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Pro Circuit Life on the road with Stephanie Na, Jordan Sherratt and Max McCardle Plus: Golf Australia announce latest Handicapping changes In Profile: West Lakes Golf Club Travel Feature: Kent


From the Editors Desk

I Golf SA Online Editor: Phil Laurie E:phil@golfsa.com.au Contributing Writers Matt Cooper, Rod Morri, Andrew Marshall, Paul Marshall, Scott Walsh, Phil Laurie, Grant Garrison and Bruce Winter Golf SA CEO: Chris Luz-Raymond Communications & Golf Development Manager Phil Laurie Competitions Manager Christian Puccini Development Coach Allan Telford Development Officer Megan O’Brien Susie Rock Finance & Administration Manager 249 Henley Beach Road Torrensville SA 5031 PO Box 356 Torrensville Plaza SA 5031 P: (08) 8352 6899 F: (08) 8352 3900 Email: admin@golfsa.com.au Golf SA Inc can not ensure that the advertisements appearing in this publication comply absolutely with the Trade Practices Act and other consumer legislation. It is the responsibility of the advertiser and / or supplier to ensure compliance with all legal requirements. Golf SA Inc do not accept responsibility for incorrect information appearing in such advertisements. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, transmitted or used in any other way without prior permission from Golf SA. Contributions including the contributor’s name and address are welcomed by this publication, and should be addressed to The Editor, Golf SA Online, PO Box 356,Torrensville Plaza, SA 5031 or emailed to phil@golfsa.com.au

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can no longer think of one aspect of my life that isn’t in some way influenced by Social Media.

speaks with the state’s most recent touring professionals - Stephanie Na, Jordan Sherratt and Max McCardle.

Whether it be my obsession with ‘checking in’ to places on Facebook, the pages of Twitter updates that I scroll through each morning in search of fresh marketing tips or golf news, or the Scoopon deals that flash up on my phone just after lunch every day, there’s simply no escaping it.

Our regular bloggers back - Rod Morri takes a look at the increasing influence of player manager Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler and Matt Cooper pays one final tribute to the legendary Seve Ballesteros.

It’s an area of both communications and marketing which over time, golf clubs will have to embrace, because generally speaking, if they are looking to attract new golfing business then this is the space where their target market ‘hangs out’. Much like Chris Lilley’s satire Angry Boys on the ABC - which brilliantly depicts the growing gap between teenagers and parents as both sides struggle to articulate their respective points of view - so I think club’s will be left behind (in both marketing and communication terms) if they fail to embrace the new Social Media platforms that are now available. Enjoy the article and I’d be extremely interested in your feedback. Elsewhere in this edition, Scott Walsh, who has been doing such a wonderful job bringing you our golfing news in Adelaide’s Sunday Mail each week,

The Marshall boys have been off on another golfing adventure, this time around beautiful Kent. I also take a look at the new handicapping changes recently announced by Golf Australia which will come into effect in September. Don’t forget to register your details on the Golf SA website to receive our regular email newsletters and join us on Facebook and Twitter!

Happy golfing, Phil Laurie Editor

www.golfsa.com.au


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NEWS IN BRIEF Golf SA offers PGA Traineeship opportunity Golf SA, in association with the PGA of Australia, are delighted to announce a unique employment opportunity for one player to secure their PGA Traineeship under the tutelage of Golf SA. In addition to undertaking all playing, teaching and educational components of the PGA Traineeship program, the successful candidate will also have the opportunity to learn and deliver a

wide range of industry initiatives as per Golf SA’s charter as a State Sporting Organisation. For more information visit the Industry Info / Jobs section of the Golf SA website or contact Allan Telford in the Golf SA office on (08) 8352 6899 or via email at allan@golfsa.com.au

New features added to Golf SA The Golf SA website continues to evolve with the addition of some interactive content in recent weeks. Firstly we have installed a Video Channel courtesy of our friends at Sportal, which not only streams Golf SA specific videos direct from our You Tube channel, but also streams the latest golf news from around the Asia region. Secondly, we have introduced a monthly interactive Rules Quiz which is accessible from either the website itself or our Facebook page. It you’re a fan of social media, make sure you join us on Facebook and Twitter as we have some exciting developments planned for the coming months. Check out the ‘SA Interactive’ tab from the main menu for more details.

Big names head down under Queenslanders Greg Norman and Jason Day will join World No. 13 Bubba Watson at the Hyatt Regency Coolum on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast when the PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola tees off from November 24-27, 2011. In what is shaping up as the biggest ever season for the PGA Tour of Australasia, the world-class trio are the first of many player announcements sure to ignite the interest of Queensland sports fans. The Coolum coup comes hot on the heels of last month’s announcement that defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, Presidents Cup captains Greg Norman and Fred Couples, world number 13 Dustin Johnson and Watson have confirmed they will be playing in the $1.5 million 2011 Australian Open in Sydney from 10-13 November.

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NEWS IN BRIEF Copperhead Club opens at Port Hughes Australian golfing legend Greg Norman’s first course design in South Australia was officially opened for play on Wednesday 1 June.

formally approved the course with affiliation through the Yorke Peninsula District.

The finishing touches have been put on the first nine holes of the new Copperclub golf course at The Dunes Port Hughes on the Yorke Peninsula.

Membership packages at Copperclub have been set at $95 for junior packages through to $1695 for family memberships, while individual adult memberships range from $395 to $995 depending on access and playing rights. Casual green fee rates for nonmember visitors are $50 for 18 holes and $35 for nine.

Copperclub General Manager and professional golfer Barry West said players can expect a challenging yet forgiving course. “There are plenty of extended sand dunes and bunkers to avoid, but the fairways are wide and the greens are large which will certainly be appreciated by amateur golfers,” said Mr West, who has joined Copperclub from the Lion Lake Country Club in China To complete the first nine holes, more than 180,000sqm of top quality couch grass has been rolled out at Copperclub to make it one of the first golf courses in Australia to be laid entirely with instant turf, rather than grown from seed. Construction on the second nine holes is expected to start next year.

For more information phone 1300 788 867 or visit www.thedunesporthughes.com.au

Troon Golf has partnered Copperclub to oversee the establishment of the course and ongoing operations in what is its first foray into the South Australian market, while Golf SA has

Cheryl crowed ‘First Lady’ of Highcombe Bit of a ‘punn’ really but ladies’ President Cheryl Shammall created club history on Tuesday 12th April 2011 by being the first lady member of Highercombe Golf Club to have a Hole in One ! It seems unbelievable but there has been only one in the 44 year history of the club. Tuesday is ladies’ day and Cheryl, playing with golfing buddy of 26 years Jill Wildy, stepped up to the 10th with a 5 wood, changed her club selection to her favourite 9 wood, closed the club face, concentrated on the explanar swing plane that pro Cameron Scott had taught her and delivered a perfect shot taking the ball over the bunker in front of the green. The ball bounced twice, then she and Jill watched the ball roll onto the green and into the hole.

Hearing of the news Captain Meegan Button raced to St Agnes shopping centre and purchased flowers and a momento of a pet rock with a little frog sitting on the edge with the words GREAT. Meegan mounted the Srixon 2 Lady ball next to the kissing frog on the rock with blue tacked and presented it to Cheryl within minutes of her returning to the club house.

“It doesn’t get any better” said Cheryl. “ The lady who welcomed me into the club and got me started on lessons and who has been my very special friend since, was there to see it and share it all with me.” Highercombe member Jill Wilby (left) with hole-in-one ace Cheryl Shammall.

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The Pro Circuit WHILE Queensland sensation Jason Day has exploded as the new “it” kid of Australian golf with runner-up finishes at the Masters and US Open this year, South Australia is producing its own band of highly talented youngsters building careers across the globe. Scott Walsh speaks with the state’s three latest tyros to chase their dream as touring professionals, Stephanie Na, Jordan Sherratt and Max McCardle. STEPHANIE Na says it with a laugh, but bubbling below the humour is a determination that makes you believe her long-term career plan is more serious than she lets on.

In a promising debut season last year, Australia’s leading amateur in 2007 and 2008 had a best finish of third on her way to making five cuts in her limited span of six tournaments.

“Winning Majors is the ultimate goal, and reaching that No. 1 spot,” Na says. “And after a solid career, to top it all off would be to make it into the Hall of Fame.

Hoping to take another leap forward this year, Na says she has found a routine and mental approach she is comfortable with to cope with the step up in pressures and demands of life as a touring pro.

