Snowbird season on the Coast was par for the course

Snowbird season on the Coast was par for the course

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Right after the cash register closes, the golf balls go flying. The snowbirds from North Tennessee are making one final trip to the Coast.

Back home, the golf courses are still brown. Not here. That's what's appealing to Mike Taylor.

"Well, actually, we like everything. The warm weather. We like the food. We like the accommodations, and the golf courses are always nice. The people are friendly. They really treat us good. So, we try and make two or three trips a year down here," Taylor said.

In golf terms, the pros say this year has been about par, but birdies could be in the future, according to golf pro Kenny Hughes.

"We hit our low point a couple of years ago, and now you can see more tourists coming in and buying more merchandize, more phone calls, more things happening on the Coast," Hughes explained.

It's a trend that seems to be growing Coast wide. That's the opinion of pro shop manager Gary Thone.

"Year over year, we've been doing better each year, a little bit, so I do believe it is coming back. I'm starting to see the big groups that we used to have start coming in," Thone said.

When it comes to snowbird golf, you can offer all the promotion in the world. You can offer the lushest golf courses in the world. That's all fine and well, but Mother Nature always has the upper hand. That's according to golf pro Jerry Covich.

"We've experienced a little bit less than average, because mainly the rainfall that we had. When the weather is bad, they just won't play," Covich explained.

Meanwhile, Hughes said marketing the Coast as a single destination, including golf, is going to help.

"It's something that we have done in the golf association for many years, for over 25 years. We've been one organization, Jackson County, Harrison County, Hancock County, so this is something I think is great for the Gulf Coast and I'm all for it," said Hughes.

So are the snowbirds.

Coast tourism officials estimate the annual economic impact of snowbird season at about $35 million. The money is spent on lodging, food, transportation and of course, golf.

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