Club House Europe - Issue 4

Page 1


Membership management – dealing with complaints and complainers! p22


A word with – Staffan Tuomolin CCM Communication is key – Julian Small explains Location report – spotlight on Prague

From Your Back Office, To Your Website, To The Palm Of Your Member’s Hands. Fully integrated mobile, website and back office solutions, all designed to meet your club’s unique needs.








Arnaldo Cocuzza CCM

Lawrence Hardcastle

Jerry Kilby CCM

Duncan Ritchie

Julian Small

Staffan Tuomolin CCM

Sean Ferris

Caroline Scoular

Nick Sellens

Leigh Ann Ogilvie

Jonathan Hardy

David Foster

To the club industry, colleagues and friends. It is remarkable to consider that there are more people alive today than have ever lived and given that half the world's population are under 30 years old, we are living through a period of change that is more rapid than most people are comfortable with. The certainties of life as experienced in the 20th century can never again be relied upon and we all have to be prepared to adapt quickly to whatever life throws at us in the forthcoming years. Such preparation can only take the form of the careful research of each problem we face and most usually, implementing innovative solutions. The CMAE can be the source of much creative energy in your quest for innovation, whether this is through the introduction of the latest trends, or by ‘stealing ideas and calling them our own’ as a certain Gregg Patterson would say. There is much in this issue of the magazine that can inspire you to think more carefully on how you manage your business, covering all aspects of club life, from communication, to finance, corporate sponsorship and managing upwards. If even one article initiates change in your behaviours, or attitudes, your time spent reading will have been a good investment. All the best!

Arnaldo Cocuzza, CCM President, Club Managers Association of Europe

Editor Caroline Scoular Design David Foster Editorial Nick Sellens Advertising Steven Foreman Circulation Jon Hardy Administration Debbie Goddard Publishing Director Sean Ferris;

Clubhouse Europe is a joint venture between the Club Managers Association of Europe (CMAE) and Alchemy Contract Publishing (ACP). ACP Gainsborough House 59/60 Thames Street Windsor Berkshire SL4 1TX UK t. +44 (0)1753 272022 f. +44 (0)1753 272021

CMAE Federation House Gainsborough House Stoneleigh Park Warwickshire CV8 2RF UK t. +44 (0) 247 669 2359 f. +44 (0) 247 641 4990

The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publishers or the CMAE. Clubhouse Europe does not verify the claims made by advertisers regarding their products.


Contents 6 News round-up News, views and events – sustainability drive launches, CCM accredidations awarded, CMAE dates for the Diary.


9 Golf Course Development Cost Survey Despite a tough five years, there’s a revival of golf projects and activity in associated real estate. Read on.

14 Toro celebrates 100 years On July 10, 1914, the Toro Motor Company was born. This is its story...

16 The argument for sponsorship Clubs are missing valuable revenue streams by ignoring corporate sponsorship opportunities, warns Jerry Kilby.

18 The word from Wentworth Julian Small examines the art of communicating and getting heard.

21 Gaining with training Why club managers should have a good grasp of the figures – and how they can.


22 Extremists in the club? There are occasions when complaints are justified. But the zeal of their delivery can be very damaging.

29 A word with – Staffan Tuomolin The President of the Finnish Golf Managers Association shares his news and views on golfing life in Finland.

33 Location report – spotlight on Prague As the D+D REAL Czech Masters return to The European Tour schedule, Clubhouse Europe throws a spotlight on golf in Prague.

24 The role of design in retail Is your retail outlet a valuable profit centre? If not, why not?

37 Controlling energy costs

27 Effective communications – where it’s App!

Budgeting for energy expenditure has become an increasingly difficult matter for clubs. Top tips from energy experts.

A look at an online app which aims to help club managers communicate even better with their members.

40 Ladies first Why looking at your locker room could help your recruitment drive of lady golfers.


42 The Last Word... Dealing with complaints day in day out? Enjoy these top five ways to offend your members.


For more information on any of these articles or to contribute to our next issue, contact Caroline Scoular. e. t. +44 (0)1753 272022 For more information on the CMAE, its events and/or courses contact Debbie Goddard. e. t. +44 (0) 247 669 2359




News from the frontline CMAE DIARY DATES

Tuesday, 2 September Summer Series: Part 2 Venue: The Belfry Time: 7.30-11.30am breakfast seminar Speakers: Jason O'Malley, General Manager Woburn Golf Club; Andy Brown, Corporate Accounts Manager Toro. Cost: FREE to CMAE members t. + 44 (0) 1483 503 492

Monday, 6 October GREGG PATTERSON Venue: The Marriot Forest of Arden, Warwickshire Time: 9.30am - 5pm Speaker: Gregg Patterson Cost: FREE to CMAE members t. +44 (0) 247 669 2359

Golf association collaboration aims for sustainability drive A golf industry Sustainability Drive has been launched to promote the business reasons for environmental sustainability across the industry. The new initiative is being led by the Club Managers Association of Europe (CMAE) and the European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) in a three-year collaboration with the Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Association (FEGGA) and supported by Syngenta. The collaboration represents some 10,000 courses across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, linking together golf course owners, managers and greenkeepers in their work to create sustainable businesses. The implementation of the plan and the delivery of information will be provided in partnership with GEO ( Arnaldo Cocuzza, CMAE President, said: “Sharing best practice across the industry could help all clubs to improve aspects of economic, social and environmental management. “There are so many instances of golf

Arnaldo Cocuzza

clubs that are already performing exceptionally well in these areas. The Sustainability Drive initiative will help all involved to share experience across more clubs and enhance the skills of club

managers, owners and greenkeepers for the future.” Speaking at the launch, Rod Burke of Syngenta said: “Bringing together the knowledge and experience of Europe’s leading golf associations to collectively support and promote sustainability in golf club management will help to enhance the quality of courses and reinforce the immense ecological and environmental assets they provide. “It recognises that an increase in business efficiency and profitability is vital for the economic viability that is an essential element of sustainability, and which enables courses to deliver desirable environmental resources to the wider community.” Mr Burke added that he believed it will strengthen the environmental reputation and profile of the golf industry. He expected it to highlight successes that clearly demonstrate the contribution a well-managed course provides as a social sporting facility for the whole family and a positive ecological resource.

Sustainability award for Estonian Golf & Country Club Estonian Golf and Country Club, part of the European Tour Properties network, has been awarded the global benchmark for sustainability in the golf industry, the GEO Certified™. The resort, ranked among the Top 100 golf courses in Continental Europe by Golf World magazine, joins an elite group of golf venues to have earned the distinction, which is certified by the Golf Environment Organization (GEO). In achieving the certification, Estonian Golf & Country Club followed the industry backed free On Course™ programme to compile a report detailing how it meets specific criteria in protecting and enhancing the natural environment, efficient resource use and community value. Congratulating the club, Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO, said: “Estonian Golf & Country Club has viewed its operations through a sustainability lens since opening, evidenced by the natural look of the courses and the ever higher standard the team is achieving. “The independent verifier who visited the course noted, in 6 CLUBHOUSE EUROPE

particular, ‘excellent use of its geographic location, drawing irrigation water directly from the Jägala River just before it flows into the Gulf of Finland, plus the venue’s efforts to move closer and closer to organic‘.” The club consulted agronomist Ian MacMillan in its sustainability plans. Mr MacMillan has experience in managing the turf at diverse venues ranging from Open Championship

rota courses to Premier League football grounds. “Estonian Golf & Country Club has gone the extra mile, and beyond the minimum requirements of the certification criteria,” he said. “An example of this is using naturally occurring products instead of chemicals, which nullifies the requirement for imported supplies such as fungicides and ultimately minimises the club’s carbon footprint .”

Chipping in

Middle East means quicker planning CMAE seeks new Golf developers looking for areas with speedy planning procedures should be looking to the Middle East if figures from KPMG’s Golf Course Development Cost Survey 2014 are anything to go by. According to the report, the necessary permits for a course development in the region can be obtained within a few months, particularly if the development is in line with a government plan/strategy.

Director of Education Northern and Central Europe, however, have stricter planning regulations and environmental opposition, which in some cases can mean delays of up to four years.

PGA Golf Pros gain CCM accreditation Two PGA Golf professionals based in Fife, Scotland, have been awarded the coveted Certified Club Managers designation (CCM). Anthony Caira, PGA Professional at Kirkcaldy Golf Club (pictured left) and Michael Braidwood, Operations Director of St Andrewsbased Braemar Golf Developments (pictured right), both entered the Club Managers training Programme in November 2012. Scottish Golf Club Development Manager Kevin Fish said: “Both Anthony and Michael have thrown themselves into the

Anthony Caira from Kirkaldy Golf Club (left) and Michael Braidwood Braemar Golf Developments have gained CCM designations.

Management Development Programme hosted by the SGU and SLGA, and to pass this particular exam in such a short time is an incredible feat which shows just how much knowledge they have gained at the coal face of club management over many years.”

Swedish golf clubs appoint CMM CMAE official supplier Colt Mackenzie McNair (CMM), has announced a partnership with the Sweden Golf Club Management Association (GAF Sweden). The specialist global executive search firm will offer the Nordic organisation a range of services designed to professionalise

golf recruitment. Torbjörn Johansson, Chief Executive Officer of GAF Sweden, said: “We recognise the clear benefits CMM can bring to our members, and I am sure our partnership will put an immediate focus on the value of professional golf recruitment in Sweden and across the wider Nordic region.”

Automated payments for Jonas customers CMAE Corporate Partner Jonas Club Software has joined forces with electronic payment solutions provider CSI Enterprises to enable Jonas users to automate payments. The globalVCard is now offered as a payment type, enabling customers to pay vendors via a secure, single-use virtual card number. “We are always seeking to introduce new tools that will help our clients achieve

greater levels of success by improving efficiencies and generating new revenues,” said Jim Fedigan, President of Jonas Club Software. “Our partnership with CSI promises to bring not only significant cost savings and efficiencies, but also assurance that our clients benefit from the extraordinary level of customer service that CSI extends to all of its clients.”

