sports

How the Golf Industry Drives South Carolina's Economy

Jun 19, 2019
File photo, close-up of golf ball and golf club head.
File photo: HeungSoon/Pixabay

The golf industry is big business for the state of South Carolina, generating $2.59 billion in sales for the state in 2018.

The sport generated 31,434 jobs, $857 million in wages and income, and $309 million in federal, state, and local taxes, according to an economic impact study created by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

That the NFL’s Carolina Panthers would eventually move the team’s practice facility and operations out of Charlotte and south of the border to Rock Hill was really just a matter of when the South Carolina Legislature would greenlight a set of tax breaks (worth somewhere between $115 and $120 million, by most estimates) that would allow the team to set up shop in York County. And when Panthers would officially say they were coming.

On June 5, the Panthers, the state, and City of Rock Hill made the official announcement that the team will be moving in over the next couple years.

The future home of the Rock Hill Sports & Events Center is still under construction.
Scott Morgan/SC Public Radio

Tourism is big business for South Carolina. The state Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism (PRT) puts annual tourism revenue at about $20 billion.

File photo: Soccer balls
Joe Shlabotnik [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Evidence of soccer’s enormous growth in America is the September kickoff of the inaugural season of the Midlands’ new semi-pro soccer team, the Soda City Football Club.  It’s the third team in the state in the 170-plus team United Premier Soccer League, joining Spartanburg and Charleston.  Coach and co-owner Patrick Burnette says soccer is exploding in the U.S., and thanks to small but dedicated clubs around the state, the talent pool is strong.  Player Hunter Haynes says it’s all he’s ever wanted to do, and like teammate Nestor Jaramillo (and the rest of the team, for that matter), he aspi

hoto from the University of South Carolina's Motion Image Research Collection.
Photo from the University of South Carolina's Motion Image Research Collection.

At the University of South Carolina, the Moving Image Research Collection has established a reputation as one of the top film archives in the country. Curator Greg Wilsbacher says Newsfilm Collections at USC has received some notable donations over the years—including footage from the United States Marine Corps. But it all started with a donation in 1980 from the Fox Corporation, containing countless hours of newsreels and outtakes from the turn of the 20th Century.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"H" is for Horse racing. “The Sport of Kings” emerged in South Carolina within a few decades of settlement. Before 1754, most horses were descended from stock brought to Florida by the Spanish and known as the Chicasaw breed. Horsemen later imported fine stallions and mares from England and Virginia. In Charleston races at the Washington Course coincided with a gala social season. Inland, the elegant setting and refined audience attending the racing scene at Pinewood claimed to rival that of British courses. The Civil War ended horse racing in South Carolina.

Sandi Morris, a native of Greenville, won the women's pole vaulting silver medal at the Rio summer Olympics in 2016.  She quickly followed this victory by becoming the American women's outdoor pole vaulting champion with a 5- meter jump in Brussels.
Courtesy of Sandi Morris, via Flickr

Greenville native Sandi Morris has been a natural athlete all her life.  At age seven, playing around at her older sister’s soccer game, she offered a boy a quarter to race her, and beat him handily.  The boy’s mother, who was sitting near Sandi’s parents, told them of a track team for kids her age.  That was the beginning that led to Morris’s silver medal for the women’s pole vault in the 2016 Rio summer Olympics.  Then, only three weeks later in Brussels, she set the American women’s outdoor pole vault record of five meters, or 16’5”, a feat which only three women in the world have accomp

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"E" is for English, Alexander [b. 1954]. Basketball player. A graduate of Dreher High School in Columbia, English play college basketball for the University of South Carolina and became the 4th USC player to have his jersey [#22] retired. In the National Basketball Association he played with the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, and the Denver Nuggets. The fluent run-and-shoot style of Nuggets' Coach Doug Moe was tailor-made for English's smooth game. By the end of his career in Denver in 1990, English had become the most prolific scorer of the 1980s.

Bicycle racers from around the world fly through the air as part of the BMX World Championships held recently in Rock Hill.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Rock Hill has enjoyed a growing reputation as an amateur sports Mecca, and the city recently proved it by hosting the BMX (bicycle motocross) world championship competitions.  Men, women and children came from across the globe to compete, and the event drew 3700 riders and 20,000 spectators from 48 countries. 

