Golf has always been a staple and draw to the state of Florida. The year round sun and weather, plus the sprawling landscape has made it the perfect destination for golfers around the world for centuries. Routinely, Florida has been called the capital of the golf world. And if Florida really is that capital, well then the capital is thriving more now than arguably any time in the past.
A recent study shows that the game of golf has an $8.2 billion economic impact in Florida. That's more than amusement and theme parks like Disney, Epcot, Universal, and Bush Gardens (they bring in $5.4 billion annually), as well as medical equipment and supplies manufacturing ($6.5 billion). When you consider the indirect and induced activity driven by golf, that number goes up to right around $11 billion or just about the same as the other two most profitable ventures combined.
There are 1,183 golf courses in the state of Florida, stretching from the southern most parts of Miami to as far north as Jacksonville and everywhere in between on both coasts. That's over 21,000 golf holes, the most in any state in America. 1.6 million people in the state of Florida call themselves golfers, and the National Golf Foundation estimates that 40 million rounds of golf are played in Florida each year.
Some of the biggest professional golf events on the biggest tours are held in Florida. The PGA Tour holds five golf tournaments in Florida. The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, the WGC-Cadillac Championships at Doral, the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando have become such a popular four week stretch that it is regularly referred to as the Florida Swing and attracts some of the top pros in the world. Later in the season, the PGA Tour holds their flagship event at TPC Sawgrass in the Jacksonville area.
The LPGA Tour holds an event in Florida every year. So does the Web.com Tour, they hold their final playoff event in Jacksonville. The Champions Tour has a mini Florida Swing of their own when they play in Boca Raton and Naples in consecutive weeks. There are also countless mini tours and mini tour events based out of the different cities in Florida.
The tours just don't come here to play. Over the years many have come to the state of Florida to establish their home bases. The PGA Tour calls Ponte Vedre Beach home, just off the grounds of TPC Sawgrass. The LPGA has their offices set up a little down the road in Datytona Beach. The PGA of America is located in Palm Beach Gardens, just off the grounds of PGA National, home of the Honda Classic. The World Golf Hall of Fame and the World Golf Foundation? That can be found in St. Augustine, along with the offices of The First Tee. Golf Channel and Golf Week, two of the largest players in the golf media are based out of Orlando.
It's not just the golf organizations that have made their way to Florida either. Since Jack Nicklaus moved from Ohio to North Palm Beach in 1967, dozens of pros have followed suit. Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Greg Norman, Rory Mcllroy, and Nick Price all call Florida home. 60 golfers currently reside in Florida and that list continues to grow almost by the day. Many have brought their business headquarters down here with them. Palmer set up shop in Orlando, Nicklaus in North Palm Beach, and Norman in Jupiter.
In total, golf in the state of Florida has produced 132,532 jobs and $3.6 billion in wage income.
At the end of the day, they don't call Florida the golf mecca for nothing.