Given the right marketing tools, the Atlantic City region — with more than 15 golf courses in a 30-mile radius — could be known as a major golf destination competing with the likes of Ocean City, Md., officials said.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is scheduled to vote Tuesday on appropriating $250,000 for a pilot program supporting the marketing efforts of the Greater Atlantic City Golf Association.
That money is badly needed to ramp up advertising of the region’s golf greens, Tom Sullivan, the association’s president, told the CRDA last month at a board meeting.
About $70,000 is currently spent on marketing local golf courses, and that results in an estimated $7 million economic impact. By comparison, Ocean City, Md., spends $600,000 on golf marketing and sees an estimated $46 million in economic impact, said Sullivan, who is also the general manager at McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links in Egg Harbor Township.
“They’re our direct competition and closest in proximity,” Sullivan said, noting that the Maryland destination provides the strongest comparison because most of its traffic arrives by car. Myrtle Beach and Las Vegas, which are also known for their golf courses, also see a steady stream of visitors who travel by plane.
With the $70,000 spent on marketing, Atlantic City saw 21,000 rounds of golf played and about 7,000 room nights at local hotels. In Maryland, the $600,000 investment translated into 140,000 rounds of golf and 46,000 room nights. Both regions average about $100 for a round of golf.
CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri has said the region’s golf courses, which include Atlantic City Country Club, Blue Heron Pines Golf Club in Egg Harbor City and Seaview in Galloway Township, are important assets that aren’t being promoted. Increasing marketing efforts provides an enormous opportunity for visitor growth, particularly in the shoulder seasons, he said.
If approved, the $250,000 would go primarily toward targeted advertising in radio and TV, trade show attendance and an improved website for the Golf Association. The association’s current website, www.gacga.com, provides links to websites of area golf courses but little more.
The Atlantic City Alliance, a nonprofit organization charged with marketing the city, is also poised to provide financing.
Jeff Guaracino, spokesman for the ACA, said $35,000 has been allocated for marketing specific to golf enthusiasts. That marketing will include advertising for Atlantic City-area golf courses in Myrtle Beach, Ocean City, Md., and at Atlantic City International Airport.
“We understand from our research that golf — nearly a year-round activity — is a good activity that appeals to our target visitor demographic. Atlantic City has a number of exceptional nearby golf courses that are well-regarded within the golf world,” Guaracino said.
CRDA spokeswoman Kim Butler said after the first year, the agency would assess the impact of its investment before deciding whether to provide funding in the future. Sullivan has said the golf association — to which member golf courses contribute $1,000 in dues — hopes to eventually have self-sustained marketing efforts.
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