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Greenbrier Classic draws vacationing families to W.Va. hills

Douglas Imbrogno
The Linton and Gutierrez families, both from the Washington, D.C., area, have used the Greenbrier Classic as a chance to vacation in West Virginia for each of the last four years.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Paul and Ava Linton and their two children lounged in the grass at the Greenbrier Classic Saturday afternoon.The family had taken a break from watching golf to have lunch with some family friends who they were staying with while on vacation from the Washington, D.C., area. While the adults watched the golf, the children had their own agendas for their vacation time -- things like playing tennis and swimming in the pool."When they give us a break, we come out and watch the golf," Paul Linton said.The Lintons, both management consultants from Bethesda, Md., are one of the many families spending vacation time visiting West Virginia during the Greenbrier Classic.They've come to the Classic for each of its four years and have stayed with their friends, Andrew and Franca Gutierrez of Arlington, Va.The Gutierrez family has a home on Van Buren Ridge in White Sulphur Springs.The week of the Greenbrier Classic is a popular time for vacationing in Greenbrier County."The summertime is really our peak tourist season," Kara Dense, executive director of the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said. "It's a great time for people to get together."
The Linton and Gutierrez families don't limit their time to the golf tournament.They also have been canoeing and visited White Oak Farm, a pick-your-own blueberry farm in nearby Renick."We usually get several buckets full," Andrew Gutierrez said.The Greenbrier Classic packs all the hotel rooms in the area, but visitors also camp and rent homes, Dense said."We have lots of great small towns -- White Sulphur has great shopping and dining as well as Lewisburg and that's what folks are closest to," Dense said. "We try to get them out into all of the Greenbrier Valley."According to a study of the tournament's first year by Greenbrier Hotel officials, the PGA Tournament brings in around $110 million to the hotel and surrounding area, Dense said."Tourism is a great economic driver," Dense said. "We're a great getaway location from Charleston, Roanoke, Richmond. Washington, D.C., is a great market for us.
"We just feel like we've got a lot to offer of people to keep them busy for a weekend, a long weekend, or even a week," she said. "We are a true getaway destination."Reach Lori Kersey at or 304-348-1240.
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