Proposed OC Golf Co-op Worth A Shot

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For the northern Worcester County area, golf was once credited with being the reason why the shoulder seasons had grown from a business perspective.

That’s no longer the case today. When business is booming in the Ocean City region these days, it’s likely because the weather is cooperating or a result of planned special events attracting people to the area.

The region’s popularity as a golf destination has been on a steady decline for at least the last five years. It could be due to increased competition from other regional golf destinations, an overall decline in the sport’s popularity in general, the consequences of a down economy or any number of uncontrolled reasons, such as Mother Nature.

Whatever the case, golf courses in the area are not seeing the usage they once did in the area. All parties involved admit this is true, and a private-public partnership was recently proposed to the Ocean City Mayor and Council to try and curb this disturbing trend.

At this week’s meeting at City Hall, Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) member and golf guru Tom Perlozzo discussed a proposal to inject some new life into the sagging golf industry. Perlozzo, representing TAB, said the plan the private industry wants to see is a “golf co-op” concept where $60,000 of the city’s $160,000 golf marketing budget would be directed to an ad campaign directed squarely at promoting golf in the area.

The idea is for those additional dollars from the city to be matched from the private golf courses in the area, resulting in about $120,000 in new ad dollars directed at promoting golf as a whole to other markets.

When golf’s popularity was at its highest, Perlozzo reported that 52,000 rounds were being played annually in this market. He said this week it’s nowhere near that number today.

The sticking point among the council seems to be the required partnership between the city and Pam’s Golf, which hurt the city a few years back when it filed bankruptcy and cost the town more than $100,000. Some on the council seemed concerned about having an agreement with the company, citing the bad relations from years ago. Others on the council feel the new owners of Pam’s have turned around its reputation and that it can be trusted once again.

Although we understand the sour feelings from city officials over entering a new partnership with Pam’s, the overall goal of bringing people to Ocean City, adding player rounds to the area’s golf courses and helping the regional economy needs to be the focus here. This proposed co-op plan deserves a chance for one year and it can then be reviewed next winter to see if it was successful for all involved.

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