Local golf courses boast strong year

Revenues for consortium of Kamloops region golf courses were up over 100 per cent over last year  

With its long and wide (outdoor) fairways, golf is a perfect sport for those looking to recreate with their friends in a safe way during pandemic times. And, to few people’s surprise, Kamloops region golf courses saw a particularly strong season.  

According to Golf Kamloops—a consortium of major golf courses and accommodation providers in the Kamloops region——the 2020 season saw golf revenues increase by 107 per cent over 2019 figures. 

This despite the fact that 65 per cent of destination golf bookings acquired in the first 3 months of 2020 were cancelled or postponed, and many courses delayed opening and when all discretionary travel was halted in March. 

According to Monica Dickinson, director of industry relations and communications with Tourism Kamloops, there was significant pent-up demand for golf when things opened up in late June.  

“Golf courses really took leadership in creating a healthy environment for people to engage in an experience they love,” she said

With the announcement of Phase 3 of the BC Restart Plan, marketing tactics resumed in late June, resulting in a 500 per cent  increase in booking requests for July and August over the same period in 2019. 

Destination golfers, primarily from the Lower Mainland, quickly chose Kamloops as their preferred B.C. golf destination, said Dickonson.

Dickonson credits local golf courses for quickly adopting COVID-19 protocols designed to keep the public safe, and a strong, modern advertising campaign that took advantage of digital marketing. 

“I think the other thing that we’ve honed onto is influencer marketing and really bringing in a third-party perspective to the experience,” she said. 

Golf Kamloops also teamed up with Global TV for a contest campaign that highlighted the region’s golf courses to the valuable Lower Mainland market. 

“Due to a combination of weather conditions and COVID, the course opened almost a month later than normal, but still managed the strongest golf visitation in the last number of years,” said Aidan Kelly, chief marketing officer for Sun Peaks Resort LLP.

“Membership sales were not up, but daily play rounds were significantly up. Golf as an overall sector saw strong uptake this summer and Sun Peaks was no exception.” 

Like other golf courses, operators had to adjust their operations to conform with new provincial standards. 

“We initially delayed our opening to ensure we could get all the correct processes in place and staff training completed,” said Kelly. “The golf course also moved to an online booking model to limit personal interactions and developed all new policies and procedures to ensure safety of both guests and staff. Overall it was quite successful and we hope this summer was a catalyst for the golf industry to continue it’s rebound.” 

This marks the first year that The Golf Course at Sun Peaks has been part of the Golf Kamloops Consortium in a number of years.

Kelly said he sees real value in being part of the group. 

“Recently, they have developed a strong brand, call to action, and marketplace presence,” he said. “We definitely saw some better exposure and new visitation from joining the consortium this season and look forward to building on this for future seasons.” 

According to the consortium, 2021 is setting up to be another strong year for local golf courses. 

The organization’s marketing tactics will focus on targeted drive markets within B.C. and Alberta with specific attention on the Lower Mainland and recapturing Calgary and Edmonton golfers, according to a recent press release.