Valdosta Economy Gets Boost from South Georgia Classic

By: Gabrielle Sarann Email
By: Gabrielle Sarann Email

The energy is building on the streets of Valdosta.

"I've been here, like I say, the last four years and I love it. It's great." says Levon Newsom, of Nesbit, MS, who's playing in the Pro-Am for the fifth time.

Newsom says he will meet up with colleagues, play golf and, of course, spend money.

"When we come down here, we spend a lot of money. You know, food, drinks, a lot of drinks," says Newsom.

More than 150 professional golfers and 296 Pro-Am players are here for the South Georgia Classic, drawing a crowd of eight to 10 thousand people, according to David Fox, the tournament director of the South Georgia Classic.

"The sales tax alone that the tournament brings in is around $28,000," says Fox. "And that's a large amount of money, especially when you're talkin' about the local mom and pop restaurants, gas stations in the area."

The tournament estimates that hotels, food and entertainment alone generate $176,36 for Valdosta from April 25 to May 1.

"You know, Saturday we'll probably come out with the whole family and we'll go out to eat at a local restaurant," says Chad McLeod, of Echols County, who was playing Wednesday morning in the Pro-Ams with his friend, Mike Allen, of Valdosta.

Meanwhile, golf enthusiasts at a Pro-Am Pairing Party at the Rainwater Conference Center Tuesday night were taking it all in.

"I love golf and especially I love John Smoltz, former Atlanta Braves," says John Naylor, of Dixie. "You can't get it better than this!"

Rusty Angell, who's visiting from Hendersonville, TN, added, "It just doesn't get any better. To play on the course where the pros play and to get the treatment that you get and just to be out and enjoy the weather and enjoy south Georgia."

The Hospital Authority of Valdosta-Lowndes County is the biggest beneficiary of the classic.

And it's during the tournament that companies bring visitors from out of town to recruit business to Valdosta.

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