New course owner readies for Kingsmill Championship

Tjefferson@vagazette.com

The preparation is complete, the course is ready and the Kingsmill Championship is expected to have another strong economic impact for the area this weekend.

"All of the partners we have that have been in place for a number of years have all continued with us through this year," said John Hilker, who was appointed by Escalante Golf as chief operations officer for Kingsmill Resort.

The Kingsmill Championship is an LPGA tour event held on the River Course at Kingsmill Resort since 2003.

This year, the tournament returns with a new course owner, Escalante Golf, which acquired Kingsmill Resort on March 1 for $30.7 million. The Texas-based company owns and operates 15 golf course properties across the country.

Area localities and businesses continue to to be partners in the event.

"We have a skybox, food and refreshments for folks. We sent out invitations for a lot of businesses in the area so they can participate as well," assistant county administrator Jason Purse said. "Part of our sponsorship also includes having our county logo on the vests the caddy's wear, a full page panel in the pairings program and four commercials aired during the broadcast."

Purse said the county spent $85,000 for its sponsorship.

"All of the benefit that we would get would be from hotel stays and eating at the restaurants," said Purse of the revenue and taxes the county will collect by hosting the event. Commissioner of Revenue Richard Bradshaw couldn't say specifically how much money that would be.

From a business perspective, it's an opportunity for the county to show off.

"It's a chance to show James City at its best," said Amy Jordan, county economic director.

The county board of supervisors will be on hand throughout the weekend.

"This is a significant economic boost to our area," supervisor John McGlennon said. "I welcome all golfers to have a great time as we have several attractions for all to enjoy."

The LPGA estimates each year the Kingsmill Championship brings $6 million to the area, according to Hilker. Hilker said preparation is year long, and Kingsmill will begin working on next year's tournament right after this one ends.

While the Kingsmill Championship takes place in James City County, the city of Williamsburg also sees an economic benefit.

"We're delighted in the exposure, James City County takes the lead we aren't nearly as involved as they are," said Williamsburg economic director Michele Dewitt. "We are glad to have tourists come and hope people spend time in not only the city but the entire region."

Dewitt said the city's sponsorship will include logos on the quiet paddles and digital scoreboards. The city spent $15,000 for its sponsorship.

"It's a great event that provides spinoff to the whole region," said Dewitt.

The Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance will use the event to host clients and show off the golf courses at Kingsmill.

"We look at this tournament as a chance to raise awareness of the destination for people who are interested in golf," said Bob Harris, at the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance senior vice president. "The amount of air time coverage that it gets on the Golf Channel promoting Kingsmill and Williamsburg is substantial for us."

For the Alliance, this is a weekend that they mark their calendar for at the beginning of the year.

"We try and help promote the tournament from a social and marketing standpoint," Harris said. "We put it on our calendar at VisitWilliamsburg.com. Sports are a big thing for us in the Williamsburg area, and we have amazing golf courses, and this tournament shows we have the potential to host large events like this from an infrastructure standpoint of their being facilities to manage such a big tournament."

Some of the other sponsors for the Kingsmill Championship include Busch Gardens, 1st Advantage Federal Credit Union and Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center.

Escalante is no stranger to LPGA and PGA tournaments. Escalante also owns properties in Texas and Oregon, which host the Shell Houston Open and the Web.com Tour in Portland.

The rich golf culture in Williamsburg is something that drew Escalante to Kingsmill Resort.

"We consider Kingsmill Resort to be one of the most iconic golf-centric residential communities in the Mid-Atlantic, and we're proud to be stewards of a property such as this," Hilker.

With good weather on tap for the weekend and a projected crowd of 100,000, Escalante is looking forward to its first Kingsmill Championship.

"We feel like revenues are going to be strong and the tournament is going to be successful," Hilker said.

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

Want to go to the LPGA Kingsmill Championship?

When: Today through Sunday

Where: 1010 Kingsmill Road

For ticket information visit, thekingsmillchampionship.com/ticket-options.php.

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