Marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday will spend the bulk of its $4.8 million marketing budget for 2013 in the first three months of the year as it attempts to give the spring golf season a boost.
The first quarter marketing plan traditionally accounts for 60 to 65 percent of the annual budget. It includes television, radio, print and Internet advertising buys, an email campaign, and an increased emphasis on direct mail to prospective customers resulting from a new strategy to mine new and desirable email and mailing addresses.
“A significant portion of our golf revenue for the area occurs in the spring so we load up and inundate the marketplace in the first quarter, particularly in January and February to try to meet the pent up demand in the northern markets to book a golf vacation,” Golf Holiday president Bill Golden said.
Golf Holiday’s marketing has become perhaps more important than ever because the economy has forced many of its members to curtail their individual marketing efforts.
The spring plan includes ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning radio/television sports talk show broadcasting April 15 from the Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club, and a national ESPN Radio promotional package surrounding the appearance.
There are some large Myrtle Beach golf inserts in Golf Magazine in select regional markets in January and February, and the Grand Strand market has a presence in Golf Digest in February and commercials on Golf Channel in February, March and April.
The online presence in the first few months of the year includes banners and/or sweepstakes on Golfweek.com, PGA.com and ESPNRadio.com, and banners and sweeps also appear on the World Golf Tour online game and Golf Logix GPS phone app.
Markets with non-stop air service to Myrtle Beach are being targeted through March with advertising on key regional radio and/or television stations and in regional publications. The markets include Pittsburgh, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Baltimore/Washington, D.C., New York and Dallas, and a sweepstakes to win a Myrtle Beach golf vacation is a component in many cities.
Utilizing a new tactic, Golf Holiday is using its own extensive database of customers and prospective customers who have inquired about golf vacations to find new customers.
With the help of the National Golf Foundation, Golf Holiday analyzed the demographics and locations of golfers in its database and is using the information to purchase lists of golfers in similar demographic blocks and census blocks.
Golf Holiday believes it is getting the desired customer. Golden said a study by the NGF revealed golfers visiting Myrtle Beach are more affluent and played more rounds than the national averages.
“It painted a very positive picture of the golfers we’ve been acquiring, that not only are coming to Myrtle Beach but that we’re attracting from an inquiry standpoint,” Golden said. “Now the opportunity is to find golfers who match these criteria and then contact them.”
Golf Holiday is launching a direct mail campaign to 300,000 golfers with brochures featuring information and package opportunities, and there is an additional email campaign. A second direct mail wave will likely commence in late February and include players in a number of drive markets.
“It’s getting a bit more granular and certainly more strategic, and it provides us with another avenue to market in [specific markets],” Golden said. “We’re getting much more precise with the data we have to help us market, to help us attract and grow air service, to help us get new golfer names, and provide better data to our membership.”
Golden said that in 2012 Golf Holiday generated 125,000 leads with names, email addresses and mailing addresses. “So much of our activity is based on trying to generate inquiries that can be marketed to by Golf Holiday and its individual members,” he said.
Golf Holiday representatives and members will promote the market in person at numerous consumer golf shows through mid-March.
“Those regional efforts are critical because we need to continue to acquire leads,” Golden said. “Every time we can acquire information on golfers interested in coming here is critical to us because we want to have that information so we can continue to remarket to them.”
With the Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship celebrating its 30th anniversary in August, the tournament will be weaved into a lot of marketing messages, particularly beginning in the second quarter. “With it being the 30th anniversary it’s a big year, and we want to make a big statement with the health of this event,” Golden said. “It generates such a strong amount of promotion and public relations for us, this is a great opportunity to double down on that.”
Though a contract hasn’t been signed, there has been enough discussion that Golden believes Coastal Carolina alumnus Dustin Johnson, who has already won on the PGA Tour this year, will be involved in a sweepstakes for a third consecutive year in which the winner and his guests get to play a round with Johnson. “We’re looking forward to working with Dustin this year, for sure,” Golden said. Johnson played on the Strand with a sweeps winner this past fall.
Though Golf Holiday has a plan for the remainder of the year past April, it is more subject to change than the spring plan. “As things evolve we’re moving money from one place to another based on opportunities,” Golden said.
Lundy on the mend
Patrick Lundy of Little River had surgery on Jan. 16 on an injured left shoulder and he expects to miss the first six or seven months of the pro golf season.
Lundy, 22, has been a member of the national NGA Tour Pro Series for the past three years.
He had a tough opening three months of the 2012 season but finished third and tied for fifth in consecutive tournaments in May and June to earn more than $14,000 in the two events combined. He also missed qualifying for the U.S. Open by a stroke in that time.
He made his next three cuts before missing his final three cuts of the year through Sept. 2. Following his hot streak, he began experiencing pain in the shoulder and saw an orthopedic doctor. “They told me I’d have to have surgery or never be full strength,” Lundy said.
The surgery was to repair a torn labrum and fix a tendon that was growing over a bone in the wrong direction, which Lundy said was genetic. “I’ve had a lot of problems since I was 15 or 16,” Lundy said. “I’ve had to withdraw from tournaments now and then. It would just get inflamed.”
Former Carolina Panthers team physician Donald F. D’Alessandro performed the surgery. He is Chief of Sports Medicine & Shoulder Surgery at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and is now a physician for Hendrick Motorsports and Davidson College.
“He said I’ve been playing with a bum shoulder my whole life,” Lundy said. “I was never able to strengthen it like other people. I should make a full recovery and be better than I ever was.”
Lundy had a checkup with D’Alessandro on Monday and the doctor was optimistic about his recovery. He removed the sling Lundy has used for the past 12 days.
Though he’s been advised not to exercise or do any golf-related activities for up to a month, Lundy said he will be able to putt in a month, chip in two months, make a full swing in four months and play competitively in six months. He’s been told it will be a full year before he’s close to 100 percent.
“I’ve got to be patient,” Lundy said. “I’ve already watched [four] of these tournaments on TV this year and it’s making me sick.”
Lundy began physical therapy two days after the surgery and intends to rejoin the NGA Tour and attempt Monday qualifiers on the Web.com and possibly PGA tours.
“I’m going to push for physical therapy five days a week,” Lundy said. “It might take a little while, but it was definitely something that had to be done. I just have to suck it up and get through it and work hard.”
Tilghman adds to duties
North Myrtle Beach native Kelly Tilghman is joining the cast of Golf Channel’s Morning Drive.
The 7-9 a.m. weekday morning show will re-launch on Feb. 4 with a new format, new cast of co-hosts, state-of-the-art studio and expanded, seven-days-a-week schedule.
Tilghman will be a central figure mid-week on the show, typically on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when she’s expected to be working largely alongside co-host and Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Ahmad Rashad. The former All-Pro wide receiver is a 25-year network veteran with ESPN, ABC, NBC and NBA TV, and is also an avid golfer.
Tilghman is expected to continue her other duties on the network. That includes serving as show host for the network’s PGA Tour and LPGA Tour coverage and play-by-play host for some of the network’s PGA Tour broadcasts. She also co-anchors Golf Channel’s signature news program, Golf Central, as well as Live From telecasts from golf’s major championships and premier events.
To view Blondin’s blog, Green Reading, or Twitter page visit myrtlebeachonline.com.