N.C. Golf Industry Drives $5.3 Billion in Economic Benefit

A new study confirms the golf industry's role as a major economic driver in North Carolina, contributing a $5.3 billion annual economic benefit to the state. With more than 550 courses, North Carolina golf provides the basis for close to 70,000 jobs and $1.7 billion in wage income alone.

Governor Beverly Purdue proclaimed May 13 as North Carolina Golf Day, "in appreciation of the golf industry's contribution to our state."

The game derives direct revenues of $2.6 billion, comparable to other key industries such as agricultural crops ($2.5 billion), science, research and development services ($2.9 billion) and electronic and semiconductor components manufacturing ($2.9 billion).

These findings and more result from an intensive study commissioned by the North Carolina Alliance for Golf and Golf 20/20, a national collaboration of golf-industry partners.

"We have always known golf plays a key role in the environmental and social health of our state. With this study, we now have hard numbers to substantiate our equally long-held belief that golf is a major economic driver as well," says Paul Jett, president of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association, which initiated the study.

Jett is certified golf course superintendent and two-time U.S. Open Championship host at the No. 2 course at Pinehurst Resort, the best-known of 30 golf resort destinations in North Carolina.

"The continuing health of the golf industry has a direct bearing on the future economic health of the state," he added. "In addition to being a significant employer, golf is a major source of tourism and provides a substantial tax base for the state and many communities. It's more than a game."

Performed by SRI International, the study for the year 2007, mirrors methodology used in other regions of the country and in a national study presented to legislators in Washington, D.C. in 2008. National golf-industry leaders were back in the nation's capital on May 13 reiterating the message that golf is a $76 billion industry nationwide.

Chuck Borman, Carolinas GCSA executive director and North Carolina Alliance for Golf leader, was part of a group that presented the study to the Secretary of Commerce Keith Crisco in Raleigh. Borman said the industry's collaboration behind the study was further illustration of an industry that was working "to be part of the solution."

"This study is not just a matter of coming up with a number. It helps document information that can assist policy makers in making sound decisions that have ramifications beyond golf," he said. "The golf industry is proud of what it brings to North Carolina, economically, environmentally and socially. And we're working to do better still."

Borman cited the success of the recent Rounds4Research online golf auction where more than 300 donated golf rounds were sold, raising more than $55,000 in new funding for turfgrass research at North Carolina State University and Clemson University in S.C.

He also pointed to a new program of best management practices to assist golf course superintendents in North Carolina improve water conservation. "These are all initiatives that golf has stepped forward on, without any prompting, and said 'Let's get this taken care of.'"

The North Carolina Alliance for Golf includes the Carolinas GCSA, Carolinas Golf Association, Carolinas PGA Section, North Carolina Golf Course Owners Association, Turfgrass Council of North Carolina, North Carolina Golf Marketing Alliance and the Carolinas Chapter of the Club Managers Association of America.