With over 25 years in the Golf Tourism/Media Industry, Hollandsworth is the brainchild of three companies working with hundreds of resorts as well as many different companies and top media outlets in the State of Georgia. A radio and TV personality, publisher and author and most recent Founder of Georgia Golf & Travel LLC, home to the Georgia Golf Trail.
THE HOLLANDSWORTH STORY —
Over ten years ago I noticed that Georgia, my beloved Peach State and lifelong home, had never promoted itself as a premier golf destination. Every year we have the greatest golf tournament ever, The Masters, but Georgia Tourism still never promoted itself as a golf mecca. Through my many years of working with many places across the USA, I knew that Georgia had so much to offer the public and I never understood why we had never let the world know how many wonderful golf courses were here. Not just golf courses but what all there is to do here.
I decided to talk to the State Department of Tourism about promoting our great State to the golf community. They loved the idea and Georgia Golf & Travel was born. I also talked to the family of the late Bobby Jones as I wanted their blessing and Dr. Jones IV was all for it. I then decided that I wanted to do many things with this program. First a golf trail that the world would appreciate. Second, to let the corporate world know about our great courses so they would come, play and hold meetings. Third, I wanted to work with the Real Estate world and let people know we would love for them to come and move to Georgia. Lastly, I wanted to create events that golfers from all over the world would want to come.
Clearly and honestly, it is my work, my desire to let the world know about Georgia and how many great things are there to see and do here, promoting Georgia through golf.
What was the genesis in creating the Georgia golf trail?
Basically my love for Georgia and that I knew that most of the world didn’t know anything about golf in Georgia and I wanted to change that, maybe as part of my legacy. Georgia has so much to offer to any traveler, not just golf, so I wanted to tell the story through golf.
Why has Georgia been slow on the golf promotion side when nearby States such as Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina have been doing so for a number of years and been quite successful in doing so?
This question continues to drive me daily. Georgia has a market for golfers, so much to see and do here. Since I have worked with all three states surrounding me I knew that Georgia could compete in this market. I really don’t believe that in the past that the State of Georgia thought that we were a golf destination, why I still don’t know, but truly we are and it has helped me see that the revenue is out there, we just have to go and get it.
Georgia is home to The Masters and Augusta National Golf Club, but what is the most underrated dimension of Georgia golf?
Georgia has never been promoted as a golf destination. Oh the world knows about The Masters, but as I am told from many people all over the world, they don’t know about golf here in Georgia. We have so much for golfers, mountains, a wonderful international city and airport, a great lake region, Savannah and the Georgia Coast. We have so many different places that golfers/travelers can come to explore Georgia.
We don’t really market to the people here in Georgia. We are focused in the eastern United States and now recently we have launched a major campaign to the international traveler. With The Masters, we have the world’s attention, so we work with the State of Georgia and their Trade/Tourism offices around the world. We have started a big push to reach our reps across the world as well as international golf tour operators so they can tell others about our great State.
What role is the State of Georgia playing in terms of your efforts and the overall promotional campaign?
We are very pleased to be working with two State Departments with our efforts. First, Georgia Department of Economic Development Tourism Office has been a big help with our efforts with the Visitor Centers across the State. They also help with the International Trade Reps. We also are happy to be working with Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources, our wonderful State Parks. They have 9 golf courses around the State that we call hidden gems. So very glad to be working with two State Departments and we are in the process of working hopefully with another Department soon. Both Departments help me in many ways to get the word out about golf here in Georgia.
The biggest short and long term challenge you’re facing is what?
Well the biggest short term challenge is also my long term challenge. How do I raise money to grow the programs we want to put in place? We are very fortunate in many ways to have a lot of great partners on the Trail and across the USA. My main goal was to create awareness for Georgia. We are in our sixth year and our awareness is growing, but we have a long way to go, but each day is exciting. We are competing with the surrounding states that have built in golf marketing monies and have for decades, we are really just getting started and this all takes money. Georgia is losing hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue each year due to golf in these surrounding states and we are hitting the challenge head on, but it takes time.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
The main thing I face daily is that most people think golf is a rich man’s game. They say, golf is for rich people. But that is not true. The game is growing for women, kids and people in general who can find a place to play golf at a reasonable price. But dealing with critics who don’t see that golf is a huge revenue maker for any company or even a State Tourism Department. The game is making some big strides lately but we have a long way to go to change this mentality.
The major golf organizations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA — are all seeking ways to attract new people to the game. This is especially so for Millennials, women and minorities. If you were counseling them — what would you suggest be done?
My biggest suggestion is to make the game easier. Build or remodel golf courses to be shorter. Play 9 holes instead of 18. Make courses for kids, women. Get the family involved. Golf is so much more than just hitting a rounds white ball. Golf builds character, etiquette. I have four sons who I taught them the game of golf and they learned so much about life playing the game, things that they will remember and pass on to their children. We need to make the game fun, not so expensive and make it that you can have a great experience in a couple of hours.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
Great question, “make each day count, time stands still for nobody, you can never get tomorrow back, so make sure today isn’t wasted.” Well I would truly say, after living a great life so far and I hope I have many years left, I gathered this advice from myself.
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