Local impact of the PGA is hard to measure

The Wanamaker Trophy
The Wanamaker Trophy at the 91st PGA Championship at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.
Charlie Riedel/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sunday was a long and satisfying day for Minnesota golf fans, as they watched Tiger Woods and Y.E. Yang go head to head in the final round of the PGA Championship at Hazeltine golf club in Chaska, Minn.

Yang ended up beating Woods by three strokes in an improbable victory over the No. 1 golfer in the world.

The tournament drew thousands of people to the Twin Cities for the week, partly because of the Woods' star power.

People started lining up early in the morning to stake out a good spot near the 18th hole. Many of them were there to see Tiger Woods.

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Stew Herman, 19, described himself as a huge Tiger Woods fan. He said he and his buddy were hoping to get a clear view of him through the crowd.

"He's a once-in-a-lifetime player you don't get to see very often, so when he comes to your state you want to see him. That is why I'm here," said Herman.

He says Tiger Woods was a big reason there were so many young faces in the crowd at Hazeltine, and said Woods will likely attract more young people to the sport.

Signing autographs
Tiger Woods signs autographs after his practice round for the 91st PGA Championship at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009.
Morry Gash/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Minnesota already has a reputation for being a great golf state, with one of the highest rates of play in the country. And they packed Hazeltine for the PGA.

Ticket sales by the end of the week had this year's PGA on pace to be the largest championship since 2004. No small feat, with ticket prices ranging from $300 to $425 for the week. And corporate tables packages sold for thousands of dollars.

The Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association says the 2002 championship Hazeltine pumped more than $50 million into the state's economy. This year's was estimated to generate at least that much.

While enjoying a beer on a deck overlooking the 18th hole, Tom Jahnke said he doubts it.

"Who's making the money other than the PGA? I haven't heard of too many people that thay are sharing the wealth with," said Jahnke. "But if it helps bring golf back a little bit more in Minnesota, especially during the recession -- maybe people will play a few more rounds towards the end of the year -- I guess that is where the wealth would be, otherwise I don't think the PGA is sharing much with Minnesota."

Chaska Mayor Gary Van Eyll's outlook is more rosy. He agrees the PGA probably doesn't generate much lasting revenue for the state, but says the publicity alone is worth the trouble of hosting the tournament.

Chaska is one of the state's bioscience development zones. Van Eyll says having big championships like the PGA come to town attracts business to the new Biotech Center and surrounding areas.

"When we go to bioscience symposiums in other parts of the United States, they'll say, 'Where are you from?' Chaska. They say,,'Oh, Hazeltine,'" said Van Eyll. "That is part of the draw to be from Chaska, Minnesota and to have Hazeltine, a national golf course that puts something like this on, I think that those are positive things."

Van Eyll says having the international media's attention on Chaska is great for local business.

Starting next year, Hazeltine will undergo a major renovation of the fairways and clubhouse. Officials say the renovations will help attract more world class championships in the future.

The golf course is already scheduled to host the 2016 Ryder Cup, which is considered the Super Bowl of golf.