CMAE are looking to recruit a Director of Education to deliver the MDP courses and lead the Association in its aim to create a clear pathway for all Club Managers to achieve the CCM qualification, certified by CMAA (Club Managers Association of America) which is recognised as the benchmark qualification for leading Club managers. The Director of Education will be responsible for overseeing and developing the CMAE's education programme. CMAE have retained Colt Mackenzie McNair to work on searching for suitable candidates for the role. KEY RESPONSIBILITIES: • To oversee programme development by developing and maintaining all key relationships, as well serving as the primary contact for all stakeholders • To facilitate CMAE training courses in Europe • To ensure administration surrounding CMAE events and courses is complete • To review all procedures that relate to the CMAE’s education programme

PERSON SPECIFICATION: • A proven track record of excellence in operational activities, logistics and multitasking in a business environment (Club Management or Academic) • Excellence as an administrator, specifically in: – Event planning – Finance – Time management – Strategy • Experience in training and facilitation (preparation of classroom based education and presentations) • Proficiency in communication skills and the ability to provide detailed reports to the Board • Excellent interpersonal and relationship skills to work with Board Members, Presenters, Host Partners and Industry Bodies • Management experience, ability to lead and to drive forward education standards • Competence in IT

• To manage the CMAE Qualifications, CCM & Diplomas • To produce monthly, quarterly and annual reports

APPLICATIONS Please apply to Douglas Philip – with a copy of your CV and covering letter.

Toro celebrates centenary This year marks Toro’s 100th year. Founded on July 10, 1914, Toro’s first tractor, built specifically for mowing large areas of grass to replace horse-drawn golf course mowers, was launched in 1919, dubbed the Toro® Standard Golf Machine. Since then, snow blowers, irrigation products, zero turn riders and the TimeMaster™ have all been launched into the golf industry. To join in the celebrations and discover more of Toro’s history, turn to page 14 of this issue. CLUBHOUSE EUROPE 7

Control your energy costs Golf Clubs face high energy costs, and Strutt & Parker’s Resources & Energy team offer truly independent and expert advice on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. We have significant experience of both energy efficiency in buildings and renewables. Our engineers can assist from the initial idea through to project implementation to operational performance. Energy efficiency l Biomass l Solar l Wind l Gas l Hydro Kieran Crowe Partner, Resources & Energy

Alexander Creed Partner, Resources & Energy

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Golf Course Development Cost Survey 2014 The last five years have left their mark on the golf market. Supply growth has slowed down and participation rates have decreased in many regions. Nevertheless, KPMG’s 2014 survey indicates a revival of golf projects and stronger activity in today’s lifestyle real estate market, with some prominent transactions taking place in various parts of the world. KPMG identified more than 400 golf projects in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMA) region since early 2008, including new developments as well as full renovations or extensions of existing facilities. “International experience proves that when combined with real estate and/or a touristic development, a golf course can still offer an exciting investment opportunity,” said Andrea Sartori, Head of KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice. The survey was undertaken to provide investors, developers and other industry stakeholders with ‘a better understanding of the factors that influence the construction costs of golf courses, typical full-project development timing and the process of selecting golf course architects and construction companies’. This included asking: • Where were golf course developments concentrated in the last six years? • Where will the golf development hot spots for the next five years be? • What motivates investors to develop a golf course and how do they select key suppliers? • How long does it take to develop a new golf course and what are the major difficulties developers usually face in different geographical locations? • How much does it cost to develop a golf course in the EMA region? • How much value can the name/brand of a renowned architect bring to a golf course development? • What premium can a golf course add to adjacent real estate prices? The number of golf courses in EMA has, on average, been growing by less than 1% annually since 2008, resulting in a total of 7,300 golf courses operating in the region at the end of 2013. (This includes full length par-3 courses and executive courses, practice ranges and other golf facilities.) This is a small growth in overall supply, especially when compared to the 3.3% annual growth achieved between 1990 and 2008. Even though the pace of development has slowed, mainly as a result of the credit crunch, there is still activity in the market. Between 1990 and 2008, demand for the game



Great Britain and Ireland

England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

Northern Europe

Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden

Central Europe

Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland

Western Europe & South-East Mediterranean Europe

France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus

Eastern Europe

Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Russia & CIS, Slovakia

Middle East and North Africa

Egypt, Morocco, UAE

Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa

METHODOLOGY The analysis was based on a questionnaire survey of developers and operators of golf courses which opened after 1 January, 2008, or which are currently under development. Questionnaires were sent to over 400 golf course owners/developers. A 25% response rate from 32 countries in the EMA region was recorded. The golf courses constituting the base of these sample were identified by secondary research. The opinions were also sought of 40 golf course architects belonging to the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) or the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA). The survey focuses only on golf course development costs and excludes investments related to land acquisition and other facilities such as clubhouses, car parking or driving ranges, as well as investments in maintenance equipment, cart fleets or working capital.


INDUSTRY REPORT and the Netherlands have witnessed an impressive increase in their golf course supply in the last six years, with the opening of some 20 and 30 (respectively) new golf facilities in each of these countries. Interestingly, about half of these courses have less than 18 holes. FRANCE In an effort to increase golf participation, France, the host country of the 2018 Ryder Cup, has made a commitment to increase its golf course supply with 100 new six- and nine-hole urban golf courses by the time of the event. Therefore, golf course supply has been growing rapidly in France in recent years, with many of the newly opened facilities being Par 3 courses and practice facilities.

BUILDING THE CLUBHOUSE The cost of building a basic clubhouse of 200-250m2 starts at around €300,000, according to KPMG’s research. High-end clubhouses (often well above 2,000m2) with extensive sport, leisure, and recreational facilities, can cost several millions to build. The clubhouse is an important element in golf course development, points out KPMG, whether it’s a stand-alone golf course or part of a residential community or tourist resort. It is the golfer’s first and last impression when playing a round. Care must be taken to ensure that a clubhouse complements the course and is an enjoyable place to be – and this in turn should drive increased revenue. A solid understanding of golf operations, food service requirements and other clubhouse functions can save the developer hundreds of square metres, delivering significant savings on the investment. Some points to keep in mind when planning clubhouse space include: • Visitors today want more social opportunities, a family atmosphere and an emphasis on wellness • It pays to create multiple dining venues, with the flexibility for these to function separately or together • Building clubhouse facilities in a village format enables construction to be phased to match sales flow • Kitchens and restroom facilities are the most expensive spaces to build. Where possible, provide a single centralised kitchen, and avoid over-designing these ‘wet areas’ • Women have become more involved in golf and golf clubs, and though their dedicated space may often be proportionately less than men’s, they should always have equivalent and desirable amenities.

of golf – reflected in the number of affiliated golf players – increased on average at an annual rate of over 5%. This was followed by a period of complete stagnation between 2008 and 2013. Today, the EMA region has around 4.5m affiliated golfers.

game having slowed down or being entirely stagnant in several countries. The decrease in the number of affiliated golfers can be partially attributed to the economic crisis but also to the change in lifestyle, work and golfing patterns.

EUROPE Europe has over 90% of the golf supply and demand in the EMA region. The golf market has reached a challenging stage here with the development of the

GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND Great Britain and Ireland comprise by far the largest golf market in Europe, with approximately 3,000 regular courses and around 1.25m affiliated players. Golfers in Great Britain and Ireland do not need to be registered to play, and more and more golfers choose to play on a casual basis, rather than paying club membership. Growth in popularity While golf has traditionally been a popular sport in Great Britain and Ireland, it has also grown to become popular in other countries of Europe, such as Germany, France, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries. SWEDEN, DENMARK AND THE NETHERLANDS In Sweden, participation rates are significantly higher than in the rest of the EMA region (5% of Sweden’s population are affiliated golfers). Denmark


EASTERN EUROPE In the Czech Republic, the most mature golf market in Eastern Europe, some 20 new course openings since 2008 were identified. As such, it can be considered among the growing markets in EMA. Since 2008, the Czech Republic has seen an average annual growth of over 9% in registered players. AFRICA South Africa continues to be the most dominant golf market, with close to 450 golf courses. Along with a strong local demand for golf (circa 129,000 registered golfers), golf courses benefit from South Africa’s reputation as a high profile tourist destination. While the number of courses in South Africa has dropped slightly in recent years, golf is still an increasingly popular component of residential community developments in the country. Zimbabwe, Egypt, Mauritius and Morocco also contribute notably to Africa’s golf supply, although these countries are home to less than 50 golf courses each. Other countries such as Tunisia and Kenya seek to capitalize on the benefits golf tourism can bring to their economies by offering a growing number of golf resorts. In the rest of the African continent the potential for golf development is virtually untapped. MIDDLE EAST Instrumental to the growth of the game in the Middle East has been the increase of the expatriate population from traditional golfing markets such as Great Britain, Ireland and the USA. The region is currently witnessing a revival in the property market after a number of years of uncertainty. The UAE is still considered to be at the forefront of golf development, with more than half of the region’s grass courses located in the country. Typically highend, integrated golf developments which also offer a number of other features and residential real estate opportunities have helped to position the UAE as a premier golf tourism destination. View from architects As part of the research into golf course development, golf course architects were asked about their assignments during the last six years. On average, the responding golf course architects and designers have been engaged in 16 assignments


