GMé | April 2016

Page 1


On the cover...

The all-new Workman GTX from Toro is one of the most versatile crossover vehicles available for use on your golf course


ÂŁ6.50 Issue 107 | April 2016

Golf Management ĂŠurope is the essential business magazine for golf course owners, operators, managers and directors of golf

Following the departure of Chris White from Yas Links, new general manager, Howie Roberts, is looking to stamp his authority on the Arabian masterpiece





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On the agenda april 2016 26


No Drama for Howie at Yas

Howie Roberts, the new general manager at Yas Links, is a fascinating character, who used to contend with bows, arrows and spears as part of his daily routine.


Accentuating the positives

Making it into Golf Digest’s Top 50 courses of the world is an achievement reserved for only a select few. Mark Alexander discovers how North Berwick climbed the ladder of success.


Alcanada a Beacon of Light

Under the stewardship of Kristoff Both, Club de Golf Alcanada is rapidly earning a name for itself as one of the finest golfing venues in Spain.


How to PlayMoreGolf

Jamie Carroll, sales and marketing director at PlayMoreGolf, highlights the significant business benefits that a flexible membership programme can offer UK golf clubs.



Time really is money!

Promote Training, the first dedicated eLearning provider to the golf industry, has launched their latest course entitled ‘Tee Time Management’.

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Publisher Executive editor Contributors

Michael Lenihan David Bowers Mark Alexander, Jamie Carroll, Andy Hiseman, Scott MacCallum, Kevin Marks, Aidan Patrick, Charmian Robson, Pete Simm


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from the publisher

“it seems anybody working for the betterment of the industry in this way is now being undermined by a lack of support from the very people they’re looking to help”

Industry & PR need to forge better relations with the trade media The cancellation of the recent industry trade show – the Golf Show – has created a few ripples. The reason cited was simply a lack of support from the industry itself and it is that which has raised my ire recently. GMé is not the only trade publication informing – and yes, educating – those within the golf industry. There are other B2B magazines working in various sectors of our industry, all looking to assist professionals to carry out their roles to the best of their ability. These magazines and websites, offering the latest news on things that actually MATTER to those within the industry, however, are not charities. Yet it seems anybody working for the betterment of the industry in this way is now being undermined by a lack of support from the very people they’re looking to help. Exhibitions rely on exhibitors; similarly, publications rely on advertisers. GMé launched in 1997, and we’ve always prided ourselves on the fact that if a story is newsworthy, we’ll run it regardless of ad spend, but, traditionally, that has borne fruit further down the line – ‘give and take’ they call it. In that time we have built up some very good relationships with clients and PR companies, but when we hear of those same people saying they’re not going to advertise or exhibit at the foremost (with a small ‘f’) trade show, we’re left wondering why we’ve bent over backwards to help so many people in the past.

4 | GMé April 2016

TRADE RELATIONS The Titleist stand at the last Golf Trade Show

Why? Because they say they’re investing in PR instead – much of which requires the good auspices of editors to carry the stories with which they’re looking to gain exposure. One PR company has even gone as far as publicly saying ‘don’t advertise, just PR’. That’s clearly in their self-interest – that phrase again – with no concern for the wider industry, and it’s ruffled a few feathers to say the least. PR companies should be looking to build relationships with the media, not alienating them. But who does that help except themselves? I realise not all PR revolves around the distribution of press releases but it is a core element of the service.

And, without the goodwill of magazines and websites, the message will not get out there. There has to be give and take, and, if the industry as a whole doesn’t support exhibitions and the B2B media, much of its target audience will be deaf to the message. GMé

Michael Lenihan


Hold the front page Designed to withstand the rigours of daily use out on the course, all-year-round, the all-new Workman GTX from Toro is one of the most versatile crossover vehicles in its class.

“The versatility of the GTX allows for a number of different jobs to be completed with a single vehicle, while also delivering on performance and operator comfort”

Cover sponsored by The Toro Company (1) 952 888 8801

6 | GMé April 2016

Now available to order, Toro recently launched the all-new Workman GTX utility vehicle, which the company claims, is one of the most versatile grounds and turf crossover vehicles in its class. Combining superior comfort, control and versatility, the Workman GTX provides all the features to help tackle a multitude of tasks on and around the golf course. Course managers, greenkeepers and equipment managers are able to select from several models to match the right vehicle to their specific needs, and among these options are four, and two-seat configurations; a variety of front-and rear-attachments for rubbish cans, hose reels or walk spreaders, and a number of flatbed options to haul even the bulkiest materials. With over 300 configurations to fit almost any application, the Workman GTX is a highly versatile and cost-effective machine. “This simply superior utility vehicle is the best in the industry,” commented Greg Lawrence, senior marketing manager at Toro, speaking at the launch of the GTX. “The versatility of the GTX allows for a number of different jobs to be completed with a single vehicle, while also delivering on performance and operator comfort.”

