With the rain pouring down outside, golfers joined lawmakers Wednesday morning at the state Capitol to talk about the sport’s economic impact on the state.
According to the Connecticut Golf Alliance, the industry contributes $1.1 billion to the state’s economy and supports more than 11,500 jobs. But that study was done back in 2010 using 2008 data, the same year the recession started.
Michael Moraghan, executive director of the Connecticut State Golf Association, said a few golf courses have changed hands over the past few years, but he doesn’t believe any golf courses have completely gone out of business.
“No doubt the economy has affected every industry in the state, but I’d like to think we’re on a rebound. Clearly, economic recovery has been happening,” Moraghan said.
They expect to do another study in the near future.
Reporters pointed out that people don’t usually come up to the state Capitol unless they want something or fear the state is going to enact some type of legislation that will impact their industry.
Rep. Jeffrey Berger, D-Waterbury, said $500,000 already is on the table to advance the marketing budget of the Connecticut Sports Advisory Board and with that they hope to expand the golf industry and attract more tournaments.
Currently, the Travelers Golf Tournament at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell is the state’s premiere golf tournament.
Nathan Grube, tournament chairman of the Travelers, said he’s headed down to Augusta, Ga. for the Masters to try to encourage more golfers to come to Connecticut the third week in June.
He said that once the players come, he is confident they will want to come back. He said from the crowds to the volunteers, the players enjoy the experience.
And the tournament, which donates all of its proceeds to charity, saw a 20 percent increase last year in its corporate sponsorship, Grube said.
“It was actually one of our strongest years because we do have a charity message that no other entertainment venue has,” he said.
Asked if there was anything he could do to get some of golf’s big stars like Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods to come play the tournament, Grube said “there is, but we’re not willing to do it.”
“We are very interested in making sure the economic impact from the tournament stays in our state,” Grube added.