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INDUSTRY REPORT Typical design fees of 3 signature architects for 18-hole courses (thousand €s) A B C Average Fee of 3 signature designers 400 1,090 1,180 890 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Typical design fees of 3 non-signature architects for 18-hole courses (thousand €s) A B C Average Fee of 3 qualified golf course architects 185 250 435 290 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Average construction costs of 18-hole courses by type of designer (m €) Most expensive Standard golf Least expensive course course course Signature designers – average costs 19.3 8.4 4.2 Qualified golf course architects – average costs 6.7 3.0 1.8

each (from 2008 to 2013; 2.7 per annum each), with about 40% of all projects located in the EMA region. This contrasts to the period 2004-2008 when the average number of projects per architect was 26 (5.2 per annum each). Effects of the economic downturn It is apparent from these statistics how the economic downturn has negatively affected the development of golf supply. About 40% of architects have reported stagnation in their business in the last six years and 18% a decline in turnover. It was also noted that several architects have changed business direction or closed down their business. Nevertheless, a quarter of the surveyed architects achieved a turnover growth in excess of 20% in the last five years. Based on these interviews, those architects that recorded a notable increase in turnover had typically sought projects in emerging golf markets, where there is the opportunity to provide additional assistance besides the typical architectural services. Such services include project management as well as assistance with contracting construction companies and other suppliers. Re-designs versus new builds In the developed golf markets, competition is fierce and, as a result, prices are depressed. The report also noted that the share of new developments has decreased in the last six years versus the re-designs of existing facilities; previously; new developments accounted for 60% and this has now decreased to 50%. The majority of the golf projects worked on by the surveyed architects are located in North America and Europe (37% and 33%, respectively). Asia has gained a larger proportion of architects’ work - 20% compared to 15% in 2004-2008. Golf developments were mainly concentrated in China (despite the moratorium on golf course construction), followed by South Korea, Myanmar and elsewhere in South-East Asia. In the Middle East, the development of high-end projects continued. Only a few of the surveyed architects had projects in Africa. Many projects were previously put on hold during the economic downturn; therefore, it is encouraging to see that more than 42% of the courses designed by the responding architects between 2008 and 2013 are now already in operation,


despite continued economic difficulties. Another 18% are currently under construction, and the remaining 40% are still at the planning phase. Real estate sales For the first time in several years there appears to be stronger activity in golf-related real estate sales. In recent years several large transactions and projects have been successfully negotiated and initiated in various parts of the world. Future hot spots When asked in which markets they foresaw the most significant growth in golf course development in the next five years, golf architects highlighted China, followed closely by India, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), South America and the Caribbean, and then South-East Asia. Eastern Europe and the UAE were seen as being less dynamic compared to KPMG’s last survey, but these, as well as other countries of the MENA region, are to some extent still considered by golf architects to be among the hot spots. Investment motivations From a pure investment perspective, KPMG sees four strong motivating factors behind a decision to include golf in a broader development: 1. Golf courses have a strong track record of providing an increase in selling prices and sales velocity of adjacent residential real estate. 2. Golf can help drive demand for on-site hospitality functions such as hotels and serviced apartments. 3. Golf courses can act as a useful ‘positioning tool’ for upscale developments. 4. If designed, built and operated in a professional manner (and with favourable market haracteristics), golf courses can provide a viable return on investment in their own right. When surveying golf course developers, 39% said the main aim of the golf course development was to add value to the surrounding real estate development, while a third of the projects were driven primarily by profit-seeking objectives. Cost breakdown Between 10-15% of the total budget is spent on preconstruction work when developing an 18-hole

golf course and 85-90% is spent on the actual construction. Pre-construction costs include planning and design fees, professional fees for engineering, feasibility studies, legal advice and the cost of obtaining permits. Of these costs, typically course design requires the highest investment, making up more than half of the total pre-construction costs. The following should be considered as integral to the construction costs: • Earthwork and shaping, which account on average for one-third of the total construction costs • Irrigation and drainage, making up about a quarter of the average construction costs • A third of the costs can be divided between three components: clearance and preparation of the site, grassing of greens, fairways and tee boxes, and surface landscaping • Creation of cart paths, if applicable, makes up around 10% of the total costs Golf and real estate Golf and real estate have been closely linked topics in recent years. According to KPMG, it is widely recognised that – when properly planned – the location of houses alongside golf courses can help developers to increase sales velocity and add a sales premium to real estate prices. Studies have indicated that golf courses come second only to a waterfront as the most desirable location for a housing community. However, golf, as part of a real estate or touristic complex, is not only an added value because of the facility itself, but mostly due to the beautiful, calm scenery and landscape a golf course provides. Fifty-four percent of the respondents in KPMG’s sample were developers of golf courses connected either to tourist resorts or real estate communities. When asked about the value that golf brought to the surrounding real estate, nearly all respondents achieved a premium on the sales price of associated real estate units. Close to half of the respondents with an integrated real estate development estimated this premium to be more than 20% in comparison to the selling price of a similar real estate unit in the neighborhood but without the golf course connection. Over a third of the respondents estimated the premium to be between 11% and 20%, while 18% estimated an added value of less than 10%. In addition to the profitability associated with the sales of real estate units, over two-thirds of the respondents also expect the course to provide a satisfactory return on investment in its own right. When asked whether the name of the golf course architect added a premium to the real estate selling prices, 63% responded positively, with 35% estimating this premium to be above 10%, and a quarter placing it between 6% and 10%.

CONTACT DETAILS KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice in EMA t. +36 1 887 7100



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Droitwich Golf Club is one of Toro’s most recent customers. The club was looking for improved quality of cut.

Clacton-on-Sea Golf Club is now using the power of hybrid technology to Improve cutting performance.

Toro celebrates 100 years On July 10, 1914, the Toro Motor Company was born. This is its story...


he Toro Motor Company was founded to supply engines for The Bull Tractor Company, marketers of the most popular brand of farm tractors in the United States. Toro engines were soon powering Bull Tractors on farms across the United States and Europe. Although Bull would soon fade from the scene, Toro flourished by continually reinventing itself to capitalise on new opportunities. “Toro continues to lead by focusing on creating high performance, environmentally friendly solutions to help our customers around the world preserve the beauty, productivity and sustainability of the land,” says Corporate Accounts Manager Andrew Brown. In 1919, Toro helped launch an important new industry with the development of The Toro®


Latest launches include the The Sand Pro® 2040Z, a zero-turn mechanical rake designed to cope with even small, tight bunkers with sloped walls.

Standard Golf Machine; the first tractor built specifically for mowing large areas of grass to replace horse-drawn golf course mowers. The May 8, 1943 issue of The Commercial West, states, it ‘was the start of a new mechanical mowing machine era’. A series of Toro innovations soon followed that and by 1925 Toro was established as the world’s largest manufacturer of golf equipment. Toro introduced its first power mower in 1924. Since that time, customers have trusted Toro to help care for all the places they call home. According to the May 1950 issue of Fortune magazine, Toro ‘almost singlehandedly’ turned the rotary lawnmower into an overnight success. Early rotary mowers featured open decks with exposed blades. According to Fortune, ‘Because people have been afraid of accidents’ the rotaries

From the industry’s first all-electric-powered walk greens mower in 1928 (pictured left) to more recent launches such as zero-turn riders and snow blowers, innovation lies at the heart of Toro; the company has 1,500 patents to its name.

had not been widely accepted until ‘Toro enclosed the blade to ensure safety’. Consumer purchases of rotary mowers started to climb. “Through the years Toro has introduced many other lawnmower industry firsts including self propel drive, electric start, bagging, Recycler® technology and Personal Pace®,” says Andrew. “Toro’s heritage of innovation can be seen today in its latest snow blowers, irrigation products, zero turn riders and the TimeMaster .” TM

CONTACT DETAILS e. The Toro Company is proud to sponsor the 2014 Ryder Cup and the European Tour. It is also a Premier Corporate Partner of the CMAE.

RYDER CUP PREPARATIONS Scotland’s Gleneagles Golf Resort, host of this September’s Ryder Cup, renewed a five-year exclusivity deal with Toro and its distributor Lely UK in 2012. “The Ryder Cup will be an ideal opportunity for Gleneagles to showcase the exceptionally high standard of course preparation it offers to members and guests from all over the world and Toro is honoured to play its part in that success story,” said corporate accounts manager Andrew Brown.

Left to right: Toro’s Corporate Accounts Manager Andrew Brown, National Sales Manager of distributor Lely UK Jeff Anguige and Toro Vice-President Bill Brown with Gleneagles’ Finance Director David Kemp, Golf Courses and Estate Manager Scott Fenwick, and Director of Golf Stuart McEwen.




Corporate sponsorship Clubs are missing valuable revenue streams by ignoring corporate sponsorship opportunities, warns Jerry Kilby CCM, former CMAE CEO and proprietor of Kanda Golf Marketing Services.


ince clubs first began, companies and their brands have traditionally been prevented from enjoying any exposure to a club’s members, in the belief that it was the responsibility of the club’s management to provide their members with a haven devoid of commercial brand publicity and promotion. Many clubs still insist on maintaining this protective role, ensuring that their members are not exposed to commercial brands when at the club. But in my opinion, perhaps in this day and age when a club manager needs to look at all revenue opportunities, the club’s role should be to ‘manage’ the commercial activity within a club, and not just have an outright ban. In this way, the club’s management can generate revenue (or save costs) by creating ‘commercial partnerships’ with key suppliers, on whom the club relies for their products and services. (Even in the most non-commercial and traditional club, the wine supplier would have enjoyed considerable brand exposure within the club – if only on the label on the bottle!) This could mean limiting and controlling when a company can enjoy brand exposure, packaging these opportunities together into an attractive annual package and then offering a limited number of appropriate companies the chance to invest in a ‘Commercial Partnership’ arrangement, or ‘Corporate Partnership’ arrangement if you prefer. These companies could not only enjoy limited, but valuable brand exposure within the club (a ‘thank you to our partners’ message on the club noticeboard for example), but also on the club’s website (public and member-only pages), club newsletters and other circulars. The amount you could charge will depend on many factors, like the number of members you have, your local economic climate, the products/services they provide, etc... But this could add up to considerable revenue for the club - and all this revenue goes directly onto your bottom line. I know of clubs in Europe that are able to generate as much as €100,000 a year from such schemes, so this is significant revenue potentially for clubs. As an example, one of my clients provides a way in which clubs can offer their partners brand exposure to golfers – on iPad-like touch screens fitted to golf carts, giving golfers information such as distances to the green, or to hazards and so on. By offering a club’s corporate partners exposure opportunities on such devices, they are able to enjoy brand exposure to visiting golfers as well as those members who decide to rent a golf cart. When this brand exposure is packaged up with other benefits, like sponsorship of a club members’ event, tournament or social activity, this can be a


“Even in the most non-commercial and traditional club, the wine supplier would have enjoyed considerable brand exposure within the club – if only on the label on the bottle!”

very powerful tool to generate significant sums of money for the club. Whilst I am certain that some clubs will resist such a tempting opportunity, there are others who will see this type of revenue-generation as a very important part of their revenue mix.

By offering exposure opportunities on devices such as iPadlike touch screens fitted to golf carts, corporate partners can enjoy brand exposure to visiting golfers and members alike.

