Officials say they hope to see BMW Charity Pro-Am return in ’09

Published 3:17 pm Monday, June 9, 2008

Local officials say they believe the BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament, which was co-hosted by Bright&squo;s Creek Golf Club, had a positive impact on Polk County and they hope to see it back here next year.

Polk County Economic Development Director Kipp McIntyre says it is hard to gauge exactly how much of an economic benefit the tournament had, but it was certainly positive.

&dquo;All the feedback I&squo;ve heard about the tournament has been extremely positive,&dquo; he says. &dquo;It&squo;s very difficult to project or measure the event&squo;s overall economic impact because so much of the impact will be future forward.&dquo;

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He notes that people who may have visited Polk County to attend the tournament or who watched the national coverage on the Golf Channel may have learned more about the county and will come back to visit or seek other opportunities here. Those people may also pass on word about the county to others who will visit in the future.

&dquo;We may never know just how important the Pro-Am was in promoting Polk County, and I really look forward to next year,&dquo; says McIntyre.

Celebrities and professional golfers played at Bright&squo;s Creek for three days last month leading up to the final round of the tournament. Thornblade and Spartanburg Country Club also hosted the event, which gave participants a chance to rotate among the courses each day.

Local officials have indicated that BMW was expected to sign an agreement with the Nationwide Tour that will bring the Charity Pro-Am back to the same courses next year.

However, Brett Turner, public relations manager for Jackson-Dawson Marketing Solutions, which handled the Pro-Am publicity for BMW, says BMW won&squo;t know the host courses for the 2009 event for at least a few more months.

Bright&squo;s Creek developer Barton Tuck said before this year&squo;s event that he expected the tournament to provide positive publicity for both Bright&squo;s Creek and Polk County. He notes that the celebrities, pros, officials and spectators stayed in the area and may have dined at local restaurants or shopped in local stores. Some local residents said they encountered celebrites and pros around Polk County.&bsp; Participants included BMW executives who spent nearly $10,000 to join pros and celebrities in the tournament that benefits numerous regional charities.

Tuck said one never knows what will come of the &dquo;great PR&dquo; provided by the tournament for the county and Bright&squo;s Creek, and he hopes the success of this year&squo;s event will lead to even more people attending next year. He said he was sure those who came this year were going &dquo;to leave the county being impressed.&dquo;