June is Michigan Golf Month!

LANSING – Sarah Roberts (D), a Michigan legislator for the 18th District, including St. Clair Shores, does not play the game of golf.

But she showed appreciation for what the sport means to the state’s tourism and economic outlook.

“Tourism is one of our top economic engines, and that doesn’t mean just our water,” Roberts said, after boasting about a recent national bass fishing tournament that took place in her district. “We have some beautiful golf courses throughout the state and it’s a part of our important tourism industry.”

Roberts made those comments Thursday, when Michigan state legislators, golf course owners and other golf advocacy groups met in Lansing for the annual Michigan Golf Day at the Capitol event, consisting of a variety of speeches, networking, golf tips and lunch on the Capitol lawn.

While Roberts and others do not play the game, she was impressed enough with golf’s ability to support other networking opportunities that she has partnered with Sara Wold of the Michigan Women’s Golf Association to plan a golf skills event, next week at MSU’s Forest Akers, that’s for Michigan women legislators from both sides of the aisle.

“Part of the reason I’m doing this is because in the era of term limits, it’s so important for us as legislators to have an opportunity to really get to know one another, to build relationships,” Roberts said. “So much of that is lacking. So, while I don’t play golf, golf can be good for our economy. It can be good for bipartisan cooperation.”

Thursday’s event began with David West, vice-president of Travel Michigan, making the day’s opening remarks and stating that the popular Pure Michigan advertising campaign would get a boost of $4 million in the state budget that was approved Wednesday in the Michigan House. West also read a proclamation from Gov. Rick Snyder declaring June ‘Michigan Golf Month.’

“In terms of tourism, bringing people into the state, showing off how beautiful the state is, golf provides that avenue,” said Pat Somerville (R) of the 23rd District covering southern Wayne County. “So it’s very important. I think probably most people don’t realize, unless you’re a golfer yourself, or you’re involved in the industry, you probably don’t realize how huge of an impact golf plays in the state of Michigan.”

Part of that influence, according to comments from Kate Moore of the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association, is: golf has a $4.2 billion total economic impact in Michigan, contributes $1.4 billion in wage income in the state, generates more than 58,000 jobs and has a $118 million charitable impact in Michigan.

Alex Coss, general manager of Hawk Hollow Properties in East Lansing and the golf and banquet services at Eagle Eye golf Club, said his place of business alone supports 350 jobs.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand how big of an impact golf has on the economy,” Coss said. “From golf you have banquets; from golf you have outings and charity fund raisers. There is a huge economic impact.”

Jason Sheppard (R), the 56th District rep serving Monroe County, said he’s happy when Ohioans come across the border to spend their money at Michigan golf courses and neighboring businesses.

Klint Kesto, (R) for the 39th District in Commerce Township, likes the annual Golf Day for the same reason each legislator mentioned; he wants the open dialog with people in their industry.

“We want to have the opportunity for people to go to a golf event, or a Tour that’s here, or whatever it might be,” Kesto added. “And we want to especially encourage the youth to get into golf. It doesn’t matter where you live, whether you’re from Detroit or Mt. Pleasant or Commerce Township. Here’s another sport where we can get kids involved and engage them to being outside, enjoying Michigan. And with Michigan being one of the top states (for golf) that’s pure Michigan.”

 

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