CONTACT DETAILS Jerry Kilby, former CEO of the CMAE, is proprietor of Kanda Golf Marketing Services, an independent marketing specialist providing advisory services to clubs throughout Europe and the Middle East. e. t. +44 (0) 1428 606466 m. +44 (0) 7821 908597



Communication is key BY JULIAN SMALL

Effective communication is a topic we touched on briefly in a previous issue, but we now have an opportunity to delve and dig in much more detail, which is just as well. Communication is critical to any business’ success, but it is a very difficult thing to control and optimise.


t used to be so much simpler. When I first came into the industry there wasn’t even a fax machine. You engaged in communication through the medium of posted letters, telephone conversations, face-to-face conversations and, if you can believe it, telex machines! Compare that to where we are today. Technology has brought in a huge array of options in terms of how we communicate, which brings great benefits but also the potential for great confusion. So in this potentially foggy world of communication, how can we create clarity? First we must acknowledge that communication is a blend of ‘transmit and receive’. If you as a business are transmitting but your target audience is not receiving, you have a big problem because no communication is actually taking place. Choose wisely your medium of communication I believe that one of the keys to effective communication is first choosing a medium that the people you are transmitting to will recognise and receive, so your message gets through and the required action takes place. Job done! This concept applies to communication between departmental teams, work colleagues and obviously your whole customer base, be they members or visitors to your club. The tone of your communication also has a significant impact on how your club is perceived and how effective you are as a leader. To that end, I’m a strong advocate of doing research to try to establish what is the most effective method of communication within a business. This can be achieved by talking to staff, holding focus groups, members’ committees or ‘survey monkeys’ on website portals. These findings will give you valuable feedback and allow you to, for want of a better word, customise the communication methodology for the various target audiences that you are engaging with. Next, how do we know that the information we are communicating is of interest to the recipient? It’s


important to acknowledge that if you continually blast people with information that is of little interest to them, they eventually switch off and then at some point down the line a critical message that was relevant to them gets missed. You then have a total communication breakdown. Not ideal, to say the least. I am grappling with such an issue at Wentworth, a club that has multiple and diverse facilities and services combined with many different channels of communication. For example, members with children under the age of eight will, of course, be most interested in what is going on at our crèche. Therefore, is it appropriate to advise all our membership of the events that are taking place at the crèche? More to the point, does the mere fact of keeping them informed on those things lead them to switch off? This is where communication is as much an art as it is a science. In all honestly it is extremely difficult to find the perfect answer. The tone of your communication has a significant impact on how your club is perceived and how effective you are as a leader.

Communication, the effective and transparent kind, is crucial at times of uncertainty, change or upheaval in a business. As we all know, if there is a perceived lack of information in the public domain then that vacuum will be filled by the conspiracy theorists who tend to portray events in a negative fashion, both literally and subliminally. Fear of the unknown is always more damaging than the actual outcome. Members often want a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to all things, but that’s not always possible. Some issues are not entirely black and white. That’s why we have to sometimes communicate the ‘greyness’ of a situation. An honest ‘we simply don’t know the answer’ is far better than silence. Communication is also important when a leader is trying to implement change in a business. It brings me back to home turf again, because here at Wentworth we are looking to develop additional

“I’m a strong advocate of doing research to try to establish the most effective method of communication within a business.” Julian Small. accommodation at the club. Some of our members see this as a great new facility, while others have concerns that its arrival will have a negative impact on their enjoyment of the club. It’s my job to communicate in honest and clear language the benefits of change and to clarify the absolute facts. If there is no effective communication, then I’m allowing the conspiracy theorists to spout their negative spin. All club managers will recognise the power of the rumour mill. As leaders of the business, our ability to manage that rumour mill will have a dramatic impact on the level of our success and our ability to effect change in a positive manner. Did business function before the mobile phone? Of course it did! But how many of us find our mobile phone or Blackberry or iPhone is like an essential organ to our body? Again, this is something we need to manage as I think it will not go away. It’s important we find the right balance. The email devil Now, here’s a question for you. Is email an effective communication tool or is it the devil that can dominate your life? Maybe I’m just getting old, but I find that more and more of the people we employ want to use email as their first choice for communication, especially between themselves. But can email effectively communicate the subtle nuances of what you are trying to achieve? I don’t know. Of course email has a purpose, but I believe talking is more effective than typing. Agreements are best reached by talking to each other and subsequently confirmed for longterm clarity by typing. In addition, email can at times be the millstone around the manager’s neck, one that anchors us to our desks and stops us taking on a more effective GOYA (Get Off Your Arse) management style where you get out in the business, talking to people face to face and seeing first-hand the reality of something, rather than getting trapped at the desk.

Social Media: So good or so what? A lot of people say to me that Wentworth needs to be more active in the social media world and inevitably this is often promoted by people looking to sell services in that world. I am currently grappling with the debate as to how much is hype and how much is really valuable. The research that I have done – and we intend to do more – currently indicates that our current consumer isn’t heavily engaged with the social media world. Therefore, opening this Pandora’s Box may, in fact, cause an increase in our cost plan without a significant increase in our income. Not appealing. I believe there is a time when we must enter into the arena of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – although quite frankly a lot of the things that people seem to report on such platforms fail to get past the ‘so what’, ‘who cares’ and ‘not interested’ part of my life. Maybe that’s just my age! Seriously, though, isn’t there is a real danger that these mediums just add more confusion and fog into the communication process? Worse still, you may end up investing serious amounts of time and money engaging with people who are not even your target audience. I am interested in the obvious benefits that this arena can bring to the business, but I do not wish to get caught up in the hype or waste resources. That being said, social media has been shown to be very effective here at Wentworth in terms of member-to-member communication. The Club Captain, Lady Captain and Tennis & Health Captains all write their own blogs and send these out to the membership. They are very popular, with strong ‘open rates’ and positive feedback. It’s important that the views expressed in these blogs are seen

as independent from those of the proprietor at Wentworth, but equally the message should be accurate and ideally aligned with the proprietor’s message. In a member-owned club this is slightly more straightforward, but in this viral world of communication, a lack of alignment can be very damaging especially, as we said before, if a club is going through uncertain times. Observe the ‘two clicks’ rule of navigation Things are a little easier when it comes to a club’s website. This is the most easily accessed portal of information for the global consumer and therefore it is essential that the website portrays the messaging required in a way that is easy to navigate. If people find websites confusing they disappear off somewhere else. So ask yourself this, can you find the information you need in two clicks? I’m aware that this article is thought provoking rather than providing definite answers, but that opens up its own debate and I’d be interested to hear your views on the subject of effective communication. After all, this article is just my way of transmitting a message. How do I know if the message is being received? So feel free to email me!

CONTACT DETAILS Julian Small Chief Executive, Wentworth Club t. + 44 (0)1344 842201 (Reception) e.




Pebble Beach Company


Gaining with training One of the biggest challenges that all clubs face is financial. As a result, club managers these days must have a good grasp of the figures, from understanding the balance sheet to the importance of cash flow. But help is at hand, explains Duncan Ritchie.


he world of golf clubs has changed from those distant days when members were compliant, and rarely interfered with the secretary’s activities. Outside visitors were occasional and the tempo of life in a golf club was relaxed and recreational. Now, the managing of golf clubs has become a serious business, and woe betide the manager who is not up to speed on Finance, HR, Legal, Food & Beverage and Leadership issues. The club manager needs all of these skills, not necessarily as an expert, but as someone – is familiar with these sectors and someone who knows what questions to ask. But where can a manager learn these skills? Fortunately, there is a solution in the CMAE Management Development Programme, which covers all these subjects. They are broken down into bite sized chunks, and delivered by experts in their field. What is so refreshing is that the technical jargon is translated into practicalities. Learning becomes fun and deeply rewarding. Another huge benefit is the networking opportunities amongst peers...sharing experiences and solutions. Nobody on these courses has gone away unhappy. The scores on the course appraisals are extremely high and getting even better as the subjects and experience are finely honed. Being a committee member myself, I truly value a knowledgeable, numerate club manager. There is a real case for all members and staff in a position of responsibility to attend these courses. This way, they will become appreciative of the problems facing the club manager of today. One of the biggest challenges that clubs have is financial. There is no question that the club manager must have a good grasp of the figures, not how to prepare accounts but to understand the balance sheet, income and expenditure account and, of course, cash flow – we must all remember that CASH IS KING! No company or club has ever gone bust by having too much cash! One of the weapons in the armoury of the club manager is the records kept. These will help demonstrate a pattern of the past, present and future. They will also serve as a defence when asked an aggressive question from a member. Hard facts win over emotion every time and it not only proves a point, but it demonstrates efficiency and reactivity. In attempting to show financial data, remember to keep it simple and easy to understand. Long detailed accounts do not help the committee or

Amazing stuff

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We must all remember that CASH IS KING! No company or club has ever gone bust by having too much cash!

board of directors. By all means have them at the manager’s disposal, but other readers should just deal with meaningful data. Perhaps the best single piece of financial data is a summary of income and expenditure by month, showing; actual, forecast, projected year, budgets and variances. This way the vagaries of accounting by month are taken care of. If bad weather has prevented an expensive activity in one month, it will show up in the forecast for the next, and the projection for the end of year results will be a

meaningful measure against the budget. The second most useful piece of data is the cashflow forecast (based on the above projection) which can be compared to the previous year to provide a benchmark on the club’s performance. So for those who haven’t attended a CMAE management development programme course, I encourage you to do so. It will enhance your knowledge, give you confidence, and provide some answers to those aggressive questions! Good Luck!




Who constitutes the extremists in your club? The Extremists. They sit upright in the club, sermonising constantly and chastising committee members, management and staff with equal enthusiasm. There are occasions when their complaints are justified but it is the zeal of their delivery that is very damaging, ponders David Roy, Manager at the Crail Golfing Society.


he Extremists will maintain that they have no personal agenda and are ‘only concerned for the club’ when stirring trouble. Not for them the quiet life of turning up, playing golf, drinking a coffee and sailing merrily away. Oh no. The Extremist will often make a specific trip to the club with the sole objective of delivering a sermon to any of the chosen target audience. These characters are often (but not exclusively) retired from a relatively successful career and have been members for a great many years. Extremists see their role within the club as a sentinel of the chaste members of the past against the wicked sinners of the present committee and staff. “O’ Lord, Thou kens what zeal I bear When drinkers drink, an’ swearers swear” The Extremists may be isolated in their piety, but live to preach to a congregation. This provides the support and encouragement they require to continue their ‘mission’. They appear to rise every morning with the express need to find ways of being insulted, slighted, offended and oppressed. The irony is in the way in which they are so easily offended, whilst throwing vicious slurs at others in a whim.