Operation of the Workman GTX is simple, thanks to an automotive-grade rack and pinion steering system that provides more control and easier steering to allow operators to focus on the task at hand and get the job done faster. In addition, class-exclusive coil-over shocks surround the vehicle and provide improved suspension for a smoother ride that minimises operator fatigue. The Workman GTX comes with low maintenance hydraulic brakes that require no cable adjustment and less pedal force for a reliable stop every time, and this practical and comfortable vehicle comes with either the 429cc petrol, or 48-volt A/C electric model. At just 47-inches (119 cm) wide, its narrow frame also allows access for working in tight areas with ease. Additionally, a powder-coated frame and underbody, paired with a strong exterior, make the Workman GTX extremely durable and ready for the demands of daily use, whilst a deluxe bench seat features Elastomeric Vibration Control for additional comfort in rough terrain. Greenkeepers, grounds managers and operators alike can depend on the durability, comfort and exceptional performance of this innovative new vehicle from Toro. GMé

Great golf courses lie in the hands that build them. The Industry has accepted the need for innovation to provide solutions for the many issues it faces. Our Company leads the charge providing these solutions through our engineered products and out of the box thinking. The connection for people between synthetic solutions and beautiful golf courses has been difficult to make. We face scepticism on a daily basis. We are golf purists too and yet have started our initiative to help preserve and grow the game. The environment is changing and we need new solutions that adapt. We believe it is better to play golf on an alternative surface than to not play golf at all.

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Golfers in the UK spend £4 billion a year on golf claims new R&A report Golfers in the UK spent £4.3 billion on their sport in 2014, accounting for 14 per cent of all consumer spending on sport, and golf paid £990 million in taxes to the government according to an independent report published last month by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC). More than half of consumer spending on golf – £2.2 billion – was channelled through the UK’s near 3,000 golf clubs. Golf equipment and clothing accounted for £939 million of consumer expenditure and golf related tourism, events and accommodation a further £775m. The report, which was funded by The R&A, highlights that the golf industry in the UK employs 74,480 people with a third employed directly by golf clubs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Golf’s Gross Value Added (GVA), the wages and profits measure of economic activity, is calculated at £2 billion or seven per cent of GVA attributed to all sport in the United Kingdom. After accounting for indirect and induced economic impact effects, the turnover of the UK golf industry is estimated at £10.3 billion for 2014. Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said: “Golf is the first sport in the UK to evaluate its contribution to economic development in line with the government’s ‘Sporting Future’ strategy and these findings give us an important

economic baseline for the golf industry against which we can measure future growth. “There is plenty of room for optimism that golf can maintain and develop its position as one of the most popular sports in the UK, particularly in the year when it makes its return to the Olympic Games in Rio.” Professor Simon Shibli, the Head of SIRC and author of the report, said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to produce a Satellite Account for golf on behalf of The R&A, as it is the first time

Booth leaves Abu Dhabi

Essendon unveils significant investment plans

Current Troon ‘Ambassador of the Year’ Paul Booth has left Abu Dhabi Golf Club – host venue of the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship – which is managed by Troon Golf. Booth, who had worked for Troon previously at Saadiyat Golf Club, also in Abu Dhabi, is officially on ‘indefinite leave’ from his role as general manager, pending what GMé understands are further, ongoing discussions with Troon and TDIC (Tourism Development and Investment Company), the owner of Abu Dhabi Golf Club. In an as-yet unpublished interview with GMé – carried out in March – Booth said of his future with Troon: “I do not see me leaving Troon Golf. The educational programmes; the empowerment; the belief in the team… I haven’t experienced a company like it. I’d always work for Troon.” GMé has invited Troon to comment officially on the departure of Booth, but has yet to receive a statement.

8 | GMé April 2016

Golf makes its case outside Parliament

The first hole at Essendon

Essendon Country Club in Hertfordshire, has announced plans for a significant phase of investment into the facility following a period of sustained progression since the Griffin family takeover in late 2011. A new state-of-the-art short-game facility is to be built from scratch, allowing members and visitors alike to hone their skills in close proximity to the first tees of both the Old and the New Course. The new facility completes the club’s long-term commitment to providing the

that a sport-specific Satellite Account has been produced. The positive physiological and mental health benefits of golf are already well understood. Golf is also remarkably valuable to the economy as our figures for consumer spending, GVA and employment demonstrate.” There are an estimated 1.5 million adult golfers in the UK who play at least once a week, almost twice the regular participation rate of tennis (825,343) or badminton (825,962), and 3.9 million adult golfers who play at least once a year.

finest and most complete golf offering in the county, following the recent openings of a contemporary driving range and high-tech swing studio in 2014 and 2015 respectively. “I’m delighted to finally announce yet further development plans within a club that we are extremely passionate about,” said owner, Kieran Griffin. “At Essendon, we’re committed to continuous improvement. Our aim is always to provide our members with a premium experience, and with these developments, this is now the case across the board.” Further 2016 investment includes a complete redesign of the New Course’s closing hole, transforming it from a par-4 to a risk-reward par 5. Since takeover in 2011, the Griffin family has invested significantly into the club, which now boasts a thriving membership across all categories. All developments, including short-game area, hole adjustments and refurbishments are scheduled to open this year.”


La Manga Club continues to invest, on and off the course

In brief... FootJoy has launched its biggest and most stylish range of women’s golf shoes, headlined by the emPOWER model favoured by Ladies European Tour star Charley Hull. Signalling FootJoy’s largest ever investment into the women’s shoes sector, the 2016 range incorporates no fewer than seven models that boast an array of different styles and vibrant colours designed to appeal to the full spectrum of female golfers. Burhill Golf and Leisure Limited, operator of ten golfing venues and 22 courses across the UK, has taken delivery of 145 new golf buggies, further enhancing the customer experience across all of its venues. Ready for the 2016 season, BGL will replace its venues’ existing fleet, with 144 brand new golf cars and one new utility vehicle, which will be used at its flagship site, Burhill Golf Club. and Monarch have announced a strategic partnership that will see Monarch become the preferred short and mid-haul partner for the golf travel company, with now the airline’s golf travel partner. Keith Mitchell, marketing director of Golfbreaks. com said: “We are delighted to announce the partnership with Monarch and look forward to many more years of success working with them.” Albatross Golf Resort has been announced as the 19th member of the exclusive European Tour Properties network, becoming an official European Tour Destination. The resort, which is just a 20-minute drive from Prague, opened in September 2009. David MacLaren, director of property & venue development at The European Tour, said: “We are delighted to welcome Albatross Golf Resort into our network.”

