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Recounting the PGA Championship and its impact on the region | On Business

Recounting the PGA Championship and its impact on the region | On Business

The recently concluded PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester surpassed all expectations, leaving a lasting impact on our city, county, region and professional golf. As promised, this follow-up column aims to recap the remarkable week, express gratitude to those involved, highlight standout moments and emphasize the economic and relationship-building benefits for Rochester.

First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude to the PGA of America, particularly Bryan Karns, the tournament director, and his dedicated team, including John Handley and Kristen Powers. Their months of meticulous planning and preparation resulted in an absolutely superb championship. Oak Hill, known as one of the top golf courses in the world, once again proved to be an outstanding host. The course looked immaculate, with its lush greenery captivating spectators and players alike. The leadership, members and staff of Oak Hill, including President Jim Merkley and Tournament Chair Ron Pluta, deserve special commendation for their exceptional hospitality and organization.

Throughout the week, more than 200,000 visitors, including both local enthusiasts and golf fans from around the globe, flocked to Rochester. The atmosphere at Oak Hill was electric, with fans lining the fairways, showing great respect for the game and adding to the event’s overall success. Their passion reaffirmed Rochester’s status as a golf-loving city.

Despite initial concerns about the change in timing from July to May, Rochester’s weather played a delightful role throughout the championship. With mostly sunny days and comfortable temperatures, the golfers and spectators experienced ideal conditions. Even the rain on Saturday, though challenging for players, added to the lushness and challenge of the course. The support from thousands of fans braving the downpour was a testament to their unwavering dedication.

Brooks Koepka’s exceptional four days of golf, including a remarkable 66 on a rainy Saturday, secured him the championship title; however, the story of the week at the PGA Championship was the captivating performance of Michael Block, the club golf professional from California, who won the hearts and minds of fans. Throughout the tournament, he charmed spectators with his down-to-earth sense of humor while fiercely competing against seasoned touring PGA professionals from around the world. Block’s impressive finish tied him for 15th place, a notable accomplishment. However, the highlight of his week came on the 15th hole, where he hit a miraculous hole-in-one. The crowd erupted in jubilation, reminiscent of the pandemonium felt during a Buffalo Bills touchdown or victory. This extraordinary feat turned Block into a national folk hero, forever associated with Rochester, which he will no doubt remember fondly. In fact, during a press interview, when asked about his experience, he jokingly remarked, “I think I’ll move to Rochester!”

The outstanding efforts of the New York State Police and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, led by Sheriff Todd Baxter, in ensuring public safety during the PGA Championship deserve immense recognition. Their meticulous planning and omnipresence both inside and outside the event venue contributed to flawless execution throughout the week. From excellent traffic management and redirection to the constant presence of troopers and deputies, a strong sense of safety and security was established for fans and golfers alike. Their proactive measures served as a powerful deterrent against potential incidents, and their dedication throughout the entire week resulted in a disruption-free event. Special acknowledgment also goes to Pittsford Ambulance and the area EMTs for their exceptional presence and readiness to handle any medical emergencies. The success of public safety and event management during the PGA Championship was a testament to the months of planning and leadership displayed by these professionals.

The economic impact of the PGA Championship is expected to reach approximately $200 million, with various factors contributing to its significant influence on the community. The merchandise tent alone showcased a vast array of golf apparel, accessories and other related items, with a significant number of cash registers catering to the enthusiastic crowd from morning till night. The various food and drink vendors, including the popular Hill of Fame area, consistently attracted a large number of attendees. The event had a ripple effect on the surrounding hotels, restaurants, gyms and local businesses, benefiting the entire community.

As a former mayor, I understand that every dollar spent during the event circulates multiple times within the community, generating additional economic activity. Sales tax and other revenues will further contribute to the financial gains for New York State, Monroe County and local governments, amounting to millions of dollars. The support provided by these entities will be duly rewarded when these revenues are distributed. The kickoff ceremony for PGA Week featured an impactful speech by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, emphasizing the significant economic benefits for the state and the entities supported by government during the event. The PGA Championship truly served as Rochester’s Super Bowl and its positive impact will continue to be felt for weeks and months to come.

