$600M golf industry growing in Moore County

Mike Whan, United States Golf Association (USGA) CEO, was the guest speaker June 2 at the Moore County Partners in Progress meeting held at the Bradshaw Performance Center at Sandhills Community College.

Whan said even though golf is more inclusive, there needs to be a unified initiative to support “Team USA,” and it will take big, bold leadership.

“The home of U.S. golf is Pinehurst,” Whan said about looking over the driving range at Pinehurst Resort and every spot being filled, looking like an inclusive snapshot.

But when a recruiter for the Olympics wants to find the best of the best in the U.S., the recruiter must scout across America, according to Whan.

While in other countries, there are golf schools, like Mexico and Canada, that support golfers for Olympic competitions.

“We need a better Team USA, so we’re looking at raising fifty million for a grant fund. If kids can’t afford golf, we pay like other countries,” Whan said about asking for contributions, which began March 10. He now has 12 significant contributors.

“We gotta do some big, bold things in the next five to six years to keep golf for the next generations,” Whan said.

“We need to create systems to qualify,” Whan said about having overall champions with eight categories, a visually impaired cap and a place for seated players.

“Pinehurst No. 6 is fairly flat, so it’s more adaptive,” Whan said about inclusivity for golfers with challenges.

Whan shared a 15-30-45 acronym for golf course environmental sustainability goals. He said within 15 years, they are willing to spend $30 million for a 45% reduction in water needs for golf courses. This takes testing in labs and on courses for grass species and irrigation systems.

Water is the largest expense for golf courses.

The USGA is considering being the bank for golf courses, lending $2 million for irrigation systems — to save the game.

In research updates, the USGA wants a golf ball to fly no less than 126 mph but not change the 320-yard distance created with a titanium club.

“I believe we will attract more than $600 million in golf-related business,” Whan said about attracting golf industries to Moore County. “What we will attract with the building, and what we are going to announce we’re adding to our building, will attract another million in golfers.”

Whan said USGA was not ready to share the details of the upcoming addition to its headquarters being built on the grounds of Pinehurst Resort.

One building will be dedicated to testing, and a second building will be a visitor and innovation center.

Whan began his career as a maintenance crew member for a golf course before earning his bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Ohio.

Feature photo: USGA CEO Mike Whan and David Woronoff of The Pilot discuss the future of golf in Moore County on June 2, 2022, at Bradshaw Performance Center at Sandhills Community College.

~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].

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