La Manga Club’s golf investment programme for 2016 has moved into full gear following the installation of a new GPS system in its fleet of golf buggies at the prestigious Spanish resort. Fresh from taking delivery of a range of new Toro greenkeeping machinery, the resort is offering players an improved golfing experience by fitting its golf carts with the latest Sentinel GPS navigation system. Incorporating a wide range of features including instant touch screen information, aerial views of each hole, distances to the green and obstacles from any position on the course, internal power supply and cameras that monitor the users’ actions during every round, the seven-inch screen is easy to use and is the ideal device for golfers bidding to improve their scores. The tracking system has initially been installed in 55 of La Manga Club’s golf carts – including 37 new ones – with the remainder of its 120-buggy fleet due to be fitted with the GPS technology over the coming months. Other redevelopment plans at La Manga Club this summer include installing new signage on its three 18hole courses, improved landscaping and access to each hole and the refurbishment of Bar 37 in the golf

clubhouse, while members and guests can already enjoy an improved experience with the redesign of the resort’s golf shop. Eduardo Ruiz, golf director at La Manga Club, said: “In order for La Manga Club to maintain its position as Europe’s most popular golf destination, it is vital that the resort continues to invest. “We’re delighted with the new look of our golf shop while the installation of the new GPS technology will not only enhance the five-star golf experience that we can offer but also improve the time it takes to play a round of golf, a big problem in the modern-day game.” A five-time host of the Spanish Open and set in an area three times the size of Monaco, and boasts three 18-hole courses.

The new-look pro shop at La Manga

The Renaissance Club set for change of structure

Renaissance Club CEO, Jerry Sarvadi

The Renaissance Club has announced the closing of a transaction that paves the way for The Club to become member owned and governed. A small group of major member stakeholders have increased their investment in order to retire the one third ownership interest of Archerfield Estates Limited (AEL), an entity which will remain supportive of the club as its landlord. This one third ownership interest is being offered to members only and a

Board of Directors representative of the membership is being incorporated into The Club’s structure. Details of the transaction were not disclosed. “This is an exciting time for The Renaissance Club as we celebrate our ten year anniversary of the partnership and the Club,” commented Jerry Sarvadi, the Club’s founder and CEO. “We believe this change of ownership structure allowing our members to become equity participants in the partnership will set the Club on a long term path to create a world class golf club.” Invest Archerfield LLC, a US based Limited Liability Company also founded by Sarvadi and his five brothers will continue its ownership participation and support. “The Sarvadi family commitment to this club has been and will remain far more than just an investment but rather a testimony of our dedication to the great game of golf and our love for the home of golf, East Lothian Scotland,” stated Paul Sarvadi. | 9




England Golf announces three-year partnership with Sky Sports England Golf have announced a threeyear partnership with Sky Sports to promote the Get Into Golf initiative across the UK, with the aim of bringing 500,000 new or lapsed golfers into the sport by the end of 2018. Get Into Golf is a national campaign supported by the four Home Unions of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, The European Tour, The PGA, The Golf Foundation and The R&A. The announcement comes as golf is set to get a huge boost from Danny Willett’s dramatic win in the Masters. He’s only the second Englishman to win the title and the first for 20 years – and his victory is predicted to inspire new generations of golfers. England Golf is committed to increasing the number of people that play golf; inspires people to take up and play more golf by providing a local activity finder for taster sessions, beginner and improver courses, plus a wealth of information about the game. Nick Pink, CEO of England Golf, commented on the announcement: “Working alongside Sky Sports as part of our marketing strategy for Get Into Golf is a great opportunity for the sport, their support will be invaluable in inspiring new golfers and spreading the message that golf is a game for all.” He added: “We are aware, like many other sports, golf faces challenges

around declining participation. Get Into Golf is a call to action and working with Sky across their channels and digital outlets, as well as the wider golfing community puts us in a strong position to change perceptions, ensuring a bright future for golf.” Jason Wessely, head of golf at Sky Sports, said: “Our partnership with Get Into Golf illustrates our desire to help get more people to the range and out on the course.

SWG heads to St Tropez

REALiTEE reveals plans for indoor golf revolution

Southwest Greens International, together, with parent company Shaw Industries, has announced that Southwest Greens Construction will build a nine-hole golf course, academy and driving range in St Tropez, France, entirely with Southwest Greens’ proprietary performance synthetic turf systems. Featuring more than 35,000 m2 of installed systems, the facility will boast SWG’s performance fairway, rough and bunker systems on the course, along with its Pro System on the greens of the course and academy. The driving range will feature a synthetic performance fairway and rough along with performance target greens, intended to elevate the experience for the golfer. “This project propels the industry into a new dimension, demonstrating that our performance turf systems are a real solution for all components on the golf course and driving range,” said Kevin Holinaty, president of Southwest Greens Construction.

