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Businesses Spend the Green to Watch the Greens in Pinehurst

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PINEHURST — If you take away the mystique of the course, the history of the game and the best players in the world, theU.S. Openis still a big deal.

Just ask some of the businesses spending large amounts of money to be there.

The U.S. Open not only attracts the biggest names in golf but also the biggest names in business.

There are 48 corporate sponsors with tents at the corporate village in Pinehurst, including Raleigh-basedCP&L.

But it is hardly tent-style quarters. Some of the fancier units have full-length bars, huge fountains and dozens of exotic plants.

It is all worth it to the companies spending the money for the tents. The basic unit starts at $120,000.

"We are entertaining some of our customers here. We're building relationships, for example, with those customers who are working with us now as well as future customers," said CP&L spokesperson Nancy Temple.

One person who got to enjoy the CP&L tent was the superintendent of Lee County Schools, a big CP&L customer.

"It makes me feel special, but it also lets me know that we have a utility company that does it first class. They think well of their customers, and they look after their customers," said Robert Logan, Superintendent of Lee County Schools.

In the tents, people can even find the non-executives who get free passes from their bosses to attend the Open, and enjoy the hospitality tent, like the employees fromEricssonin Virginia.

"We have several employees in Lynchburg and RTP, but we were lucky. About three or four of us in each department were allowed to go," said fan Alan Aultice.

CP&L gave out 70 pairs of tickets in a raffle for its employees. CP&L also says that its tent is not paid for with revenue from customer utility bills.