Last weekend St. Louis held the 2018 PGA Championship. The final major of the year for professional golf and an event that returned to St. Louis for the first time since 1992. It was the first golf major of any kind since 2013, when the Senior PGA came to the Gateway City. Coming in there were plenty of concerns.
Was the course notable enough to host the 100th PGA Championship? Would the crowds support the tournament? What happens if Tiger falters and doesn’t make the cut? What will the players think of the course? How will the weather affect the players? Despite all of these concerns and questions by the time Brooks Koepka hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy all anyone could do was rave about the weekend in St. Louis.
And that is what I want to talk about today. Not the event per se but everything around it and what it means for St. Louis. St. Louis has taken some hard hits over the last few years. From the Rams leaving town to Ferguson and stagnant population growth with a city/county divide. Nationally St. Louis is not viewed in the best of light right now. Heck even within our region, St. Louis is not viewed in kindness. But this weekend shows what St. Louis is.
I don’t like when people compare St. Louis to other cities and say why can’t we be like Nashville or Indianapolis. I don’t like when people talk about the good old days in the context of making it seem like today’s region is so much worse. And I certainly don’t like it when most of these comments and believes come out of the mouths of St. Louisans. Yes St. Louis has issues but St. Louis also has some major pluses and that is what the community needs to focus on.
St. Louis does big events right. Whether it is the PGA Championship, a World Series run by the Cardinals, the Blues chasing that franchise long dream, hosting a NCAA Basketball regional, or a NCAA wrestling event, actually any NCAA athletic event. From corporate sponsors to attendance, the St. Louis community supports the events. And many times, just like this past weekend, it is the atmosphere that leaves a lasting impression.
And that atmosphere is created by the fans. The fans coming in town but also those from St. Louis in attendance help push these events to the top. All the fans together, cheering for entertainment. It is a positive mindset that everyone in attendance has. And this past weekend you saw, and heard, first hand what that means to the athletes performing at the events. They feel the difference. We, the fans, are the difference.
So why is there such a disconnect once the events leave town? The St. Louis community immediately goes back to, oh we aren’t good enough, they would never come here, we can’t host that, etc. We let our self-doubts rise to the top of the conversation.
Again I am not saying that St. Louis does not have problems that need to be addressed. Safety downtown for starters, especially with the great resurgence of residential living down there. A solution for the city/county and truly becoming a REGION working together and not several municipalities fighting against each other. But these are concerns any city has.
The local media has taken the charge from last weekend and started asking questions. But now is the time for the political and community leaders to join the discussion. The PGA Championship brought in an estimated $70-million to the St. Louis community. That is the type of influx in the economy the area needs. And with the positive reviews from the PGA Championship now is the time to continue to build upon that. The leaders need to be real LEADERS and work together. How can we get on a rotating schedule for a PGA major? How can we bring more events to town?
What the St. Louis community can do is start changing the way they think. Don’t look backwards, think forward. We have seen numerous times major events come to St. Louis and go off successfully, the PGA Championship was just the latest. So St. Louis stop thinking of yourself as lesser-than and start working towards being better than. Come together with a plan, put it on a tee, and hit like Koepka straight and long.