A new vision for indoor golf, combining high-tech simulators with real golf on real greens in a family-friendly, nextgeneration urban country club setting, is gaining momentum since its debut at the Golf Industry Show in San Diego, in February 2016. REALiTEE Golf – the brainchild of entrepreneur Dave Shultz from Anaheim, California – addresses golf’s global challenges of declining participation and an ageing demographic by locating spectacular cutting-edge golf complexes in urban areas offering affordable and authentic golf, entertainment, and leisure facilities for golf enthusiasts, golfing novices, and families, all under one roof. Inviting customers to experience the latest in virtual golf technology, blasting their ball down some of the world’s most famous fairways before they ‘step into reality’ to play their final shots in a real-life, full-size putting and short game area, REALiTEE adds the extra dimension which has previously been lacking in

10 | GMé April 2016

Jason Wessely, head of golf at Sky Sports

“This partnership comes at a great time after the amazing and inspiring success of home grown talent at The Masters. We hope to inspire players and fans further around the BMW PGA Championship, The Open, The Ryder Cup and The British Masters.” The Get Into Golf campaign is supported by Sport England National Lottery funding and activity is delivered by over 760 local clubs and PGA professionals nationwide.

both simulator and driving range golf – namely, authentic short game play. “Our vision is to revolutionise golf over the next decade,” said Shultz. “REALiTEE represents the opportunity to create an unrivalled entry-point to the sport for newcomers. At REALiTEE, complete beginners will play alongside committed golfers without fear of being in the way or overshadowed – but at the same time they will have an authentic golf experience.”

Dave Shultz

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09/10/2015 14:40:00 | 11



Las Colinas gearing-up to help Denise van Outen shape up her game Las Colinas Golf & Country Club has announced that it will partner with Denise van Outen as the British actress and TV personality aims to fulfil her 2016 resolution to break 100. The 41-year-old stage and screen star is a keen golfer and has chosen Las Colinas as her Spanish base for improving her game this year. She will visit regularly and stay in the villas at Las Colinas, whilst taking advantage of a European Tour host course and the help of the coaching professionals at Las Colinas. PGA coaching staff Sean Corte-Real and Robert Mitchell will help groove her swing so that she can hit her target and continue to provide inspiration for women golfers. “As a sun-drenched property offering luxury villa accommodation and a championship golf course, Las Colinas is the ideal place for me to practice my way to lower scores this year,” says van Outen. “Las Colinas is the standout facility for both golf and accommodation on

Actress Denise van Outen who is set to take centre-stage at Las Colinas this summer

the Costa Blanca. I quite like the idea of being able to walk straight from my garden onto a golf course. There’s a villa on the third hole where you could literally chip it onto a green from the front room – definitely my kind of home!” Las Colinas Golf & Country Club is located south of the popular tour-

ist destination of Alicante, in 330 hectares of stunning woodland on the Mediterranean coast. Since its opening in 2010, the resort has become a real hit with international holiday makers and second home owners seeking a property in a resort that offers something for everyone.

Protests against European Golf building Cyprus course for fun at Metro Golf Centre Environmentalists protested outside the Cypriot agriculture ministry as they made clear their opposition to the planned construction of a golf course in Limni, Cyprus. While protesters demonstrated outside, inside the building, the environmental assessment board discussed the updated impact study for the approval of the project by Limni Bay Resorts and Golf Courses. In a statement, the Initiative for the Preservation of Natural Coasts said they opposed a new round of environmental and urban licensing for the proposed project by the Shacolas group, which they referred to as ‘Sharkolas’ in the protest. The development includes two 18-hole golf courses, two clubhouses, sports facilities, shops, car parks, holiday villas and a luxury hotel of 160 beds. The protestors were wearing masks with the faces of President Nicos Anastasiades, the minister of the interior, the minister of agriculture, the director of the environment department, the director of the town planning and housing department and the executive chairman of the Shacolas group. The marine and coastal area between Polis town, Argaka lake and Gialias, in Paphos, was declared a site of community importance in May 2014 and March 2008.

12 | GMé April 2016

Designed and built by European Golf, the Captain’s Bay adventure golf course at the Metro Golf Centre in Barnet, is already proving popular, with visitor numbers more than anticipated since opening last month. Built on a 1,300 sq m site, the ninehole adventure golf course was the brainchild of David Lowe, director of European Golf who said: “As specialist suppliers of synthetic turf to golf courses and golf ranges, in the past, European Golf has been involved with dozens of similar projects, but when the opportunity arose for us to design, build and manage our own course, it was too good an offer to pass up.”

The project, which took seven months to gain planning consent, cost in the region of £200,000 to build, but as Lowe explained, he is already seeing significant returns on his investment. “Since opening last month, we’ve already taken £10,000 in revenue, and a similar project which we have been involved with for Warrington Borough Council, took a staggering £20,000 within its first ten days of opening! “As more golf ranges and clubs look to increase their revenues, for a relatively small initial outlay, the returns can be vast. The increased footfall through the F&B operation at Metro Golf is testament to that.”

