Caretakers Of Golf (2 Of 8 In A Series) – Tourism

By Mark Shesky

Golf in Minnesota – A Great Story
Known as a top U.S. golf destination, Minnesota offers 500+ courses characterized by beautiful natural settings, excellent conditions and affordability. The overall “Quality” of golf in Minnesota cannot be matched. The listing of nationally recognized golf courses included in the Minnesota golf landscape constitutes a hall of fame of national and regional “Award-Winning” courses from such publications as Golf Digest, Golf Week, Golf News, Business Week, Sports Illustrated, National Golf Course Owners Association, Midwest Golf Course Owners Association etc. etc. – hundreds of awards.

From metro area layouts to resort links, there’s a wide selection of courses for an easygoing round or a challenging game that tests your skills. “Value” is a major attribute of golf in Minnesota with green fees lower than other golf hotbeds around North America – almost always short of $100 and averaging $30-$50 for fantastic golfing experiences. Many facilities offer great Stay & Play packages.

Why is Golf So Great in Minnesota?
Our state leads the nation in golfers per capita; Hibbing is home to a golfer who consistently plays more rounds and posts more scores than any other golfer in the U.S.; and Minnesota is the only state to have hosted all 13 USGA national championships plus the Walker Cup, Curtis Cup, and men’s and women’s U.S. State Team championships. Minnesota will host the 2016 Ryder Cup also.

For 2012, Tee Times Press is running a series of articles focusing on the many organizations, both public and private, that support the growth of golf in Minnesota. The organizations that will be profiled in 2012 include Explore Minnesota Tourism, Explore MN Golf Alliance, MN Woman’s Golf Association, The 1st Tee, Fairways Foundation and others – all are Allied Partners of the Minnesota Golf Association.

The above organizations are part of a small band of golf aficionados that are dedicated to promoting and preserving amateur golf in the state of Minnesota. This small band operates in conjunction with their allied partners in supporting the organized functions of golf leading to the growth of the game as a sport along with some very positive economic impact for the State of Minnesota. The lead organization, a non-profit corporation, is the Minnesota Golf Association (“MGA”). In close partnership in leadership with the MGA are Explore Minnesota Tourism (“EMT”) and the Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance (“EMGA”).

Golf – Not Just a Game, a Benefit to the State’s Economy
With over 10,000 lakes and approximately 500 golf courses, tourism and recreation thrive in Minnesota. Golf is a key driver of Minnesota’s tourism and recreation industries. While Minnesota’s quality of golf seems to defy conventional wisdom, quantifying what golf means to Minnesota is clearer now, thanks to a recently published study (“Golf 20/20-A Vision of the Future” by SRI International) on the economic impact of the golf business to the Minnesota economy. The total calculation of inflows generated by all tourism to Minnesota is approximately $11.3 Billion. When the economic impact of golf-related activities is considered (core industries such as golf facility operations, construction, capital investment, plus enabled industries like real estate and hospitality/tourism) Minnesota’s golf industry generates approximately $2.4 – $3.0 billion in direct, indirect and induced economic output, $776.7 million of wage income and 34,653 jobs.

While the study points out how broadly golf impacts Minnesota’s economy, it also highlights the importance that every golf course plays in local communities and that golf is a major part of the tourism equation. Such statistics validate the importance of keeping the game flourishing. This is where the EMT and EMGA along with the Minnesota Golf Association and its allied associations come in.

Marketing Minnesota as a Destination – Explore Minnesota Tourism (EMT)
“Explore Minnesota Tourism is a unique public/private agency that serves as a catalyst for growing tourism in Minnesota. It works in close partnership with the tourism industry itself. With increased industry input and support, we have repositioned our efforts, created new marketing partnerships and discovered new ways to keep the tourism industry thriving for many years to come.”
…….John F. Edman, Director, Explore Minnesota Tourism

EMT’s Purpose
Explore Minnesota Tourism was once a part of the state’s Depart of Economic Development; Minnesota Tourism is now its own State Agency. The mission of Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state’s tourism promotion office, is to promote the state’s public and private assets and to facilitate travel to and within the state of Minnesota, including golf. The goal is to generate both revenue and jobs across the state. A key sector of Minnesota’s economy, tourism in the state is an $11.3 billion industry, supporting more than 245,000 leisure and hospitality jobs, which represents 11 percent of private-sector employment. In addition, it generates almost $700+ million in state sales tax revenues, which is 16 percent of Minnesota’s sales tax revenues. The economic impacts of travel and tourism are felt in communities in every part of the state, both urban and rural.

