The American Junior Golf Association’s inaugural championship tournament in Greenwood brought a quarter-million dollars worth of economic impact to the region, and organizers are hopeful the event will continue to thrive for years to come.
“It was a huge success,” Visit Greenwood SC executive director Kelly McWhorter told the County Council on Tuesday.
The Stoney Point completion, July 29 through Aug. 1, drew a field of 78 boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 19 from a dozen states and seven countries, accounting for more than 350 room nights at area hotels.
“And that’s during a season that we really need to fill up our properties, so we’re excited about those statistics,” McWhorter said. Combined, the tournament’s overall economic impact was just more than $250,000, with visitors spending $97,499.
“I was particularly impressed with American Junior Golf because as every participant registered, they asked very detailed questions” including where they were staying and travel distance to help capture data that would give officials an idea of the tournament’s consumer spending power.
Visit Greenwood SC sales director, Lindsay Burns, said marketing and advertising around the contest is different from traditional events in the region, such as its festivals or Lights on the Lake.
“With events that we recruit, it’s mostly participants we’re advertising and promoting to. So while this event was going on in Greenwood, AJGA had six other events going on throughout the country at the same time, so it then becomes our job to give them information to recruit those players to come here versus another tournament in the Southeast or beyond,” Burns said.
Burns said the event might be attached to a local nonprofit in future years in an effort to generate upfront investment that return even more contributions back into the community.
In 2018, the County Council agreed to spend $15,000 in hospitality tax funds to help with recruitment and promotion of the Greenwood AJGA stop, and they extended that commitment Tuesday for 2020’s tournament.
AJGA alumni currently on the PGA Tour include Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Tiger Woods.
Several successful LPGA golfers have also climbed up through the AJGA ranks, including Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel and Wendy Ward.
“I think we use our hospitality tax well in funding a lot of events that otherwise may not happen if we were not partners. I like voting for something like this because it puts heads on beds, which helps our hotel and motel community, it puts people in restaurants and it’s almost like paying ourselves back,” County Council chairman Steve Brown said.