An aerial view of the Metro Golf Centre in Barnet

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Ransomes Jacobsen serves up an evening with Dubai Golf Twenty-one course managers and deputies plus representatives from Ransomes Jacobsen and their dealers, met at the Royal Berkshire Hotel at Sunninghill near Ascot recently for the third ‘Evening with…’ event, organised by the Ipswich-based turf equipment manufacturer. The previous two events featured presentations by senior staff from the Pebble Beach Company, and this year the speakers were the chief executive officer of Dubai Golf, Chris May, and his director of golf course management, Craig Haldane. Dubai Golf are responsible for the management of Emirates Golf Club, the first grass golf course in the UAE when it opened in 1988, along with Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and Al Mouj Golf Club in Oman. Chris May began his presentation by describing the development of the three golf courses and the principles of Dubai Golf’s management philosophy for the resorts. He also provided an insight into the two major events hosted by Emirates Golf Club, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Omega Dubai Ladies’ Masters. Craig Haldane then took the floor and spoke at length about his turf and tournament management practices and the pressure of preparing the Majlis course

for the two major championships, with limited time between the events. He stressed to his audience that he was never satisfied with his course preparation and would always look to be innovative in an attempt to improve every facet of the facilities under his remit. The evening concluded with a question and answer session, where the assem-

Curaçao turns to Carousel

Huxley Golf Races to Dubai

Situated in the south of the Caribbean, CuraÇao is a paradise island holiday location perhaps better known for its beautiful beaches than golf. However, golf is taken seriously on this tiny island, and CuraÇao Golf & Squash Club has become the latest club to turn to Carousel Golfing to help with bag storage at its 18-hole course. “As many golfers migrate to CuraÇao due to the fantastic all-year round climate, the club recently completed a new clubhouse to meet the growing needs of its membership,” said Mike Waldron of Carousel Golfing. “We were approached to provide a layout plan, having been provided with the dimensions of the bag store area, so the carousels were built and shipped safely to the island from our UK factory.” Step by step assembly instructions made the installation an easy operation, as Waldron explained: “Seeing as our carousels require minimal assembly, it just goes to prove that regardless of where your golf club is located, Carousel Golfing can provide you with the locker system to upgrade your facility.”

Huxley Golf has completed the installation of a new all-weather tee area on the practice range at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, which hosts the annual Race to Dubai, the culmination of the European Tour schedule. Neal Graham, general manager of club operations at Jumeirah Golf Estates, commented: “I am delighted with our new Huxley Golf Premier Tee at Jumeirah Golf Estates. It is a fantastic surface to hit from and one that has been widely accepted and put into full use for evening practice to help rest the grass turf from over-use. “As an extremely busy facility with over 700 golf members, it was a logical choice to work with Huxley Golf whose experience and reputation is renowned and whose product quality is in keeping with our five star surroundings.” Huxley Premier Tee Turf was laid over an aggregate base to Huxley’s high specifications. Measuring 148ft x 12ft (45m x 3.6m), the technically advanced surface has superb ball striking characteristics, just like natural turf. Its high fibre density enables wood or iron shots

14 | GMé April 2016

Chris May, CEO of Dubai Golf, explaining the development of golf in the region

bled turf professionals sought more information or clarification of some of the points raised. At the end of the evening Gareth Roberts, course manager at Hankley Common Golf Club said: “This is the third event I’ve attended, and each one has been fascinating, providing an intriguing and interesting insight.”

David Gray with Alasdair Danson Webster

to be played directly off the surface or it accepts a tee peg anywhere for complete player flexibility. David Gray, managing partner of Huxley Golf Middle East said: “We are thrilled to have worked on this high profile project. A Huxley Golf installation at this prestigious venue in the Middle East complements the outstanding calibre of Huxley facilities globally.”

picture gallery

In words & Pictures A brief pictorial round-up of events from around the industry, including news that James Holmes, has been promoted to UK & European sales manager for SkyCaddie.







In brief... Over 170 local people enjoyed complimentary lessons and ‘Level Up’ sessions at the Golf At Goodwood Academy Open Weekend earlier this month. Aimed at introducing new people to the sport and growing the game, the Academy Open Weekend offered a chance for those interested in taking up golf to come and have a go, under the expert guidance of the Academy’s professionals. One of the UK golf industry’s fastestgrowing new businesses is now offering franchise opportunities nationwide for a limited period. Golf Management Group, which specialises in strategic cost management for almost 500 UK golf clubs, is requesting expressions of interest from individuals or companies interested in becoming a franchisee. Ten exclusive territories across the UK are available, each containing 128 golf clubs on average. UPS will donate junior sets of golf clubs for every birdie or better that UPS golf ambassadors Lee Westwood or Louis Oosthuizen make during a competitive round in the four 2016 major championships to deserving kids in select markets around the world. #bags4birdies is a program designed to support golf’s future talent, giving them the tools they need to succeed on the course. PING will partner with UPS in this initiative, developing PING Moxie G junior clubs and other gear for kids. Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel is entering the fourth year of its successful junior scholarship programme, which was launched in October 2012 with an X-Factorstyle ‘try-out day’ which attracted 50 talented juniors to ‘audition’ for a prized place. A shortlist was created; those on it were interviewed, along with their parents, and a ‘cast’ of 12 were selected.


SkyCaddie has promoted James Holmes to UK & European sales manager, with overall responsibility for sales of all products across Europe, including management of SkyCaddie’s network of sales agents and distributors.


Softspikes has revealed a range of translucent Pulsar cleats. Available in Azure Blue, Slime Green and Cherry Red, the translucent range of cleats have been designed exclusively in Softspikes’ new Tour Lock Insert System.


The Belfry Hotel & Resort has announced Rob Spurrier as its new academy director at the resort’s PGA Golf Academy, and Spurrier will look to further develop the structure and coaching at The Belfry Golf Academy.


