Is the Queen City an emerging golf destination? Charlotte mayor is a believer

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

Mayor Pat MccroryCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte a golf destination? Imagine that. Turns out the Mayor already has. Pat McCrory, the city's five-time mayor elect, professed his belief the Queen City will emerge as a legitimate golf destination over the next few years.

"We have 80 some courses within a 40-minute drive of downtown and they are just as good as courses in Myrtle Beach and Pinehurst," McCrory proclaimed.

McCrory was addressing an audience of golf course superintendents at a meeting of the North-South Turf grass Association at Carmel Country Club on Wednesday. While the motivational speech was geared toward leadership strategies, the notion of Charlotte as a golf destination was a recurrent theme in McCrory's discourse.

"When you go to Phoenix on business, you bring your clubs so you can play golf in Scottsdale," he said. "Well, we have as many courses as they do."

Not exactly -- the Phoenix/Scottsdale metro area is home to more than 200 courses -- more than double the number in Charlotte's inventory. But the point was well taken. The city has the quality and quantity of courses to do battle with other Sun Belt business strongholds like Jacksonville, Fla., Houston, Atlanta and Tampa, Fla. And similar to the aforementioned cities, Charlotte is also home to a popular (albeit new) PGA Tour event.

Mayor Pat Mccrory"The Wachovia Championship will without a doubt help put Charlotte on the golfing map as a golf destination," McCrory said. "People will see Charlotte on national television and see how beautiful it is and how well it sets up for golf."

Currently, however, that set-up doesn't include an organized entity to promote the city's golf wares and its formidable hotel and motel room inventory. Bona fide golf destinations like Myrtle Beach, Pinehurst, and Hilton Head have designated golf associations, authorities or sections within their convention and visitors bureaus that exist only to promote golf and stay and play packages.

This reality isn't lost on McCrory.

"We need to market ourselves better," he said. "We haven't done a good job of promoting golf. We have to ask ourselves, 'how can we package golf here? Historically, hotels look themselves as being separate from the golf courses. We have the facilities already. We just need to package them."

When asked what entity or organization he envisioned leading the marketing and packaging efforts, McCrory said he believes the responsibility falls on the hospitality industry and the Charlotte Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"We're doing a little bit of it now," McCrory added.

McCrory went on to say Charlotte could serve as a first stop for golfers on the way to the Sandhills region (The Village of Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberbeen), approximately two hours to the east. The tri-city area is served by a small regional airport with limited flights. The majority of long haul travelers reach the area by flying into the Raleigh-Durham or Charlotte Douglas International airports.

"There is a lot of opportunity out there, we just have to seize it," McCrory said.

Opinion: Charlotte nowhere near golf destination status

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 25, 2004) -- When it comes to promoting Charlotte as a golf destination, Mayor Pat McCrory hit it right in the sweet spot when saying the city was "doing a little bit of it now."

He couldn't have been more right. Charlotte and Mecklenburg County do next to nothing to promote the Metrolina region as a golf destination. Information on golf packages and courses is buried so deep at the Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site (charlottecvb.org) you'd need two spotters to find it. And once you do, all of two packages are offered.

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Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.


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