Golf And Hotel Execs Work Out Their Reported Rift

Back in April, the golf and hotel groups were ready to go in separate directions. Neither side could agree on a golf package program that would benefit golfers, hotels and golf courses.

But after a month of talks, a compromise was reached. Hotels, golf courses, and casinos would work together to market the region. If the new golf package partnership works, it should be a lot more crowded on Coast greens and tee boxes.

Greg Williams runs St. Andrews Golf Course in Jackson County. When talking about the new golf package deal, he said, "You're going to see the entire tourism community jump on board with us and follow us and work with us."

Golf pros, hotel executives, casino managers and tourism officials have smoothed out differences they had just one month ago. For the first time, they've agreed to work together to promote a new golf package program.

Mickey Culberson heads the Gulf Coast Hotel and Lodging Association. "Hopefully," Culberson said, "we can educate people on what a great deal we have down here."

Under terms of the agreement, coast hotels will put $3 into an advertising pot every time they sell a golf package. That should bring in about $200,000 a year. Then a newly formed committee made up of two hotel executives, two golf executives, two casino executives and one tourism representative will determine how to use that money to showcase Coast golf to the world.

"The biggest difference will come with the money we're going to generate to promote golf packaging on the Coast," Culberson said, "which will amount to a half million dollars over the next couple of years."

Williams said the deal is very important for golf. "Golf is very satisfied with the agreement we ended up with," Williams said, "and very happy to be working with lodging and gaming and tourism to the development of golf tourism on the Gulf Coast."

Last month, when the Coast golf association and the hotel industry couldn't agree on a golf package program, money was pulled out of an upcoming advertising campaign. So summer golf ads won't run. Hotel executives and golf pros think the new marketing partnership will pay dividends this fall.