“You gotta dream big!” Dreaming is one thing, but Na is more than just a dreamer. As anyone who has seen her meticulously honing her skills on the practice range at Royal Adelaide during her rare time back home will know, she’s a doer. When GolfSA spoke to the 22-year-old she was in the United States’ Midwest, in Illinois, preparing for the Tate & Lyle Players Championship on the LPGA’s secondary Futures tour. She was coming off consecutive missed cuts, sitting 61st on the moneylist with a tie for 15th her best tournament result in a difficult year to date. But even having reached just three weekends from six events in 2011, she has lost none of her trademark sparkling personality. Na turned professional at the start of 2009, and is in her second season on the developmental tour to the circuit that hosts the best female golfers on the planet, the LPGA.

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“It’s just more of everything really,” Na says. “More travel, more time away from home, more money is needed, more practice, more work-outs, more planning – and more pressure, too. Pressure to succeed fast, I found. “I went from the top of amateur golf in Australia and internationally to finding myself in a pool of players just as good, some better, and not finishing near enough to the top as I had hoped for. “That was challenging to accept, because it’s just not what I had envisioned. “So it’s been a challenge to accept the fact that not everyone steps up to the plate straight out - no matter how good your amateur record is or was, once you turn pro it’s a level playing field because there are just so many good players out there.” Na said the support of her family – and golf connections at home in Adelaide – was crucial to her drive at international success.

“It’s hard initially, especially if the results don’t come straight away,” she says. “I was fortunate enough to have the support of my club members from The Grange and Royal Adelaide to get me started. “It’s tough because of all the expenses we incur, travel costs, accommodation, food, entry fees, rental cars - it really adds up fast. “And because we incur the expenses before our bank accounts get filled, this is where the pressure builds up. “You learn to let it go and just play because at the end of the day, worrying about your bank balance is not going to fill it, so you just have to focus on playing well and getting the job done.” Na’s aim for the rest of this season is to finish inside the top-10 money earners on the Futures Tour to win automatic exemption on the LPGA tour for 2012, or possibly attend the exhausting qualifying school in a bid for top-level status. “We’ll just have to wait and see, by mid September once the season is over with I will make some decisions as to whether I play Q-schools at the end of the year either for LPGA or LET (in Europe),” she says. “Obviously in the meantime I would love to have a win or two under my belt. “I really would love to win in Australia as well - either the Open or the Masters would be awesome.”


“I went from the top of amateur golf in Australia and internationally to finding myself in a pool of players just as good, some better, and not finishing near enough to the top as I had hoped for. STEPHANIE NA Age: 22 Club: Royal Adelaide Turned pro: January, 2009 Cards: LPGA Futures Tour World rank: 268

Stephanie Na of Australia checks the wind conditions on the sixth hole during round two of the 2010 Women’s Australian Open at The Commonwealth Golf Club on March 12, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images) Golf SA ONLINE July 2011 7


The Pro Circuit JORDAN Sherratt’s first eight weeks as a professional read like a golfer’s fairytale. First, there was the chance meeting with Greg Norman during a practice round at Sydney’s The Lakes Golf Club on the eve of last year’s Australian Open – and an invitation to join “The Shark” on his scouting mission for three holes. Then there was the closing-round 67 that cannoned him from tournament qualifier into a tie for fourth at his first crack at the Aussie title, and boosted his bank balance by a cool $66,000. That stunning charge put the former Thaxted Park junior into the national spotlight, and earnt him a sponsors invite to the PGA Championship at the Hyatt Regency Coolum. The dream start to professional life followed a glittering amateur career that included being crowned Australia’s 2010 Masters of the Amateurs – the same title claimed by Jason Day four years earlier. Now, Sherratt is hoping the magical ride continues when he aims to join a new playground by winning playing rights in the United States. “I’m going over to America in early July for a few months, and I’ll do a few pay-to-play tournaments in Arizona and California then go to the first stage of Tour school in October,” Sherratt said. “The pay-to-play events are kind of designed for guys who try to pre-qualify for maybe a Nationwide Tour event - and if you miss out, you’ve got this to fall back on. “This is the first time I’ve had a go at the

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US. I caught up with (fellow Adelaide boy now in the US) Adam Bland when he was back here a few months ago and had a talk to him about what it’s like. It’s great to have guys like that to be able to chat to, so when I go over there I’ll definitely catch up again at some stage, depending on where he’s playing. “It’s a bit of a learning experience for me, so we’ll try and get to the big stage.”

means work or getting sponsors. “It’s everyone for themselves out there.

Sherratt currently holds an Australasian tour card, guaranteeing him starts on the Von Nida tour, the pro-am circuit and various four-day tournaments across the country.

“I think the hardest part is the pressure you put on yourself to play well each week and have a good result. “If you don’t have too much money behind you, you’ve got to play well every week and you’re always looking down the track.

Early this year he ventured to China with older brother Cody in a bid to win status on the booming OneAsia tour. That sojourn was only mildly successful as Sherratt walked away with conditional playing rights and limited starts in fields. Since his stunning summer run the 23-year-old has played in a handful of SA-based pro-ams but preferred to focus on spending quality time on the practice range, preparing for his US assault. He said his early success as a professional – and the prizemoney that came with it – was a welcome introduction to the costly exercise of golf’s globe-trotting realities. “Once you turn professional you pretty much do everything yourself,” Sherratt said. “You’re basically your own business when you turn pro, you’ve got to do whatever you can to make money, whether that

“I did okay in my first few events as a pro so that got me a bit of money to start with. “I’m living off that at the moment but obviously that will run out if you don’t play well.

“That’s the biggest thing, putting pressure on yourself to play well – and usually when you’re not thinking about those things, not thinking about where your next cheque is coming from, that’s when you play okay. “They say ‘one shot at a time’, but sometimes it’s hard to think like that when you’ve got 100 other things going on in your head.” Despite the jump in heat to perform, Sherratt held no second thoughts about his move from being a big fish in amateur ranks to a relative minnow in the pro world. “I have had a lot of fun so far,’’ he said. “When I was playing amateur golf I was one of the top guys in Australia coming through, and then you turn pro and you’re right down the bottom again. “It’s been a journey, and so far it’s been great.”


“When I was playing amateur golf I was one of the top guys in Australia coming through, and then you turn pro and you’re right down the bottom again.

JORDAN SHERRATT Age: 23 Club: Thaxted Park, Glenelg Turned pro: October, 2010 Cards: One Asia (limited), Australasia World rank: 639

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The Pro Circuit

FORGET the blue skies, country club views and dartboard greens of America – give South Lakes young gun Max McCardle the rain and gales of Europe any day. “I wouldn’t mind going over to Europe - I seem to enjoy the colder and windy weather,” he laughed. “I grew up with that back home at Goolwa so I’ve just learnt to deal with it.” He might enjoy the wintry conditions more than most, but clearly Australia’s northern dry season has caused no problems for McCardle, either. Last year’s South Australian amateur champion, who turned pro in December, has found regular success playing on the pro-am circuit across the nation this year. With only an Australasian tour card he already has a string of top-five finishes, including three victories and several runner-up cheques in his maiden year. “I’m just doing the pro-am circuit at the moment, we’re over in WA now and so far it’s been pretty good,” McCardle said. “The form’s been not bad, which is handy. “To start with it was a bit tougher than I thought it would be. “I got my card in December and thought I’d just go out and play at the start of this year. “I had a bit of time off over Christmas and New Year and found myself on the back foot to begin with.

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“ As the year has gone on and I’ve worked a bit harder, I’ve found it to be not too bad.

United States, McCardle believes the European Tour or OneAsia will be his ideal launching pad.

“Playing this tour can be a bit of a grind, it’s pretty hard work at times. “Every day you’re playing different courses that you haven’t seen before, with different guys – some who can play and some who don’t play at all, which makes it hard to keep your concentration and focus.

“I’d like to try and secure a card on OneAsia through the Australiasian tour later this year,” he said. “If I’ve got the money behind me I’d like to go over to Europe and give that a crack as well.

“But at the same time they’re the people putting money in to give guys just starting out like myself a chance to give it a go and make a few dollars.” GolfSA tracked down McCardle in Geraldton, about 430km north of Perth. The 26-year-old – a late bloomer who was determined to secure a trade as a mechanic before turning his attention to golf full-time – said one of the big lessons to learn on the road was finding bargains. “We’re just at one of the local pubs getting a meal. “The pub is one of the sponsors of the event so if you’re a PGA member you get 25 per cent off your meals - sounds good to me,” he said. While McCardle is enjoying the taste of life as a touring pro, he still has bigger goals. But unlike many youngsters who target the “big show” of the PGA Tour in the

“I’ve spoken to a few people about where I’m going to go - my coach and a few guys who have had a crack in America. “But if you look at the results and the rankings, the top 20 guys in the world are coming out of Europe because they play different courses. “They’re playing firm greens and hard fairways, whereas in America you hit it as far as you can and then it’s a lot of lob wedges around the greens. “Over in Europe you’ve got to have a lot of imagination around the greens and learn to play a lot of different shots. I think if you can make it in Europe you’re going to go okay in America.”