Explore Minnesota Tourism works closely with tourism businesses and promotional organizations across the state to attract travelers to Minnesota communities. For every $1 invested in state tourism marketing $53 in gross sales is generated. Tourism marketing activities result in dollars spent at Minnesota businesses, tax revenues generated for the state and jobs.

EMT’s Plate is Very Full – Golf is a Priority
EMT is faced with promoting a mind boggling number of featured activities: e.g. golf, biking, snow sports, wacky winter festivals, indoor waterparks, music, art & theater, winter travel ideas, parks and forests, trails, fishing and hunting, wildlife and birding, art museums, musical groups, theater, dance, theme parks, waterparks, zoos, mines, caves, boats, trains and trolleys, museums and sites exploring history, science and nature plus shopping, antiques, boutiques, and major shopping centers like the Mall of America.

With all those activities, and a markedly decreasing state budget allocation, it only makes sense that a private sector group has stepped forward to bolster the promotion of Minnesota’s great golf. This group is the Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance (EMGA) Northwest Region

Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance (EMGA)
Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance is a golf industry group (leading course/resort owners and managers) that pools resources to promote Minnesota as a golf tourism destination. The membership is open to Minnesota organizations including daily fee and municipal golf facilities, resorts, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, tourism-oriented and travel-related organizations, hotels etc. Activities include website, social media and blog, participation in out-of-state golf shows, printed golf guide and many components of e-commerce. Public Relations and editorial also play major roles in the organization’s successes to include:

Local/Regional/National Media Segments
Influence Writers to Cover EMGA Courses
Feature Focus Articles in Golf Magazines
Networking with the Tourism Center at U of M
Networking and Support-Governor’s Explore MN Tourism Council

Membership is not meant to replace individual course/resort marketing plans but rather serve as a solid component of each course’s marketing strategy. The marketing value for member courses and resorts is in multi-thousands of dollars.

“Active” participation in membership gives the course/resort the BEST chance of attracting the out-of-town golfer. The course/resort that provides the most input (participation) will get the best return-on-investment.

Membership for courses and resorts in EMGA has unmatched marketing benefits. Members have marketing options in the form of a menu of À la carte marketing opportunities. The programs, activities and promotions of EMGA significantly bolster the potential of Minnesota, and that specific property, in successfully attracting visiting golfers/tourists.

The roster of EMGA courses, and the overall availability of golf across Minnesota, delivers excellent “Geographical Disbursement” throughout the state. All of the EMGA courses are open to the public. The “Variety” of EMGA courses allow golfers to opt for their favorite style – links, deep woods, breathtaking river and lake views all woven into Mother Nature’s natural beauty. Choose from family friendly par-3 and executive courses to championship courses and former pro tour sites – Minnesota has it all!

Promoting the Great Story
Golf in Minnesota is a great story. As a top U.S. golf destination, Minnesota offers 500+ courses characterized by beautiful natural settings, excellent conditions and affordability. The overall “Quality” and “Value” of golf in Minnesota cannot be matched. The small band of golf aficionados, including Explore Minnesota Tourism, Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance, Minnesota Golf Association and others, promote and preserve amateur golf in our state. This small band operates to supporting the organized functions of golf leading to the growth of the game as a sport along with some very positive economic impact for the State of Minnesota.

Invite an out-of-state friend or associate to sample the quality, variety and value of golf in Minnesota. Visit the websites of Minnesota golf aficionados and show your appreciation of their work in promoting Minnesota.


Braemar Golf Course #12

The Legends #18 Photo Courtesy of Peter Wong Photography

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