When I joined Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity at Winthrop University in Rock Hill (SC), the requirements were to maintain at least a 2.0 grade point ratio, to be able to “shag” dance to Beach Music, and to play a respectable game of golf. While far from making the Dean’s list, I did manage to maintain the grades and become a better than average dancer. However, my golf game has always been sorely lacking. I’m not sure I could have imagined when I was in college how much the game of golf would impact my life.
While I do not play much myself, many of my friends and business associates do. As a matter of fact, all of the civic groups I have ever been a member of are reliant on golf tournaments as a source of revenue. Whether it’s the Police DARE tournament, Chamber of Commerce Captain’s Choice event in October, or a Rotary outing, our charities and service organizations depend on golf as an annual event to raise funds for their organization.
Recreational sports are extremely important not only to the fabric of a community but to business itself. When our Economic Development Corporation is meeting with site planners for new corporations or larger businesses, our sports market and recreational resources are prominent in their decision making. NC DOC Secretary Crisco recently pointed out to our Lake Norman business leaders how important recreation is to our economic development and local commerce.
Visit Lake Norman, the travel and tourism development authority for our North Mecklenburg communities generated a net profit of $48.3 million dollars in direct tourism spending between July 2009 and June 2010 and recruited $11.9 in visitor’s spending. For every $1 invested in Visit Lake Norman, $24.26 went into the local economy. It’s called putting heads in beds and perhaps few organizations do it better.
This past week, PGA America announced that the Quail Hollow Club of Charlotte will serve as the host of the 99th PGA Championship in August 2017. The finest golfers in the world will participate at an international event held in our backyard – Charlotte. To put this in some perspective, 50,000 visitors will attend for a week at a sports event seen in living rooms throughout 200 different countries. While they are here, these guests will likely travel to other statewide attractions such as the Outer Banks, Asheville, Charleston as well as visiting within our communities right here at the lake. We are so fortunate to live in a region of the country with its proximity to the mountains and coasts. Nestled on the banks of Lake Norman, we have the finest parks and recreational amenities in either of the Carolinas.
The PGA, in making Charlotte the destination for its Championship, comes on the heels of the opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in May. Indeed, we are an area of the country that is passionate about sports! We love our football, take pride in our basketball, and are crazy about our NASCAR drivers. We are both spectators and players. We are a region that simply loves the thrill of competition. Ours is a community that stretches from the Knights Stadium in Fort Mill to the banks of Lake Norman. A community that is bound together for the love of the game.
The PGA Championship will be played here in 2017. But in a real sense, that Champion has been determined. It’s everyone that’s ever called the Charlotte region home and on an international stage Charlotte will wear her crown.
W.E. “Bill” Russell, CCE IOM Bill Russell is the president and chief executive officer of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce with approximately 1,100 business members in the Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, and greater Lake Norman region.