“Every day you’re playing different courses that you haven’t seen before, with different guys – some who can play and some who don’t play at all, which makes it hard to keep your concentration and focus.

MAX McCARDLE Age: 26 Club: South Lakes, Flagstaff Hill Turned pro: December, 2010 Cards: Australasia World rank: N/A

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American Rickie Fowler (right) tees off during the final day of the Eisenhower Trophy, at the 2008 World Amateur Team Championship, held at Royal Adelaide Golf Club on October 19, 2008. Less than three years later he’s registered 11 top ten finishes on the PGA Tour, played in a Ryder Cup, become a Social Media superstar. and joined the ‘Golf Boys’ with fellow US pros Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson.

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(Photo by James Knowler/Getty Images).


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With the use of Social Media growing exponentially, its a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ golf clubs choose to get on board By Phil Laurie

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On Saturday 2 April, Scott Wagstaff, General Manager of Carbrook Golf Club south of Brisbane, happened to be in the right place at the right time. Standing by a lake that borders the course’s 14th hole, Wagstaff captured 34 seconds of video on his phone depicting a bull shark swimming the shallow water at the edge of the fairway. While it is believed that sharks have been resident in the Carbrook Golf Club lake for some years courtesy of flooding from the adjacent Logan River, concrete proof of their existence had always proven elusive.

Returning to the clubhouse, Wagstaff promptly uploaded the footage to YouTube. By the following Friday the raw footage had been viewed 1.8 million times on YouTube, with the story also being featured on the Channel 9 news and radio 2GB. The club was also contacted by National Geographic magazine who had shown interest in doing a story. The Carbrook story perfectly illustrates the enormous reach available to businesses through Social Media platforms, and the related marketing and

communications potential to which the country’s golf clubs are starting to turn their attention. The Social Media phenomenon is slowly starting to find its way into the club industry’s educational curriculum. For example the 2011 Club Managers Association of America Conference featured a Social Media seminar for the first time, as will the Golf Management Australia Conference in Melbourne later this year. While there appears to be a general feeling within the golf industry that Social Media looks set to play an

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integral part of future communications and marketing strategies, no one appears quite sure which direction that strategy will take. “I don’t believe golf clubs have really got to the point of fully understanding Social Media,” says David Brand, General Manager at Adelaide’s Glenelg Golf Club. “Golf is generally a very conservative industry, so many Committee members, and managers for that matter, may not yet have recognised the need to look “outside the square” as such.

industry, I am still struggling to keep up with the advances in technology and options available.”

a solid social media marketing base as an effective business tool,” says Vlahandreas.

The good news for managers, many of whom are already struggling for time under the weight of juggling numerous operational roles, is that Social Media isn’t necessarily a strategy that needs to be, or is appropriate to be driven from the top down. One such example is Melbourne’s Eastern Golf Club, who for all intents and purposes have ‘sub-contracted’ their Social Media activities to their ‘Gen-Y’ Golf Operations Manager Peter Vlahandreas.

“The level of understanding is generally stemmed from the staff at the club, who being generally of an older demographic, don’t regularly use social media in their own lives and don’t understand the potential it holds.

“Golf is generally a very conservative industry, so many Committee members, and managers for that matter, may not yet have recognised the need to look “outside the square” as such. “I have tried to stay in touch with Social Media opportunities, and even being a younger manager at what I believe to be a reasonably progressive club in the

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“I think generally clubs do have an understanding of the capabilities and potential of social media, but very few clubs understand how to have

“Clubs in this position should encourage their younger staff, such as casual F&B, to invigorate the clubs social media presence and gain a greater understanding of the potential social media holds.” For sporting clubs, as is the case for businesses, the question of whether or not to engage Social Media as a duelpurpose communications and marketing platform is largely rendered irrelevant by the raw statistics. Twitter, lead by the likes of Lady Gaga (11 million followers), Justin Beiber (10 million) and Barack Obama (8 million), hosts over 100 million individual accounts and is growing at a rate of more than 300,000 every day.


“The great thing is that social media is free, therefore the return on investment is minimal and any business brought back to the club is positive.

In 2010, YouTube hosted in excess of 13 million hours of newly uploaded video, or the equivalent of 35 hours of video uploaded every minute. Facebook has created a global industry in its wake, not least in the ongoing development of supporting applications (a huge area of growth not dissimilar to that enjoyed by the IPhone or Android mobile platforms). As a marketing platform, Facebook offers advertisers not only the ability to target specific audience demographics, but for the first time, accurately measure their ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI) against their advertising expenditure. Currently over 700 million people worldwide enjoy regular interaction with

the social media behemoth, and the rate of growth since the site’s launch back in early 2004 has been nothing short of staggering. Given continuing growth patterns, especially in Asia, Europe, and Middle-east/Africa, it is assumed that Facebook should reach 1 billion users (or one out of every 7 people on the planet) sometime around June or July 2012. Should China relax its current block on Facebook, the magic billion should arrive considerably sooner. Australian Facebook statistics are equally as remarkable – the site currently (as of June 2011) registering just under 10.5 million individual users. Any argument about whether clubs should be operating in a space where nearly half the country’s population

regularly hang out becomes a bit of a no brainer, especially considering that the largest Facebook demographic (18 to 34 years) is the market that the golf industry has traditionally failed to attract to club membership. “Whilst the return or tangible aspects of social media is, on many occasions, hard to measure, it provides clubs with a free resource to continue to ‘spread the word’ about their club, products and services to its members and external friends, fans and followers,” says Peter Vlahandreas. “On many occasions, people who would normally have no contact with private golf clubs can now have regular interaction with a club, which allows them and their friends to have a virtual affiliation with the respective club.

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“The great thing is that social media is free, therefore the return on investment is minimal and any business brought back to the club is positive. “Social Media allows clubs to have image galleries, videos, invite guests and offer web only deals to their friends, fans and followers, at minimal cost.” An engagement in Social Media is in many respects, simply a reflection of evolving communication trends. Any club dealing with younger members or junior representative players will have discovered that in terms of communication, things have well and truly moved on from simply sending an email. Need to get in touch with someone in a hurry? Send a text message! With the proliferation of mobile devices now in use, broadcasting that message via a Social Media app is becoming equally as effective. “Many clubs are ‘traditional’ in the sense that print communications still dominate club publications and communications, however over recent years websites have become the dominate source of information for members of golf clubs,” says Peter Vlahandreas.

“What this indicates is that when there is a change in our communities communication methods, clubs are more or less forced to change and adapt their communication methods to their membership. “Social Media is no different. “Whilst still relatively new in the public scheme of things, and in most cases very new to most memberships, clubs will need to adapt, manage and communicate via social media. “They will need to adapt to their memberships changing communication methods which has been brought upon by industry and the mainstream media infiltrating everything with social media.” In reality, golf has always used ‘Social Networks’ as a marketing and membership recruitment tool – primarily through traditional ‘memberget-member’ incentives and other membership discount structures such as family membership packages. Lately many clubs have been quick to cash in on the abundance of groupbuying sites, which serve to showcase social marketing at it’s most potent as suppliers build up huge online databases

extremely quickly by virtue of the online version of ‘word of mouth’ – that being recommendations from connected friends. Golf has proved a lucrative market for group-buying sites such as Scoopon, Cudo or Star Deals, who have taken advantage of a premium service product that is both easily discounted and easily value-added. Numerous clubs around the country have signed-on, with many now facing the unenviable challenge of trying to balance the needs of members against the servicing of hundreds of purchased coupon rounds. While few barriers to entry, enormous competition and tight profit margins should ultimately conspire to make the online group-buying market a relatively short-lived market, its very existence can largely be attributed to the rise in social media and the platforms that make sharing content so easy. In respect to raw membership recruitment, especially of younger players, a well articulated Social Media strategy will not so much be welcomed, as expected by potential members. As a communication tool, Social Media

“Clubs must ensure that they do not discriminate between communication methods and that important club news is communicated across all avenues, including social media.” 18 Golf SA ONLINE July 2011


“The technology has no bounds, and I am sure we will see massive advances in this area over the next few years.”

platforms provide an invaluable space in which to create a meaningful dialogue with members and stakeholders. Putting the theory into practice, Vlahandreas agrees that Eastern Golf Club are starting to see tangible results from their Social Media activities. “Social media communication to our members is growing and each month more and more interactivity is occurring which indicates that, for our club, these communications is becoming increasingly more effective in our membership,” he says. “Most of the clubs younger members are friends, fans and followers of the club and regularly use the sites to see photos, videos and see events at the Club. “This was especially effective during the colts pennant season with videos of the players being loaded directly on to the clubs Facebook page for the team to see after their round. “However, like with all communication, consistency is the key. “Clubs must ensure that they do not discriminate between communication methods and that important club news is communicated across all avenues, including social media.”

