Our all-star panel – Golf Channel/Sirius XM’s Michael Breed, renowned swing guru Hank Haney, Golfweek’s Geoff Shackelford, Golf Channel/PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com’s Charlie Rymer, pro golfer/social media personality Paige Spiranac and Golf Tourism Solutions’ Bill Golden – discusses Myrtle Beach’s unique vantage point in destination golf, and what they think the market needs to do to maintain and grown its place as an industry leader.
And we are still in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Golf Capital of the World. Just me and a few of my buddies talking about some issues in the world of golf right now. All of us have spent a lot of time playing golf here in Myrtle Beach, and I think all of us appreciate the golf that’s here. Basically, we’ve got about 85 golf courses in 70 miles top to bottom. And Bill, I’m going to start with you. What does Myrtle Beach need to do to continue to be one of the premier golf destinations in the world?
Yeah, it’s so competitive now, Charlie, and competing for time and discretionary income, for buddy trips, which are typically the third or fourth trip someone’s going to take, it’s much more competitive. We’re taking the approach (and it’s not anything very new), but we can’t forget about customer service, customer satisfaction, hospitality, from soup to nuts. And that includes the golf course.
And we have such a great variety of golf courses and different price points. But we fear that we are being aggressive in the sense that we want to make sure our golf courses, their product, is where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. And actually it would be an interesting topic because we’ve talked about overseeding. The overseeding kind of went away because of the water issues and the USGA trying to go brown. We saw that here.
I’m of the belief that we need to get back into overseeding wall to wall to get folks back in here in February and March when those golf courses are perfect. But if some of the things we’re talking about here and it’s a great debate because it’s not just Myrtle Beach, it’s other destinations as well.
Geoff, what do you think about that overseeding? It’s great in the wintertime, but you pay a big price in the summer.
What are your thoughts on it?
You do. Two things, I think you need to have your course looking fresh. The superintendents are so incredible today. The bar is so high in maintenance and there’s nothing like an overseed that makes the place look fresh. And you obviously have a time of year where it’s hurting, and that’s the time where people are saying, “Well they’re overseeding over in Hilton Head, so that looks great.”
So with Instagram, with the internet, you talk to golfers, I talked to a few today, they research a golf course now visually. And they go online, look at stuff. And you need to have maintained bunkers that look fresh. There are so many cool, vibrant bunkers now in the world of golf and people notice those things in overseeds and other ones. So I think the standards and maintenance are so good now that, okay, what are you doing to kind of take it up to that next level? I don’t like to normally advocate overseed, but as you’re saying, that’s what’s needed here.
Sure is pretty in the wintertime. And Paige, I want to ask you, what does a golf destination like Myrtle Beach need to do to ensure that it can attract the younger demographic?
Well, social media is a huge part of that. And working with Myrtle Beach golf, they are completely different than a lot of other companies that I’ve worked with. They’re very progressive and they kind of just let me do my thing and I can share Myrtle Beach through my eyes, instead of them telling me what I need to post. And I think that comes across because I love Myrtle Beach. I love the golf courses here. I think they’re amazing. The people here are great. The food here is great.
And I’m telling people that instead of having them say, “Okay, you need to write this out. You need to say this. And you need to do that.” And it comes off very unauthentic. And it’s using social media, it’s bringing people in who aren’t just what the typical golf community would expect. And so maybe as people outside of the golf community who are younger who have a different audience and using that, but I’ve noticed even being at the World Am, my first year was pretty much all an older crowd and every year it seems to be getting younger and younger.
And this year, I walk around and I see people my age. And that is so cool to see and I think it’s because-
Yeah. It is.
… of social media and sharing and being like, Myrtle Beach is a place to go. Like definitely a boy’s trip, whatever you need to do, just get out there.
Michael, what I hear her saying is that the golf industry as a whole, Myrtle Beach needs to evolve, get away from, in a lot of instances, the way we’ve always done things. What are some of the things that you’re seeing, some changes that have been made in the industry that you’re seeing work?
There’s a ton of different things. In fact, my brothers own a golf course up in Richmond and they’re doing some really interesting things including having a field goal out in the range to hit golf balls into. And the coach that’s out there has a sign: “If you can’t hit it in here, call this number.” So there’s some creative …
They should go to Hank Haney …
Exactly. But I think you have to build experiences. And I think you also have to reach outside of … If you think the way you’re going to attract people to your facility is just through golf, then you’re going to be out of business very shortly. It has to be about more than just the game of golf. There has to be an understanding of different painting classes or learning how to speak a different language or whatever. Look at the game of golf and the facility as in fact a park, not just 18 holes of golf.
And I think when you start to do that, what you’re going to do is you’re going to attract people from outside of the game of golf who will now get a chance to try it. He’s got walking paths, biking paths, he’s got all kinds of different things that he’s using the golf course for, my brother that is, that’s different than just, “Hey, give me $40 and go play golf.” It’s not really like that anymore. And if that’s the way you’re going to operate, you’re going to be in trouble.
Hank, is that sort of how you see the world of golf operating now?
I mean, yeah. I mean, and Myrtle Beach is such an incredible place. I mean with all this collection of golf courses, like Bill said, I mean I think the service and the friendliness of the people is second to none here. I mean as long as that stays in place, I mean, Myrtle Beach is always going to be fine.
The thing that I love about Myrtle Beach is the group concept with marketing. I mean, I think that is something that makes it really stand apart, because if it’s every man for himself and you got 85 golf courses, or whatever, everybody’s trying to do their own thing. I mean, it’s the whole theory of rising tides. And as long as that water keeps going up, and more and more people come, everybody’s going to do better. I think that’s something that Myrtle Beach does that’s better than what anybody else does.
I love hearing the enthusiasm. I love hearing the optimism. Folks, come see us in Myrtle Beach. We’ve got a little something for everybody!