By Ward Clayton, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Florida Governor Rick Scott hasn’t been able play any golf since announcing his candidacy in April 2010.
“There has been a lot of work to do and I am focusing on making sure people in Florida get back to work,” Scott said Thursday afternoon during a visit to THE PLAYERS Championship, his second consecutive year visiting the tournament. “But I once played here, and I parred 17.”
The 45th governor of the Sunshine State, whose handicap is 18 with a best round of 86, realizes the impact that the sport has on a state he is pushing toward an economic rebound.
“There are approximately 1,200 golf courses and 58 million rounds played in this state,” Scott said. “It’s the No. 1 state for travel golf, and we’ve got 44 percent of the travel golf market… We’re the No. 1 place for golf and No. 1 for tourism.”
The governor participated in a VIP roundtable at TPC Sawgrass with 24 business executives to discuss, among other things, business relocation and expansion in northeast Florida. Scott even suggested that building new courses is a possibility, a new thought considering the downturn recently in golf construction.
“We would work with local communities to make sure we all do the right thing,” Scott said. “We even looked at programs to add more courses around the state with well-known golfers. This would have to be done locally. My job is to get a return for the state taxpayers. If we can get that return for the state taxpayers, then we’d do it.”
The impact of professional golf on the growth of the economy has also influenced Scott. He cited the “$150 economic driver for THE PLAYERS and the $6 million charitable contribution” to the importance of the tournament and others within the state. Florida has 11 total tournaments on the PGA TOUR (6), Champions Tour (3) and Nationwide Tour (2), including two at TPC Sawgrass (also the Nationwide Tour’s Winn-Dixie Open on Dye’s Valley Course in October).
“The tournaments give back to the local community,” Scott said. “People come to our state to watch these tournaments. And that hopefully will lead them to move here or move their businesses here.”