Likewise, Glenelg are starting to reap the benefits of a consistent Social Media engagement strategy. The club has developed a Facebook page, which also links to Twitter, and is updated regularly,” says David Brand. “We have online photo galleries, have considered using blogging sites, and are continually looking at ways to engage with our members and communicate. “Facebook has been a great success with our junior members, and has enabled us to communicate with them more effectively. “However, we still have a long way to go.” Ironically, for an industry which has only of late embraced services such as online competition bookings and last-minute tee-times sales, the heat is likely to be turned up on IT suppliers to ensure that Social Media platforms are fully integrated into other website services in a manner that requires a minimal amount of duplicated input. “Social Media is definitely the way of the future,” says David Brand. “Online Facebook and Twitter competition score updates would be an interesting concept. “Advertising happy hour drink and food specials, green fee specials and membership specials can be done cheaply, effectively and instantly through

Social Media sites. “The technology has no bounds, and I am sure we will see massive advances in this area over the next few years.” Peter Vlahandreas agrees. “The opportunities are really endless, as long as the club knows how to use them, and be able to measure the results versus time input,” he said. “And I can’t stress enough - update, update and update!” As for the Carbrook shark - keep an eye out for a distinctive silhouette, which looks set to feature in much of the club’s rebranded marketing materials.

Golf SA ONLINE July 2011 19


Golf Australia confirm handicapping changes The release of the new USGA-based handicapping system in Australia last April has not only caused considerable debate but its fair share of controversy. Following a detailed statistical analysis of rounds data, together with a comprehensive examination of player and industry feedback, Golf Australia have released details of further changes to the handicapping system due to be implemented this September. It seems that in relation to Australia’s ‘new’ handicapping system, all golfers are created equal but some golfers are more equal than others. At least that appears to be the opinion of a majority of club golfers who have witnessed scores required to win club competitions balloon over the past 15-months since the introduction of the ‘rolling average’ handicap calculation. With most mid to high markers having rejoiced in the addition of strokes to their handicaps since last April, the proliferation of higher handicapped players returning huge stableford scores or the equivalent to win competitions has certainly come at the detriment of the country’s better club players. In addition, an unprecedented backlash against a second package of changes, which included amongst other things the use of a ‘most likely score’ in fourball competitions and the handicapping of non-competition events, have seen Golf Australia finally concede that “the wholesale adoption of the USGA Handicap System in its entirety would not be in the best interests of Australian golf.” As such, in September Australian club members will once again see their handicaps undertake a significant change as a new method of calculation is introduced to readdress the current imbalance. While many may argue that the process should have been undertaken before any changes to the handicapping system were made last year, to their credit Golf Australia have acted swiftly in light of the received criticism to allow stakeholders to have their say. The process was started in late 2010, with a detailed statistical analysis undertaken to compare the handicap and competition results patterns demonstrated by the new system with those demonstrated by the previous system.

20 Golf SA ONLINE July 2011

While the study found that the previous calculation method was biased in favour of low markers, it also confirmed the ‘suspicions’ of players that the new calculation method had ‘over corrected’ the issue and was biased, especially for larger men’s fields, in favour of higher markers. With a series of Forums and focus groups also being conducted around the country, the following changes to the handicapping system have been confirmed. 1. Alter ‘Best 10 of 20’ to ‘Best 8 of 20’. 2. Change the Bonus for Excellence multiplier from 0.96 to 0.93. 3. Introduce an Anchor, which will prevent a player’s handicap from increasing any more than 4 strokes beyond their best exact handicap from the previous 12-month rolling period. 4. Golf Link will cap the score that goes into a player’s handicap record at no more than the following amount over the course rating: - 50-women - 40-men The four priority amendments will come into effect on Wednesday 21 September 2011, with the new calculations being applied to each players existing Golf Link handicap record similar to the process involved with the initial ‘Best 10 of 20’ change back in April 2010. Statistically the new handicapping method new calculation method will achieve some uniform trends: •

The balance will tilt back slightly favour of the low marker in most clubs, but not to the same unsatisfactory extent as occurred under the old method of incrementally adjusting handicaps. All handicaps will decrease. Consequently, all Stableford scores will decrease.


• • •

High handicaps will decrease more than low handicaps. Handicaps of inconsistent players will decrease slightly more than consistent players. By moving from ‘10 of 20’ to ‘8 of 20’, consistent players will have slightly higher handicaps than comparable inconsistent players. The rate of downward adjustment of a handicap will now be slightly quicker than has occurred under the initial averaging method, and conversely outward movements will occur slower. Handicaps will continue to adjust outwards far more dynamically than occurred under the old incremental adjustment method. The Anchor will make the handicap system less susceptible to manipulation and eliminate the capacity for extreme outward movements of handicaps within short spaces of time. The placing of a ceiling on the value a high 18-hole score can take is partly geared to support the correction of the existing bias towards high markers. It is also to address a strong theme that emerged in club feedback regarding the incapacity of the aspirational very high-marker to improve their handicap below the maximum value.

With club committees around the country having been invited by way of survey to voice their opinion on the future direction of the handicapping system, the national body has also outlined an implementation plan for future changes. Notably the full introduction of Slope ratings won’t take effect until May 2013, and final decisions on issues such as non-competition scores,

fourball handicapping and a possible calculation component related to daily course rating, will be announced in November. With Australia’s heavy emphasis on competition golf standing in start contrast to the more ‘socially focused’ formats favoured by the US, one thing can be certain. Whatever form the final Australian Handicapping System takes, it will certainly be unique compared to any other system utilised around the globe.

Confirmed Handicap System Changes: 1. Alter ‘Best 10 of 20’ to ‘Best 8 of 20’. 2. Change the Bonus for Excellence multiplier from 0.96 to 0.93. 3. Introduce an Anchor which will prevent a player’s handicap from increasing any more than 4 strokes beyond their best exact handicap from the previous 12- month rolling period. 4. Golf Link will cap the score that goes into a player’s handicap record at no more than the following amount over the course rating: - 50-women - 40-men These four priority amendments will come into effect on Wednesday 21 September 2011.

Golf SA ONLINE July 2011 21


CLUB PROFILE - West Lakes Golf Club

Reinventing the brand Image makeovers don’t get more comprehensive than that currently being enjoyed by the golf club formerly known as Riverside. A name change to the West Lakes Golf Club (WLGC), along with major course re-developments and significant clubhouse renovations, look set to propel the popular Adelaide facility, and enhance its reputation as a leading golf course with state-of-the-art function facilities. As anyone who is involved in marketing will tell you, the purpose of rebranding a company, product, or service, is to signal change. Change is precisely what’s happening at the re-badged Riverside Golf Club, with the location just a 20-minute drive west of the Adelaide CBD. If undertaking major course works and a clubhouse refurbishment over the past 12-months isn’t enough, the most significant change is the club’s decision to rebrand the facility as the West Lakes Golf Club. The name change is in recognition of the geographic locality of the club. West Lakes Golf Club General Manager, Paul Curtis says, “There were several reasons for the rebranding of the club name, not least from a marketing perspective in relation to the club’s locality.”

“In many ways the location of the course under the ‘Riverside’ name was unknown, so the rebranding occurred to not only raise general awareness about the club, but to also inform the public and wider community about the club facilities for weddings, and corporate golf days. “There is a lot of development planned for the West Lakes area, and the name change will allow us to take advantage of future opportunities that will arise from the local community developments.” The significant re-developments have given the clubhouse a completely stunning new look. Included in the renovations is an expanded administrative area and member’s verandah, along


with increased function space. The entire clubhouse building had been re-roofed, and the outside façade rendered to create an enhanced street presence from the front entrance. “People visiting the club are pleasantly surprised when they enter the club house, but first impressions count, which is why renovating the exteriors of the building was essential,” said Curtis. “Our building works commenced in February this year and were completed in time for the club’s 60th birthday celebrations in May.” “In addition, we will be moving forward with rebranding all the club’s collateral materials with our new logo, including the website,” he said. The trifecta in the club’s re-branding comes via significant course works, which have been underway since early last year. The course upgrades have been five years in the planning, with the club initially having extended negotiations with the local council to obtain nearby land to construct new holes. The club also decided to work to its own master plan in consultation with course architect Neil Crafter.

