Golfing in Michigan has gained national acclaim through the highly successful Pure Michigan campaign — no surprise there. What most do not know is that the Gaylord area takes a lot of credit for the general concept, and they have a point.
This summer is the 25th anniversary of the self-appointed “Gaylord Golf Mecca” and the official anniversary event took place recently with more than 100 golfers taking in the TreeTops Jones Masterpiece by day — before being joined by several more dozen people at a dinner featuring guest speaker Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who also praised the Mecca for its intuitive progressiveness.
Courses in the Gaylord Golf Mecca are the core of the Pure Michigan golf ads, but it’s more about a concept. The premise of creating the Mecca was to stop beating each other up with advertising and marketing individual properties but rather pool those financial resources to get the word out regionally and nationally about northern Michigan’s great golf courses and places to stay. In Gaylord’s case, draw the people to an area, not necessarily to one resort. Pure Michigan does the same but on a grander scale.
“I think we have been, in Gaylord, a shining star for Pure Michigan and people working together in what we’re promoting,” said Paul Beachnau of the Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce and only director of the Mecca in its 25 years. “We have the numbers to back it up that what we’re doing here is working. We’re seeing increased rounds and we’re seeing it in employment and we’re seeing the economy working.”
Those numbers include: 233,115 rounds of golf in 2011, a 13.6 percent increase over 2010. That number will be surpassed for 2012. Total employees, 744; total payroll was more than $8.3 million, plus property taxes paid of almost $810,000 in 2011 alone. Beachnau stressed that the point is not just increased rounds of golf but visitors are staying longer and spending more money in northern Michigan.
The Gaylord area and TreeTops in particular is the birthplace of The Big Break TV show on The Golf Channel, as well as the “Par 3 Shootout” that has featured Nicklaus, Mickelson, Trevino, and Couples among other pros.
Beachnau went on to express that while golf choices and quality is great in Gaylord, the draw for travelers is a genuine family atmosphere and that the entire area is very hospitable compared to experiences travelers may get in other parts of Michigan, or the country.
Based on personal experience, it’s hard to argue.