Natalie Gulbis will have Myrtle Beach on her sleeve and on her mind for much of 2014.
The LPGA Tour star and model will serve as a spokesperson this year for National Golf Management, which owns and/or operates 22 golf courses on the Grand Strand.
Gulbis will be featured in advertisements and promotions, including television spots concentrated in mid-Atlantic and Northeast markets, social media posts and online videos for NGM’s courses and its villas at Pawleys Plantation, where Gulbis is an honorary member.
“I think it will benefit the entire beach to use an LPGA Tour player the caliber of Natalie to spotlight Myrtle Beach as a whole,” said NGM vice president of sales and marketing Steve Mays. “We hope it’s a long-term arrangement, but at this point it’s a one-year commitment for both of us.”
On tour, Gulbis will wear the logo on the sleeve of her golf shirts of “Myrtle Beach Trips,” which is the golf package arm and website of NGM, which was formed in March 2012 through the merger of the golf properties of Burroughs & Chapin Golf Management and Myrtle Beach National Company.
Gulbis is expected to tweet photos and other information about the Myrtle Beach area throughout the year to her more than 175,000 followers on Twitter (@Natalie_Gulbis).
NGM will hold a sweepstakes on its Myrtle Beach Trips website, through which eight winners selected throughout the year will have dinner with Gulbis on a Friday night in late fall and play golf with her the following morning at Pawleys Plantation, where she will be staying.
Gulbis became a consideration for NGM after discussions with representatives of TaylorMade-adidas, which is a corporate partner of NGM and has an endorsement agreement with Gulbis.
“Natalie kind of popped to the surface as she would be a perfect way for us to promote our golf and package properties and Myrtle Beach as a whole,” Mays said. “She’s a perfect fit for the Myrtle Beach community. She loves the beach and loves golf, so as far as a personality to suit the Myrtle Beach lifestyle it was a perfect match.”
Gulbis has been among the LPGA Tour’s highest profile players for more than a decade, in part because of her golf game and in part because of her television and modeling work that includes pictorials in Sports Illustrated’s 2012 swimsuit issue and her many calendars that have featured both golf attire and swimsuits.
The 31-year-old was the subject of a reality show on Golf Channel that aired for three years from 2005-07 about her daily life and was a contestant on the second season of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice in 2009.
Gulbis’ lone win on the LPGA Tour came at the 2007 Evian Masters in France. She has 37 career top-10 finishes and nearly $5 million in tour earnings, and has participated on three U.S. Solheim Cup teams. Gulbis recently teamed with LPGA colleagues Cristie Kerr and Stacy Lewis to win the Wendy’s Three-Tour Challenge.
She is coming off a 2013 season in which she contracted malaria early in the season during an event in Singapore and made 17 cuts in 20 events, though a tie for ninth in the Ricoh Women’s British Open was her only top 10. Gulbis is entered in the LPGA’s season-opener next week in the Bahamas.
This isn’t Gulbis’ first involvement with a golf promotion on the Strand.
In 2007, a round of golf at the Grande Dunes Resort Course with Gulbis was the prize in a contest through the Golf Channel that was part of an advertising purchase by marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. The contest received more than 70,000 entries, and Gulbis stayed in the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes and played a round with a Colorado man, his wife and two adult sons on a cold November day.
Gulbis said in 2007 that she had previously visited Myrtle Beach on one occasion several years ago. Efforts to contact Gulbis on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.