Concept plans were developed to reposition the green and surrounds on holes 5, 17 and 18, with changes to tees on 10 and 18, and reshaping and realignment of the 17th and 18th fairways. Work on the course started in August 2010 and was completed in late April 2011 at a cost of $450,000. WLGC also had discussions with local council and State Government departments on a proposed aquifer storage and recharge scheme (ASR), which would be developed on adjacent council land and the club’s practice range. This project forms part of the Waterproofing the West Scheme, with funding sourced through federal, state and council resources. This ASR work is provisionally scheduled to start in next year, which means the practice fairway will be cleared, with the soil used to benefit the course upgrades. The realignment of the new 17th and 18th holes have vastly improved the playing characteristics, with the 17th fairway changed to incorporate the proposed ASR wetlands, and the 18th fairway now as a true dogleg with increased landing area. Significant fairway bunkering has been incorporated into the design to allow two options for golfers – take the safe route, or play the risk/reward shot.

“We are fortunate to be situated on the Adelaide sandbelt that makes the course playable all year round, and our pricing structure considering the quality of the layout and the sandbelt location is both reasonable and affordable. Golf SA ONLINE July 2011 23


CLUB PROFILE - West Lakes Golf Club

While construction work finished in December, turfing the areas was completed in January 2011. By the end of the project some 50,000 tonnes of soil had been moved and re shaped into the new holes. The 5th and 18th greens were turfed in September 2010 and opened for play in later that year in early December. The 17th was turfed late in October and opened in January 2011. The course masterplan also allows for a major upgrade of the 10th hole, a project that will be occurring this year. The course changes have been extremely well received by members, and the club is currently experiencing a great increase with membership numbers, due in no small part to a recent ‘no entrance fee’ promotional campaign. “The changes made to the 17th and 18th holes in particular have really toughened up the finish, and we have certainly

West Lakes Golf Club 26 Lochside Drive, West Lakes, SA 5021 Telephone (08) 82683850 Fax (08) 82685451 Pro Shop (08) 82683054 Membership Categories: Full, Provisional 6-Day, Provisional 9-Hole, Provisional Junior, Junior Introductory, Temporary, Come & Try

24 Golf SA ONLINE July 2011

noticed that the scoring on those holes to date appears to reflect the difficulties,” said Curtis. “We are fortunate to be situated on the Adelaide sandbelt that makes the course playable all year round, and our pricing structure considering the quality of the layout and the sandbelt location is both reasonable and affordable. “Our seven-day membership is nearing capacity and our other membership categories are also filling up fast, which is an extremely pleasing result.” With such beneficial progress, it seems for West Lakes Golf Club that change is definitely creating positive results for both the club, members, the public, and the wider community.


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Golf SA ONLINE July 2011 25 RTO Registration Number: 22044


THE ALPG –

PROGRESSIVE AND INNOVATIVE

By Bruce Young

A

mongst the various golfing bodies in Australia, professional or amateur, there is little doubt that the ALPG (Australian Ladies Professional Golf) is already boxing above its weight in terms of generating opportunities for its members. The ALPG is the controlling body of women’s professional golf in this country and from its office on the Gold Coast the organisation oversees the interest of its 189 members, both playing and teaching professionals. 21 of those members are full time playing members who compete on the LPGA and Futures Tours in the US, the Japan LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour with another fifty or so part time playing members who play just the events on the ALPG Tour. The balance is made up of teaching professionals and those who enjoy just being involved as a member of the ALPG and being associated by membership in professional golf. Now you don’t have to be a genius to work out that with annual fees of just over $300 per member, the organisation is regularly looking for ways to increase its commercial standing and financial viability. Currently the bulk of the organisation’s revenue comes from sanctioning fees for events, where they oversee the operations, from a percentage of tournament prize-money, from tournament entry fees and from the membership fees mentioned earlier. While the organisation has proven to be commercially successful in that it stages a successful series of Pro-Am events throughout New South Wales, in addition to its bigger events including the Women’s Australian Open and the Australian Ladies Masters, it has continued to investigate the bigger picture in terms of benefits for its overall membership.

26 Golf SA ONLINE July 2011

In order to gain assistance in this regard the organisation set about introducing the necessary skills to its core group of decision makers, namely the Board of the ALPG. “There are two seats amongst the seven positions on our Board which can be filled by non-members,” said the ALPG CEO Warren Sevil. “Around four years ago I felt the need to introduce people to the board with outside business acumen who could introduce different skills to the group. “Greg Thompson, a Sydney based businessman with a strong background in property, was the first to be intro-

Knowing her background and that she is passionate about women’s sport I thought I would bounce the idea of her joining our Board.

duced then Jo De Jong from Melbourne, who brought a strong background in corporate marketing and from a previous role with Business Women in Golf. “Both brought a new dimension to the Board but with Jo’s appointment to a marketing and commercial development role at Golf Australia being perceived as a possible conflict of interest we needed to consider another option.” Enter Canberra Press Gallery member and biographer, Chris Wallace. Wallace just so happens to be the wife of Michael Costello, the Chief Executive Officer of the Actew


AGL Group, an retail and distribution energy company in Canberra, which is the naming rights sponsor of a growing event on the ALPG Tour, the ActewAGL Classic Royal Canberra Ladies Classic. It was during this event earlier this year where Sevil rekindled his interest in the possibility of Chris becoming involved with the ALPG. “Chris was asking a lot of questions about the ALPG, its structure and its strategic plan,” added Sevil. “Knowing her background and that she is passionate about women’s sport I thought I would bounce the idea of her joining our Board. As supporters of our Tour I organised for she and Michael to come to Melbourne for the Women’s Australian Open and play in the Pro Am. That day I reiterated that I felt Chris should seriously consider joining the Board and to my and our Board’s delight she agreed. “I see Christine’s close ties to the corridors of power in Canberra being of assistance in breaking down walls in terms of funding for the female game - both amateur and professional. She is well versed in the way such things work but she is also such a great proponent for women’s sport that I think she will be a great asset to the Board.”

ferring to the ‘evolving’ game she plays at her home club of Royal Canberra. At about the same time that Wallace was considering her appointment to that role another relationship that Sevil had fostered through tournament golf would also yield results. Frank Williams is an iconic name in Australian golf emanating from his days in the establishment and growth of the Australian Masters, a task he shared with his then partner David Inglis. Williams and Inglis would sell the tournament to IMG but the foundations he and Inglis laid were instrumental in an event which had tremendous longevity in Australian golf. Williams actually joined IMG before leaving the organisation to become Greg Norman’s business manager, a role he enjoyed for eight years during the halcyon days of Australian golf’s and perhaps even Australian sport’s highest profiled sportsman.

So what does Wallace think of this all and what was her pre-conceived idea of the women’s professional golf prior to considering an involvement? “I think women’s professional golf is particularly vibrant in Australia and when you see it up close you can only be struck by its incredible qualities. It is something which, as yet, corporate Australia has not yet wised up to and I think the ALPG has been very smart in gearing up its efforts in reaching out to corporate Australia - the end result of which will hopefully lead to greater support from that sector.” So just what is it that Wallace feels that she can bring to the ALPGA Boardroom table? “The Board is interesting in that I think it is a model for sports organisations interested in lifting performance,” said Wallace. “In contrast to a lot of sporting groups they (the ALPG) are consciously pursing diversity, different viewpoints and outside perspectives and I guess I am an example of that. Being in Canberra and as a member of the Press Gallery I bring a media and government perspective and also someone with a long time interest in women’s sport and its promotion.” “I am certainly not here for my golfing skills,” she joked re-

Warren Sevil

Chris Wallace

Williams now manages the Mt Broughton Golf Club in the southern highlands of New South Wales for close friend James Erskine and it was as a result of the staging of an ALPG Pro-Am there that Sevil became aware of Williams’ background and standing in the golfing industry. Williams’ tournament administration, marketing skills and corporate savvy appealed to Sevil and he wondered whether there might be an opportunity to get him involved in assisting the ALPG in the role of Director Corporate Development and Sales to assist in furthering its relationship with corporate Australia and further commercialising its overall operations.

