Herb Whetsell, the Charleston Municipal Golf Course general manager, started golfing later in his life. An ex-police officer for the city, he first began golfing in his 30s when friends from the department invited him to play. But in 2000, Whetsell saw that there was an opening for a manager at the Muni and retired from the police department to pursue his dream job. Like most golf enthusiasts in the area, Whetsell is looking forward to the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. "People are really starting to get excited about it," he says. "It is something good for Charleston. A lot of people don't realize how big it is. There are a lot of big names. It's a big deal."
And it really is. The 2012 PGA Championship is projected to bring approximately $193 million to the state of South Carolina, as well as $26 million in labor income and the means to support 832 jobs. That's a lot of bucks. With over 210,000 spectators, 50,000 of those will be from outside of the area. Each of these visitors is predicted to spend an average of $345 a day, with a good chunk of that money going to local hotels, rental properties, and restaurants. On top of all that, the championship will produce about $75 million in media exposure. With 154 hours of live television set to be broadcast from the Ocean Course to the rest of the world, this year's PGA Championship will reach a total of 600 million homes in more than 200 countries. Yeah, Herb. It really is a big deal.
PGA Championship Director Brett Sterba would surely agree with that statement. Sterba leads the seven-member team that is planning, selling, marketing, and executing the 2012 PGA Championship. "With Charleston being a city that gravitates towards any social opportunity, the PGA is no different," he says. "Ultimately, it is about the top golfers in the world competing to become a major champion, but this event goes well beyond just golf. When an event of this magnitude comes through the Lowcountry, everyone wants to say they were there or they saw it all happen."
The importance of the event has not been lost on the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The designer of the Ocean Course, Pete Dye, has returned to the course numerous times to tweak it and change a couple of the holes, while two years ago, the resort began working with local, state, and national authorities to create a traffic and safety plan. "Kiawah Island brings some unique challenges that many other host sites never present," Sterba says. "The beauty is that each PGA Championship site is different year after year. You never truly know what to expect until you immerse yourself and your team into the local community."
Although golf is the reason so many people will be flocking to the Lowcountry — not to mention the chance to see golf greats like Phil Mickleson and Tiger Woods as well as Palmetto State swingers Lucas Glover, Bill Haas, and Dustin Johnson — the event is about so much more than watching a game. Attendees can enjoy a complimentary golf lesson from the PGA Learning Center, complete with educational presentations and a golf simulator.
And since August will undoubtedly bring with it scorching temperatures, the resort will install several misting stations along the course, along with cooling tents and bleachers equipped with metal fans.
Where to hit the links
Coosaw Creek Country Club
4110 Club Course Drive
The City of Charleston Golf Course
2110 Maybank Hwy.
$10-$24, $8 for juniors 15 and under all day, every day
Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club
20 Dunvegan Drive
Local: $42 weekday mornings, $27 weekdays after 11 a.m., $42 weekend mornings, $32 weekends after 11 a.m.
Out of Town: $45 weekday mornings, $30 weekdays after 11 a.m., $50 weekend mornings, $35 weekends after 11 a.m.
Patriots Point Links on Charleston Harbor
1 Patriots Point Road
Local: $45 weekdays, $55 weekends
Out of Town: $50 weekdays, $70 weekends
Charleston National Country Club
1360 National Drive