State

Florida’s First Coast of Golf Turns 25

FFCG hit the quarter century mark in 2017, making its 25th Anniversary the silver summit for the long list of accomplishments that this premier golf destination has achieved over the years.

Named the 2017 North American Golf Destination of the Year by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO), Florida’s First Coast of Golf started the year with some impressive momentum!

 

 

FFCG hit the quarter century mark in 2017, making its 25th anniversary a silver summit among the long list of accomplishments that this premier golf destination has achieved over the years.

 

Founded in 1992, the organization now unites a collective of 61 industry partners, five counties, and the State of Florida under a unified brand. “Northeast Florida, and its 196 kilometer stretch along Florida's Atlantic Coast, is home to some of the world's finest coastal Golf Courses, Resorts and Teaching Academies in the USA." – IAGTO, 2017

 

Courses

TPC Sawgrass

Hidden Hills Golf Club

LPGA Jones Course

 

Resorts

Renaissance World Golf Village

Sawgrass Marriott

One Ocean Resort

 

Teaching Academies

PGA Tour Golf Academy

Golf Made Simple

 

So what is it about Florida’s First Coast that has made it one of the most beloved golf destinations in the United States? What makes it so magnetic for golfers and visitors traveling in from all over the country? How has FFCG had such staying power?

We spoke candidly with David Reese, President of Florida’s First Coast of Golf to answer these questions and talk with him a little about the organization’s 25th Anniversary. With over 16 years in the industry, he had some great words to offer up…

 

How did FFCG first come about?

In 1992, tourism leaders in northeast Florida took notice of Myrtle Beach’s success in bolstering their tourism industry through the golf vacation market with 100 courses. Efforts then began to organize and position our 120 miles of Atlantic coastline as a premier golf destination with 72 courses and strong lodging product under the brand of Florida’s First Coast of Golf. Leaders recognized that we possessed strong competitive selling points such as being home to THE PLAYERS, PGA & Champions TOUR, the Florida brand and pleasant year round temperatures as a coastal destination for golfers all over the globe. One of the strongest regional cooperatives in the State of Florida, in any market, had been birthed on the philosophy that by combining product and financial resources “all boats rise with the incoming tide.”

 

Talk to us about some of the big successes in the last 25 years of FFCG. What moments stand out the most? Proudest accomplishments?

There are so many to choose from but the largest accomplishment has been 25 contiguous years of leading five city governments, an aviation authority and multiple golf course and lodging partners to continued and sustained growth – successfully branding the region as a popular golf vacation spot.

I am very proud of our involvement in the plan to take THE PLAYERS to a new level, where golf’s best fan experience surrounds the best field of golfers anywhere in the world. PGA TOUR, FFCG and the region tourism partners set forth a plan in 2010 that has resulted in more out of town visitors attending THE PLAYERS than residents in NE Florida. It’s an amazing accomplishment.

Other big accomplishments include hosting Golf Channel’s Big Break series and hosting the International Golf Travel Market, where golf tour operators around the world came to NE Florida to conduct business and promote NE Florida to their global customer base – this was the beginning of an international breakthrough for our region

Other notable recognitions are when FFCG won the 2017 North American Golf Destination of the Year and when we got the chance to work with MG Orender to get resident PGA Professional golfers Jim Furyk, Jim McCumber and Fred Funk to do a commercial endorsing the area as a golf destination.

Lastly, I am very proud that we won our organization’s first “VISIT FLORIDA Henry Flagler Award” for best website in the State of Florida tourism (all segments). To be recognized in such a tourism rich state such as Florida was a huge accomplishment.

 

What are your hopes for next 25 years for FFCG?

In 2016, nine of our top ten markets were fly-in. Today, we have expanded our efforts to national markets and nearby drive markets, east of the Mississippi. My hope is that we can build on the international successes along with our tourism partners across multiple travel segments and see scheduled international flight service for tourists and the local residents.

 

What do you love most about this organization?

No day is the same in our organization. We are a small organization with big responsibilities that encourage innovation and “can-do attitudes.” The people we interact with, both from the industry and the tourists coming in each day, are a blessing.