Client: Pinehurst Resort (Pinehurst, NC)
Agency: Conover Tuttle Pace (Boston, MA)
Campaign: Restoring the Spirit of Pinehurst No. 2
Duration: March 2010-May 2011
Designed by renowned architect Donald Ross and opened in 1907, the Pinehurst No. 2 golf course consistently ranked among the top US courses for many decades. Pinehurst Resort's director of marketing communications Kerry Andrews calls it the brand's “crown jewel,” noting it's widely considered Ross' masterpiece.
In recent years, public perception of the course had diminished. Architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore were hired last year to restore its original design, which isn't as green as modern US courses.
“Over time it lost a lot of its charm and distinctiveness and had come to look and play like too many other courses,” Andrews explains. “Restoring it was bold and required significant education because golfers are conditioned to seeing green, green grass.”
The renovation began in February 2010. The course closed on November 15, 2010, and reopened in March 2011. AOR Conover Tuttle Pace helped educate audiences about the restoration, reshape the resort's image, and drive hotel and golf round bookings.
The team focused on influencers, including media, bloggers, golf officials, and players, to drive education. Agency VP Todd Graff says letting influencers see the restoration in progress and have access to the architects and Pinehurst leaders invested them in the project.
Golf, travel, and local journalists and bloggers began visiting in June. They played the course and interviewed Coore, Crenshaw, Pinehurst employees, and people working on the restoration.
Content, including historical information and video testimonials from influencers such as golf association leaders and pro champions, was developed regularly. It was posted on Pinehurstnumber2.com and Facebook and sent to media and bloggers.
Coore and Crenshaw held a press conference for local media in November just before the course closed. Coore also spoke at a dinner event for local community influencers in November.
A second press conference for national and regional outlets was hosted April 11 after the course reopened.
Andrews says room nights and golf round bookings are up considerably.
“We came into 2011 at a fairly significant room night deficit – about 1,500,” she explains. “We closed that quickly.”
Pinehurstnumber2.com, which launched January 2011, got more than 141,550 visits. Pinehurst.com traffic is up about 20% year to date. Video views exceeded 125,000, and the agency reports more than 5,000 tweets.
More than 300 stories (186 million+ impressions) ran in outlets including Forbes, Departures, The Wall Street Journal, Golf Channel, Golf Digest, and AP.
The team continues to solicit and post testimonials. Media will be invited to play the course again this fall.