Community Spirit Spills into Fairways of Victoria National
Newburgh, Ind. – Frankly, the names and faces of the competitors in USGA amateur championships are not well-known except to family and friends. Spectators mainly come from that group along with members of the host club and volunteers.
And, since a young man named Tiger Woods started playing golf for a paycheck, interest in amateur golf in this country has stayed within that same demographic.
But, if you take the model developed and employed by Victoria National Golf Club for the 2006 USGA Senior Amateur, you’ll find that people will come out to watch.
“They are great,” newly minted finalist Mike Bell of Indianapolis, Ind., said of the crowd watching his semifinal match. “They like everybody. It’s fabulous. And, they are going to be bigger.“
The tangible results – more than 5,000 spectators during the course of the week – came from a ‘community-centered’ approach. That turnout is, conservatively, 10 times the norm for a Senior Amateur.
“We wanted to make sure that everyone knew about this national championship and wanted to be a part of it,” said Brian Tennyson, former PGA Tour player, who is the director of community support.
Through a smart marketing scheme of newspaper, TV and billboard advertising, grassroots networking and old-fashioned face-to-face meetings, the planners at Victoria National brought community awareness to the pervasive level.
Their two prevailing slogans were: ‘Where will you be?’, and ‘The best amateur golfers you didn’t know.’
“I’d be surprised if folks around here didn’t know about the Senior Amateur,” Tennyson said. “We wanted to make sure the Senior Amateur was the thing to do in the Tri-State area this week.”
At USGA amateur championships, admission is free. But the organizers printed 10,000 ‘tickets’ and distributed them in every nook and cranny of the market.
The theory was: come out to a beautiful place, watch some championship golf and then stay a while!
And, once people got on site, the hospitality abounded. The largest Navitrak tent ever erected in the Evansville area – 7,500 square feet – was built for volunteer and spectator hospitality that includes seating, large-screen televisions and food and beverage service. Freely running shuttles brought visitors from a larger satellite parking area directly to the course.
“People came out to watch and came back on other days,” Tennyson said. “We are really pleased that folks showed their community spirit by attending. We thank them for their support and hope they had a great time while walking on what we consider a pretty special place.”
Story written by Pete Kowalski of USGA Media Relations. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.