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Drawing a crowd: Rochester and Oak Hill once again shine hosting the PGA Championship

Rochester Business Journal
August 9, 2013

Rochester has reinforced its reputation as a golf hot spot, with ticket revenues for the 2013 PGA Championship the fourth-highest in the last 18 years, a PGA of America representative said at midweek.
The PGA Championship is at Oak Hill Country Club for the third time. It previously was played here in 1980 and 2003.
"We had the best crowds we've had in the last four years attend both Monday and Tuesday," said David Charles, senior director of PGA Championships, on Wednesday. "Only 2009 has exceeded the crowds we've had this week so far."
Charles declined to provide details on tickets sold or revenue generated, but he said the interest from Rochester golf fans fits with tradition.
"We're not surprised; 2003 was a very successful PGA Championship," Charles said.
"While we won't give the actual business details, the tickets that we sold is fourth in the last 18 years of PGA Championships, which is outstanding for a small community like Rochester here in Upstate New York. To be fourth in the last 18 years in ticket revenues is extremely positive."
Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. has projected a $78 million economic impact on the region from the 2013 PGA Championship, citing a recent study. The study also predicts that 1,127 temporary, full- and part-time jobs will be added to support the influx of golf enthusiasts. State and local revenue is estimated to increase by $7,304,447 from sales, income and other taxes.
Charles and the PGA have been planning this week's championship since the 2008 Senior PGA.
"It's been a long process, a process that started when the Senior PGA was here and we started trying to lay out what the PGA Championship would look like," Charles said.
Ryan Cannon, the 2013 PGA Championship director, moved here in November 2011 to begin organizing the event.
Cannon is responsible for production and management of the championship and its operating budget of some $25 million. Expenditures have included advertising, marketing and sales, and logistical matters such as traffic, parking and security. They also have included governmental, community and charitable planning.
Cannon, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., also was responsible for recruiting and activating 3,500 volunteers.
"We finished on Sunday night," Charles said Wednesday. "We were ready to accept spectators on the property. Players were arriving for practice rounds. Today is the third and final practice day, and we get down to business tomorrow."
Charles made frequent visits to Oak Hill this year prior to settling in late last month through the end of the championship Sunday.
Based at PGA headquarters in Cypress Gardens, Fla., Charles is the son of former PGA standout Bob Charles, a New Zealander who was the first left-handed golfer to win a major tournament when he captured the Open Championship in Great Britain in 1963.
"I was born in the United States, but I grew up in South Africa, where my mother is from, and New Zealand, where my dad is from," Charles said. "My parents both live in New Zealand. We see them infrequently, but obviously we keep in touch."
Bob Charles won six PGA Tour events, eight on the European Tour and 23 on the Champions Tour in his later years. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in the veterans category in 2008.
"I realized very early on that I wasn't good enough to play in major championships," David Charles said. "When I started my career, I figured, 'Why not get involved in the golf industry, running major championships?'"
He has been with the PGA of America since 1991, starting a week after rookie John Daly's legendary PGA Championship victory at Crooked Stick Golf Club.
"I still play a lot of golf," Charles said. "I just did a golf vacation with my dad in England.
"His last competitive tournament was last year in Switzerland. Recreationally, he's pretty good. We played five rounds of golf in England. I'm a 1.5 handicap; he's 77 years old, and he beat me all five rounds."
The trip last month came 50 years after his father's win at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes in Lancashire, England. Father and son attended a ceremony there.
"We had two rounds of golf," David Charles said. "There was a nice banquet that the club hosted. Over 100 members attended and basically celebrated that victory 50 years on.
"It was all capped off with only the second left-hander to ever win an Open Championship with Phil Mickelson winning the very next week at Muirfield. It was 50 years between two lefties."
Bob Charles, 2003 Masters Tournament champion Mike Weir, Mickelson last month, and 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson are the only lefties to win a major.
"It's a nice foursome," David Charles said.
Charles and his dad have a team victory to their credit, having won the 1998 PGA Father/Son Challenge at Vero Beach, Fla., with a 36-hole score of 119, 25 under par. They shot a 10-under-par 62 in the final round.
"That was the only one we won," Charles said. "We finished second a couple of times. We had a good run; we played in about 10 of them.
"The event was canceled a few years ago and started back up last year. It's a great event. I think the fathers almost like it more than the sons like it. You get to show your son your profession inside the ropes in a competitive environment."
In addition to the PGA Championship, Oak Hill also has played host to the Senior PGA Championship in 2008, the Ryder Cup in 1995 and the inaugural PGA Grand Slam of Golf in 1979.
"This is one of only two venues that have actually hosted all of the PGA of America's spectator championships," Charles said. "The only other course that has done that is PGA National in Cypress Gardens, which is where our headquarters are."
The first Grand Slam of Golf-a matchup of the winners of the 1978 majors-was designed to benefit the PGA's Junior Golf Foundation. Spectators paid $25 or $30 to see the event at Oak Hill and $100 more to attend the awards ceremony, the PGA website states.
U.S. Open champion Andy North and Masters champion Gary Player tied for first with rounds of 73. British Open champion Jack Nicklaus and PGA Championship winner John Mahaffey tied for third at 77.
The four golfers, President Gerald Ford and entertainers Pat Boone and Foster Brooks were among those attending the awards presentation, with Chris Schenkel the master of ceremonies, the PGA website states.
"It was a great event that was started way back when, right here at Oak Hill," Charles said. "Back then it was more of a charity, one-day affair. Now it's a two-day, large-purse, TV event. It's come a long way."
The Grand Slam of Golf is now a $1.35 million event at the end of the season, with $600,000 going to the winner. The 31st Grand Slam is Oct. 15-16 in Bermuda.

For more tournament coverage, go to RBJ Extra: The 95th PGA Championship.

8/9/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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