Crail Golf Club

Orthodox Pedant This character is the one who cannot countenance any deviation from the rules. They’ve no agenda but live in their own world of perpetual vigilance. In their mind, what is written must be obeyed. They live in a Victorian age and are so obsessed by the details of the constitution (or Memorandum and Articles) that most members see them as such and are ignored. They blather on, heard by many but are generally harmless. Their preferred method of communication is the lengthy letter or email, which will be factually correct but embroidered with emotive words such as ‘appalled’, ‘shocked’, ‘stunned’ and ‘staggered’. The Pedant’s need for the strict adherence to the rules results in seemingly bizarre behaviour most typically seen at the AGM when constitu-

tional change is being proposed. Even though the Pedant may agree to the need for change, the Pedant may well obstruct the proceedings based entirely on the fact that the constitution may be interpreted in a certain, slightly obscure way. In these circumstances, the Orthodox Pedant can be the member to turn to when revising or devising club rules, such is their attention to detail. However, it is important to remember that the Pedant can never set aside the obedience of rules, whether real or imagined, for the pragmatic benefit of the club and there comes a time when such Extremists have to be cast aside and treated as the idiosyncratic member they clearly are. The Fundamentalist Reactionary There can be a great many reactionaries in a club, which is to be expected and understood. Members have chosen to join a certain style of club and retain their membership because that is the way they like it. It is natural that they will be resistant to change. However, the Extremist Fundamental Reactionary will fight to turn the clock back to the 1970s, with no regard or understanding as to how this will affect the club. The Reactionary cares little for changes in society, or legislation, or increased competition and is motivated only by the personal need for the comfort of familiarity. The Reactionary

Yet I am here a chosen sample To show Thy grace is great and ample I’m here a pillar o’ Thy temple Strong as a rock A guide, a buckler, and example To a’ Thy flock Robert Burns

simply represents the views of a proportion of the membership magnified to a level that becomes difficult for a rational person to understand.

Loose Cannons The really dangerous Extremist is the one who’s on the Committee and cannot maintain any sense of unity with his or her fellow committee members. The Loose Cannon wants to avoid any portion of blame for any perceived ‘poor decision’ made by the committee and therefore openly disparage their fellow committee members and members of staff. The Loose Cannons tend to be the most vocal critics of any decision that they perceive not to have followed due process. At times, this may be well justified, should the club have to endure a Chairman/ Captain who is a loose cannon. However, there will be many occasions that the Loose Cannons start their sermonising simply because their own personal agenda is being intruded upon. Should the club decided to relax the dress code, encourage social members or generally become less discouraging to potential members, the Loose Cannons will start foaming at the mouth.

of the entire committee and the ‘official party line’. Extremists are at their most acquiescent when process is seen to be followed. Best advice received from the Governing body, or club solicitor will be grudgingly accepted but the most

effective process is to ask the Extremist what to do next. Seek out the Extremists and spend time with them but do so armed with the knowledge that this may be a never ending ‘ping pong’ of correspondence. Make sure of your facts and know the club rules intimately and set your argument out clearly when you meet, or email the Extremist but once you have done this, stop there. Extremists are most damaging when they have an audience, so ensure that they are disarmed before they get a chance to reach a very public forum such as the AGM. The Extremists’ concerns must be dealt with quickly and at the first available committee meeting, or their persistence will become properly damaging. Finally, it must be remembered that the Extremists are just that; extreme. They are in no way representative of the greater body of the membership and although they mustn’t be ignored, they are essentially like loose paving stones: very few in number and can occasionally trip you up, but rarely cause any more damage than a bruise. Even if it is to your ego.

CONTACT DETAILS Crail Golfing Society, Crail, Fife KY10 3XN t. +44(0)1333 450686 f. +44(0)1333 450416 e.

Effects on the club Every club has these characters. Their assertion that certain committee members have a ‘hidden agenda’ creates an atmosphere of unease amongst the hard-core regular members, who start to question the motives and intents of the manager as well as the committee. This creation of an atmosphere of distrust spreads throughout the whole club and before long staff members, long time members and casual users of the club are passing comment about their ‘concern for the future’. Addressing with accuracy With the Extremist, you must always be accurate. There is no such thing as a throw away remark, or innocent quip. You will never win an argument with an Extremist. They choose their battles very carefully and can twist their rationale so much that it becomes impossible to win. Any opinion offered from the manager to the Extremist will be held as the opinion



Sell, sell, sell... The role of design in retail With astute design and commercial analysis, on-the-money club retail outlets should be valuable profit centres and footfall drivers for the business. Clubhouse Europe talks to Millerbrown Group’s Paul Sanders.


n a global level golf is in growth, with expansion coming from new club developments. From a design point of view most retails projects therefore start from scratch, explains Paul Sanders, design director at shop fitting and retail design company, Millerbrown Group.

From a ‘regional’ perspective, however, the picture is quite different. Mainland Europe is fighting stiff competition from the rest of the world for consumer leisure spend. “People have less spare money. And as is well documented, the popularity of Portugal and Spain is nowhere near what it was 20 years ago.

There is a lot of competition from emerging countries, such as Turkey and Morocco,” says Sanders. The UK golf market in particular is a mature one, he says: “There’s not a lot being built and so most of the work required is on improvements.” Retailing, then, has become an ever more important weapon in the club armoury. “The shops in mainland Europe tend to be more contemporary than in the UK,” he says. “They are not all good but they have realised that retail is important. They needed to change and many have made a lot of effort in all areas. Twenty years ago they were generally quite basic.” Retailing in the UK According to Sanders, those in the design business were starting to have doubts about any serious investments taking place in refurbishing venues in the UK. “For a number of years they just wanted to be cheap and cheerful – or what they saw as being cheerful. They were dramatically underselling their


CASE STUDY: ROYAL MID SURREY PRO SHOP A few years ago Matthew Paget, who runs the Royal Mid Surrey Pro Shop, wanted to change the look and image of his shop as well as make better use of rooms at the back of the outlet. He called in Millerbrown who advised creating a glazed performance studio area to make better use of this space. The shop layout was also addressed so that more products were visible and the overall image worked better. Another change was to the shop windows which took up too much potential display space within the store. Millerbrown came up with a solution which still let natural light in, but allowed for more wall displays where the original windows had been. The new display areas are also now much more flexible, allowing Paget to display a range of goods as well as change displays easily.

potential and there wasn’t any individual character or identity,” he says, adding that retail outlets had a tendency to become stock rooms instead of an attractive retail venue. “Shops can end up with a lot of stock, which is then sold on discount. It’s a lot to deal with and you have to be a very strong person to keep on top of this.” Since the recession, however, many shops have been forced to look more clearly at their retail elements. “They were forced to think more about stocks and over-stocks, and across the country the shop is starting to become more of a sales vehicle rather than just a stock room,” says Sanders. Another trend he’s noticed is a greater focus on smaller, impulse items such as accessories, and which often generate higher margins, as well as a switch towards carrying more stylish clothing ranges. “Customers are unlikely to buy hardware on impulse, so shops should display clubs and bags to one side of the main retail space, leaving the prime space for well-displayed textiles and other soft goods.” says Sanders. Overall, the advice is to lay out the shop in a way that encourages people to notice items that they didn’t originally come in for, and textiles in particular, employing high street standards of display whenever possible. Golf shops, he believes, are beginning to make greater efforts to appear more contemporary and are

MERCHANDISING TIPS • The most important thing to remember is that it is a shop. When people come in they need to see things that have immediate appeal. Get people to buy something on top of what they came in for. • Ensure you have items that people will come in and ask for anyway (‘demand items’) and then up-sell these, or encourage them to buy other things as well. • The shop must have ‘curb appeal’. Stand outside and make sure your shop is visually appealing. Only put in your shop what you can display well. • People do have less disposable income now than 10 years ago, but it is still a flexible disposable income. If goods are attractively displayed then overall, people will buy more. • No size fits all; designers/clubs need to analyse the target market and design appropriately.

buying products that have a broader and more fashionable appeal but ‘clubs need to help them,’ says Sanders, explaining that, in Europe, retail outlets tend to belong to the club, and so form part of an overall income strategy, whereas in the UK the picture is rather different. UK-based pros need the clubs they work at to understand the challenges they face and be more proactive in finding a solution that works for both parties. Most clubs leave the pros to run the shop, but most pros aren’t on long-term contracts, and because all too few clubs will offer the pro some form of investment pay-back guarantee should they leave sooner than planned, all too many shops are left looking badly out of date and un-loved. “There has to be a much greater level of commercial astuteness,” he says.

CONTACT DETAILS The Millerbrown Group (UK) Ltd, Lea Nor House, Long Lane, Honley, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD9 6EB t. 0870 203 2003 e.


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Effective communication

– where it’s App! Clubhouse Europe looks at the ingenious Eagle Golf Club App, an online tool which aims to ensure club managers can communicate on an unprecedented level with their members.


s all members of the CMAE will no doubt agree, effective communication with members is paramount to running a successful golf club. Gone are the days of pinning a piece of A4 paper up on the noticeboard in order to publicise an upcoming event or handing out a monthly newsletter in the bar; in the new era of instant communications, widely available wi-fi, ipads, smartphones and other mobile devices, using the very latest technology to talk to your club members is a must. And while a dedicated, well-designed website is a vital tool for any golf club as a shop window which can help point nomad golfers and golf societies in your direction and give them an overview of the club, details on green fees, available packages, etc. it will always have a limited ability to

communicate directly with your existing members given its primary purpose. This is where the ingenious bespoke communications solution especially designed for golf clubs – the Eagle Golf Club App – comes in. The App – produced by golf collateral supplier Eagle Promotions – takes advantage of the rise and rise of smartphones and mobile devices, providing an easy-to-use web-based ‘live’ communications hub, complete with club branding which aims to enhance the members’ interaction with their club to previously undreamt of levels. The App has a facility for a club sponsor, a three second dropdown in the title bar and a dedicated button linking to their website. The App ensures that club management can provide a flow of constantly changing information

designed to be accessed at any time by their members – on their phones, tablets or PC through a simple ‘dashboard’. As long as they’re online, they can, among other things, click on the respective icon and view the course guide, book a tee time, view the club’s live fixtures list, communicate with the club, put a message up or respond to an existing message on the virtual club noticeboards, check out the latest offers from the club pro, read the breaking club news, find out the day’s menu in the restaurant, check the local five-day weather forecast, measure the distance walked on-course during a round and get live updates from the groundstaff - pretty much every bit of information a member could possibly want can be found quickly through the App. What’s more, the customisable App is designed

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The App ensures that club management can provide a flow of constantly changing information...


