For the fourth consecutive year, the Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club will receive live national exposure through the Mike & Mike in the Morning show.
ESPN’s staple morning sports talk show, which airs from 6-10 a.m. weekdays simultaneously on ESPN Radio and ESPN2 television, is again scheduled to broadcast live from the back of the Dye Club’s first tee prior to the opening tee shot on April 14.
Show hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic are returning through an agreement with marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, which sponsors and helps operate the event.
“It has been well received and we feel it has been good for the destination,” Golf Holiday president Bill Golden said. “Though it’s not a specific avid golf audience, there are avid golfers who listen and watch Mike & Mike and ESPN. And it’s a younger audience and I think it’s an area we hadn’t been in.”
Thousands of spectators surrounded the hosts around the first tee in both 2011 and 2012, and the broadcast also received a strong showing last year when it was moved into the House of Blues because of the threat of bad weather.
“It worked well from the House of Blues from a production standpoint,” Golden said. “It was confined and out of the weather elements. But we like the branding imagery of having them out on the first tee. We feel it adds a bit of excitement to the event to have them outside and let fans interact with them.”
The visit will culminate a marketing campaign through the show that has begun and includes 30- and 60-second commercials, live and recorded reads by Greenberg and Golic, and ads during other daytime ESPN Radio shows.
The Dye Club is hosting the 20-year pro-am for the 12th consecutive year. It was previously held in Columbia and Kiawah Island.
Greenberg and Golic typically have a few athletes, celebrities or musicians on the air as guests within hours of their participation in the Hootie tournament and/or post-tournament concert at the House of Blues.
“We’ve done a few years now where we’ve been able to understand the results of it,” Golden said. “Like anything, we need to evaluate it to make sure it’s something we need to be doing in the future. But it’s been great for the destination and great for the event, and I think Barefoot would say it’s been a nice boon for the property there in terms of awareness, and for North Myrtle Beach, and that trickles down to the entire destination.”
A tough January
Golf course operators hoping to quickly bounce back from a year in which paid rounds dropped 6 percent, according to statistics compiled by Golf Holiday, haven’t been helped by the weather thus far in 2014.
January has been cold, particularly last week when high temperatures were below 45 degrees for three consecutive days, keeping golfers off courses and resulting in some rain checks for a minimal number of package rounds booked.
Things aren’t improving to close out the month, either, as the next couple days call for rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow along with more frigid temperatures that will have courses empty.
Any disappointment is tempered, however, by the fact that January is a slow month for rounds with green fees at their lowest.
“The weather has a huge impact on rounds of golf, but at the end of the day if you’re going to be down in a month you’d want that month to be January,” said Steve Mays, vice president of sales and marketing for National Golf Management, which operates 22 Grand Strand courses. “You’re not doing a ton of rounds in January.”
Though courses won’t be hosting golfers for at least a couple days, players should be able to get right back on the fairways once the weather improves because the winter storm isn’t likely to affect the condition of area layouts long-term.
In fact, Tradition Club superintendent and general manager Clay DuBose said moisture from the storm in any form will be beneficial compared to cold temperatures without it.
“Snow or sleet cover is actually better than it just being cold,” DuBose said. “As long as it’s not frozen for an extended period of time, it’s not too bad. We haven’t hit extreme low temperatures for an extended period of time, so I don’t foresee any issues.”
DuBose said some superintendents in the Southeast will intentionally ice their greens for protection, which is similar to a tactic used by orange growers in Florida. He said no grass in particular – be it bentgrass, Bermudagrass or a winter overseed – should be negatively impacted.
The wet weather might even prove to eventually assist conditions in an area that has been relatively dry since mid-summer.
“I don’t think we’re going to have any turf damage, but if we have an ice storm we’ll have a lot of limbs to pick up, which is a nuisance and time consuming because there is no easy way to pick them up,” said Max Morgan, National Golf Management vice president of agronomy.
Play18 adds partner
Less than a month after 28 Strand courses aligned with Play18 Solutions, Play18 has partnered with Sports Illustrated Golf Group to further strengthen its claim to being one of the golf industry’s fastest growing marketing and technology companies.
Play18 has a media, marketing and commerce pact with SI Golf Group, which includes Golf Magazine, SI Golf Plus and Golf.com, that makes it the official tee time service provider for Golf.com.
Beginning in 2014, visitors to Golf.com’s home page will be able to book tee times from one of Play18’s expanding roster of resorts and courses, including National Golf Management’s 22 on the Strand.
SI Golf Group will provide marketing support for both Play18 Solutions and its golf course clients via its portfolio of print, digital, mobile and tablet products.
Play18 is in just its second month of existence and is the result of a merger of three companies: T-Links, the Internet cloud-based tee time booking system that approximately 80 Strand courses utilize through the Grand Strand Tee Time Network, Integrated Business Systems (IBS), a point-of-sale system that is in the pro shops of about half of the Strand’s approximate 100 courses, and Quick 18, which helps sell and market courses through websites, mobile applications and social media.
“We have had the opportunity to partner with a variety of companies to provide a tee time booking solution on Golf.com,” said SI Golf Group publisher Dick Raskopf in a release. “We have been hesitant up to this point because we wanted to partner with a company that not only could provide tee times but that would also help golf courses improve their financial position.”
Closed courses featured
A handful of former golf courses on the Strand were featured in an article that ran in the November/December issue of Orion Magazine. The theme of the article was the extent to which nature reclaims abandoned golf courses.
Though Orion puts some of its stories online, that article isn’t one of them.
Writer Jacques Leslie and photographer Bob Dawson, both of the San Francisco area, were on the Strand for five days last July.
Former courses they toured include the former 54-hole Bay Tree Plantation in Little River, 36-hole Deer Track Golf Resort near Surfside Beach, Robber’s Roost Golf Club in North Myrtle Beach, and Marsh Harbour Golf Links and Ocean Harbour Golf Links in Calabash, N.C.
Orion is a nature and environmental periodical that publishes every two months. The magazine’s stated mission is to inform, inspire and engage individuals and grassroots organizations in becoming a significant cultural force for healing nature and community, and without advertisements it relies on subscriptions and donations.
Leslie said a lot of the photos and text that he and Dawson produced didn’t make it into the article so they’re exploring ways to get the remaining information published.
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.