With golf industry leaders continuously searching for ways to involve young adults in the game, Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday has identified and is partnering with a couple movements that it believes accomplishes the goal.
The marketing cooperative is attempting to tap into the youth movement in the game with partnerships with Nextgengolf and Topgolf, which is planning to open a location in Myrtle Beach as early as 2018.
“Nextgengolf and Topgolf both are new markets for us to get to,” Golf Holiday tournaments director Jeff Monday said. “Not to get away completely from traditional marketing and the things that have been done, but we just have to find new avenues and new people to communicate with about Myrtle Beach golf, and both of these platforms provide that to us.”
Golf Holiday has become a national sponsor of Nextgengolf, which has successfully targeted millennials with a pair of golf leagues for young adults under the age of 40.
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Golf Holiday has also forged a marketing agreement with Topgolf, which has 30 venues in cities across the U.S. that are akin to bowling alleys for golfers with hitting bays and contests centered around hitting targets with golf shots while offering food, drinks and music.
The marketing will start at Topgolf facilities in three test markets – Charlotte, N.C., Chicago and Edison, N.J. – in August and September. Each location has available direct flights to Myrtle Beach and Charlotte is additionally a drive market.
Golf Holiday staff will spend three hours on both a Saturday and Sunday in the lobby at each site, taking surveys and giving away merchandise, golf trips and Topgolf gift certificates while also digitally advertising throughout the buildings.
“There is some branding with the emails and social media and all that stuff that’s beneficial for us, but it also allows us to go in there and personally find out and collect some data on the individuals that are going there and understand a little bit better what their actual relationship is with the game of golf,” Monday said. “Do they travel and all the things we want to know as an organization to determine if that is a fruitful market for us to dive deeper into.”
Golf Holiday will analyze its findings and consider additional agreements with Topgolf.
Topgolf is really a different avenue for us and we’re just really going in to learn. Hopefully we’ll potentially build a bigger partnership for 2018.
Golf Holiday director of marketing Jenna Hottel
Nextgengolf, which is headquartered in Boston, connects with golfers in their late teens, 20s and 30s through their two team-based golf leagues – the National Collegiate Golf Club Association for college students and the City Tour for young adults.
The NCGCA, which launched in 2009 and was acquired by Nextgengolf after its founding in 2011, targets golfers who aren’t playing on a collegiate team but want to continue to play competitively. Nextgengolf co-founder and chief executive officer Kris Hart said there are co-ed student-run teams at more than 400 universities, and there are more than 115 regional NCGCA tournaments throughout the country. Some campuses have hundreds of students in their golf clubs.
The City Tour, which launched in 2014, appeals to recreational and competitive golfers throughout the summer who are between 18 and 39 years old. Monthly events in 20 cities began earlier this month and more than 15,000 golfers are expected to participate. The City Tour season ends Sept. 16-17 with the City Tour Championship at True Blue Golf Club and Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in Pawleys Island.
“We try to get more kids playing golf, then where do they go from there?” Monday said. “They play high school golf, then they don’t get on a college team and where do they go? They finish college, then where do they go? It’s bridging that gap and they’ve done that quite well in major markets.”
Hart believes both leagues have the potential to grow significantly. The City Tours closest to Myrtle Beach are in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., and Coastal Carolina is a past national champion of the NCGCA but no longer has an active team, according to Hart.
Nextgengolf is the game’s leading grassroots effort to engage millennials with the game, and we are looking forward to a creative partnership that will promote the long-term health of the Myrtle Beach market and the game.
Golf Holiday president Bill Golden
As part of the Nextgengolf national sponsorship, Nextgengolf will annually host a minimum of four events on the Grand Strand, including one national championship, and the Myrtle Beach market will have a marketing presence at 185 Nextgengolf events across the nation.
“We’ve been down in Myrtle Beach hosting events for years now and I think the thing it really has is the right recipe for success for this generation,” Hart said. “You have the restaurants and establishments to have fun at night. Myrtle Beach has value. You look at the quality of courses and what you pay from a golf standpoint. There are 90-plus courses so it’s not like you’re playing the same tracks.
“I think it’s important for us to realize our community [is diverse] and Myrtle Beach has such a wide variety of offerings that can cater to our entire community.”
Myrtle Beach will be the official Spring Break destination for Nextgengolf, as the company and Golf Holiday will work on the promotion and branding of other opportunities such as bachelor parties, buddy trips and high school golf team training.
“We need this new crop of golfers to come through, and we feel like this is a good springboard,” Monday said. “It’s a good way to speak to that market of a new generation of golfers, and they have a really good platform of communicating to those golfers.”