Chamber focuses on tourism at Early Bird Breakfast
LaGRANGE — Tourism and tales from the PGA Tour were the highlights of the Chamber of Commerce Early Bird Breakfast on April 12 at Del’avant.
More than 200 guests learned about the impact tourism has in Troup County and heard from Charlie Rymer, current co-host for “Morning Drive” on the Golf Channel.
The program recognized professionals who serve in the tourism industry and acknowledged their contributions to the community. Two individuals received special recognition as recipients of annual tourism awards presented by the Chamber’s Tourism Advisory Council.
Holly Forsyth, director of sales for Wingate by Wyndham, was honored as the 2016 Tourism Service Star award winner in recognition of her passion for tourism and commitment to customer service.
Forsyth has been active in the Presidential Pathways Tourism Association for almost a decade and was cited by chamber officials as consistently demonstrating tremendous initiative and leadership in promoting the LaGrange-Troup County area as a tourism destination.
Walter Murphy, retired president of LaGrange College, is the recipient of the 2016 Tourism Visionary Award for his role in the founding of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. Chamber officials said his work to ensure the creation of the orchestra provided the region with an important tourism resource.
From 1989, when he was first approached with the idea, until his retirement from the LSO board in 2008, Murphy worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the organization, now in its 27th year, officials said. Murphy’s wife, Marianne, accepted the award on his behalf.
Since joining the Golf Channel in 2008, Charlie Rymer has contributed to the network’s coverage of the Drive, Chip and Putt championships and Golf Central’s coverage of the NCAA Golf Championships. He has grown to develop a reputation for his quick wit and “down home” humor on air.
Fresh off his work at The Masters tournament in Augusta, Charlie Rymer had the audience in stitches as he shared tales from his career on the PGA Tour. Recalling his best tournament round ever, Rymer told of an encounter with golfing great Byron Nelson.
After shooting a 61 in the third round of the 1995 Byron Nelson Championship, Rymer was battling a bad case of nerves as he prepared to play in the final group on Sunday for the first time in his professional career. Prior to teeing off, Nelson, who took the time to speak with all of the golfers, congratulated Rymer on his excellent play on Saturday.
“Charlie, I never shot 61,” said Nelson. “I shot 59 or 60 a couple of times but never 61,” he said with a chuckle. “In that moment, Mr. Nelson helped calm my nerves and I was ready to go play,” said Rymer.
An accomplished junior golfer, Rymer won the 1985 U. S. Junior Amateur and went on to become a two-time All-American at Georgia Tech. The Fort Mill, South Carolina, native spent more than 10 years playing professional golf. Rymer also collaborates on golf course design projects with Mike Young, owner of The Fields Golf Club, a links-style course located in Troup County.
For the first time since 2012, tourism has a new look as the chamber unveiled its latest campaign. In October 2015, the tourism team selected Rhyme & Reason, a marketing firm from Atlanta, to help create a new campaign to represent the tourism assets of LaGrange and Troup County.
“Be Surprised highlights the recurring theme we constantly hear from visitors stating how pleasantly surprised they are by all that we have to offer,” said Dave Marler, director of tourism. “We are excited to introduce the new slogan and encourage your friends and family to come visit and stay a while. We’re sure they’ll be surprised!”