This is not a $5 Nassau. In this case, the dollars reach into the billions.
Members of the state’s golf community will play politics next week in an effort to emphasize what they believe is the significant — and underappreciated — economic impact the game and its related industries have on Tennessee.
Tuesday will be “Tennessee Golf Day” and will feature a series of interactive and informative events at the state capitol. The primary focus, though, will be to unveil a report — commissioned as part of a nationwide initiative — that stresses the value of the game on the economy.
“We really just wanted to get in front of state officials on the 9th because I don’t think people realize the impact golf has throughout the state and about some of the good deeds we do and the value it brings to the communities, the health aspects,” Jeff Abbot, executive director of the Tennessee PGA said.
Some of the key numbers (based on 2011 data) in the study conducted by the Tennessee Golf Alliance and Golf 20/20 are:
• Golf has an annual direct economic impact of $960.5 million on Tennessee.
• That number grows to $1.9 billion when ancillary spending associated with the game (i.e. hotel rooms, meals, etc.) is included.
• Golf supports 22,533 jobs across the state, more than half of which (13,800) are at golf facilities.
• Those jobs account for $564.1 million in annual wages.
• Additionally, charitable giving associated with golf was $36.7 million in 2011.
“Obviously we’re not the biggest market when you compare us to Florida or Southern California or Arizona,” Abbot said. “But for a state of our size we were really pleased with the numbers that came back. We also have several golf manufacturing industries here in Tennessee that maybe some state officials aren’t aware of.
“For a state of our size we enjoy a bigger impact than we initially anticipated.”
To make their point, Abbot and other members of the golf industry will attend breakfast meetings with select members of the state legislature. During the morning, a putting contest between state House and Senate members will take place on the first floor of the Capital and free golf lessons with PGA professionals will be available for state employees and anyone else in the area on the Capitol Plaza from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Similar, albeit smaller, events will be held throughout the year in Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga and the Tro-Cities in connection with golf events in those areas.
“Part of our goal here is just to establish contact with those city and state officials so in the event of any crisis down the road they understand the impact that golf courses are having on their communities,” Abbot said.
In all, Tennessee has 297 golf courses and 64 golf communities (residential areas built in connection to a course).
“I think we’re where we need to be,” Abbot said. “… Tennessee is well-built with great golf courses throughout the state. So I don’t think we’ll see much influx of new courses. We’re just trying to get people excited to get back out to the courses.”
Play Golf America was created in 2004 to help grow the game through free and affordable golf programs hosted by PGA professionals nationwide and tailored to players of all ages and skill levels. Some of the initiative currently under its umbrella and available in Middle Tennesse include:
• Get Golf Ready: A series of five lessons that concentrate on the basic skills, rules and etiquette of the game. Available year-round, most facilities offer the program for $99.
• Tee it Forward: Jointly endorsed by The PGA of America and the United States Golf Association, players use alternate tee boxes based on their skill level in order to speed the pace of play, allow for shorter approach shots and add to the overall enjoyment of the experience. June 22-23 has been designated as Tee It Forward Weekend.
• Welcome to Golf Month: May is the perfect time to give golf a try. Professionals and facilities will offer programs and clinics that encourage mutli-player involvement and interaction.
• Family Golf Month (July): Programs include: Get Golf Ready clinics for families, Kids Play Free and the PGA Family Course, in which all family members tee off from the same spot.
• Take Your Daughter to the Course Week (July 8-14): The PGA of America partners with the National Golf Course Owners Association to promote overall participation in golf, especially among youth, who will receive free green frees when accompanied by an adult. Many facilities also will offer clinics.
More information and registration options for these and other programs are available at playgolfamerica.com.