PGA Championship’s economic impact

17th Hole

Even as workers dismantle bleachers, break down hospitality trailers and disassemble broadcast booths, the Charleston community is already feeling an uptick of the economic impact of the PGA Championship.

The event produced close to $75 million worth of media exposure worldwide that included more than 150 hours of television coverage seen in 580 million households worldwide.  Since the Championship, the resort has seen a substantial increase in the number of inquiries from golf groups. Group leaders are no longer just kicking the tires.  After seeing Kiawah on TV, they’re anxious to bring their groups and play it themselves.

During the Championship, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) shared a suite with the Charleston Area CVB to entertain 14 companies looking to expand, consolidate or relocate.  Half of those firms were from outside North America.  According to David Ginn, President and CEO of CRDA, “You can’t do that with just any event; it has to be a world-class event and this is.”

Ginn explained the positive economic impact that the Ryder Cup and Senior PGA Championship had on the region when they were hosted at Kiawah and why CRDA hosted potential investors at the PGA Championship, “Historically, if you look broadly at guests who came to those two major events, half of them became investors here in our market.”

Gov. Nikki Haley said the event was a chance to bring CEOs to town and show them how a community can support a business venture – including events as large as a major sporting event.  “This is where we bring CEOs to see that this is who we are,” Haley said.  “When you come to South Carolina, you are going to be a big fish in a small pond and the people of South Carolina will wrap their arms around you.”

Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Bobby Harrell met with business leaders while enjoying the tournament.  He is confident that the region will see an expansion of business.  “I have watched the economic development folks take full advantage of this,” he said.  “I think we are going to see a positive increase for the next decade as a result of the experience of this week.”

Roger Warren, president of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, and a large group of supporters are working to bring another major to the state — and sooner rather than later.

It took 21 years and plenty of tweaks for the PGA Championship to play The Ocean Course after the famed Ryder Cup matches here in 1991. Warren believes the course’s reputation and how it performed for a national audience will draw more of golf’s biggest tournaments, although he understands that’s not fully up to him.

The pros, PGA of America leaders, fans and media will all weigh in during the next few weeks on how things went. “If the consensus opinion is that it was a great experience, then I would expect we’d get more championships,” he said.

“We’re very happy and very appreciative of the support from everyone in the community and the state and the county who have supported the event,’ said Kerry Haigh, managing director of championships for the PGA of America.

Warren said the resort has asked the United States Golf Association to look at its facilities for tournaments, including a U.S. Open. In 2009, the USGA held its U.S. Mid-Amateur at a course just off the island’s main gate, Cassique at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The USGA “knows who we are,” Warren said.

Warren felt this past week should help Kiawah Island’s case. “It just raises the esteem of the golf course,” he said. “The goal is to see how the golf course is, and how well we were able to do as a community. I think that just bodes well for the future.”