Lydia Ko goes down the social road to announce professional career, NZ Golf wisely rides on her coattails

There’s been plenty of speculation about when Kiwi golfing phenom Lydia Ko would sign on the dotted line and start chasing the big bucks. But rather than having to deal with a traditional press conference and the obligatory banal questions from nosey parkers, she decided to announce her decision with an entertaining video that she posted to Twitter. 

The four minute clip featuring Ko and All Black Israel Dagg was created by Augusto Media and has already clocked up 32,000 views. #KoGoesPro was a trending topic in New Zealand yesterday after being featured on most of the major local media outlets, and it also made it to the Huffington Post and The Golf Channel, which is, in an era of rampant sharing, a tribute to the power of looking at what everyone else is doing and not doing that.

The video was paid for by New Zealand Golf and the original idea was to use the two ambassadors to promote its new summer campaign Love Golf, which aims to get more casual golfers to join up to clubs. But Augusto suggested making the announcement at the same time and the idea evolved from there. 

UPDATE: Augusto owner Leon Kirkbeck says the clip was shot on Monday at Gulf Harbour, edited on Tuesday and released on Wednesday, so it’s most definitely in the agency’s sweet spot for what he calls “the utopia of fast, cost effective and good” that a lot of brands are now demanding from their video content. 

“We are rolling out a new membership campaign over summer to promote involvement in our great game, and let’s just say the storyline changed somewhat in the last few days,” New Zealand Golf chief executive Dean Murphy said in a release. “Being the special person that Lydia is, she was reluctant to hold a traditional press conference. She didn’t want to make a big fuss about news that had already been reported in the media in recent weeks. She has also been very busy studying for exams and wanted to make this announcement in a different way.”

According to StuffKo and Dagg met for the first time at this year’s New Zealand Women’s Open in Christchurch. 

Ko didn’t know who he was and was overheard to ask “Who is that guy? He’s quite hot!”. They have since struck up a Twitter friendship.”

Tourism New Zealand will also be happy with the additional attention, as it is currently working on increasing the number of big-spending golfing tourists. 

As the recent release says: 

Tourism New Zealand plans to invest up to two million dollars over three years into the international marketing of New Zealand’s distinctive golf offer to potential visitors.

The investment is one outcome of the Golf Tourism Strategy Report, a report commissioned by Tourism New Zealand to explore New Zealand’s golf tourism potential.

The report’s authors say New Zealand has both a world class golf tourism offering and the opportunity to do more with it. Strategic activity will aim to lift the current estimated annual expenditure by international “golf tourists” from $145 million to $223 million within three years.

Tourism New Zealand’s General Manager Marketing Communications, Justin Watson says golf has been identified as a priority special interest sector due to the number of high-value travellers it attracts and its strong potential for growth.

“Back in April, we established a golf working group and tasked them with developing a long-term strategy for golf tourism in New Zealand as a means to increase the returns from international visitors.

“Their report has now been delivered, and it has been endorsed by the UK-based peak organisation for golf tourism, the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO).

“The findings are that New Zealand is a distinctive, but largely undiscovered destination for golf enthusiasts, despite the significant investment that has already occurred in quality infrastructure.”

The strategy has identified clear markets and demographics that should be targeted including Australia, North America and China, and recommends the establishment of North and South Island Golf Trails.

Golf working group Chair Greg Turner, says; “Golf is a popular international visitor activity and New Zealand has always been fortunate to have amongst the most golf courses per capita anywhere in the world.

“In recent years there has also been an enormous investment in both existing and new facilities that will meet the needs of golf tourists, resulting in an outstanding opportunity to grow this highly valuable sector of the tourism industry.”

The strategy also proposes the establishment of an industry advisory group, known as New Zealand Golf Tourism (NZGT) that will explore alternative funding streams and support from the golf sector and other beneficiaries of golf tourism spend. 

“NZGT would fill a vital coordination role between the golf courses, regional tourism interests and the international marketing effort,” says Greg.

The golf strategy is part of Tourism New Zealand’s work to drive higher-value visitors, with a focus on delivering significant growth for the industry now, as well as in the medium and long-term. It is further supported by Tourism New Zealand’s recent increase in funding to up-scale the promotion of special interest travel from core markets.

Tourism New Zealand will maintain a focus on attracting international visitors with the proposed NZGT taking responsibility for considering the domestic tourism flow and relationships within the golf sector.

Tourism New Zealand and the golf working group will host a series of industry meetings throughout the country in late September/early October, to discuss the strategy.

The working group (WG) was comprised of five members: Greg Turner (Chair); Geoff Burns; Peter Cutfield; Michael Goldstein and Chris Atkinson. The group was selected based on their cross section of professional skills in business, tourism and golf sectors.

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