We were honored to also welcome Governor Hochul during her visit on Thursday. She took the time to meet with business leaders near the clubhouse, engaging personally with everyone present. It was wonderful to witness her visit the New York State Tasting Tent and even explore the merchandise tent, gaining firsthand insight into the economic benefits of such an event. In 2025, New York State will proudly host the Ryder Cup at the state-owned golf course, Bethpage Black, in Long Island. This will be a tremendous advantage for both avid fans and the financial coffers of New York State and local governments.

Throughout the event, I noticed a remarkable diversity among the crowd, including fans from all walks of life who enjoyed following their favorite golfers, reconnecting with old friends, and witnessing the joy of families spanning generations. It truly captured the essence of Rochester. For an entire week, we basked in the spotlight of the international sports media, with a myriad of media outlets covering the event. Our local media partners, along with the national ones, did an outstanding job in capturing the spirit of the championship.

The PGA Championship placed Rochester at the center of international sports media attention, providing invaluable publicity and exposure. The coverage by both local and national media outlets, including the Golf Channel, highlighted the region’s positive attributes. The event also served as a platform for fostering relationships, with countless conversations held throughout the week, creating opportunities for future collaborations and growth.

Our partnership with Greater Rochester Enterprise, ROC 2025, Visit Rochester and the Builders Exchange led to a remarkable chalet located on the 14th fairway, which served as a gathering place for friends, members, business leaders and visitors throughout the week. The importance of relationships cannot be overstated when it comes to building our economic fabric in Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes region. Countless invaluable conversations took place over food and golf, leaving a lasting impression of gratitude and appreciation among all our partners in the chalet. It is challenging to predict the specific business outcomes that will arise from the championship, but there is no doubt that the relationships forged and cultivated during that week will hold immense value and yield significant benefits in the future.

The enduring relationship between the PGA and Oak Hill has been a remarkable partnership spanning several decades. Oak Hill has consistently hosted prestigious events such as the PGA Championships, Ryder Cup and Senior PGA Championship, among others. This strong bond between the PGA of America and Oak Hill extends beyond their association and positively impacts the entire region. Countless Country Clubs, cities and states across the country aspire to host a PGA Championship, but only a select few are chosen consistently. The meticulous selection process for hosting a championship is a testament to the significance of the relationship between the PGA and Oak Hill. Rochester demonstrated its commitment and enthusiasm during PGA week, even as numerous officials from various states and communities were present to advocate for future championships in their respective areas.

The PGA’s satisfaction with every aspect of the tournament in Rochester was evident and negotiations for future championships were underway during the event. It was crucial for us to showcase our best attributes, involving fans, governments, visitors and businesses alike, as we all contribute to the success of these championships and reap the benefits. The exceptional hosting of the PGA Championship in Rochester will undoubtedly enhance the prospects of future championships at Oak Hill, solidifying our position as a sought-after destination for this prestigious golfing event.

The PGA also graciously donated $250K for enhancements to Monroe County’s Genesee Valley Park golf course.  It is the only golf course located within the City of Rochester’s borders and will hopefully provide more opportunities to encourage city kids to take up golf.

In reflection, the 2023 PGA Championship was an unforgettable week, filled with exhilarating moments and remarkable memories. It was an event that captivated us from start to finish, leaving a lasting impression on all who experienced it. From the incredible performances of golfers like Michael Block and Brooks Koepka to the presence of sports celebrities from various disciplines, the tournament showcased the best of both the game and the social atmosphere surrounding it. Whether one’s passion lies in golf, people-watching, or enjoying the social aspects of the event, the 2023 PGA Championship delivered an exceptional experience throughout its glorious seven days.

It is important to recognize that in a world often overshadowed by negativity, it is moments like these that remind us of the incredible achievements and positive impact that can be achieved. Rochester and the entire region can take immense pride in showcasing our best qualities to the world. The impression left on visitors and viewers alike is one of a fabulous place worth investing in and calling home. While the exact impact may be difficult to measure, there is no doubt that the week’s events will have a lasting influence on our community, potentially leading to future investments and growth.

With the focus of national and international sports media on our community all week, Rochester and Oak Hill CC stood tall. We should all be filled with an immense sense of pride. Let us continue to strive for excellence and work towards bringing the PGA Championship back to Oak Hill for many more years to come.

The PGA, Oak Hill County Club and the Rochester region are a team that is hard to beat. Let’s keep our PGA streak going!

Robert J. Duffy is president and CEO of Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at [email protected].