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91st PGA Championship promises huge boost to golf-crazy Minnesota

Special from Fortune Magazine

Minnesota is a proud golfing state, home to the most golfers per capita in the nation, and host over the years to four PGA Championships. So when the 2009 PGA Championship arrives Aug. 10–16 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska (27 miles from Minneapolis) for the second time this decade, residents will greet the season's final major championship with open arms—assuming they can put down their clubs long enough.

"The Twin Cities really responds to big events, perhaps better than any community I've seen," says Joe Steranka, the CEO of The PGA of America, which conducts the PGA Championship. "And they love their golf, playing about eight million rounds a year. Golf is a big part of the fabric of Minnesotans."

In addition to the sense of pride it brings, the PGA Championship also swells the state's pocketbook. Local merchants couldn't be happier. Melvin Tennant, the CEO of Meet Minneapolis (the city's convention and visitor's bureau), expects 18,000 out-of-town visitors for the tournament, resulting in $21.5 million in direct spending.

The overall impact of the 91st PGA Championship this month will be even greater. The 2002 PGA Championship, also held at Hazeltine National, was one of the best-attended in event history, with daily galleries of 40,000 and revenues of $50 million, according to Meet Minneapolis. "We expect a great turnout and an economic impact that will be very close to 2002," says Jim Remy, president of The PGA of America.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty adds: "Thousands of people will travel from across America and the world to come to Hazeltine National, and will enjoy the best the great state of Minnesota has to offer."

Minnesota might be famous for its 10,000 lakes, but it could also be called "The land of 650,000 golfers." One study by the National Golf Foundation pegged the household participation rate at 27%, more than double the national average. With 508 courses, the state ranks 11th in golf facilities—90% of which are affordable, well-maintained, daily-fee courses that help make Minnesota the fourth-most popular golf destination behind only Florida, Arizona, and South Carolina.

"It's a very accessible game," says Tom Ryan, executive director of the Minnesota Golf Association. "Everyone here is very outdoors-oriented. It's not too hot, we've got a lot of water, and the courses reflect that."

The state enjoys a direct golf economy of $1.2 billion, according to a 2006 independent study commissioned by the industry consortium Golf 20/20 and released in 2008 (the most recent data available). Factoring in the indirect business golf generates in Minnesota, the sport's total impact is $2.4 billion annually, with $776.7 million in wages earned from almost 35,000 jobs.

"It's just a fabulous golf state, there's no other way to put it," says Steve Mona, the CEO of the World Golf Foundation, which co-manages Golf 20/20. He also notes that golf's direct national impact is $76 billion. "Golf is bigger than the motion picture and recording industries, bigger than the NFL or Major League Baseball," he says.

It's certainly big in Minnesota, where the PGA Championship will likely return. "When you have a terrific course that produces great drama and the enthusiastic support of the community, it's a recipe for success," says Steranka. "My guess is we'll continue to look at Hazeltine National and the state of Minnesota for years to come."

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