Golf in Wisconsin: $2.4 billion impact

Phil Mickelson (left) and Dustin Johnson make their way to the 17th hole as fans try to get an autographs during a practice round for the PGA Championship.


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It’s no surprise that major tournaments, such as the PGA Championship, deliver an economic boost to the communities they visit.

But everyday golf is a year-round catalyst for jobs and consumer spending – and that’s the message PGA executives delivered with media attention focused on Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, site of the season’s final major.

The total economic impact of golf in the state is $2.4 billion – with more than 38,000 jobs and $771.5 million in wages attributable to the industry, according to a just-released independent study.

PGA chief executive Joe Steranka unveiled the findings of Wisconsin’s Golf Economy Report, which was commissioned by Golf 20/20, an industry coalition, for the state’s various golf constituents. SRI International prepared the report, which is based on 2008 data.

“Golf is more than just an enjoyable pastime for thousands in Wisconsin,” Steranka said. “It is a billion-dollar industry that serves as a major contributor and driver of jobs, wage income and tourism.”

The study also documented that golf in Wisconsin raised more than $46 million for various charities.

The PGA has been on the forefront of an industry-wide effort to better educate national and local government leaders of golf’s economic and societal contributions. The campaign is aimed to debunk persistent stereotypes that golf is nothing more than an elitist activity and to recast it as an important industry comprising mostly small businesses.

The study evaluated the direct – and indirect – economic impact of golf’s various industries, including facility operations, capital investments, golfer supplies, tournaments and associations; real estate; and hospitality and tourism.

Among the findings:

• Golf facility operations generate total impact of $1.2 billion; 20,635 jobs and $396.1 million in wages.

• Golf course capital investments account for $30.9 million; 278 jobs and $9.7 million in wages.

• Golf supplies account for a total of $122.1 million; 1,506 jobs and $37.5 million in wages.

• Tournaments and associations generate total impact of $19.4 million; 268 jobs and $6.8 million in wages.

• Real estate accounts for $109.9 million; 987 jobs and $34.7 million in wages.

• Hospitality and tourism generate $902.8 million; 14,757 jobs and $286.6 million in wages.

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