The Michigan Travel Bureau is again becoming a very active player in the Michigan golf industry. A few years back, their program of offering matching advertising money to segments of the tourism industry brought a lot of those industries together. Marketing entities like the Gaylord Golf Mecca and America's Summer Golf Capitol leveraged state money and really began to get the word out on Michigan golf. Fam trips were encouraged and floods of writers visited the wonderful courses in our state.
Budget cutbacks at the Bureau dramatically curtailed the state's activity in this area. However, the golf marketing groups continued in their cooperation. Their early involvement stimulated groups like the Sunrise Side, Shoreline Golf, Battle Creek and Jackson golf.
Tom Altemus, the director of the Bureau, has moved golf up as a state tourism priority. Research has shown that golf travelers enjoy spending their time - and more importantly - their money while golfing these pleasant peninsulas.
Altemus began by assembling a Michigan Golf Task Force. The group represents a composite of the Michigan golf industry. Chaired by Shanty Creek's GM, Terry Schieber, the task force has met on a number of occasions. In a pre-summit meeting at EMU's Corporate Education Center, the task force focused on a number of issues. First of all, they wanted to benchmark the Michigan golf industry. What is our product, who are our clients and where is our competition coming from? These were some of the questions they wanted answered. Secondly, they wanted to develop a research instrument for assessing the economic impact of golf on our state. It was felt that the results would provide the ammunition needed to have our state pump more dollars into the industry. Thirdly, they wanted to further elevate Michigan's image as a golf state to the rest of the country by focusing available monies on the upcoming US Open.
Key players in all of this are: Tom Altemus, director of the Travel Bureau and members of his staff; Jeff Mason; Dave Morris; Don Wyckoff; Nancy Docter and their advertising firm, Brogan and Partners.
After the summit, Eastern Michigan University's Department of Marketing was chosen to provide both the Michigan golf benchmark and also create the instrument for assessing the economic impact. A second grant will provide funds to administer the instrument. According to Dave Morris, he would like all of the work done so it can be shared with the industry prior to next year's season opener.
In addition, the Bureau is working with Brogan and Partners to continue to get the word out on Michigan's great golf. In addition to the focus on the US Open for the national audience, they will be targeting neighboring states and Canada. Fully 20% of the nation's golfers are in this area, and we have by far the best product. They are currently exploring a golf Internet site, regional television and high impact media.