Foremost Golf has announced Your Golf Travel, as its new Approved Travel Partner, which will see Foremost’s Elite Marketing Programme members provided with a comprehensive range of travel support.


The fourth BIGGA Future Turf Managers’ Initiative – made possible by Jacobsen – took place recently with a further 21 delegates visiting the company’s European headquarters for three days of intensive training.

6 has strengthened its relationship with TUI Golf Deutschland – Germany’s No.1 travel operator – by renewing its exclusive deal and adding even more locations to the original service. | 15



company profile

“It helps you work on your alignment, your green reading, your distance control and your weaknesses. It can’t fail to help your game, and every golf club should have one”

CREATIVE MECHANICS Zen Green Stage creators Nick Middleton (left) and Andrew McCague (right)

Zen Green Stage Putting for Dough The old adage, “Drive for show, and putt for dough” is never truer, and as more clubs invest in swing studios, putting is about to get the attention it deserves, writes Andy Hiseman.

Company Profile sponsored by Zen Green Stage (44) 07971 403627

16 | GMé April 2016

Golfers can now practice every makeable putt on the planet, for real, at the touch of a button. A new era of putting practice has arrived with the launch of Green Stage, the adjustable putting platform from Sheffield-based putting specialists Zen Green Technology. The world-first, computer-controlled Green Stage enables golfers to practice an almost limitless number of breaking putts to their heart’s content, mastering the art of green reading in a comfortable indoor environment. The 16ft long stage takes seconds to adjust from one slope to another, and can offer golfers challenging doublebreaking putts as well as all other putts in the scoring zone. “The straight putt is a myth,” said Zen’s Nick Middleton, Tour putting coach, creator of the popular Zen Oracle putter, and co-inventor of Green Stage. “Contrary to what golfers have been taught for years, there is no such thing as a truly straight putt beyond two feet. So if only one in a hundred putts are dead

straight, why do most golfers practice their putting on a flat surface? “The humble living room carpet may be convenient, but it doesn’t replicate the challenge of a real golf course,” explained Middleton. “Now, with Green Stage, golfers have the perfect place to learn, practice and perfect the twin arts of pace and green reading. “In a few seconds, Zen Green Stage can replicate every putt under 15 feet on the planet.” A public appearance for Green Stage at the Scottish Golf Show 2016 drew crowds for all three days. “We were delighted to showcase the innovative Zen Green Stage at the Show this year,” said event manager Julia Girvan. “It proved a great hit with our visitors across the weekend. Golfers loved being able to re-enact iconic Major tournament putts from golfing legends such as Ballesteros and Nicklaus, which the advanced Green Stage technology accurately replicated. It was a popular addition to our Show and we look forward to seeing it again here next year.”

A CUP’S WIDTH Dr Jon Karlsen PhD, Tour putting coach and a world authority on putting and green-reading

The Zen Green Stage – which retails for £16,650 plus VAT – offers up to 12 per cent variation in rise and fall slope, variable contours, multiple cups, touchscreen operation, and a quick-change putting surface which can replicate a variety of green speeds. It can also easily be converted to a full-swing platform for other types of practice. A touch screen remote enables users to dial in custom slope settings, or to choose from preset slopes and challenges which can be created and stored in unlimited numbers. “If you often face a particularly tricky putt on your home golf course, you can re-create it on the Green Stage, save it, master it, and lose your fear of it. “Green Stage sets your imagination and creativity free to produce an effectively infinite variety of putting conditions from inside the 15-foot scoring zone – and most crucially from within ten feet, where the biggest gains on the greens are to be made.” One of the world’s leading authorities on putting and green-reading, now coaches students on the Green Stage. “This is the next step for putting practice,” said Jon Karlsen PhD, Tour put-

ting coach, author of several academic research papers on putting, and elite golf director at the Norwegian Golf Federation. “Just as launch monitors have become ubiquitous over the last decade, within a few years I think the Green Stage will be everywhere, including many Tour players’ homes.” Ian Hutchinson, director of the hightech Core Golf centre in Oxfordshire, said: “Zen Green Stage has no rivals. When we were setting up the Core Golf studio, we looked at all the available golf technology. Zen Green Stage stood out, and it was an absolute no-brainer to offer it here. “Once you have tried it, you will see that the experience is on another level from any previous artificial putting surface you may have tried. Green Stage is brilliant, and all of our customers now use it,” added Hutchinson. “It is an unbelievable piece of kit,” said Lee Sharpe, former England, Manchester United and Leeds United footballer, and two-handicap golfer. “The main thing I get from the Green Stage is added confidence in my putting. It helps you work on your alignment, your green reading, your distance control and your weaknesses.

“It can’t fail to help your game, and every golf club should have one.” Nick Middleton and fellow Zen Green Stage inventor Andrew McCague based the concept on an original idea by the test pilot of the Mach 3 Lockheed Blackbird, US Air Force colonel Horace Templeton, who first created green-reading maps in the 1970s. In September 2014, Zen used similar techniques to help create greens maps at Gleneagles used by the victorious European Ryder Cup team. “Colonel Templeton’s belief was that a golfer’s fundamental inability to read a green is the biggest single barrier to success, and it is one which we share,” said Middleton. “There’s growing scientific evidence that highlights the need for practice environments to mimic the real world. With the new Green Stage, both putting coaches and golfers at every level of the game, up to Tour superstars, can now master the challenge of the breaking putt in a consistent, repeatable, authentic environment like never before. “Green Stage is the natural companion to a full-swing golf simulator, and it raises putting practice to new levels of enjoyment.” GMé | 17




Life’s no Drama for Howie at Yas Links There can’t be too many managers who have had to contend with bows, arrows and spears as part of their daily routine. Michael Lenihan talks to Yas Links new general manager, Howie Roberts, about his fascinating career to date.