Contnued on next page... Golf SA ONLINE July 2011 27


Contnued from pevious page... While Sevil was impressed with Williams, so too was Williams impressed with the ALPG and its product. “On many occasions I have been asked to come out of retirement to help various organisations and golf bodies but to date I have never found a compelling reason to do so. That was, however, until I was fortunate enough to meet a young lady by the name of Helen Oh who I played with during an ALPG pro-am at Moss Vale. “Helen was such a delight and was so helpful to her amateur partners - it was unlike anything I had experienced in

Frank is a creative, positive and convincing man who we know has the necessary skills

Frank Williams with Katherine Hull strong belief in our product, in order for him to take it to the boardrooms of Corporate Australia,” added Sevil.

the many pro-ams I had played previously. As a result of that most enjoyable day I agreed to stage an ALPG Tour event at Mount Broughton where again I played with female professionals and became even further convinced that they really did have something special to market. I am taking this on as I genuinely believe in the product and that I can be of assistance to the ALPG.”

“I think our profile is already good and we have respect in the industry but it is important for our organisation to continue to find ways to generate further revenues and grow. I think the appointments we have made will assist in that regard.”

“Frank is a creative, positive and convincing man who we know has the necessary skills and most importantly the

AUTHOR INFO - Bruce Young Gold Coast based golf jour-

GA and US Senior Tours. Bruce worked for the golf course

nalist, Bruce Young, has a

design company of Graham Marsh, one of his former cad-

rich history in the game of

dying bosses, during the 1990’s, marketing that company

golf having first caddied on

throughout the Pacific Rim before turning to golf related

the professional golf tour at

media. Over the past decade has developed into one of

the age of 17. Bruce trav-

Australia’s foremost golf journalists, his work including reg-

elled widely over the next

ular contributions to iseekgolf.com, several golf magazines,

few years caddying for the

players’ websites, radio and television.

winners of 17 professional events in Europe, Japan and Australasia and has also caddied on the USP-

28 Golf SA ONLINE July 2011

http://www.bruceyoungmedia.com/


take the MYGolf SkillS ChallenGe and Start Your journeY now! aSk Your Golf CluB now for detailS or visit:

f l o g y m / u a . g r o . a i l a r t s u a f l o g . www

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The impact of golf o The new MYGolf youth program is now getting started and for many, the words Rip It, Roll It, Chip It, Fly It, Blast It, and Bend It will become part of your everyday language. The new program is impressive and gives facilities the resources they need to make a serious impact to the bottom line while growing the game nationally. Below are some golf tips to consider before teeing off.

Roll It

Grant Garrison A 25 year member of the PGA of America, he created and managed the Nike Junior Golf programs from 2001-2007 which became the model for youth gold programs in the US. He has mentored 100’s of PGA professional and is a recognized leader in the field of youth golf development. The past few years, he has taken his experience internationally and has created youth golf programs in the countries of Bhutan, Fiji, Nepal, and the Philippines. He’s is now a resident of Queensland and works with Golf Industry Central. To contact Grant: (61) 421 287 826 or grant@golfindustrycentral.coma.au

To “Roll It” close, you must not underestimate the benefits of a successful youth program. A successful youth program can be a serious business promoting tool. It’s not as simple as it might seem, to make a significant impact to your facility you must have a clear objectives, a detailed business plan, and the people in place that can make it happen. In 2002, I took over a facility in Los Angeles that had 10 juniors coming to a lesson once per week. One year later I had 200 students who paid $100.00 per month in tuition. The benefits of attracting this many children were enormous. In fact, it was the youth program that got the club back into a positive financial position. Sales permeated every department of the club including memberships sold and the facility had its best financial year in more that a decade. Years of trying every type of expensive advertising never got results like building a successful youth program.

Rip It To “Rip It” long and straight, you must have the right director with the right compensation plan. The management of a facility must choose someone that is serious about branding themselves as a youth golf instructor. Many youth programs today are taught by pro’s who

30 Golf SA ONLINE July 2011

are not congruent with their personal branding goals. For years I convinced my teaching pro’s to assist me with my youth golf programs, I could never understand why they were reluctant and often not motivated or dependable. I finally realized that although I was giving them work, they were no longer seen as a serious golfers coach and teaching children was costing them something very valuable, their target market. I then decided to start training and certifying my own instructors who wanted to join my team. Although it took much of my time, it was well worth it as I was able to create a competent, dedicate, and reliable team.

Chip It A compensation plan should be created for the director of the youth program that creates a win/win situation for the facility. Your director will become motivated based on the rules the club creates. Therefore, a creative compensation plan must be offered that represents the needs of the facility. Years ago my course decided they wanted more rounds played at the course so we simply created a compensation plan for the teaching staff that rewarded them financially when their students paid a green fee. It was amazing to watch the instructors create innovative ways to get their students playing more such as student tournament, leagues, and play with the pro days. It turned out to be very successful as green fee revenue went to an all time high as well as residual income from food and beverage and golf shop sales.

Chip It To “Chip It” close, you must have an attraction plan that continually feeds your youth program with new students. Your


on youth Grass Roots programs should not resemble your on course program in any way as the objective is much different. The emphasis should always be on fun and self expression. Years ago I decided to start 7 school campus programs using the Almost Golf Ball which is a limited flight ball with all the same flight characteristics as a real ball, these balls are now available in Australia and they are a step above any other limited flight ball. I had children design courses around their school grounds as part of their art program and we competed in tournaments each week until they were hooked on golf. I then hosted a Youth Golf Day at my golf course which became an interactive golf party. Because of this carefully planned attraction program, I was able to register over half of these students into my Golf Academy. It worked so well that I could run this program anytime I wanted new students. Check out the product www.almostgolf.com

Fly It To “Fly It” it long, you must have a retention plan. I have noticed that most youth golf program have a start and ending date but golf is unlike other sports as it doesn’t actually have a season, golf is played all year long. Consider the effects of a year long program because golf is not prohibited by weather. In fact, many youth golf programs in the US which are located in cold climates are running indoor programs to keep their students continually in training.

then to extend my youth golf program all year and build a program that would take my students from a beginner to a tour player. We backed up this thinking by offering a substantial discount for a 1 year program. The growth and fiscal impact was staggering.

Blast It To “Blast It” your youth director and team must possess business skills. Naturally, your youth golf director will be a great teacher and love children. However, marketing, selling, and management skills may not be strengths or something they even enjoy doing. Like any growing business, there are many details that create a successful program and getting bogged down with the business side can stall your growth. In 2003, we took the Nike Junior Golf Program nationally and after 1 year we had a problem, our instructors could not handle the administration needed of running a large youth program, often appearing unorganized. Even after training, in what clear that the instructors were overwhelmed and it was taking them away from what they know best and what they loved to do, which was teaching golf. We then started hiring assistants differently looking for administration and business skill and it made all the difference.

by Grant Garrison

Bend It To “Bend It” you must create magic. Ultimately, children must enter into the culture you have created; they must find identity, confidence, excitement, fun, and in the end a better life. We often become too serious about this game and forget the magic we felt when we got hooked. In 2005, we stumbled upon a best practice that was truly amazing. Each instructor was to create a “Magic of the Game”. The definition was simply to tell a story about how you got started playing the game, why you liked golf and what it means to you now. The goal was to create an emotional response with an audience. What happened was truly amazing as over 400 instructors nationally were telling their stories. Not only did the learning centers have a record year but we had very little turn over as our teaching staff was finding new meaning and influence in their positions. We then started every conference call or meeting with someone sharing their Magic of the Game as a reminder of why we are the caretakers and ambassadors or this great game.

Years ago I realized that the most successful youth sports program never came to a stop, they were continual. For instance, Martial Arts had an average retention rate of 11 months and dance had 14 months. I realized that I had a 6 weeks retention rate because that’s all that I offered. I decided

Golf SA ONLINE July 2011 31


g

lo Matt Cooper’s B

Farewell to Europe’s hero W

hen Severiano Ballesteros famously thrust his arm into the air to celebrate victory in the 1984 Open Championship there was something about it - the intensity, the brooding looks - that called to mind a revolutionary leader like Che Guevara. If the comparison seems far-fetched re-consider all that Seve achieved for European golf: it was every bit as heroic and iconic as Che’s accomplishments for his cause. As a player Seve possessed the fighting qualities of an alley-cat, the imagination of an artist and the daring of a matador. He announced himself to the world as a smiling teenager before his many fights with authority turned him into a wary young man. Sometimes his fights were real, others imagined, but like any true revolutionary he used them to fuel his greatest glories and yet, although his tally of five majors was superb, his legacy will not be measured by the record books. In the wake of his success a generation of European golfers believed they, too, could conquer the world - and did. When Tony Jacklin urged him to return from self-imposed Ryder Cup exile (the consequence of one of his battles with authority) Seve thrived on the responsibility. If his individual major success had been an indirect example of him fighting the Euro cause, his on-thecourse leadership of the European team was a direct expression of continental pride.

