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Minnesota Golf Enters New Era; Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance to Market Minnesota Golf Tourism Nationally and Internationally
MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 18, 1998 -  In an effort to raise the national and international presence of Minnesota's golf courses to a level comparable to the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, the golf, tourism, and hospitality industries of Minnesota have formed the Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance (EMGA). With goals of retaining Minnesota golfers, while significantly enhancing the number of golfers coming into the state, the creation of the EMGA represents one of the most exciting statewide tourism initiatives in recent history.

"We simply want to bring many more golfers to Minnesota," said Richard Howell, chairman of the board of directors for the EMGA. "We believe this will make us competitive with the top golf destinations in the country.

We now have an expanded golf product, superb support facilities, excellent transportation and access to this market. The state is ready for this idea."

After a year-long national search, Minnesota native Doug Hart was hired to be the Executive Director of the EMGA. Hart, who worked for nine years heading up the Myrtle Beach golf outreach program, will work with a 19-member board of directors made up of golf course owners and managers, tourism leaders, and representatives from the hospitality industry.

"We have a great opportunity here to get the word out about Minnesota's tremendous array of golf courses," said Hart. "Our goal is to make the Explore Minnesota Golf brand name recognizable across the country and eventually, throughout the world."

The State of Minnesota's Department of Tourism, the Minnesota Golf Association (MGA), the Minnesota section of the PGA, the Minnesota Golf Course Managers Association (MGCMA) and other allied associations, along with the resort and hospitality industries, have been strongly supportive of this effort. The primary role for the alliance will be the creation, development, and implementation of "Explore Minnesota Golf" marketing strategies across the nation. The alliance will be funded by a variety of sources, including the MGA, the Minnesota Office of Tourism, member courses, resorts, hotels/motels and, ultimately, corporate marketing partnerships.

"We are convinced we can now sell the Minnesota golf product nationally and internationally, reaching beyond our traditional tourism markets," said Steve Markuson, Director of Tourism for the State of Minnesota. "The EMGA represents a cooperative effort of the Minnesota golf, tourism and hospitality industries to position Minnesota as one of the country's premier golf destinations."

"Coming on the heels of the MGA's economic impact report (which was released November 14 and revealed that Minnesota's golf industry accounted for $829.7 million in economic benefit to the state economy last year), this is a great shot in the arm for course owners and managers," said Dick Bennett, president of the Minnesota Golf Association. "In terms of marketing our state's golf courses, successful implementation of the Explore Minnesota Golf initiative will put us up there with the top golf destinations in the country."

The mission statement for the EMGA is as follows: to develop, produce and manage a fully integrated marketing communications program for the benefit of all EMGA members that includes advertising, public relations and promotions designed to attract golf tourism to Minnesota and retain existing golfers, maximizing the growth of golf-related room nights in the member accommodations and golf rounds at member courses.

"Minnesota has some of the most beautiful and challenging courses in the country," said Jon Tollette, executive director of the Minnesota section of the PGA. "We offer a variety of unique and quality accommodations that compare with the top markets in the country."
 

EMGA Board of Directors
Chairman, President Richard Howell -- The Howell Group, Wayzata

Vice Presidents
Fred Bobich -- Ruttger's Sugar Lake, Grand Rapids
Mark Ronnei, Grand View Lodge, Nisswa

Treasurer
Tom Haugen -- Stonebrooke, Shakopee

Secretary
John Montague -- Colle McVoy Inc., 

John Connelly -- Mpls North Metro Convention Visitors Bureau
Dutch Cragun -- Cragun's, Brainerd
Ross Galarneault -- MGA, Edina
Scott Harrison -- Lutsen Resort, Lutsen
Arnold Hewes -- Hospitality Minnesota, St. Paul
Jeff Budd -- Rush Creek Golf Course, Maple Grove
Steve Markuson -- Minnesota Office of Tourism, St. Paul
Roger Miller -- Minnetonka Travel, Wayzata
Jim Peters -- Peters Sunset Beach, Glenwood
Jack Ruttger -- Ruttger's Bay Lake, Deerwood
Brian Thuringer -- Maddens, Brainerd
Jon Tollette -- Minnesota Section of PGA, Coon Rapids
John Valliere -- Braemar Golf Course, Edina
Jason Tollette -- Izaty's Golf Yacht Club, Onamia

 
EMGA Board of Directors
Chairman, President Richard Howell -- The Howell Group, Wayzata

Vice Presidents
Fred Bobich -- Ruttger's Sugar Lake, Grand Rapids
Mark Ronnei, Grand View Lodge, Nisswa

Treasurer
Tom Haugen -- Stonebrooke, Shakopee

Secretary
John Montague -- Colle McVoy Inc., 

John Connelly -- Mpls North Metro Convention Visitors Bureau
Dutch Cragun -- Cragun's, Brainerd
Ross Galarneault -- MGA, Edina
Scott Harrison -- Lutsen Resort, Lutsen
Arnold Hewes -- Hospitality Minnesota, St. Paul
Jeff Budd -- Rush Creek Golf Course, Maple Grove
Steve Markuson -- Minnesota Office of Tourism, St. Paul
Roger Miller -- Minnetonka Travel, Wayzata
Jim Peters -- Peters Sunset Beach, Glenwood
Jack Ruttger -- Ruttger's Bay Lake, Deerwood
Brian Thuringer -- Maddens, Brainerd
Jon Tollette -- Minnesota Section of PGA, Coon Rapids
John Valliere -- Braemar Golf Course, Edina
Jason Tollette -- Izaty's Golf Yacht Club, Onamia

Contact:
Steve Schach 
Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance
612-820-9204
Also See:
Minnesota Hospitality Executives Claiming Most Successful Summer Ever / Sept 1998