Incongruously, I’m sat with Yas Links’ general manager, Howie Roberts, looking out over his stunning course, while he regales me with tales that would make a Victorian explorer’s hair curl were he to hear it at London’s Reform Club. Life is good now, for Roberts, but he’s no stranger to drama: bows, arrows, spears machetes, machine guns, pistols and tanks – the man from Bridgend has had to confront them all in his time. Roberts, 46, has always enjoyed golf’s equivalent of wanderlust and it’s taken him into a few scrapes. Yet, he remains very fond of the clubs where he has worked – particularly the one where all hell appeared to breaking loose around him. Originally a member at Southerndown Golf Club, in south Wales, Roberts won the Welsh amateur title in 1992, but felt the urge to move away from his roots in order to complete his PGA training. His first stop was at Porthmadog in north Wales, and its James Braiddesigned course. After 18 months there, the wanderlust struck again and he followed his own James Braid trail to St Enodoc, in Cornwall, where he completed his exams.

18 | GMé April 2016

A spell playing was cut short by injury and after a year in Austria, he headed out to the Middle East for two years, to help with the reopening off Cascades at Soma Bay, in Egypt. He explained: “I was there at the time of 9/11 and that changed the outlook of the whole place. It went from a busy resort, doing well, to nothing. I stayed there for another year but felt it was time to move on, so I went out to Asia and opened a couple of golf academies in Malaysia and Singapore.” But it was at Soma Bay he got his first taste of management, as head professional and director of golf – and it was a taste he savoured. “A lot of that was dealing with local staff, some of whom had never seen grass before and certainly not seen water coming out of the ground in an irrigation system, nor did they know what the game of golf was about. A lot of that was interesting.” Asia clearly appealed, for he spent 20 months as director of golf at the Vietnam Golf & Country Club, in Ho Chi Minh City. In late 2004 he moved to Papua, in Indonesia, as general manager at Klub Golf Rimba Irian, and, later, also took on

CHANGING ROLES Howie Roberts has been in his new role at Yas Links for six months following his move from The Address Montgomerie in Dubai, where he is pictured, top-left, with his former team

GIRL TALK A coupe of senior lady golfers share a joke on the green

the same role at the Sheraton Timika Hotel. October 2006 saw him still in Indonesia, but as general manager at Cengkareng Golf Club, in Jakarta. Then, after spending a further two years as general manager at the Graha Metropolitan Golf Club, he returned to Vietnam, in 2009 to open Danang Golf Club and its much-vaunted Greg Norman-designed course. Then it was on to Borneo and Malaysia, where he was general manager of the 27-hole country club and 114-berth marina at the 2,500-member Sutera Harbour Marina Golf & Country Club. And then, before moving to Yas Links, he spent 18 months as general manager at The Address Montgomerie in Dubai. Dealing with different cultures and the attitudes of the indigenous population is something Roberts enjoys immensely.

He explained: “It can be rewarding and probably the most rewarding place for that was Vietnam. I still remember the first day: we were interviewing for caddies – we had 120 girls turn up and just four or five spoke pidgin English. This was eight months before we opened. “I employed a woman from Yorkshire as an English teacher and by the time we opened they could all caddy in English and hold a basic conversation. We also had 30 who could caddy in Japanese, 50 who could do Chinese, and also 20 who could do Korean. And about ten girls could do all five languages. “One of the great things I’ve enjoyed, especially in Asia, is dealing with people from different cultures, different backgrounds. When I was at Rimba Irian, some of the staff were first generation, literally living off the jungle.

“Some of these guys had never seen machinery before.” If you’re wondering where all the weaponry and danger coexisted with Roberts’ golf lifestyle, well, we’re getting there... “There was a story about the exploration team going out into the mountains – it’s an extremely mountainous area and all covered in jungle – looking for sites they think it’d be worth having a look at. “On one occasion, a couple of years before I got there, they were in a very remote area where the people had never seen anything fly other than a bird. “One of the guys in the exploration team had a big beard; he jumped off the helicopter and they actually thought he was a god. They started running up to him saying ‘God! God!,” laughed Roberts. “The team had to jump back on the helicopter in case they kidnapped him!” | 19




“We’ve got a lot of things planned at Yas Links this year. I don’t think the guest ‘journey’ has ever matched the quality of the golf course”

ON THE TEE With GMé contributor Mark Alexander when general manager of Sutera Harbour Marina Golf & Country Club

