Coast Golf and Hotel Associations Teed Off Again

The dreary weather had flag sticks flapping in the damp, cool breeze. But no golf balls flew down St. Andrews ninth fairway.

St. Andrews owner Greg Williams worries that the dreary relationship between his golf association and the coast hotel association could eventually lead to more quiet days on the links. "Instead of working together, the fight has drug out for what, another four months," said Williams.

The fight Williams mentioned was supposedly over in August. That's when golf and hotel association attorneys negotiated a court ordered settlement. The hotel industry would pass out and collect golf package vouchers used by guests. The golf association would head up marketing campaigns. But that deal got stuck in some rough because of what a hotel executive told me was a misunderstanding of what was agreed to.

In a phone conversation from Jackson, Linda Hornsby of the Gulf Coast Hotel and Lodging Association said, "What we thought we agreed to and what they thought we agreed to were two different things."

So, at this moment, neither side is following the court ordered agreement. And nobody's working as a team to market coast golf packages. "We're supposed to have a marketing committee made up of four members of lodging and four members of golf to make marketing decisions," Williams said. "No members have been appointed by the hotel and lodging association. So future marketing decisions are being put on hold."

Short term, that may not be a problem. The golf association says early 2003 golf package bookings are up 32%. But long term, Greg Williams fears that competing marketing efforts will hurt coast tourism.

The Gulf Coast Hotel and Lodging Association filed a motion that urges the judge to reconsider the settlement. The motion will be heard December 20th.