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Seeking U.S. golfers

The golf associations in the four Atlantic Provinces, mainly marketing bodies, have hitched their wagons to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), a federal wing, to try and drum up business south of the border.

The American market used to be quite lucrative for the Atlantic region, in particular Prince Edward Island which went on a golf course building spree in the 90s to cater to the Americans.

However, we all know what has happened to the American golfer in the past several years  – 9/11, high gas prices, Americans needing U.S, passports, etc. – which have all contributed to greatly reduced U.S. numbers.

This latest effort is in the form of a group called the Atlantic Golf Organization. Each provincial body has contributed $10,000 in cash plus there is some inkind offerings such as accommodation, transportation meals, etc., for visiting golf writers brought in on fam trips. ACOA has contributed the largest amount of money, $145,000.

I say latest effort in marketing because there was an attempt a number of years ago to market the region for golf through a designated body but it didn’t really pan out. There were some individuals who really didn’t want to play ball, sort of speak. From what I can understand those folks thought their product was too good to be lumped with the group. Petty provincialism!

Greg Hillier, executive director of Golf Newfoundland and Labrador, is the organization’s spokesman.   

“We have two representatives from each province on the board and the main objective is to market the Atlantic golf product in the mid-Atlantic U.S., more specifically New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” he said.

Why just there,? I asked.

He explained it is the region being targetted by the four provincial tourism boards along with the Atlantic Canada Tourism Partnership and ACOA.

My guess since ACOA is providing the most funding, they are calling the shots.

Atlantic Canada golf is usually well represented at the major golf shows in Ontario and Quebec in the spring and those markets remain fairly good.

In recent years, the Atlantic region has been building on its tourism in Europe and the UK with reasonable results. So why not push golf there there as well?

Hillier explained that air access into the four provinces from overseas is limited but that is not the case into New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

The marketing plan is for three years and with golf courses scrambling for every green fee they can get these days, it will be interesting to see if the project builds the business.

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Tom Peters

Tom Peters is a freelance writer based in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, a suburb of Halifax. In December 2009 he retired after 41 years with The Halifax Chronicle Herald. He covered competitive golf regionally for the paper in his early days as reporter and over the years has freelanced golf travel articles to a number of major golf and business publications. He is a member and a director of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • I wonder how much influence the Cape Breton combo of Highlands Links and the new Cabot Trail will have, what kind of effect will that have on out-of-province golfers going out of their way to play them?

    Will be interesting to see how they market them. (together?)

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