PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL: The Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA) is shifting target markets for the second year of its Play Golf America campaign, an integrated effort that encourages occasional golfers to more frequently hit the links.
The markets for 2005 include Long Island, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. Among last year's were Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, and Washington, DC.
The new markets were chosen based upon population and traffic to a website set up for the campaign last year, playgolfamerica.com. Cities that will host tour events or golf trade shows in 2005 were strongly considered as well, according to senior manager of PR and media relations Jamie Carbone.
The PGA will maintain national outreach in addition to the new local markets.
The website, a centerpiece of the campaign, helps golfers find local courses that suit their needs. It also features template ads, flyers, and marketing tools that all members are encouraged to download free of charge and distribute in their area.
"Through the research, we found the obstacles keeping people from playing the game were the amount of time it takes to play golf, [inability to] find a playing partner, the difficulty of game, and the game's affordability," Carbone said. "The industry has realized that times have changed and, for us to grow, we need to market if differently."
Nashville-based Alday Communications continues to support the campaign. Although Carbone would not disclose the PR budget, she said that the budget of the Alday retainer increased for 2005.
Last year, the group tabulated that about 1.6 million people played in organized golf outings and events. The playgolfamerica.com website had generated 280,772 unique visitors through September 2004, and last year's campaign generated an estimated 869 million media impressions with a measured media value of $24.8 million.
"We're happy with this first year, which exceeded our expectations," Carbone said.
In other programs, the PGA is embarking on its 8th annual PGA Free Lesson Month in May. The Nike Golf-sponsored campaign, a partnership between The PGA of America, Golf Digest, Golf For Women, and The Golf Channel, provides interested amateurs with free 10-minute golf lessons. In 2004, 4,985 PGA professionals gave 92,185 free lessons at 4,264 facilities.