A rolling course is rehearsed by a media member and coach, heading for the finish line at the Rock Hill BMX track.
Haley Kellner/SC Public Radio

The city of Rock Hill is becoming famous for its amateur sports facilities in everything from soccer to motocross and more.   The last week of July will see the city host the BMX (bicycle motocross) world championships, and riders from Australia to France to Brazil will come to South Carolina  to add an expected $13 million to the local economy.   Prior to that event, however, the city held race for the press to let members of the fourth estate get a feel for what goes into this growing sport. 

Golf club next to golf ball.
[CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Golf is an economic juggernaut for the South Carolina, accounting for a $3 billion economic impact on the state.  A large part of that will be felt in one week; the week between the Master’s and the Heritage golf tournaments.  Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Dept.

Tim Tebow at a Columbia Fireflies press conference.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has taken on a new challenge: breaking into baseball at age 29.  Signed to the New York Mets organization, Tebow has begun working his way through the minor league ranks beginning in South Carolina’s capital city.  Tebow has been assigned to the single A Columbia Fireflies, and the fans have turned out in large numbers.  Hopes are not only that Tebow will be an asset on the field, but the Fireflies’ president and a University of South Carolina sports management professor predict he will have a positive economic impact on the team a

Beth Daniel, captain of the USA Solheim Cup Team, after announcement of Solheim Cup teams, which followed final round of the 2009 Ricoh Women's British Open held at Royal Lytham & St Annes on August 2, 2009, Lytham St Annes, England.
Wojciech Migda (wmigda) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

"D" is for Daniel, Beth [born 1956]. Professional golfer. In 1975 while a student at Furman, Daniel won the United States Women's Amateur golf championship—a feat she repeated three more times. In 1979 she turned professional and won Rookie of the Year honors. The following year, with four victories on the pro tour she was named Player of the Year, an award she received again in 1990 and 1994.

Tennis pro and Charleston native Shelby Rogers keeps up her practice on a recent visit home.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Charleston native Shelby Rogers has risen through the ranks in women’s tennis over the last few years, currently ranking #48.  She started off the year in grand style, defeating the world’s number 4 player, Simona Halep, in the Australian Open.   As she looks forward to returning home to play the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island this month, she took the time to reflect on the beginnings of her career, her practice routine, and the price she’s paid to be a professional athlete.  

"J" is for Jackson, Joseph Jefferson Wofford [1888-1951]. Baseball Player. "Shoeless Joe" Jackson was reared in the mill villages of Pelzer and Greenville. He never attended school and could neither read nor write.  At thirteen he began to work full-time in the mill and also to play for the mill's baseball team.  In 1908 he turned pro and during the season landed in the majors with the Philadelphia Athletics.

BMX Supercross is a rapidly expanding sport that few have facilities for.  Rock Hill is one of those few, and reaps economic benefits because of it.
Wendy Waddle

Rock Hill was a big textile town in the 1970s.  But when that industry started to go away, the city began to look for ways to diversify and to revitalize its economy.  It found the answer in amateur sports.  Beginning with baseball and softball, the city has built facilities that have attracted teams from across the country and around the world for sports such as lacrosse, soccer, tennis, cycling and more. 

A roller derby match pits the Columbia Quade Squad All Stars against a team visiting from Tampa.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

  Half party, half combat. That’s roller derby, a growing sport in South Carolina. Though most teams are women, there are some men’s teams and even juniors teams. In this report we talk to Dell Corley, coach of the Richland County Regulators, as well as two married players. Kelly Wuest of the Columbia Quad Squad All Stars, inspired her husband Mike to join the Carolina Wreckingballs when he saw how much fun she was having. All three, however, say a more important part of the sport than winning is the family-like relationship that links the players.

ETV's Smart Cat greets a young visitor at SC Public Radio Night at the Charleston Riverdogs baseball game.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

The Charleston Riverdogs minor league baseball team recently hosted South Carolina Public Radio at a game against the Columbia Fireflies. SC Public Radio’s Kate McKinney threw out the first ball, and staffers Alexandra Olgin and Tut Underwood also were in attendance, as was Osei Chandler, host of SC Public Radio’s Roots Musik Karamu, which he calls the longest-running reggae music program on radio.

