The beautiful scenes of the Mahoning Valley broadcast around the world last Sunday as part of ESPN2's coverage of the LPGA Giant Eagle Classic underscored the value of the golf tournament to the region. Not only does the tournament raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for area charities, it also boosts the local economy by millions.
When Mahoning Valley Sports Charities -- the organization that runs the tournament -- wanted to determine the direct and indirect benefits of the Classic to the local community, they turned to Robert Morris College to undertake an economic impact study.
The experts examined the numbers and found that the Mahoning Valley is enriched by more than $20 million every year. About $11 million is directly attributable to the tournament, from spending at hotels and motels, restaurants, gas stations and stores, for example.
Another $11 million derives from the intangibles -- such as the national and international publicity, the companies which invite business guests to the tournament and see their business increase as a result or out-of-towners returning to the area for other tourist activities.
First class: As Eddie Thomas, manager of the tournament explains, "What's important is what it does for the Valley to have a first class event."
And anyone participating in the wide range of events associated with the LPGA's visit to Squaw Creek County Club had to have been impressed with the beauty of the golf course, the professional management and the warm Valley welcome extended to all those who participated -- from the women's golf stars to the legions of fans.
In her second year of professional golf, Dorothy Delasin was again the champion. Last year, we noted the absence on her gear of the logos of corporate sponsors, and this year the 20-year-old Delasin has still not been invited to hop aboard the sponsorship gravy train. But winning the first place $150,000 prize should assuage any disappointment she might feel. Her come-from-behind victory over the favored Se Ri Pak kept the tournament exciting until the final holes.
The other excitement from the tournament will take place in October when the $455,000 proceeds are allocated to scores of area social service and educational groups. Last year's grants ranged from $330 to $25,000 to help organizations like the Easter Seal Society, the Children's Rehabilitation Center, the Mahoning County Chemical Dependency Program and the Millcreek Children's Center continue their good works.