Brands go big on golf courses

Peter Kohlöffel, National Sales Manager: Golf Ads, says a surprisingly wide variety of brands reach their target markets on golf courses – and marketers should not miss an opportunity to engage.

A round of golf is still one of South Africa’s most popular pastimes – and we boast the largest number of golfing facilities in Africa by far. According to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A), which put together a survey of golf around the world, South Africa had a total of 512 golf facilities in 2015, as against 52 in Nigeria’s 52, 41 in Kenya, 39 in Zimbabwe and 36 in Morocco. These courses flourish largely because they offer more than just a four-hour round of golf – in fact, many clubs and facilities provide exceptional outdoor and leisure entertainment  for the whole family. A large percentage of one’s time on a golf course is spent socialising with friends and business associates, eating out, enjoying nature and more.

It’s no surprise, then, that marketers find golf courses tantalising – who wouldn’t like to capitalise on engaging with a captive target market that is largely made up of affluent decision-makers in upper-LSM categories? Golfing facilities are mostly free of visual clutter and advertisers find their brands can be showcased without having to compete with a plethora of others. Advertisers can also talk to anyone who visits the course, which includes non-golfers. This is why a wide variety of brands have been able to make an impact on the golf-course landscape: aside from golf equipment and apparel, one can expect to see products like snacks, beverages, liquor, automobiles, banking and financial products, holiday packages and more.

Golf courses can even advertise other golf courses – PGA Professional and CEO of St Francis Links, Jeff Clause (named South Africa’s PGA Pro of the Year in 2014) advertised the golf course at 90 clubs around the country and was thrilled by the response. “When I realised that our 15-second ad was being viewed on almost 250 TVs, it was no surprise that the bookings response was high,” he said.
“We hit our target with the tagline ‘Your next road trip should be to St Francis Links.”

Clause said that one of the best features of golf-course advertising is that it is informative without being intrusive – and this is the crux of successful advertising at golfing facilities.

Brands can consider whether their products are best served by static branding, activations, or being flighted on Golf TV™ – and creative execution can be aligned with a brand’s objectives and a particular golf course’s characteristics. Pringle’s clever ‘chipping from the rough’ campaign saw advertisements for the popular snack placed in strategic areas of the golf course, while ballwasher branding, traditional clock branding and Golf TV™  branding ensured the brand was top of mind, both on the green and in the clubhouse. Activations allowed visitors to sample the products and engage with brand ambassadors in a relaxed environment – another reason why brands find golf courses an appealing place to exercise spend.