PROMOTION - ONLINE TOOLS to use across all platforms and devices, meaning that your members won’t be excluded if they don’t happen to have the very latest phone or tablet. It’s also worth noting that regular upgrades are constantly made to improve the app and are uploaded to members’ phones automatically as and when they happen. Essentially, the App pulls together all the different entities of the club to communicate with each other in a very simple way. The golf pro, catering section, course management, club management and the various member committees can all update the relevant areas of the app themselves without having to collate the information and give to a third party – often the club manager – to upload, as would have often been the case in the past with complicated website content management systems. For example, the course manager can update the course status every morning directly from his phone while out on the course – and can even take an image and post that up instantaneously to give members a full appraisal of what they can expect when they themselves venture out of the locker room. Or the club pro can use their area to alert members instantly to special items on sale in the shop, club fitting days, lesson deals, as well as provide the ability to book lessons online, things that can only help to give business a boost in the pro shop. The App’s ‘Team Management’ function looks like a real boon for team managers everywhere, ensuring that teams and travel arrangements for fixtures can be posted in one area and then accessed and commented on by the selected players, thus negating the need for several lengthy phonecalls or emails post selection. With a wealth of functions – 43 at the last count although clubs can display as many or as few as they like when they launch the App – it means that the onus is not on one individual or section to update the App but a shared responsibility, something that has obvious advantages in terms of keeping the information up to date. To this end, when a club first signs up for the App, Eagle provides a full training session with the entire team involved on how to use the system most effectively, with tips on how to keep the content dynamic through teamwork and delegation. Each month, the club manager receives a full analytics report from Eagle on the use of the App by members – how many overall unique users they have, what functions they’re using, how often they’re visiting the App, etc. ensuring a great insight into the areas of most interest to their members, as well as discovering which communications helped to uplift business in the restaurant and pro shop most effectively. With smartphones becoming ever more ubiquitous, it seems this App – with its 43 functions – is set to become an even more effective conduit between club management and their members.

CASE STUDY: STONEBRIDGE GOLF CLUB, WARWICKSHIRE “We launched the App in April and it’s been a real success with over 400 members already registered,” says Kelvin Pugh, Golf Operations and Sales Manager of Stonebridge Golf Club in Warwickshire. “I was a bit worried before we started about how much work it would entail but it was really simple and we got it up and running very quickly. “We’ve gone all in with the App and have actually removed the ‘Members Area’ on our website and replaced it to a link that goes straight to the App. The feedback we’ve received from members has been very positive and they’ve found it very simple to use and the fact that so many people are using it in such a short space of time demonstrates what a good move it has been for the club. “We don’t do a printed club diary any more because the App has totally removed the need for one. I’m sure it’s the same for most clubs – you print the diary but dates change, events move and tournaments are rescheduled. With the App, we put all the fixtures on an Excel spreadsheet and when dates inevitably change, you just upload it to the App and all the members instantaneously have the correct fixtures list. “It gives the club a much more modern feel – all the information a member could need is right there – fixtures, the scorecard, the noticeboard, competition results, club news, the photo gallery, as well as loads of other features, including the breaking news ticker which goes across the top of the App where we put the latest course information such as ‘course fully open – all buggies and trolleys allowed’. “It allows you to communicate directly and instantly with the majority of your members. For example, we recently ran a special offer on buggy hire for members and the first thing I did was upload it to the App and then that becomes the main reference point as you can link back to it when you’re sending out emails or putting it on twitter. “We’ve also managed to sign up a sponsor for the App in Volvo dealer Johnsons and their logo drops down within the Titlebar of the App each time a member lands on the Homescreen. They get great feedback from it and the deal effectively pays for the App so it’s a win-win situation.”

CONTACT DETAILS t. 01883 344 244 e.




A word with...

Staffan Tuomolin CCM In 1990, 14-year-old Staffan Tuomolin could be found working at Finland’s Nordcenter Golf collecting balls from the driving range. Now, 24 years later, he’s MD of that very same club, President of the Finnish Golf Association and a CMAE Board member to boot. Staffan Tuomolin CCM Age: 38 Job title: Managing Director of Nordcenter Golf; Board member of the CMAE; President of the Finnish Golf Managers Association Place of work: Nordcenter Golf & Country Club, Raseborg (about 80 km west of Helsinki). The club: 36-hole semi-private golf facility. Claims to fame: Both courses ranked Top 5 in the country. Other activities: Tennis, snooker, Frisbee golf. Accommodation: Bungalows and apartments. Food & Beverage: Restaurant operations by Vanajanlinna Group. Contact details: How did you get into the industry? As a kid I grew up in a small town in Finland. In the 1980s the country experienced a golf boom and the number of courses increased from about 10 to 100 within around 10 years. There are now about 140 clubs and 140,000 registered players. I happened to live close to Nordcenter which opened in the late 1980s and started working there as a 14-year old boy picking up the range

balls and mowing lawns etc. I then worked there for the coming 10 summers (the golfing season is only six months in Finland) becoming a receptionist, creating the club magazine, being a ranger and starter on the golf course etc. I then moved onto other golf courses as a yearround employee and manager (Kurk Golf 20022006 and Vuosaari Golf, Helsinki, 2006-2010). In 2010 I was offered the Manager position of my home club Nordcenter – an offer which I couldn’t refuse! What training have you undertaken? I’m a Business Administration Major (MBA) from the Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration in Helsinki. I also have a Finnish Golf Management degree and a CCMdiploma which I received last year. I have been to a number of CMAA World Conferences and BMI Internationals as well as a number of European conferences. During my college years I spent a year and a half in the US studying sports administration and sports marketing. How did you hear about CMAE? Being a Swedish speaking Finn (6% of the population in Finland are) I was elected early on to represent Finland in some Scandinavian events. I was a board member of the Finnish Golf Managers Association and I ran into CMAE’s then CEO Jerry Kilby, during this time. He also came over to Finland a couple of times to tell us about the association.

What prompted you to sit the CCM? I was elected for the Board of Directors of the CMAE a couple of years ago and, having lived in the US, I felt I wanted to see if my English was good enough to pass the exam. I knew I had gathered the points needed to sit the exam and by that time Jimmy Grön had successfully become the first ever Scandinavian with a CCM so I wanted to prove to myself and my colleagues in Finland it was possible. To be honest it wasn’t easy. It took a second try to pass the exam so there definitely is a language barrier writing the exam in a foreign language – in my case my third language after Swedish and Finnish. Apart from that, I always pictured myself working abroad at some later point so the CCM is a natural step in this direction as well. Does Finland have any challenges that are unique in the golf industry? Well the climate is a challenge but I guess there are similar conditions in Canada and other Northern countries.




Most Finnish golf clubs consist of a company that owns the facilities and employs the people, but also an organisation that runs the events at the club. This means that the managers usually have to deal with two administrative bodies and boards of directors. It started out this way for taxation reasons back in the day, but at the moment it feels outdated and in many cases unnecessary and very challenging. Any passions outside golf? Well family life obviously, but I also play the drums in a number of bands. I’m sort of a rock’n’roll kind of musician but at the moment I’m getting ready to go to South Africa and play some small festival gigs with my country-western band called the Winestones. When I was younger we really tried to make it as musicians for a number of years, but nowadays it’s more therapy than anything else. Music is still a great passion of mine and I’m trying to pass it on to my kids as well. What support is there for the golf industry from the Finnish Government? Not so much. The Federation gets a little monetary support but the government is not involved in any other major way.

Nordcenter scenery photo by SkyX Virtual Tours


What role does the Finnish Golf Federation play in supporting club managers? I wish I could say we do a lot of co-operation but at the moment I would say there’s a lot more that could and should be done in this area. We organise mutual industry events and sit down whenever necessary, but I do wish we would be better

FINLAND Politics: Republic Population: 5.5 million Capital: Helsinki Currency: Euro. Member of the European Union Area: 8th largest in Europe. Most sparsely populated country in the EU Golf clubs: About 140 golf clubs and 145,000 registered players.

organised together as I know they are in Sweden. What other sports would have full time club managers in Finland? Not many, only a couple of yacht clubs and the major ice-hockey and football (soccer) clubs. We have a good amount of multi-sport facilities that obviously have managers, but they aren’t employed by any specific sport.

Staffan (left) with Wentworth’s Julian Small and the Nordcenter’s Ray Lindberg. (Photo by Kai Kilappa.)

And what are the most popular sports there? Number one sports are probably ice-hockey in the winter and soccer in the summer. Golf is a pretty big sport considering we only have five million people in the whole country. Are there any city clubs in Finland? Just a couple. The club industry is mainly focused on golf and maybe a couple of yacht and tennis clubs. Can you describe your typical F&B operation? The typical food and beverage operation in Finland is outsourced to a third party - although there seems to be an increase in having the operation in-house again. Because of the season being so short the average turnovers are quite low. F&B at my club has turned over about half a million euros over the last few years. Is taxation on alcohol a problem? (And is vodka a top tipple? Or is this just a stereotype?) We’re trying to leave this stereotype to our neighbors in the east, so not that much vodka no! Having said that, Finns still like to drink a bit, but I can’t say we see that much of it in our golf clubs. Taxation on alcohol (and everything else) is quite high. Is environmental legislation a problem? Environmental policies are really strict in Scandinavia over all but I don’t think it’s a big problem. My club is just getting the GEO certificate and we do our best to implement green values in course management and other operations. We still have to make the public aware of the fact that golf courses (at least in Scandinavia) do not use big amounts of pesticides etc compared to the agriculture industry.



Alchemy Contract Publishing Communications specialists and proud co-publisher of Clubhouse Europe t. +44(0) 1753 272022 e.


Spotlight on

Prague PRAGUE – FAST FACTS Geography: Capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is situated in the north-west of the country. It is the 14th-largest city in the EU. History: Once the seat of the Holy Roman Empire, Prague was important to the AustroHungarian Empire and played a major part in the Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years' War, and in both World Wars, as well as in the post-war Communist era. Economy: Prague's economy accounts for 25% of the Czech Republic's GDP and is predominantly service and export-based. Population: Estimated at 1.3 million. Food and drink: Roast pork, dumplings and sauerkraut are recognised as a national dish. Prague is well known for its breweries and hosts the 17-day Czech Beer Festival (May).

