October 19, 2012 North Myrtle Beach, SC - Nationwide, golf rounds are down. According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), 4.6 million rounds were played last year, down by 2.5% continuing a thirteen year decline.
But what is happening to Myrtle Beach Golf? The NGF tracks rounds in 44 metropolitan areas based upon data extracted from 4000 courses and their data concludes the golf business is not doing that bad in Myrtle Beach. This area was one of eighteen in the report that had positive growth and among the highest growth rate. Myrtle Beach saw a gain of 6.9% last year over 2010, exceeded only by Sarasota, San Antonio, Naples/Ft. Myers and tied with Greensboro/Raleigh. Orlando, Fl, typically viewed as Myrtle Beach’s strongest competitor only reported a 5.3% growth.
Carson Courage of Myrtle Beach Golf Directors said, “As a destination we have always beat the national trend. The value and quality that we offer are very good. Look at the whole of Florida as our competitor. They have the west coast, the palm coast and, of course, Orlando. That has more to do with consistent weather; a longer season. It can be chilly here in the fall.”
State to state, NGF reports that SC’s growth nudged out Florida 4.9% to 4.5%; basically SC golf held its own against its major competitor.
Courage said, “The quality/value ratio in Myrtle Beach is great. The level of golf we offer with the prices we do is very good for the golfer.”
“Demand is driving the prices down. The economy is driving pricing. It used to be people would take a family vacation, then dad and his buddies would take one or two golfing vacations. With the economy, now there is sometimes just one vacation.”
Did you know that 44% of golfers account for only 6% of rounds and spending? Or that avid golfers account for only 26% of golfers but 76% of rounds? These tidbits courtesy of NGF.
“The golfer is the big winner. The level of golf we sell now is the late 90’s pricing in some scenarios. We have eight to ten courses in Golf Digest’s ranking of the top 100. The avid golfer, guys that couldn’t afford to play these courses ten years ago, is now playing them. The number of people playing golf has shrunk more than the number of rounds played. We have so much to offer at so many different prices.”
“The total golf package is a bargain compared to our most of our competitors. It depends upon which ones. Myrtle Beach versus Arizona and Vegas we blow them away. Versus Mississippi, the level of golf we offer is much better, theirs will be less expensive.”
“If the golfer gets these courses packaged correctly they can get even better value. Like ones that include breakfast, lunch and two beers a day. Play four get the fifth round free like Legends on their five courses, plus Heritage and Oyster Bay and if you use their condo you get a night free. The combination of courses that have banded together to create value is much greater that it ever. It is not as much a la cart as it was.
“Working with a golf director like us, it’s very advantageous for people. We have all those. We get a fourth round free at Barefoot. When we talk about value, we can do Azalea Sands, River Oaks, and Indigo Creek for $100 three rounds, when it used to be $170. Or we can do four rounds at Barefoot when one of those are free. It’s still $300. But you are getting great golf. Fazio and Dye are all ranked by Golf Digest. Having an experienced independent golf directors is more important than ever, even with all the information that is out there to make sure [the golfer] gets the best deal. We are not directly tied to any golf course, so it is our job to get the best deal for our customers. We can give unbiased opinions. We set our own prices. That is how we stay around.”