Utah websites need more golf representation.
A golfers case for updating State tourism and recreation webpages.
Are there any golf courses in Utah? You would have a hard time finding much about them on a state-run webpage.
During my recent visit to the award-winning site Utah.gov, I surfed as a potential visitor looking for information about outdoor recreation in the state. I clicked the “Visiting” icon; “Sports and Recreation” link. https://www.utah.gov/visiting/sports.html On this page there were zero references to golf as a sport, or golf as a recreation destination, or the word “golf” at all. There were six links to state parks. There was a link to every college in Utah. There were 17 distinct links to the skiing industry, including a link to every privately owned ski resort in Utah. There were 2 or 3 Olympics related links, links to the major sports arenas, and that’s about it. “Sports and recreation” was a dead end page as far as golf was concerned. (But definitely a lobbying win for the ski industry.)
For my next attempt, I visited the “Official Site of the Utah Office of Tourism.” Located online at Visitutah.com. https://www.visitutah.com. This website looked deceptively modern and helpful, having an interesting page called “Itineraries.” This page let you select from a drop-down menu of items including: Adventure, Cycling, Eating, Family, Hiking, History, Photography, Scenic Drives Sightseeing, Skiing, Solitude, Stargazing, and Winter Sports. A seemingly all-encompassing list of things that also didn’t include golf. Each itinerary had a rich photo accompanying it, depicting interesting activities such as fishing, skydiving, rafting, off-roading, and horseback riding. There was even one itinerary called “Base Camp Green River” with a photo that looked like a pond on the Green River Golf Course – but with absolutely no listing of golf in any itinerary! At this point I started thinking, “Is the state intentionally editing all references to golf from their marketing?” (I couldn’t even find references to their own state-run courses.)
In May of 2014, Governor Herbert declared the month as “Utah Golf Month.” He held a ceremony and posted these facts on his blog: “Utah’s golf industry: Generates $805 million per year into our economy; Supports more than 9,600 jobs; … Draws tourists from across the county and around the world, generating more than $91 million in golf-related spending; Is as great or greater than all our professional sports in Utah combined.” https://governorblog.utah.gov/2014/05/gov-herbert-names-may-2014-as-utah-golf-month/ . (By comparison, 1.3 Billion is what the skiing industry claimed to generate that year.) You’d think those numbers would earn golf a little more respect from official sources. Or a least a link on a tourism or recreation homepage. But you’d be wrong.
Determined to find something about golf on Visitutah.com, I clicked “Things to Do,” “Outdoor Recreation.” Boom! There it was, after scrolling halfway down the page, 15 photo links to various activities including one box named “golf.” I eagerly followed the link to find a short page with as many references to skiing as to golf. At the top was a beautiful picture of Wing Pointe Golf Course, the airport course that closed two years ago… In the middle, there was a section entitled “where to play” that did not name a single course in Salt Lake, Davis, or Weber counties.
In other states, golf is promoted as a major excursion to draw in visitors. California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, and Colorado all understand that visitors like to golf when they vacation, and their state web-pages reflect it. They understand that even if golf is not the primary draw for out-of-towners, it is certainly a time filler for many visitors in between tours of state and national parks. Plus it is absolutely a draw for locals to move around the state trying out different courses. It’s disappointing how poorly golf is represented on these Utah websites.
Governor Herbert recently announced his desire to boost local tourism across the state. https://www.ksl.com/article/46243520/utah-governor-to-ask-lawmakers-for-225-million-in-tourism-funding. There is a case to be made for why we should heavily emphasize the approximately 120 statewide golf courses in state tourism marketing. For many small communities and cities, the golf course is a major, if not the only, tourist draw to their area. They are a consistent and measurable boon to the outdoor recreation economy in Utah. Plus they make photogenic subjects for marketing!
I hope governor Herbert gets his wish for more tourism marketing dollars for Utah communities. Let’s promote the states hidden gems and not-so-hidden gems, including the many golf courses that provide green space and outdoor recreation to “more than 100 Utah communities.” With more equality to winter sports and outdoor recreation in state tourism marketing, I have no doubt golf could generate 1 Billion dollars per year into the economy. That’s no small feat and should earn golf a front page button alongside skiing and state parks, instead of broken links and back page marginalization.
Zachary Aland – General Manager
Crane Field Golf Course
Remuda Golf Course