32 Golf SA ONLINE July 2011

Before Seve the Ryder Cup was an embarrassing mis-match, then it became a thrilling contest, now it is the third most-watched sporting event in the world. Seve changed that. He also transformed the European Tour. Until the mid-1980s players travelled by (and slept in) camper vans. Now they fly in private aeroplanes and stay at 7-star hotels. Seve changed that too. But he didn’t merely inspire his peers, or turn a mis-match into a contest, or improve pay and working conditions, what he really achieved was genuinely revolutionary: he transformed a continent’s mindset. European golfers didn’t just play inferior golf before Seve, they acted like inferiors too. In due course they were treated like them. Seve wasn’t having any of that. It takes something special to reverse a culture of subservience and Seve had it; a potent blend of self-belief, righteousness and, also, arrogance. He was the greatest golfer the continent of Europe has produced. Others won more majors, but none impacted the sport like he did: not just an audacious shotmaker and short game genius, but a man who made the game globally significant. For the fans there has been no other like him. Consider the difference between Seve and Tiger. Tiger attracts just as many thousands as Seve did at the Open

but we watch Tiger’s progress and don’t interact. We admire Tiger and loved Seve. When Seve stalked the fairways (and the rough), the thousands running up and down dunes weren’t watching, we were being led by him, implored to join his fight. He punched the air, we cheered our support and we followed. Our golfing revolutionary. Our hero.


AROUND THE TRAPS

nous t of the SA Indige ar st e th re fo be e pictur Players pose for a North Adelaide Championships at

New South Wales visitor Brett Drewitt and Kooyonga’s Ebony Heard won the Golf SA Classic & Rene Erichsen Salver New playe rs got the Golf S into the swing of th A Junior S andgreen ings at Kadina as p Champion a ship week rt of end

Royal Adelaide’s Brad Mo ules and Sarah King too k out the 2011 Golf SA Amateur Championship titles at Gl enelg

The Eyre Peninsula Di strict continued a pr oud tradition in hosti their junior developm ng ent camp in Port Linc oln in May

For all Golf SA news visit to www.golfsa.com.au Golf SA ONLINE July 2011 33


Power Play ROD MORRI BLOG While the spotlight has burned brightly on Rory McIlroy since his historic feats at Congressional it is in fact another member of team Rory who has perhaps had the bigger victory. Andrew “Chubby” Chandler, a gregarious Englishman who played the Tour for a short while many years ago, has spent the past decade and a bit building a management business boasting a stable of highly successful and marketable international players, McIlroy included Chandler counts Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuisen and Lee Westwood among his charges, a fact which not only gives him three of the four reigning major champions but makes him one of the most influential figures in the professional game today. And thankfully for those of us who follow this sort of thing as a spectator sport, it’s a power he’s not afraid to wield. Chandler is a noted pot stirrer and has taken aim at the US PGA Tour, via his players, on more than one occasion. The most recent example came at this year’s Players Championship. The Players is the US Tour’s biggest event, their version of a major (given they have no ownership in any of the others they have to make their own), and consistently attracts the best field of any golf tournament all year.

34 Golf SA ONLINE July 2011

But this year, neither McIlroy nor Westwood teed up in the event. McIlroy’s excuse was that he doesn’t like the course and never has. The more intriguing no show was Westwood. While as fans we focus on the shots being played at tournaments, behind the scenes professional golf has nothing to do with swing planes and putting strokes and everything to do with politics and oneup-manship. And the politics between Westwood, Chandler and the US Tour goes back a fair way.

The turf war between the US and Europe continues unabated but the momentum is certainly going against the Americans at the moment. It all started in 2010 with a perceived slight against the then world number four golfer. Westwood was not invited to play the FedEx St Jude Classic, the week before the US Open, and believed it was because he is sponsored by a rival company, UPS. When he made these thoughts publicly known at last year’s Masters, the US Tour was quick to step in and have him issued

an invite. He accepted and, naturally, went on to win. But the tone was set and later in the year Westwood announced he would not be taking up membership of the US Tour in 2011, citing a desire to be with his children at the time of year when the FedEx Cup, the US Tour’s end of season play-offs, was on. It was intended as, and could not be seen as anything but, a deliberate snub. Fast forward to 2011 and as a non member of the US Tour Westwood is only allowed 10 starts for the year. With the four majors and three WGC events, that leaves only three he can tee up in. As defending champion of the St Jude Classic, that was always guaranteed to be on his schedule. The Honda Classic in February, sandwiched between two WGC events, is a no brainer and the Houston Open, the week before the Masters, is also a must. Which means he has reached his limit and can’t tee up in any more events, not even the Players. The US Tour’s response, and a clever one at that, was to throw the ball back in the Englishman’s court by changing the rules to allow non members to play 10 events plus the Players. Westwood and Chandler, though, were having none of it. When asked if he would now be playing the “fifth major”, Westwood declined on the grounds he would not be able to play


TALKINGOLF the Quail Hollow event the week before the Players as preparation as it would exceed his allowed number of events. All this wouldn’t really cause anyone at US Tour headquarters too much concern because Westwood is not a particularly popular player and has limited ability to draw in fans. However, young Rory McIlroy is the exact opposite. Even Chandler himself must be surprised by the way America has seemingly fallen in love with McIlroy since his US Open win. And that means his bargaining power, not just inside the US but outside as well, is now off the charts. As the Tiger Woods soap opera continues to play out and the former world number one shows no signs of returning to the game soon, McIlroy has become THE media darling.

His emphatic victory at Congressional has seen many comparing the 22-year-old to the young Woods, some even bestowing the title of “best swing ever” on the young Irishman. With such accolades flowing so freely, Chandler must be in seventh heaven as he guides the career of the biggest thing to hit golf since Tigermania after the 1997`Masters. The prospect of Chandler having any input into the schedule and playing future of McIlroy must send shivers down the spine of Tm Finchem. The US Tour has always prided itself on being the place where the best players want to play but with Chandler holding so many of the major cards it’s almost certain that several of the best players will no longer call

America home. The turf war between the US and Europe continues unabated but the momentum is certainly going against the Americans at the moment. Like Mark McCormack when he started IMG all those years ago, Chandler seems to attract the very best into his team. IMG was the behemoth of the game for nearly four decades but changes within that organisation mean they no longer wield the power they once did, Chandler and ISM, for all intents and purposes, are the company laying in wait to take that mantle from them. Could Chubby Chandler be the next McCormack? One gets the feeling he just might be, and what we’re seeing right now is just the beginning.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (L) waits on the practice ground with his manager Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler (C) and his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald (R) during the final round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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ANDREW MARSHALL heads to the ‘Garden County’, home to the 2011 Open Championship to sample some of the best English golf. Mention the county of Kent and several images may spring to mind: beer and hops, Canterbury Cathedral, the White Cliffs of Dover, seaside towns, orchards, historical homes, castles and gardens. But there’s more to the ‘Garden of England’ than this. Within a varied landscape of mature woodlands, rolling hills and open coastal regions, Kent boasts around 100 scenic golf courses. From Chart Hills, with its American-style fast greens and Florida-style bunkering, and world-class wind-blown links such as Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, to established parkland and wooded inland courses - all types are covered. As an added bonus the county is within easy reach of London making the capital’s sights, attractions and nightlife just a short train or car ride away.

A Walk In The Park

It’s a sunny mid-May morning at Heathrow Terminal 5, and after picking up our hire car and successfully negotiating the M25’s frenetic traffic, we drive along narrow country lanes to arrive 50-minutes later at the London Golf Club draped over the undulating hills of the North Downs of Kent. From the main gates and sweeping one-mile drive, to the dedicated bag drop, awardwinning clubhouse and superb practice facilities, everything about the place is top-drawer. Two quality championship courses designed by legendary Jack Nicklaus make up the club; the tougher Heritage Course, a par-

72 parkland layout (home to the European Open in 2008 and 2009) that’s reserved for members and their guests, and The International, a par-72 inland links that offers a good test for visiting golfers with four sets of tees to suit all abilities. Many of the holes at the International are of the risk-reward variety, such as the 532-yard par-5 13th, a dogleg left with two options. Big hitters can take on the bunker on the left to lay up short of the lake, then hit a risky long second shot across water to the green for a birdie or possibly eagle chance, or like ourselves choose two shots up the fairway on the right and then a short iron across the lake to the dance floor. There’s more daunting shots over water, this time from elevated tees at two of the International’s terrific par 3s that have more teeth than a grinning crocodile. Usually played into a strong breeze, the 201-yard eighth has a huge lake in front of the tee with a very narrow green tucked away on the back left-hand side, and the 190-yard 12th, also plays over a lake onto an elongated green held back with boards so the green is angled sideways to the tee.

to support people on our own doorstep and our menu is based on the foodstuffs we can source locally, such as Whitstable oysters, Winterdale cheeses and ales from Shepherd Neame,” says Harvey. “This winter we will be offering a deal that includes range balls, coffee and bacon roll, 18 holes on the International with course guide, bowl of soup at the Halfway House and a two-course meal. It’s a top day out for £65 per player.” After our round at the London Golf Club we overnight at nearby Brands Hatch Thistle Hotel, which is well positioned for golfers and motoring enthusiasts at the entrance to the world famous Grand Prix circuit. We spend an enjoyable evening in the new Racing Bar sampling some Kentish ales among British Motor Racing legends such as Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill and Stirling Moss whose photos adorn the walls of the bar.

