Tourism officials have always known golf was a huge industry in Florida, but many experts and others, including Governor Charlie Crist, may have been surprised at the extent of the sport's economic impact on the state and the country.
Florida's direct golf economy was $7.5 billion as of 2007, according to an independent study by SRI International, completed last year and revealed at the recent PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
Florida has more than 1,200 golf courses, more than any other state in the country.
"To live in a state that has a record number of golf courses and where the PGA is housed and so many golfers live, including Annika Sorenstam, who serves on the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, is truly special," Crist said at the annual event.
Some results of the study show how much golf contributes to the economic engine that drives Florida. For example:
- Golf generates $170 million annually in tourism.
- A total of 167,000 people – one in 85 Floridians – work in a golf-related industry earning $4.7 billion in wages.
- Florida golf courses, and its 75 stand-alone ranges and 84 miniature golf facilities, generated more than $3.4 billion in revenues.
That's comparable to the combined revenue of all the other major spectator sports combined, including auto and horse racing, football, basketball and baseball.
"...It is a multi-billion dollar industry that serves as a major contributor to the American economy and a key driver of jobs, wage income and tourism nationwide," said Al Kinkle, president of the Florida Club Managers Association of America, part of the eight-member Florida Golf Impact Task Force commissioned by Golf 20/20.
So the next time you tee it up, you can feel like you're contributing to the state's economy, as well as helping to feed families.