MYRTLE BEACH – More than 1.4 million rounds of golf were played along the Grand Strand and Hammock Coast in the first half of the year, 23 percent more than last year but slightly less than 2019.
The popularity of the sport, reflected in an increase in the number of rounds played nationwide since the beginning of the pandemic, is also leading to an increase in revenue along the beach and hammock coast.
Bill Golden, CEO of Golf Tourism Solutions, the agency responsible for marketing Myrtle Beach as a golf destination, said the average mixed price for all golf courses along Grand Strand and the Hammock Coast increased 35 percent year over year which corresponds to a 66 percent increase in green fees and cart rents.
“There is a great opportunity for everyone in the golf industry to take advantage of the excitement surrounding the game of golf,” said Golden.
GTS classifies golf courses according to cost in four levels. Tier 4 is the higher end and Tier 1 is cheaper. He said that Tier 4 prices are on an upward trend.
“We are definitely seeing a trend in the current round and the advanced rounds to the higher tier courses,” said Golden. “Since we see price elasticity, we see that courses have the ability to dynamically price themselves based on demand. Since the higher-level courses can advance, the lower courses can also advance.
“It enables golf courses to factor in capital improvements … It offers the opportunity to offer the customer an even better long-term experience.”
Steve Mays, president of Founders Group International, which owns and operates 21 golf courses in and around Myrtle Beach, said more golfers are looking for this “premium experience” this year.
“I definitely think we’re seeing a trend towards our high-end facilities,” said Mays. “I think they value the experience they have. People didn’t go on vacation last year, least of all their golf vacation. I think they are trying to get the most out of the time they spend on the golf course. “
Another emerging trend is that the golfers visiting the area are younger, Mays and Golden said.
“Anecdotally, if we just look at the faces on the golf course, we see a trend towards a little younger golfers and that’s great,” said Mays.
Golden said it was part of GTS ‘marketing strategy.
“We’re definitely seeing reports of a younger population, which is really exciting,” said Golden. “The value of a lifelong customer is enormous. That generates a new generation for us and for all golf destinations. “
Rounds booked for the fall are also looking for the region, Golden said. Since the beginning of the year, bookings for autumn have increased by 15 percent compared to autumn 2019.
“We are still in the middle of the booking window for the fall,” he said, adding that many courses will be booking some significant rounds for next spring. “It shows us that we are in a situation where we have to book the preferred tee times at the preferred courses earlier on the preferred weekends. This availability is becoming scarce. “