AT&T National at Aronimink helps locals earn extra cash

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Kishan Patel of Media (left), earning $7.50 an hour for college expenses, sells lemonade at Aronimink's 11th tee with Tom Stevens of Philadelphia.

The arrival of the AT&T National as the Philadelphia area's first PGA event since 2002 has brought another rare appearance to the environs of Aronimink Golf Club: new jobs, and lots of them.

From young girls staffing a card-table lemonade stand to a retiree waving cars into a backyard parking lot, the Newtown club is ground zero for a temporary respite from the nation's economic doldrums and high unemployment.

Curtis Brown, laid off from a job disinfecting rooms infected with HIV and the H1N1 virus at Albert Einstein Medical Center, found $12.50 an hour to guard a parking lot in sweltering heat well worth getting a ride from his girlfriend to pull a 12-hour shift.

He is from West Philadelphia and had driven past Aronimink only once before a newspaper ad led him into duty that was easy compared with his two-pairs-of-gloves hospital cleanups.

"Even the neighborhood's nice," said Brown, 34, outside a tent in which he occasionally got a little shade, "and you meet a lot of nice people."

With up to 160,000 fans expected, Aronimink has brought in about 100 temporary workers and volunteers for the week of the tournament, club president David Boucher said.

That's in addition to the scores of concessionaires hired by the Tiger Woods Foundation, the tournament's charity beneficiary, which also brought in 1,800 volunteers after requesting help online.

"The foundation put that up on the website, and it was full two days later, with 200 on the waiting list," Boucher said.

A few yards from the club's lush fairways, Villanova University student Kishan Patel, 21, of Media, found a sweet way to round out the stipend from his part-time internship, selling lemonade near the 11th tee.

After he spent weeks looking for side work, a Craigslist posting led Patel to the $7.50-an-hour job, plus tips, which will go toward books and other expenses in his junior year studying health-care administration. He had never watched a golf tournament before.

"This is a good experience," Patel said, looking down a long fairway as Wednesday's pro-am golf foursomes ambled past. "I've been to other sporting events, but I wasn't a big golf fan before."

Not every attempt to turn a buck from the influx of golfers and spectators is affiliated with Aronimink or the AT&T National. A chip shot away from the club, Cecilia and Bridget Murphy, ages 6 and 3, made $31 in a few hours selling lemonade and water in their front yard and turning cartwheels in idle time between customers.

"We were just going to sell water, but they insisted on the lemonade," said their mother, Andi. "Most people gave more than the 50-cent price."

Around a corner, Bob Cook, who is retired, and his son Kevin, 17, were asking $20 a car to park in their 11/2-acre lot, which adjoins Aronimink's grounds. They used flags to catch the attention of drivers.

"For me, it's either going down the Shore and trying to get a job or this," said Kevin Cook, a senior at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor.

Although economists are floundering with their predictions of when the hard times will cease, the region will see similar midsummer opportunities repeatedly over the next few years. The 2011 return of the AT&T National to Aronimink is scheduled to be followed by the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, and PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem told reporters Wednesday that Philadelphia could become a regular tour stop.

"This is a market we'd like to play in longer-term," Finchem said.


Contact staff writer Derrick Nunnally at 610-313-8212 or dnunnally@phillynews.com.