By Ronnie Miles, NGCOA Director of Advocacy
Golf tourism. What does that mean? How is it measured? It is generally accepted that this individual or group would play at least one round of golf and one overnight stay away from their residence. According to the National Golf Foundation, in 2017, there were in total 8.2 million golfers who fit this profile. With golf’s growth since the pandemic, this number is now over 8.6 million. With an average spend of $850 per trip, the total income and tax revenues communities receive from this golf population segment is substantial. So how can you capture a share of this market?
If you are lucky enough to be in a community selected to host a PGA or LPGA Tour event, you know the benefits to the local economy these events provide – benefits not only to the local charitable contributions the visitors make, but the dining, lodging and other entertainment experiences they enjoy during their trip. These events can represent millions of dollars to these communities. While there are 112 PGA, LPGA, and Champion Tour events, there are many lower-ranking PGA tours occurring across the country. Securing one of these events requires a sizable investment of dollars and human resources. But many communities have found another sector of the golf community that has provided a meaningful impact on tourism: amateurs.
Amateurs make up the largest segment of the golf community. These are the people who travel to attend PGA and LPGA Tour events. Does your community host PGA Pro-Amateur events? This is a great way to bring regional golf professionals and amateurs together for one- to two-day events. These events are generally low-key markets within the PGA community. However, we are seeing an increase in regional and national amateur events. The upside of these events is that their market is more significant, and players generally travel with a companion (spouse or friend).
Amateur tournaments mean big bucks for the local economy. Hotels, private rental properties, restaurants, convenience stores, retail shops, entertainment centers and movie theaters also see huge boosts from these events.
The AmateurGolf.com Tour presented by Callaway hosts competitive amateur golf events at excellent courses across the country. These events have generated millions of dollars for the local communities hosting them. They range from college golf events to father-son. Their Major Golf series targets the country's top amateur players.
Some of the most popular amateur events are structured to reach all levels of golfers. Perhaps the most well-known amateur golf event is the World Amateur Golf Championship (WAGC) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Golf Tourism Solutions hosts this annual event. This international event attracts over 3,000 golfers – many traveling with a companion. Over 2,200 room nights were reserved for housing the golfers and guests over the five-day event. Based on the economic impact report published by the Grant Center for Real Estate and Economic Development from Coastal Carolina University, the event had a total financial impact of $14.3 million. In addition, state and local tax revenue totaled over $245,000.
Obviously, creating an event such as the WAGC requires resources most communities do not possess. But creating similar, smaller amateur events can be achieved when the local golf courses and destination marketing organizations work together. If your team is interested in creating a unique amateur golf event that would attract golfers who love to travel, and you need help, let us know.
To learn more, please contact Ronnie Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org.