With the return of the D+D REAL Czech Masters to The European Tour schedule for the first time since 2011, Clubhouse Europe throws a spotlight on golf in Prague. KARLSTEIN GOLF RESORT Karlstein Castle and its golf course is said to be the most popular attraction in the Czech Republic after Prague itself and lies just 40 minutes from the city The championship golf course opened in 1993 and has fine views of the medieval castle which sits on a hill surrounded by forests. The course featured on the 1997 European Tour, won by Bernhard Langer. Broken terrain, natural gorges, two lakes and many sand traps are a feature of the course. The architects designed it as ‘easy bogey but difficult birdie’, with the result that players with very different handicaps will find it a pleasant play. The 18 hole course is littered with sand hazards and water. In 2008 the course was enlarged with a further nine holes.

_______________________________________ Statistics: Par Metres Yards Men 72 5,880 6,433 Ladies 72 4,876 5,334 Course record: 63 _______________________________________


LOCATION REPORT Just an hour and a half’s flight from Gatwick, Prague is the perfect destination for a short golfing break

KONOPISTE GOLF RESORT The 45 hole Konopiste Golf Resort is a top venue with two 18 hole courses with extensive and beautifully modelled greens about a 30 minute drive from the centre of Prague. It also has a nine-hole public course. The older more mature Radecky course’ is part woodland part open with many water and sand challenges. The newer D’Este course (2002) is undulating with plenty of challenges for the keen golfer. Super size greens are excellently laid out, but that extra size is paid for by having to take long putt shots. _______________________________________ Statistics – Radecky: Par Metres Yards Men 72 6,056 6,623 Ladies 72 5,371 5,874 _______________________________________ Statistics – D’Este: Par Metres Yards Men 72 6,086 6,656 _______________________________________ YPSILON GOLF CLUB

Not far from the town of Liberec, and approximately two hours’ drive from Prague, lies Vojta Dam and the Ypsilon Golf Resort. Created by British architect Keith Preston, the challenging course opened to great acclaim in 2006. The holes never cross, and there is a lot of space all around the fairways and greens. All holes require a well-placed drive, otherwise there are water hazards, roughs, woods and, last but not least, serious bunkers that are best avoided! _______________________________________ Statistics: Par Metres Yards Men 72 6,101 6,672 Ladies 72 5,213 5,734 _______________________________________ GOLF PARK PLZEN Golf Park Pilsen opened in 2004 and was designed by German golf architect Christopher Stadtler on the north eastern outskirts of Pilsen. The 18-hole course provides a challenge to golfers of all skill levels. It is set amongst birch and alder groves, and has a hotel and training centre on site. The club prides itself on having an exceptionally friendly atmosphere, and majors on junior golf.



Statistics: Par Metres Yards Men 71 5,597 6,121 Ladies 71 5,321 5,819 _______________________________________ KARLOVY VARY GOLF RESORT This is one of the oldest golf courses in the region. (The area boasts 10 golf courses.) The immaculate course is stunning and hosts major European tournaments. Social events and dining are core to the club and its attractive modern clubhouse, while a fitness centre is among the many attractions of the resort. _______________________________________ Statistics: Par Metres Yards Men 72 6,167 6,744 Ladies 72 5,359 5,861 _______________________________________

Gary Player with a landscape described as typically Scottish. The course throws out challenges in the form of sand and water hazards. In addition to the par 72 18 hole golf course, there is a nine-hole course, driving range, Pro shop, golfing academy, putting green, training bunkers, clubhouse, hotel and fine-dining restaurant. _______________________________________ Statistics: Par Metres Yards Men 72 6,149 6,725 _______________________________________ ROYAL GOLF CLUB MARIANSKE LAZNE

ASTORIA CIHELNY GOLF RESORT Cihelny’s Golf Resort and Spa, two hours from Prague, was inaugurated in May 2001. Situated just outside Karlovy Vary, the course was designed by Sir Mariánské Lázne is about an hour and a half from Prague. The mature 18-hole course is set in woodland with challenging sand and water hazards.Opened in 1905 by the UK’s King Edward VIII it has been visited by several European PGA Tour events. _______________________________________ Statistics: Par Metres Yards Men 72 5,935 6,493 Ladies 72 5,285 5,782 _______________________________________


The next level of Club Management is in your hands

The CMAE Management Development Programme is a series of courses and learning opportunities designed not only for those working as club general managers, club secretaries and in other senior positions at sports, city and corporate clubs today, but also for those who aspire to these roles in the future.

The CMAE has developed a structured and comprehensive education programme for club managers GSZIVMRK ½ve extensive classroom-based courses. Can you afford not to take it to the next level? Visit the CMAE website for details of the dates and venues of upcoming MDP courses.

• Golf course shaper/finisher/project co-ordinator • Remodelling of greens, tees and bunkers • Footpaths, lakes/Ponds, Irrigation, Turf or Seed • No project to small

Ternesse Golf Club Hole 8 Par 3 (Under construction)

• Architects drawings or freelance design

Contact Fred for all your in-house projects: Call: +447739 463397


Alchemy Contract Publishing Communications specialists and proud co-publisher of Clubhouse Europe t. +44(0) 1753 272022 e.


Controlling energy costs - bright ideas Budgeting for energy expenditure has become an increasingly difficult matter for clubs. Certainly all businesses face the same challenge, but there’s little comfort in that. There are, however, measures to help control what energy a club uses, according to Strutt & Parker’s Resources & Energy Department.


ontrolling energy use will reduce costs and also help to meet ever increasing energy targets set by central and European governments. In the UK the ambition is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 which means there will be continued legislation to push organisations towards reducing the emissions associated with property – in short there is no avoiding this. Understandably the main priority for all club

managers is the members and their comfort - and often the easiest way of ensuring this is to make all of the club facilities (bar, restaurant, changing rooms, gym, and meeting rooms) readily available whilst the club is open. Unfortunately this approach is not always conducive to an efficient operation as it means many appliances and systems are in constant use throughout the day. Similarly most clubs are designed for maximum capacity events such as match days, conferences or wed-

dings, yet it is highly unlikely that any club will actually operate at this level on a daily basis but they may find they are consuming the same amount of energy. Reducing a clubs energy consumption and in turn its energy bills is an achievable task and can be relatively straightforward, they simply need to know where to start. A philosophy of Lean Mean and Green should be applied to any energy saving strategy as this will deliver the best and most




cost effective results and also lead to a long term solution that can deliver benefits for many years to come. The first thing to consider is how much energy is being consumed, where and when. Knowing this is essential to help identify and manage energy waste. It is possible to reduce energy bills by up to 30% simply by identifying where energy is being wasted. Installing meters on major plant (boilers, chillers etc) and distribution boards will help develop a picture of how energy is used and will easily identify where it is being wasted. Results often surprise managers when they learn that boilers are running outside of operational times or electricity use at night is almost the same as daytime. Switching things off that don’t need to be on is the cheapest measure; stopping waste can also be achieved through the fabric of the building by increasing insulation levels to retain heat and reducing solar gains through windows. Through metering the amount of energy needed for the club will be established and managers can explore how it is used. Controls are essential and do not necessarily need to be complicated. Just having a base level of control will introduce savings with further layers of sophistication added to complement the needs of the individual clubhouse. Much larger clubs may have sophisticated cooling and ventilation systems which operate all season and sophisticated controls would be appropriate. There are many cooling systems which run constantly when the bar/restaurant is empty. Assessing the levels of energy that are being consumed and establishing ways to control it will


“ ”

To complement the lower levels of energy being consumed clubs may want to identify a renewable technology that complement the new energy strategy...

mean energy is being managed and its consumption optimised to the clubs actual demands. These changes do not necessarily spell disruption and can be planned in small stages to maintain facilities for club members. The Green aspect of the philosophy relates to the installation of a renewable or low carbon technology within a club. To complement the lower levels of energy being consumed clubs may want to identify a renewable technology that will complement the new energy strategy and match the long term needs of the club. Optimising renewable technologies will also mean investment expenditure is optimised too. Government subsidies associated with renewable technologies make them attractive in terms of return. There is no one-size fits all solution and certain technologies will be more appropriate than others depending on factors such as size, location and business model. For smaller clubs technologies such as biomass boilers or heat pumps may be the best fit as they have less of a visual impact; lakes especially can provide a great source of energy for heat pumps.

However clubs with additional ancillary buildings may want to consider roof-mounted solar PV. Exploring options for irrigation and utilising the natural resources of water from below ground would reduce charges relating to water use. The low hanging fruit is always tempting. However, it does little to protect businesses from future energy costs!


Strutt & Parker Alexander Creed (Partner) or Kieran Crowe (Resources and Energy Engineer) Strutt & Parker LLP, 20 Gracechurch Street London EC3V 0BG Switchboard 020 7600 3456 Direct Lines 020 7318 5022/0207 318 4674 Mobiles 07947453432/ 07825 717746 Strutt & Parker’s Resources & Energy Department aims to develop and implement energy reduction and generation strategies for business and individuals.



