Golf in S.C. recovering faster

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COLUMBIA -- South Carolina’s golf industry has grown nearly 3 percent, while other states remained flat or even dipped, according to the state’s tourism chief.

“We probably have as high recognition for golf in our state as we’ve ever had,” said Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. He said the industry’s raised profile comes on the heels of the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island in August.

“We’re spending a higher percentage of our marketing dollars this year on golf than we ever have,” said Parrish during the three-day Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel this week.

“It’s time to capitalize on that.”

He said that although golf as an industry is historically slower to recover from a weak economy, South Carolina has done better than other states.

Hilton Head Island hosts PGA Tourstop, the RBC Heritage. The tournament brings in $80 million each year, according to its website, which also says about $23 million has been donated to hundreds of organizations since 1987. The 45th RBC Heritage is scheduled for April 15-21 at the Harbour Town Golf Links.

During the week’s tourism conference Parrish and S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt emphasized the role the hospitality sector plays, along with the state’s quality of life, in luring businesses and plant relocations.

They pressed the importance of promoting South Carolina’s undiscovered recreational attractions and authentic experiences -- a “dude ranch” equivalent in the state’s small and rural communities.

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