Big Golf Tournament Means Big Bucks for Shelby County

(Memphis) Business is booming in East Shelby County now that the FedEx St. Jude Classic is in full swing. The golf event brings in thousands of people to Memphis every year, making a lot of businesses happy.

We talked to hotels, restaurants and other businesses in the Southwind area and they say when the golf tournament is in town, it`s one of their best weeks of the year.

It’s people like father and son Jay and Jack Lester who bring their dollars to town.

“How long have you been coming here?” asked reporter Sabrina Hall.

“Eight years in a row,” said father Jay Lester.

The two came from Little Rock for their annual tradition: collecting autographs and star-gazing.

“I’m golfer. He’s a golfer, too,” said 14-year-old Jack Lester. “I just love seeing people who are professional at it.”

When they are here, they have their routine.

“We eat at the Olive Garden down there street every year. That is his favorite restaurant by far,” said Jay about his son.

Other golf fans have their routines as well.

“We make money, they make money, everybody goes home happy,” said Half Shell manager Rory Gardner

Whether it’s the Half Shell or the Hilton, business is always hopping when the FedEx St. Jude Classic is on.

“We have about 150,000 visitors and our research shows that about 40 percent of those are outside the five county area,” said tournament director Phil Cannon.

They are eating at restaurants, staying the night and doing it again the next day.

“There are a lot of cities that don’t have a PGA tour and wish they had one,” said Cannon.

Being in the big leagues of golf brings in approximately $35 million a year.

The bigger the names and the better the weather means the more bountiful for business.

“It’s vital to all the restaurants around here including East End and Huey’s,” said Gardner.

After 56 years of the tournament, East Shelby County and visitors always looks forward to the next one.

“Just like you said, the annual tradition,” said Jay Lester.

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