Greenbrier Classic brings tourism opportunities to West Virginia - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Greenbrier Classic brings tourism opportunities to West Virginia

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Visitors to the West Virginia Welcome Center at The Greenbrier Classic are treated to an outstanding view of the PGA TOUR players on the 17th green at The Old White TPC. Visitors to the West Virginia Welcome Center at The Greenbrier Classic are treated to an outstanding view of the PGA TOUR players on the 17th green at The Old White TPC.
Crowd favorite and new Greenbrier resident Bubba Watson is playing in The Greenbrier Classic this week. The 2012 and 2014 Master's champion is looking to make his first cut in just his second tournament at The Old White TPC. Crowd favorite and new Greenbrier resident Bubba Watson is playing in The Greenbrier Classic this week. The 2012 and 2014 Master's champion is looking to make his first cut in just his second tournament at The Old White TPC.
A variety of official Greenbrier Classic and PGA TOUR merchandise and souvenirs is available at several locations on The Old White TPC course A variety of official Greenbrier Classic and PGA TOUR merchandise and souvenirs is available at several locations on The Old White TPC course
Thousands of visitors and tourists descend upon The Old White TPC course for The Greenbrier Classic, a PGA TOUR FedExCup event held in White Sulphur Springs. Thousands of visitors and tourists descend upon The Old White TPC course for The Greenbrier Classic, a PGA TOUR FedExCup event held in White Sulphur Springs.
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With the first round of The Greenbrier Classic underway July 3, the crowds were picking up along The Old White TPC golf course in White Sulphur Springs. 

That's good news for the tourism industry in West Virginia, and Commissioner of Tourism Amy Shuler Goodwin.

The tourism department has a West Virginia Welcome Center set up facing the No. 17 green, which offers an enclosed, air conditioned room where visitors can pick up information about the state, with state officials hoping visitors plan return trips to the Mountain State.

It's one of the nicest vantage points for spectators that the course has to offer, as well.

"Hundreds of thousands of people travel through here," Goodwin said. "We know about where the crowd comes from, but this is a national crowd, an international crowd that follows golf too."

Even on just the fourth day of this year's event and first competitive PGA TOUR round, the reach has been impressive.

"We have had people from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio and even Texas," Goodwin said. "But we also have people from places like Germany and Canada.
"There's a lot of people coming from Canada to golf in West Virginia."

Additional marketing strategies are being planned, as Goodwin enters her second month as the commissioner of tourism and deputy secretary of commerce. She has spent much of her career as a spokesperson for two governors — Bos Wise and Earl Ray Tomblin.

"The locations that we need to focus on for marketing hasn't changed for several years," she said. "It's Columbus, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Roanoke, Washington, D.C. It's areas like that were you can come in and spend a day.
“They're coming in to golf, coming in to game and hunt, fish or hike. A lot of people are coming in for camping. Whitewater rafting is an enormous industry for us."

With plenty of tourism options, Goodwin said she would like for more natives of the state to take advantage of the activities.

"Our focus has to also be on the 55 counties within West Virginia," she said. "We'll start to spend more of our time, energy and money within the state. The No. 1 source of people that spend (tourism) money in West Virginia is West Virginians. No. 2 is people from Ohio."

The Greenbrier Classic, a FedExCup event that draws the best golfers in the world, has been an economic boom for the state tourism department.
"We have a great opportunity with the Greenbrier Classic to showcase West Virginia in a variety of different ways,” Goodwin said. “For the golfing industry alone, travelers make golf part of their routine, part of their fun. In West Virginia, we're up about 4 percent right now.


“That says we're doing a better job marketing golf in the Mountain State," Goodwin said. "The Greenbrier Classic is a part of that, absolutely."

Greenbrier County isn't the only place the state has to offer for golfers.

"You can go to many other parts of the state and find exceptional golf facilities — Oglebay, Canaan, Stonewall, Glade Springs," Goodwin pointed out. “I challenge you to find more beautiful sporting arenas than you get from those courses."