Golf drive

Even though bad weather hurt the golf industry in Myrtle Beach during the end of 2016, things are looking up.

That’s because rounds of golf already scheduled for the spring are up, said Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday Director of Marketing Jenna Hottel.

Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday is the major marketing organization for golf courses along the Grand Strand.

“Next year the spring looks very positive, meaning that when we pulled the rounds for the same time last year, the rounds are up for spring,” Hottel said. “It looks very, very promising.”

For the past two years the area has had major inclement weather events which have affected rounds played, and while the weather is out of their control, Hottel hopes that 2017 will bring clear skies.

“We’re due for a good year, with a couple of really bad Marches and bad weather in two Octobers back to back,” she said. “We are hoping the weather gods hold out for us in 2017.”

While Hurricane Matthew did cause a lot of cancelled rounds, local businesses have found a way to help undo some of the damage, Hottel said.

“Golf courses and packagers were able to shift some of those rounds into November and into December, and then into the spring,” she said.

Though 2016 did have its ups and downs for golf along the Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday debuted a contest that Hottel said did a fantastic job at promoting the game.

“Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday just ended our ‘Myrtle Beach Golf is Great’ video contest,” Hottel said. “It was a contest that we started in May and ran for about five months, encouraging people to create up to a three minute long video telling us why they thought the game of golf was great.”

Response to the contest was massive, she said.

Over 100 entries were received from around North America, 54 of which made the cut and were featured on the website golfisgreat.com. At the end of the contest there was a month-long voting process that narrowed the videos down to 10 finalists, out of which a winner was chosen.

The winner, David Watkins, won $10,000 and a golf trip to Myrtle Beach for his video which spoofed golf movies to explain his love for the game.

“We came up with the video contest because video is huge, video is key,” Hottel said. “Most people are consuming media using video.”

Contestants submitted videos that ranged from heartwarming to hilarious, she said, and the contestants were encouraged to share their videos to get friends and family to vote for them.

And vote they did.

“We were able to reach, via social media, over 200,000 people,” Hottel said. “We had over 100,000 page views on our landing page, golfisgreat.com, and the top 10 videos had thousands of votes.”

That translated into a successful campaign, she said.

“It’s a branding play, an awareness of the game of golf,” Hottel said about the contest. “Golf Holiday’s job is to market the destination, so we are branding Myrtle Beach as the golf capital of the world.”

The video contest, she said, did a good job inspiring people to go out and golf, and the instructional video that explained how to enter featured Myrtle Beach golf courses prominently.

It will also help provide material for next year’s contest.

“The winners – they’re a great group of guys – are going to put together the creative [part] for next year’s contest,” Hottel said.

Because of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, Hottel said, the Myrtle Beach area has developed the reputation for being a premier location for golf.

“We have partnerships and we have the ability to do things on a much larger scale than one individual entity,” she said. “We’ve done really well letting consumers know that we’re here and branding us the golf capital of the world.”

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