“Everyone seems to talk about those holes and they can be real card wreckers,” says General Manager Heath Harvey, as we enjoy a beer in the bar after our round. He begins to tell us more about the London Golf Club. “These days more people are looking for quality golf and quality cuisine and here we offer 5-star golf with a 5-star menu. We like Golf SA ONLINE July 2011 37


Our second course in the Garden of England is Chart Hills situated at Biddenden in the northern reaches of the Weald of Kent. Opened in 1993, this Nick Faldo classic sits in 200 acres of rolling terrain and features mature oak woodland, copious amounts of water and 140 bunkers. Chart Hills will test all facets of your game, and there are a great variety of holes, especially the ninth, where like us you’ll probably wonder where the fairway is as you stand on the tee and get psyched out by the highly visible sand traps. Before the 10th hole, it’s worth the green fee alone to sample the delights of the Halfway House, that’s like a classic British cafe in a woodland setting. When we arrive, a couple of other golfers are checking scorecards at one of the tables, complete with red checked tablecloth and bottles of brown sauce. We place our orders and have hardly sat down, before down-to-earth Sheila magically produces mugs of steaming hot tea and tasty bacon and tomato rolls. Just like finding a brand new Titliest ProV1 in the rough, this is one of many reasons we love to play the game. On the back nine be particularly careful over club choice at the tricky 147-yard par-3 17th, where a watery grave awaits anything less than a precise iron shot. The resident Canada geese that cruise the water between tee and green must have witnessed some antics here over the years. For some golf with a twist we fit in a few afternoon holes at Leeds Castle Golf Club, lovely parkland 9-holer set against the beautiful medieval castle and moat. Rising from two islands in the centre of a lake and considered one of the most romantic castles in England,

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Leeds Castle has been a Norman stronghold, a royal residence for six medieval Queens of England, a palace of Henry VIII, and a retreat for the powerful and influential. Although the course wouldn’t make it into England’s top 100, the views of the castle as you play more than makes up for it. From Leeds Castle we head towards the coast and our base for the next few days, the Royal Hotel in the charming seaside town of Deal. Steeped in history this early 18th century hotel has been a haven for famous people such as Lord Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill and is the perfect base for Kent’s seaside courses. It’s also close to the medieval market town of Sandwich and is only a short car journey to the cathedral town of Canterbury and seaside towns of Whitstable, Dover and St. Margaret’s-at-Cliffe. Other parkland and woodland courses: Weald of Kent Golf Course, Tudor Park, Hever Castle, Belmont, Canterbury & Knole Park.

Down By The Sea

It’s 8.30 am the following morning. As a strong sea breeze whips the tangy scents of salt and seaweed into our lungs we loosen up beside the par-4 first at Walmer & Kingsdown Golf Club. We are joining club members Peter Ebden and John Reynolds, to tackle this historic James Braid design that sits atop Dover’s famous White Cliffs with fantastic views across the channel to the French coast. Established in 1909 the course was officially opened on Saturday 17th April with a match between James Braid and Harry Vardon with Braid the winner 3 and 2. Braid courses bear distinctive trademarks in their design and many are in evidence

here. He handled severe terrain as well as anyone and didn’t change the land very much and often allowed the holes to simply fall with the slopes. He would then either find natural green sites or bench the greens and tees into the slope creating some really unique and spectacular green sites such as the downhill par-4 8th and the difficult dog-leg par-4 seventh, known as the Sea Hole, with out-of-bounds on the right and a sweeping fairway towards the cliffs. With Peter and John’s useful local knowledge we quickly learn how to tackle Braid’s distinctive greens. “The key here is to allow the ball to run into the greens over the steep edges,” says Peter. After an enjoyable round John says: “You’re playing Royal Cinque Ports tomorrow aren’t you? You’d best have you’re A-game with you, it’s a tough course.” Just up the coast from Deal, Royal Cinque Ports is one of a cluster of three links of the highest order, along with Princes Golf Club and Royal St.George’s with everything you would expect to find on seaside courses: blind shots, deep pot bunkers, running fairways, lightning fast greens, strong winds and the taste of salt in the sea air. In addition, these clubs are all venues of the Open Championship past and present and are steeped in history. Royal Cinque Ports hosted it in 1909 and 1920 and Princes is another of only


14 courses ever to have staged the Open, and on that single occasion in 1932 Gene Sarazen was the victor. But, as far as Open venues are concerned they don’t come much better than Royal St. George’s. On our final evening in the Garden of England we drive up the coast from Deal and park up along the shoreline. The famous course is deserted. As the late afternoon sun casts long shadows across the links land, defining every undulation, bump and hollow, we cast our minds back to the scenes of the 2003 Open Championship - the humbling of Tiger Woods when he lost his ball on the first day, Thomas Bjorn’s bunker woes on the 16th and surprise winner Ben Curtis who lifted the Claret jug. The good news is, that after eight years, the world’s oldest and best major is due back here in 2011, with the course open for visitors (on weekdays all year round) to follow in the footsteps of past champions such as Vardon, Hagen, Norman and Lyle. For golf fans like ourselves who love to play and watch the world’s greatest game, it doesn’t get much better than this. Other Links & Seaside Courses: Littlestone Golf Club, North Foreland & Rye Golf Club.

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Fact File

Where To Play

Where To Stay

London Golf Club www.londongolf.co.uk

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club: www.royalcinqueports.com

Brands Hatch Thistle Hotel: www.thistlehotels.com

Chart Hills Golf Club www.charthills.co.uk

Prince’s Golf Club: www.princesgolfclub.co.uk

The Royal Hotel / Deal: www.theroyalhotel.com

Leeds Castle Golf www.leeds-castle.com/golf

Royal St George’s Golf Club: www.royalstgeorges.com

Wallett’s Court/ St Margaret’s at Cliffe: www.wallettscourt.com

Walmer & Kingsdown Golf Club www.kingsdowngolf.co.uk

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Off-Course Attractions & Activities * Take a brewery tour at Shepherd Neame in Faversham (Britain’s oldest brewer established in 1698), where you will see how traditional methods and state-ofthe-art technology are combined to produce a range of Kentish ales and specialty lagers such as Spitfire, Master Brew, Bishops Finger and Whitstable Bay Organic Ale. At the end of the tour there’s a chance to sample a selection of beers. www.shepherdneame.co.uk * Kent has more historical castles, mansions and gardens open to the public than any other region in Britain. Enjoy Leeds Castle’s (www.leeds-castle.com), fine

collection of furnishings and antiques, wander the formal gardens, get lost in the yew maze and spend the day with birds of prey at the Hawking Centre. Visit Hever Castle (www.hevercastle. co.uk) with its beautiful Italian garden and lake and Dover Castle (www.englishheritage.co.uk) set high above the famous white cliffs with a labyrinth of Secret Wartime Tunnels built deep within the cliffs. Explore Kent seaside towns and villages such as picturesque St. Margaret’s-at-Cliffe where James Bond author Ian Fleming had a house, visit famous Whitstable for an oyster fix and enjoy fine seafood at renowned Dunkerley’s Sea Food Restaurant in Deal. www.dunkerleys.co.uk * Not to be missed on any Kent visit is Canterbury and its

magnificent cathedral. The first Church of England, this historic gothic-style cathedral dates back to 597, which served as a rich and powerful monastery of Benedictine monks during the 12th century. * Watch a race at Brands Hatch, one of the most iconic sporting venues in the world. Brands Hatch can lay claim to being the busiest race circuit in Europe and ever since starting out as a dirt track motorcycle circuit in 1926, it has been characterised by its natural amphitheatre with virtually the entire ‘Indy configuration visible from the spectacular banking and grandstands. For race days visit: www.brands-hatch.com USEFUL CONTACTS & WEB SITES Visit Kent: www.visitkent.co.uk/golf Golf SA ONLINE July 2011 41


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