A statue of Shoeless Joe Jackson in Greenville.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  He was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson of Greenville carried the third highest lifetime batting average with him when he was banned from baseball for allegedly helping throw the 1919 World Series with other members of the Chicago White Sox. We talk today with Rob Young, president of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville. Jackson’s banishment from baseball has been controversial for nearly a century. Young is a proponent of Jackson’s innocence, a position which Jackson maintained until his death.

The Carolina Panthers practice at Wofford College.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

  Over 100,00 fans have already visited Spartanburg for this year's training camp providing a boost for Wofford and the City of Spartanburg .

James Quantz
James Quantz

University of South Carolina is sending three current students to this summer's Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. One will be competing in Track & Field, one for swimming, and one for diving. All of them are international students competing for their home countries. The school's athletics department says that's not surprising. Cooper McKim has the story.

The Columbia Fireflies host the Greenville Drive at a recent game at the new Spirit Communications Park in Columbia.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  Minor league baseball contributes to a community’s quality of life, as well as its economy. And there’s a lot to like. Whether it’s the game itself, the food, the whacky between-innings promotions, or the social aspect, everybody has a favorite thing about baseball, even the people who work every day to put the game on the field. We hear in this report from two broadcasters, a general manager and a team owner about what they think minor league baseball adds to life in South Carolina. One says the stories, one says the opportunity for service.

  Number 38 on the Summerville High School football team has a different approach to the game. That’s because #38 is different, a first for the Green Wave: she’s a girl. Emaleigh Tuggle came to the team as a kicker, also having played on the school’s girls’ soccer team. She talks about what it’s like being the only girl on the team, and her coach, Joe Call, discusses what he saw in her that convinced him she’d make a good addition to the team. They both think more girls should, and most likely will, play football.

File photo. A polo match.
iStock/FreezingRain

  Though unseen by some, the large horse community of South Carolina has made polo a big industry in Aiken County. Tara Bostwick likens Aiken’s Whitney Field to the polo equivalent of the Augusta National golf course, a bucket-list destination for polo enthusiasts worldwide. She says the sport is not as much for the wealthy as it may appear, but it does generate a huge economic impact for the area. Retired player Tiger Kneece, who has started a kids’ polo program, also talks about what it takes to play the sport.


  Over an incredible 63 years, John McKissick coached the Summerville High School Green Wave to an amazing 621 wins, the most of any football coach at any level, as well as 10 state championships. He retired in June of this year, and just turned 89. In this South Carolina Focus segment, the legendary coach talks about his work ethic and his philosophy of football, as he is praised by a former player and the new coach at Summerville, Joe Call – who happens to be McKissick’s grandson.


Football players in action
File

  Among the familiar sounds of football season, along with referee’s whistles and marching bands, is the voice of the play-by-play announcer, broadcasting all the action for audiences of fans. Though Mike Legg is only in his second year with The Citadel, he’s a 15-year veteran of calling sports events. Jimmie Coggins has been behind the microphone for Newberry College since 1982. Both men are hard-core sports followers, and they talk about what makes a good play-by-play man, and share some memorable moments calling games.


Race car driver
Parker Anderson

  For more than half a century, one of NASCAR’s greatest races, the Southern 500, was held on Labor Day weekend. In 2003 the race was moved, and for the next dozen years was held on various days from March to November. NASCAR fans are now celebrating the return of the Bojangles Southern 500 to its traditional home slot, as this year’s race will be held once again on the weekend before Labor Day. Some of those happy about the return include Gov. Nikki Haley, NASCAR drivers Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick (the defending Southern 500 champion) and super fan William McElveen.

  

Larry Doby, 1953
Bowman Gum [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  Camden native Larry Doby was the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the American League, joining the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947, just 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the National League with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Indians recently honored Doby with a statue outside Progressive Stadium in Cleveland. Camden is justifiably proud of Doby – who was the first black player on a World Series Championship team – as is evidenced by the comments of Camden Archives and Museum Director Catherine Richardson and Tom Didato, sports editor with the Camden Chronicle Independent.