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Ready for glory: Johns Creek course prepares for PGA Championship

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Crews work to build the grandstands on the 18th hole at the Atlanta Athletic Club earlier this week. The club is hosting the 93rd PGA Championship starting on Thursday.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Crews work to build the grandstands on the 18th hole at the Atlanta Athletic Club earlier this week. The club is hosting the 93rd PGA Championship starting on Thursday.

JOHNS CREEK -- Less than two miles over the Chattahoochee River and into Fulton County, things have been busy.

For the better part of two years, Atlanta Athletic Club has been transformed as it prepares to play host to the 93rd PGA Championship, the season's fourth and final golf major rightfully dubbed "glory's last shot."

Practice rounds begin Monday, with the tournament starting in earnest on Thursday. A champion will be crowned Aug. 14.

Though it's technically being held in Johns Creek, Lisa Anders, deputy director for the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the weeklong event will make a huge financial footprint in Gwinnett.

"When you consider restaurants and transportation and media and everything else," Anders said, "it is the No. 1 premier event that we'll have this year. Far and away."

In recent weeks, crews have installed a pedestrian bridge over Medlock Bridge Road and countless shrubs and other greenery have been planted, timed to bloom right at tournament time.

Several large, temporary "chalets" have gone up along the 18th green and fairway, playing host to corporate sponsors and their guests. The grandstands have been installed.

A PGA spokeswoman recently said she "didn't recognize" the course she's spent two years working from.

Roughly 3,500 volunteers -- from course marshals to concession workers to the gift shop helpers -- have been trained in their duties. About 1,900 credentialed media members are ready to pounce.

With 35,000 spectators expected each day, traffic is sure to be gummed up, so much so that the Georgia Department of Transportation issued a media alert last week. Signs directing fans looking for parking have lined Interstate 85 as far south as Spaghetti Junction for weeks.

For those going to the event, complimentary parking and shuttle service are available from The Arena at Gwinnett Center each day. Other pay options are available at parking lots across the street from Atlanta Athletic Club and on Medlock Bridge Road.

For full parking information, visit www.pga.com/pgachampionship/2011.

The fact that general parking is in Gwinnett will help drive the tournament's economic impact on the county, Anders said, boosting hotel and restaurant sales. A post-tournament study at last year's PGA site in Wisconsin estimated $50 million in economic impact.

"We anticipate that a number of hotels in Peachtree Corners and Duluth will be sold out," she said, "and increased occupancy probably in the 80 percent range countywide for the weekend."