Tulsa Win: PGA Championship brings $157.7 million economic impact

TULSA, Okla. — PGA Championship impact numbers are in and they are exceeded expectations.

Numbers released from the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce Wednesday show about $157.7 million was spent around Tulsa and on merchandise and concessions at Southern Hills during the week of May 16-22.

Michael Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, says that’s a lot of dollars but a lot of eyes on Tulsa too.

“One of the challenges we’ve had in Tulsa, as sort of a mid-major city, for decades, is that we’ve not had much image,” he said, “Not that we’ve had a bad image. We’ve just not had much image at all. Sometimes, we’ve been referred to as a vanilla town. Well, this community has blossomed, has grown tremendously the last ten or 15 years.”

The PGA Championship was expected to bring in more than $143 million, meaning by the economic impact surpassed that by almost $15 million. More than 60,000 Tulsa-area hotel rooms were occupied that week. All this revenue, spread across Tulsa after several particularly years for hotels and restaurants, thanks to the pandemic.

Kelsey Israel, Director of Operations at the Polo Grill, said they served 250-300 guest each night, doubling their normal business.

“We called an ‘all hands on deck,’ so every staff member that was available who could come into work,” Israel said.

Other business used the attraction to simply get the word out. Nick Sidorakis, general manager of Southern Hills Country Club, says more than 100 companies purchased corporate hospitality tents to promote their companies and promote Tulsa.

“So they had people coming in from all over the United States and even the world,” he said, “Its just the recognition and the awareness in just really seeking Tulsa.”

Tulsa wasn’t even originally meant to host the PGA Championship this year with the city hosting the Senior PGA Championship in 2021. However, after the January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the event was suddenly taken off the schedule for the Donald Trump-owned New Jersey golf club.

To put this price tag in perspective, the 2021 Senior PGA Championship here had an estimated impact of $24 million.

PGA Championship Director Bryan Karns said Southern Hills could be home to the PGA Championship again soon, hinting at a 2032 return.