People power Okay, so a great looking web site with all the bells and whistles on it might be appealing. But just how good is the experience for the user? This is, after all, the most important element of your website.


uilding a website that functions optimally from a user’s perspective is perhaps the most important aspect of your website to get right. Not only will a website that performs well from a user’s perspective be easier to navigate and to find relevant information, it will also improve the performance of your website in search engines. With your website being a key marketing tool for your club you will enjoy more enquiries from golf societies and general green fees as a site that performs better in search engines and provides clarity of information will bring you more unique visits to your website and make it easier for them to get in touch. For a user Having a website that looks great is one thing but having a website that also functions well web wise is equally important from a user’s perspective. One key area of usability in the modern web world is not using flash technology to develop your website as it’s expensive and not compatible with iPhones or iPads. Now you can attain similar effects using alternative technology that’s cheaper to develop and more compatible cross-platform. The user’s experience on a website is all about setting and attaining the goals you want the user to achieve. For example, do you want the visitor to come on and book a tee time? Enquire about a society? Or simply catch up with the club’s latest news? Once you know what your goals for the site are, you then want to map out the journey the user is going to take from the moment they land on your website to give them the best possible chance of achieving your goal. Whether this is an enquiry form that pops up when the user lands on your site, or something more subtle like having an online tee booking button visible on the site (but not the first thing the user sees) by focussing on what the goals of your website are you can then think about the most effective way for a user to achieve them. We have spoken about it before, but another key from a user’s perspective is how your website performs on mobile. It’s imperative that your website offers a compelling experience on mobile as well as traditional desktops/laptops as, if not, a user is much more likely to leave your site as the clarity of information and navigation on a mobile is greatly reduced if the site is not optimised for mobile viewing. For search engines Are search engines going to prefer to show a site

that’s tricky to navigate, is fiddly to use on mobile devices and increases the likelihood that a user will head straight off the site to find the information elsewhere, or, are they more likely to index a site that’s a breeze for users to find their way around no matter what device they’re using and looks great, encouraging the user to visit more pages and stay on the site longer? The answer of course is the latter. A better looking, easier to navigate site will decrease bounce rates, increase the amount of time spent on your site and likely earn you more links, all of which will be of benefit to your website’s SEO. Here are a few user experience tips that will help your SEO: • Including share links for content: If you have a blog or regularly write news articles, it’s well worth including share icons for others to easily share content across various Social Media platforms. This makes your content easier to share which is great if you’re looking to grow your readership as it will help get more visits to your site and, if your content is great you will get more and more regular readers, more and more shares and ultimately more and more links to your website, all of which will be great for your SEO. This will offer the added benefit of growing your social media presence which is another way of broadening your reach. • Internal linking: Internal linking is great for user experience as it simplifies the navigation for your users. Think about when you were reading an article on BBC Sport and they mention a previous event; it’s much easier to link directly to a page about that event than for you to have to go and find the article yourself. Internal linking is great if you’re updating the news section on your website regularly as you can link to previous articles using specific, relevant keywords. Just remember, make sure

your internal link building strategy doesn’t look keyword-stuffed and spammy. • Think about your users as opposed to search engines: Ultimately keyword stuffing (a haphazard internal linking strategy that takes the user off in all sorts of directions) and other existing SEO techniques will not work as well long-term as building the website solely for the user. The better the quality of your website, the better it looks, the better the information, will all result in a series of positive signals being sent to search engines saying that your site is great. As long as you have the relevant site architecture in place so that search engines know what your site is about and you’re sending all these positive signals to search engines, your site will rank well long-term and you will never suffer a crippling Google penalty. Final thoughts Focussing on a good experience for your user is often undervalued, as golf clubs want a site that ‘looks great’ or does something whizzy but in reality, the user is the most important element of your website. Thinking about the usability of your website will help you reach the goals you set for your site as well as helping you climb the search engine rankings.

CONTACT DETAILS Larrytech Ltd, Calverley House, 55 Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 2TU t.+ 44 (0)1892 888 011 e.



Ladies first? Clubs are realising that upping their offer for lady golfers can swell playing numbers and members, says John Gibbs, Director of Craftsman Lockers.


olfing role models generated by the up and coming young female golfers have fired the enthusiasm for more ladies to take lessons and take up the game. The growth of training academies testifies in part to the trend. Proprietary club Morley Hayes in Derbyshire is just one example, supporting no fewer than four full-time professionals – and they are always busy. Yet despite this, many clubs say they find it hard to attract new lady members. If clubs are to capitalise on the wave of interest currently being stimulated by the success of lady golfers, they need to ease access for ladies of all ages and to provide the quality not only on the course but also in the clubhouse. It is amazing the number of clubs that provide Wi-Fi in the lounge, while their changing rooms still harbour old steel lockers that no longer accommodate the requirements of the larger golf bags utilised on motor and power operated trolleys. Over the last few years there seems to be a direct correlation between clubs upgrading their club house and female changing rooms with an increase in memberships. Comfortable modern changing rooms prompt everyone to linger longer around the club house to chat over their round and discuss social calendars. Clubs have a great opportunity to deliver a social and sporting environment that allows lady members to manage their working and leisure lives together. Handsworth Golf Club Private members club Handsworth Golf Club, near Birmingham, founded in 1895, has realised the challenge and is planning to act. “Working women are an issue for clubs in that many younger players have a job and want to play golf regularly but how do clubs cater for the demand?” asks General Manager Bryan Frazer, in the vanguard of pioneering clubs eager to introduce change. With membership around the 400 mark – and the tally of lady members numbering just 30, ‘and


Attracting lady golfers is a priority for many clubs. dropping’, Bryan believes he must address some of the issues that impact ladies’ golf. “Why don’t ladies play golf during the week? Because clubs do not usually make it easy for them to do so,” he says. “Maybe we should provide crèche facilities, professionally managed, say for five or six hours on a weekday to allow mums to leave their kids in safe hands while they enjoy a round.” Golfers’ expectations across the board are constantly rising, says Bryan: “I’m concerned that ‘The Handsworth Experience’ is one that members and visitors alike can cherish. They expect 18 holes of

good parkland golf but what else can we deliver to make their experience here memorable?” How guests are greeted and treated make a difference, he says. “For example – am I offered a complimentary coffee or tea while I’m waiting for my tee time? These are service elements that build enjoyment and loyalty, I believe.” Developing the club’s offering for lady golfers, and juniors, are key elements of Bryan’s model and strategy for Handsworth – one that focuses on the club’s target age groups. “The core of our financial future is men and

Luffenham Heath (above), Diss (right) Handsworth Golf Club (below), and St Augustine’s (bottom) are just some of the clubs which have upgraded their locker rooms to provide greater appeal.

Design skills and experience helped embrace the available space more effectively, allowing the optimum number of light oak holdall lockers, with matching upholstered bench seating, to create a traditional, comfortable environment that fully meets the ladies’ expectations while retaining the historic coherence of the clubhouse. Luffenham Heath is a fine example of a progressive club realising the importance of lady members to its development and is part of a growing trend for clubs to look after their ladies by investing in their changing facilities. The club joins the likes of Delamere Forest, Diss, Doncaster, Knole Park, St Augustine’s and Southwold in providing first-class changing facilities to meet the ever-rising expectations of lady members and visitors. women in their mid-to-late 40s – not 30-somethings, who may have young children and who are building their businesses or careers so have little time to spend here,” he says. Luffenham Heath, Rutland With strong links to local independent schools, Luffenham Heath in Rutland strives to advance the cause of junior golf, while the ladies section has remained strong throughout the club’s lifetime, now numbering more than 100 among a 550 total membership.

The original clubhouse has been extended and renovated several times, most recently to transform the ladies changing room, where the old steel lockers had outlived their usefulness. Championing the changes, then-Lady Captain Jenny Smith says: “We wanted to get rid of the old off-the-shelf steel lockers and bench seating and replace them with a bespoke feel.” The lady members soon set about the task of raising the funds to upgrade their facility – finally secured ‘through sheer determination’, Club Manager Tim Stephens recalls.

CONTACT DETAILS Craftsman Quality Lockers are space planners and locker suppliers for changing rooms designed to meet the expectations and requirements of club members and visitors throughout Europe. t. 01480 405396 e.



The Club Manager – A Complaint Generation Factory T

here are some people in this world whose sole purpose in life is to discover new and innovative ways of being offended. From the moment they step out of bed, they are consumed by the single purpose of being slighted, ignored, taken for granted and usurped. These splendid fellows then arrive at the golf club and hector the first unfortunate person they encounter, which is often, although far from exclusively, the club manager. What do you, your fellow staff members or Board do to deserve such opprobrium? Here are the top five ways to offend your members:

Dealing with complaints is an integral part of club life – but not necessarily the fun bit. So what’s your modus operandi when it comes to the grumblers and the moaners? Calling in the military may not be the best solution.

1. Restrict access to the course: Reasonably minded and considerate members understand the need to aerate the greens, sell tee times to visitors and host a major golf tournament but in every club there are a few members who care only that they get to play golf at the same time, on the same day, every week. Deny this group of members a tee time they consider sacrosanct and you will generate screams of protest from this user group. 2. Allow ‘other’ members to break rules: The self proclaimed guardian angels of the club will protest to the highest court in the land (if necessary) should you allow any club rule be broken by accident or by design by a member or visitor. Naturally, in the warped minds of the complainers, it is quite permissible for them to break whatever rules that inhibit their unfettered use of the facilities. 3. Encourage poor service: There are a surprising number of members who consider that it is entirely acceptable to arrive unannounced on Easter Sunday with their family of twelve and expect to be seated instantaneously and fed within minutes. Should your staff fail to comply with such requests, it often results in howls of protest directed at the club authorities. 4. Run out of stock: It is irrelevant whether 200 visitors have just vacated the clubhouse that was designed to accommodate half that number, should there be no soap in a dispenser, or no fish left on the menu, or no Kummel in the bar, a sharply written letter is the least that can be expected from the member who feels that their inalienable membership rights have been denied. 5. Generate change of any description: Whether it is a format of a competition, the type of sand in the bunkers, or the colour of the annual diary, some members simply cannot cope with change. Should


you be the unfortunate person at the helm when such change is implemented, you must expect the appropriate amount of derision to come your way. Coping Strategy There is a limit to the lengths any club manager can and should go to mitigate against such complaints. After taking the most obvious steps in communication, and staff training, your complaint factory (or office, as it is otherwise known) has to be geared up to cope with those that you have upset. 1. Get it into perspective: The tiny minority of members that complain are generally not representative. Remind yourself and your staff that such difficult characters exist in every club and in every walk of life. 2. Agree: One of the most effective methods of diffusing a complaint is to agree whenever possible. For example, when there is a stock shortage, accept that this is unacceptable and that you will investigate the stock levels immediately with a view to ensuring that there are always adequate levels of

Kummel, whilst explaining some of the difficulties that this may pose. 3. Remind the member that you are merely carrying out the wishes of the club: You could add that as an employee, you are not at liberty to alter club policy, or turn away revenue, or whatever and if the complainer wishes, he or she should write to the Board with a suggestion on how the club could be improved. Finally, dealing with complaints is an integral part of the job of a club manager. Establish your own coping strategy as quickly as you can in any new post and embrace the issue with gusto, rather than shy away. Most hard core, repetitive complainers will respect an honest and considered reply from a manager that shows a little steel. Those managers that buckle quickly, will be seen as a soft target and complaints will increase, whilst those managers that are too blunt in their response are disliked and their career may mirror that of a football club manager. Good luck and have fun.


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