Two great things happened during the recent Senior PGA Championship at the Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor and the U.S. Senior Open Championship the Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion.
First, Roger Chapman, who won both events, told the world how much he loved our state. When finished he final round of golf at Indianwood a spectator commented that he bet Chapman liked Michigan. Chapman’s reply was, “just Pure Michigan.”
Score one for Lansing’s Pure Michigan ad campaign.
Second, more than 4000 Pure Michigan volunteers jumped at the chance to support their home state of Michigan and served as goodwill ambassadors for golf tournaments. Their devotion was not lost on Chapman. During press interviews he said everyone involved in both tournaments had been fantastic and all the volunteers just made him feel welcome. “The people can’t do enough for you. They’ve been wonderful,” he said.
You may not think supporting a professional sports event is a noble cause, but every little bit helps to turn around the fortunes and image of our state. In today’s extremely competitive business environment to attract tourists, landing a world-class sporting event sends an important message to the media and the general public regarding the quality of life in the host community. It also sends a very positive message of just how important it is for the hometown crowd to welcome and entertain the many spectators and out-of town guests.
Not only were the visitors to our state warmly received, the network broadcast channels ran 26 hours of live TV coverage viewed by millions and the event announcers continuously complimented the volunteers on their friendliness. This was in addition to the e-mails and compliments from the tournament spectators, the players, tournament sponsors and their guests as well as the USGA and the PGA.
In total, these two events attracted roughly 160,000 visitors, which generated an estimated $40 million in economic benefits to their respective local economies. Related fundraising activities also raised significant financial support to assist low income Michigan families and individuals.
Michigan has a reputation for being and extremely desirable outdoor state to visit and enjoy its abundant lakes and shores as well as comfortable spring and summer seasons. In addition, it is one of the nation’s top travel destinations for golfers – both from availability of courses as well as the quality of public courses.
Wouldn’t it be great if every visitor to the state left with the same positive feelings about the people and the state of Michigan? Just think what that would do for our collective efforts to help turn around the fortunes and image of our cities and state.
Bottom line … volunteering can help make the phrase “Pure Michigan” mean so much more to volunteers and visitors alike.