'Golf Writer Familiarization Tour' part of Pure Michigan campaign
When Golf Magazine rates a course such as Bay Harbor Golf Club as one of the top in the country, that publicity comes at a cost to taxpayers.
That's because every year the state puts on a tour of Michigan golf spots for a select group of national golf writers. It's part of the "Golf Writer Familiarization Tour" the state puts on, which escorts the writers to courses where green fees can cost as much as $199 a round.
Shanty Creek, Grand Traverse Resort and about a dozen other elite golf courses are part of the tour that attracts writers from national publications such as Golf Digest, Forbes and USA Today.
"It's a very substantial state effort for a very small part of the economy," said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
In 2012, the state held five group press trips and five individual visits for 30 journalists.
In 2013, the state has held two golf tours thus far, said Michelle Begnoche, spokeswoman for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
The first in 2013 was June 24-28 and included three golf courses and seven journalists. The second was Aug. 11-15 and included five golf courses and 10 writers.
"There's no need to use taxpayer dollars for this," said State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, in an email. "These golf courses could and should kick in their own money to pay for the trips for the journalists to golf at their courses."
The state's "Golf Writer Familiarization Tour" is part of the Pure Michigan ad campaign.
According to the state, the $13.7 million spent on Pure Michigan advertising in 2012 and generated $79.1 million in Michigan taxes. A breakdown of costs for the golf writer tour was not available.
"Those businesses and industries that supposedly benefit from the advertising inside and outside of Michigan could and should pay for the ads," Rep. McMillin said. "The supposed benefits calculated by the MEDC have always been sketchy, (for example) using emails gathered at certain hotels by out of state customers. If, instead of taxpayers, the industry or certain businesses actually had to pay for the whole ad campaign, then I'm sure there would be much better methods used to determine cost/benefit."