WisBusiness: PGA Championship Nets Record $76 Million for State

By WisBusiness Staff

The 2004 PGA Championship held this August at Whistling Straits near Sheboygan pumped a whopping $76 million into Wisconsin’s economy. According to a report released Monday night, that figure is up $25 million from the previous record – set in Atlanta two years ago – and nearly double the economic impact of 2003 PGA Championship. Better yet, nearly two-thirds of the 2004 spending came from out-of-state visitors, the study showed.

An estimated 320,000 people attended the week-long tournament, up from around 250,000 in Atlanta in 2002, said Barry Deach, PGA Championship Tournament director.

Dennis Winters, vice president and director of research for NorthStar Economics in Madison, said he was not surprised by the dollar figures. NorthStar conducted the study in conjunction with the Wisconsin Section of the PGA. The Wisconsin Tourism Department and the state Commerce Department funded he study.

“We had no preconceived ideas, but we figured the impact might be up because the attendance was up,” Winters said. “This is a big event for and a lot of people wanted to see it first-hand.”

Gov. Jim Doyle, who has bragged about Wisconsin’s links on trade missions abroad, said he has been telling people the Badger State has great golf courses for more than a year. He said many of the people he spoke with in Japan this fall had watched the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on television. The tournament was broadcast to more than 100 countries and territories worldwide.

“This study confirms that Wisconsin supports major championship golf in a big way,” Doyle said.

Jim Holperin, Tourism Department secretary, said that while the PGA Championship’s economic benefits were impressive, it was an even bigger win for Wisconsin’s image.

“Not only did we host the most financially successful PGA Championship ever, we were able to showcase Wisconsin as a world-class golf travel destination,” he said.

Jerry Huffman, a spokesman for the state tourism agency, said Wisconsin has been moving up the list as a top golf destination in recent years.

He said some surveys have ranked it among the top five states nationally and near the top 10 internationally.

“That’s worth salivating about,” Huffman said.

“Those surveys were done before the PGA Championship raised our profile,” he said. “And with the Kohler courses, we can compete with Pinehurst and Pebble Beach.”

In addition to the spending record, the report said the 2004 PGA Championship also set a new record for paid admissions with 94,000.

Many of those were multi-day tickets, Deach said. Thousands of other complimentary tickets were issued to volunteers, media covering the event and VIPs, he added.

According to PGA of America data, the largest economic impact of any previous championship was $50.4 million dollars for the 2002 tournament in Atlanta and $50 million dollars for the 2001 tournament in suburban Minnesota.

“From the governor’s office down to the local officials and volunteers Wisconsin embraced this tournament in unprecedented fashion,” Deach said.

“Wisconsin has reason to be proud,” he said. Not only was it a superb championship, it gave the world a chance to see Wisconsin in a new light.”

The study, which focused on spending by spectators and PGA employees, employed the same methodology as previous economic impact analyses of PGA Championship events.

NorthStar researchers estimated that the 2004 event generated more than $46 million of direct spending by out-of-state spectators; $9.8 million of in-state spending by the PGA; and $2.7 million in sales tax revenue.

Using a formula they described as “conservative,” researchers estimated the total economic contribution of the event to have been $76,358,381. For a full explanation of study methodology, visit http://agency.travelwisconsin.com/Research/PGA_impact.pdf

With nearly 500 courses statewide, Wisconsin ranks among the nation’s leaders in number of courses, number of public courses and ratio of courses to players.

Perhaps the best known of Wisconsin’s golf facilities is the American Club complex, which includes Whistling Straits (the Straits Course and the Irish Course) and Blackwolf Run (the River and Meadow courses.)

The American Club has been ranked second among the country’s top 75 golf resorts by Golf magazine.

For information on golfing opportunities and golf tournaments in Wisconsin, including the 2004 Wisconsin Directory of Golf Courses, the public can visit travelwisconsin.com or call or call the Department of Tourism’s 24-hour, live operator, toll-free number at 1-800-432-TRIP/8747.

Free travel information can also be found at Wisconsin Travel Information Centers, located in select state-border cities.