Northeast Florida Golf Tourism On The Rise

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Florida’s First Coast of Golf, a non-profit destination marketing company located in Jacksonville Beach, is in the business of promoting golf tourism in Jacksonville, Amelia Island, Ponte Vedra Beach, St. Augustine, Clay County and Flagler County.

After a recession-related dip, golf tourism in Northeast Florida is finally getting back to normal.

“Business has been good,” said David Reese, president of Florida’s First Coast of Golf. “The courses seem to be coming back now and it’s a much better value for the golfer. Volume is returning to 2007 or 2008 levels. We’re up about 10 percent.”

That’s good news for a region that heavily relies on the golf tourism industry. In 2011, visiting golfers pumped an estimated $17.3 million into the local economy.

Florida’s First Coast of Golf promotes 72 golf courses, 18 lodging sites, three golf schools and prides itself on being Northeast Florida’s source for golf vacation packages, course information and accommodations.

With a $700,000 marketing budget, the company is at a disadvantage competing against areas such as Myrtle Beach, which spend millions each year promoting golf tourism.

Florida’s First Coast of Golf makes up for the difference by offering world-class lodging and courses for golfers of all ability levels and pocketbooks.

You want links golf? Find it at Omni Amelia Island Plantation or Hammock Beach. You want a challenge? Even the world’s best players can struggle on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. The region also features courses that appeal to the casual golfer, designed by such legendary architects as Pete Dye, Gary Player, Arthur Hills and Arnold Palmer.

Greens fees range from just under $20 to just over $300. To find the perfect course, Florida’s First Coast of Golf is launching a new website Aug. 1, similar to the Orbitz travel model.

“Our goal is to make it easier for the consumer to price courses, hotels and packages,” Reese said. “Come golf, stay in a room and go to a Jaguars game. We try to tie in more than golf. We want to be a one-stop shop for consumers.”

Reese doesn’t care if tourists use the new site or not, just as long as Northeast Florida’s golf tourism numbers continue to rise.

“We don’t care how you get here or book it,” Reese said. “We just want you to come experience the best golf in the nation.”

Find more information on Florida’s First Coast of Golf online at www.florida-golf.org. The company is also listed under its name on Facebook and can be found on Twitter at FL1stCoastGolf.

 

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