Golf Marketing Concept Stalls After Tie Vote

OCEAN CITY – Members of the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) have tried on several occasions to convince the majority of the City Council to approve a golf cooperative to bring more revenue to Ocean City through a contract between the town and golf packagers.

TAB member Tom Perlozzo presented the Mayor and City Council with recommendations the board passed earlier in the month. One of those recommendations was one more attempt to discuss a “golf co-op”. The concept includes using $60,000 of the overall marketing budget being directed toward a co-op advertising campaign. This would allow the board to leverage tourism dollars with the private sector.

Tourism Director Deb Turk explained in the past that the marketing plan’s objective was to intensify the marketing of Ocean City as a desirable golf destination by partnering with Ocean City golf packagers to increase related revenue to the town and increase rounds booked at the town-owned golf course Eagles Landing.

The marketing dollars that the eligible packagers match will double the investment made by the town resulting in extended reach, frequency and increased bookings.

Perlozzo is presently the independent sales representative for GOLF Magazine, and Sports Illustrated Golf Plus. He was formerly the chief operating officer for Ocean City Golf Getaway, Inc., until 2005 and prior to that was the long-time director of the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department.

“There is never enough money for golf,” Perlozzo said. “The only ways to get into places where you need to make a frequency pattern whether it is in print, online or on TV, you need additional dollars to do that.”

Perlozzo said that the town budgets $160,000 for golf marketing and promoting golf through packaging is a viable economic boost to Ocean City’s communities. Forming a co-op is a standard form of operation for the mid-Atlantic region and across the country.

“Ocean City is a golfing destination, and it is a big priority for the town,” Perlozzo said.

Perlozzo’s personal opinion is that the town should participate in the co-op, adding that the co-op should even include the entire $160,000 in the golf budget.

“You could turn that budget of 160 [thousand] to 320 [thousand] in just a matter of minutes,” Perlozzo said.

Councilman Doug Cymek clarified that the proposed $60,000 is coming out of allocated funds and will not be any additional taxpayer money.

“The revenue that this generates is a benefit to our golf course [Eagles Landing], and a benefit to the taxpayers,” Cymek said.

Council Secretary Lloyd Martin added that the co-op would bring even more golfers to Ocean City on top of the “tons” that are already here.

Mayor Rick Meehan said the co-op advertising is supported by the local golf packaging businesses because they believe it will stretch their dollars.

“I know we did better last year but most of us believe we should continue to try to do better,” Meehan said. “I think it is a good business decision.”

Councilman Joe Hall said that Ocean City had a more successful year in golf last year then the year before, and there may be a risk in jeopardizing that success by taking a portion of the budget and directing it towards another avenue.

Perlozzo responded that 1997-2004 golf was at its peak in Ocean City, and there were 52,000 rounds of golf.

“I don’t know what the rounds are today but I can guarantee you that it is nowhere near 52,000” he said.

Joe Hall reiterated his opposition of the co-op is because it would allow the town to be in partnership with Pam’s Golf, which previously went bankrupt while still owing the town $125,000. He is not willing to put the town in that position again even if the business is now under new ownership.

“I do believe we should open the door to build a relationship with Pam’s, but I think we should have some loyalty to the people who have been loyal to the town,” Joe Hall said.

Perlozzo responded that he understood the problems that Pam’s Golf has created for the town in the past but he believes it’s proven himself to be more loyal in recent years since the new ownership has taken place.

“They are willing to pay their bills and do the things they are supposed to do,” he said.

He added if the council was to approve the co-op and if a packager or hotel doesn’t pay or meet the restrictions the council has the ability to remove them from the contract.

The motion to approve the golf co-op concept died once again in a vote of 3-3 with Councilwoman Margaret Pillas absent.