When the final two golfers putt out this afternoon to conclude the U.S. Amateur Championship, they put the wraps on a three-month showcase of the golf tourism industry in Moore County.
From the USGA’s second annual Senior Women’s Open this past May at Pine Needles to the trophy ceremony at Pinehurst Resort for the U.S. Amateur, we have hosted a tremendous amount of championship golf — for all ages.
In between all that was the two weeks of the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships, bringing several thousand people from around the world to experience the Sandhills and its golf traditions.
And all this during golf’s “slow season.”
Perhaps you’ve volunteered for one — or all — of these events and tracked them carefully. Maybe you’ve only just driven by the courses, seen the banners and wondered what all the fuss was. Either way, the conclusion you must draw is this: For all our attempts to diversify our business climate, it is still the golf industry that powers our economic engine. Golf, in one way or another, is putting a lot of paychecks into bank accounts.
Tournaments and Tourists
The 119th annual U.S. Amateur that concludes today doesn’t boast the big names we’ve seen over three U.S. Opens hosted at Pinehurst, but surely we’ll see a few of these guys back in 2024 for our fourth Open. Not every amateur in this year’s tournament will be a big-time golfer, but every big-time golfer has won or performed well at the Amateur.
Our hosting of the Amateur, along with the U.S. Senior Women’s Open this past May in Southern Pines, further solidified the filial relationship Moore County and the U.S. Golf Association hold. The USGA knows it can count on the courses, the residents and the wider community to host and put on a good championship. The community knows it can count on the USGA to put heads in beds, bodies in booths and set registers to ringing.
Tourists come here for other reasons — regional softball tournaments, equestrian events, business meetings — but they primarily come for golf. It’s no accident that the Moore County Convention and Visitors Bureau uses homeofgolf.com for its website address.
Recently, the Golf Channel produced a 30-
minute documentary on the area it will show later this fall. That’s the kind of publicity only a Saudi royal would otherwise afford.
An Outsized Role
All of this bears noting to prevent ourselves from ever growing complacent or unappreciative of what we have. Once upon a time, golf and retirement living were largely responsible for Moore County’s growth. Retirees attracted by bountiful golf and easy living bought houses, patronized shops and restaurants, and were the main service users.
That’s still true, though to a lesser extent. Today our new residents are more likely to be young families connected in some way to the military. They are, in greater numbers than retirees, buying houses, patronizing shops and restaurants, and requiring more services than ever.
But what hasn’t changed is the outsized role of golf tourism. The 2018 numbers aren’t final yet, but in 2017, Moore County ranked as the 11th largest tourism economy in North Carolina, generating $484 million annually in visitor spending. Only agriculture generated more revenue for the economy.
Golf tourism doesn’t just help hotels, restaurants and the courses themselves. It boosts all businesses, whether directly or through the business of customers who themselves earn money through the industry. For instance, during this week’s Amateur, the USGA gave participants simple keepsake gifts created by Southern Pines’ Heritage Flag Co.
That’s just one example of how local businesses experience the lift golf provides to Moore County. So while economic diversity is important, so too is respecting and fostering that which roots us in this community.