BY ROGER WARREN and JIM NEWSOME
This summer, Charleston is hosting the state’s first major sporting event, the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. And while most of the immediate impact will be felt here locally as we play host to nearly 50,000 visitors during the week of Aug. 6, the long-term benefits of the tournament will be enjoyed throughout the state and for many years to come.
South Carolina is well-known as a premier golf destination, supports a $2.7 billion golf industry annually and is home to some of the best new talent on the Tour today. The fact that 94 years of tournament play has finally led the PGA here is a testament that the tide is turning for our state.
We have a world-renowned host site, the Ocean Course, excellent statewide corporate support and a large fan base, and we also know a thing or two about the business of hospitality. The tournament is only four months away, and the 2012 PGA Championship is on track to achieve the quickest sellout in PGA history because of an entirely new accelerated business model created in South Carolina for this event.
Charleston has recently been named the top tourism destination in the country. South Carolina has surpassed Michigan for the first time as the No. 1 automobile exporter in the U.S., while also being the No. 1 tire exporter. It is no wonder that 2012 is turning into a breakout year for our state.
More of the world’s top brands are finding a home here. Amazon, Boeing, TD Bank, Bridgestone and Continental Tire — to name few — have recently announced expansions throughout the state. This shows the world is realizing what we’ve known all along about South Carolina: that we are innovative, industrious and impressive.
The 2012 PGA Championship will bring together the biggest names in the sport — Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson — competing alongside South Carolina golfers Bill Haas, Dustin Johnson and Lucas Glover for the opportunity to be called a major champion.
The College of Charleston’s School of Business estimates that the PGA Championship will have a $193 million economic impact.
In addition, consider the priceless exposure South Carolina will receive from more than 154 hours of network coverage broadcast to more than 570 million households in nearly 200 countries.
The 2012 PGA Championship gives us a tremendous platform to showcase our state to companies and executives unfamiliar with South Carolina. Visitors from 44 states will be attending the tournament and nearly 40 percent of corporate hospitality sales related to the tournament have come from outside of the state.
Sales to South Carolina businesses are equally impressive, with companies taking advantage of this rare opportunity to host marquee clients from around the world. Plus, with the PGA comes their national corporate sponsors — coveted companies such as AMEX, Mercedes-Benz and RBC, among others.
Every detail is being addressed with the guest experience in mind: from how 30,000 people will travel to the course, to new cell phone apps to keep up with the action. For the first time, all corporate hospitality suites are uniquely positioned along both the ocean and the course for premium viewing while entertaining and networking. One would expect no less from a world-class resort at what is undeniably one of the best golf courses in the country. This is Southern hospitality at its best.
If you have tickets, we look forward to seeing you on Kiawah Aug. 6-12. For those who don’t, there are a few tickets still available for the early days of the tournament — Monday through Thursday.
Whether you attend with friends, family or clients, we hope you take full advantage of what the tournament has to offer and help us continue to show the world that South Carolina is not only a great place to visit and enjoy golf, but also a great place to do business.
Roger Warren is the 2012 PGA Championship general chairman and president of Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Jim Newsome is president and CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority and serves on the Champions Committee for the 2012 PGA Championship.