Bob Gillespie



Golf windfall: South Carolina, Charleston cash in with PGA 2012

Posted 8/5/2012 8:02:00 AM

If you’ve been eagerly anticipating next week’s 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, you know this is a big deal – the first men’s major golf championship in South Carolina’s history. But the payoff will be more than historic and emotional; it’ll also bring a huge infusion economically to the state and the host city.

That’s the judgment of the College of Charleston’s School of Business, which conducted an economic impact study of the Aug. 6-12 tournament, as well as its long-term effects. Here’s what researchers discovered:

The Charleston region is expected to receive an economic impact boost of $92.2 million. That, in large part, will be the result of the sales of 209,400 tickets to the event – not to mention national and international media coverage of both the golf tournament, Kiawah Island and the city itself.

Of those tickets, a majority – an estimated 58.5 percent – have been purchased by non-locals (instate and out of state) and will generate more than 50,000 visitors from out of town. Good news for hotels, restaurants … and other golf courses in the area, of course.

As for local non-tourism businesses, the PGA Championship will generate $25.7 million in labor income and support more than 830 jobs, according to the school’s study.

The National Golf Foundation also recently reported on the impact of the “golf economy” in South Carolina. That figure – which doesn’t have a PGA to draw upon other years – is a staggering $2.7 billion per year.

Total wage income from golf in South Carolina is $834 million each year, supporting about 34,000 jobs. Golf also generates $276 million per year in federal, state and local taxes, while greens fees and club membership dues amount to $12.9 million per year in tax revenue.

Golf also is a huge portion of South Carolina’s tourism business, the state’s largest “industry.” According to College of Charleston figures, in 2007 more than 785,000 trips were made to the state where at least one round of golf was included. Golf trips that year generated $1.2 million in visitor expenditures.

The study listed 351 golf facilities, with 71 percent accessible to the public. Little wonder, even before the PGA Championship and after it’s gone, golf tourism is huge in South Carolina. Enjoy the 2012 PGA – but that’s only part of the story.