traditional brick-and-mortar businesses.
In the nearby Shops at Putterham, Manisha Patel worked the register at Putterham Market.
She said they made sure they’re fully stocked before the crowds arrived.
“We’re going to put some water, some extra drinks in the coolers,” she said.
Down the road, Rabbi Mendy Uminer was also preparing. He said the Chabad Center at Chestnut Hill will have free kosher chicken soup and challah bread for the spectators.
“We’ll be making sure that people can get their spiritual feed as much as they can get their golf feed,” he said.
Rabbi Uminer said he couldn’t wait for the tournament to start.
“Think about it, the country club that forbade Jews from joining will have a rabbi wrapping tefillin with people, inside,” he said. “We’ll be giving out candle holders, if they want to light shabbat candles on Friday. Challah. Chicken soup. It’s awesome.”
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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