Warming to the theme, Roberts continued: “We had staff coming to work with bones in their nose… (at which point he corroborates his story with a photo of a staff member raking bunkers, while sporting a bone in his nose). “The nearest Starbucks was over three hours away… by aeroplane. This was purely a quality-of-life facility for the employees that worked at the nearby gold mine. It would be a top 100 course in the world but nobody knows about it, because the owners don’t want anyone to go there. “I miss that side of it. This is more conventional. That place was completely off the chart… We left because there was a tribal war. There were seven tribes on the land where Freeport had taken over the mine; and they had some strange ‘rules’. A ‘war’ could only finish when the same number of people had died on each side. “The biggest tribal war that happened when I was there saw 43 people killed. It was massively biased towards one side and I’m talking bows and arrows and spears. Two police were killed, two priests, and the rest were tribal. There were negotiations that went on for months – and cows, pigs, everything, were all part of the settlement deal.” One day, having returned from a holiday with his wife, where he had no mobile reception, Roberts received a phone call as soon as he was back. Trouble was brewing. In fact, it was boiling over. He recalled: “The riot had spread to the hotel and they told me they needed me back as soon as I could get there. “Then Freeport were on the phone urging me to get back. I went back, the

20 | GMé April 2016

hotel was closed and it took us about 12 weeks to reopen it. “Because we were so remote, there wasn’t simply a glazing company down the road, the windows were actually made about 2,000km away and had to be shipped down along with a lot of other parts for the hotel. “Once, we had the vice-president’s wife come in – the chairlady of the orchid society of Indonesia – and my guys were climbing trees pulling out all these plants for her. “We had an (orchid) auction in the hotel and because she was there we had parliamentary police, from Jakarta – armoured Mercedes, armoured police; then we had the pre-mob, the paramilitary police; and the army there. “An 84-room hotel with three tanks in the car park because the tribal war is going on 400m through the jungle in a little village! “There were 300 people in there on security that night and I was the only one without a gun! That was a little bit disconcerting. Then there was a bowand-arrow incident one day and I just said ‘right, that’s enough!’. “I had a couple of nice offers on the table – Bali and Jakarta – and I thought it’s just not worth it. I still love the place though; I think about it every week. I still keep in touch with the staff who work there. It was very, very special.” He’s been general manager at Yas since October 2015, replacing the departing Chris White. Having missed the original deadline for the vacancy his experience allowed him to join a shortlisted three, to make it a shortlist of four. “Maybe I had a bit more international experience than the other candidates,”

he considered. “Some of the properties I’ve been in – as my boss puts it – have been ‘distressed’, in need of a financial injection, not much budget around… they wanted somebody to come in here and work with what was available and not have to make huge investments. “We’ve got a lot of things planned at Yas Links this year. I don’t think the guest ‘journey’ has ever matched the quality of the golf course. There was a general consensus within the industry here and within the golfing community that the guest experience was not what it could or should be – though the course itself was amazing. “Maybe because the course was so good that’s why the guest experience wasn’t there. If you have something that’s so good then you expect everything else to be at that level. I think some of the things I mentioned to the interview panel chimed with things they’d heard from other places.” I suggest to Roberts that taking over from White was akin to the position David Moyes found himself in at Manchester United after succeeding the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson. Roberts laughed: “I hope I’m going to last longer than David Moyes! And LVG as well!” Unlike Fergie, however, Roberts does not rule out a return to his home. With a ruminative look in his eye, he said: “I could go back to the UK in the future, but it would have to be a special property. Maybe somewhere like St Enedoc, if that came up. “Maybe even my home club, Southerndown, which I’m pretty passionate about. Never say never as James Bond says…” GMé


north berwick

“The courses that do well either have extremely good reputations that have been built up over many years, or they are completely original. It’s an odd mixture”

Accentuating the positives Making it into Golf Digest’s Top 50 courses of the world is an achievement reserved for only a few. Mark Alexander finds out how North Berwick climbed the ladder of success. UNDER STARTERS ORDERS The starters ‘hut’ at North Berwick

22 | GMé April 2016

The links at North Berwick have been around for a while. In fact, golf has been played there since the 17th century and a club has been connected with this precious stretch of golfing land for over 180 years. It is fair to say that in that time, North Berwick’s West Links has amassed a healthy following of golfers who have been beguiled by its compelling mix of history and down-right quirkiness. Without a hint of irony or sycophancy, North Berwick is a genuinely iconic links course which has recently been royally acknowledged by one of the world’s leading consumer golf magazines. Golf Digest’s Top 100 Greatest Golf Courses of the World is one of the most eagerly awaited lists on the circuit. In its latest incarnation, North Berwick has

found its way into the top 50 for the first time. “We picked it up from LinkedIn that the Golf Digest Top 100 had been published,” recalls Christopher Spencer, managing secretary at The North Berwick Golf Club. “We had a look and were pleasantly surprised to see we had made the Top 50. We were delighted. “I circulated it around the club and my course manager said wonderfully that it was very nice but we could always do better. It was a good comment that kept us very grounded.” For a club with such an esteemed history and an equally enthralling course, this was perhaps surprisingly the first time North Berwick had made it into the upper echelons of the list. The ramifications of its inclusion were not missed on

HISTORY IN THE MAKING Golf has been played over the historic West Links course since the 17th century

the club’s secretary, although his course manager clearly needed convincing. “From a north American perspective,” notes Spencer, “Golf Digest is the one that everyone looks at.” He continues: “For those who attract visitors especially international visitors, golf rankings are an important part of their marketing campaigns. When the course rankings come out, we have a look at them to see where we sit and that helps us set our green fees against clubs of a similar standard.” For North Berwick, the rankings aren’t simply a hook on which to hang yet another accolade – that’s not the way they do things. There is a practical application which the club uses in its forward planning. “When we’re working on our green fees, we look at where we sit in the course rankings and that helps the committee decide by how much the visi-

tor green fees should be increased, if at all,” says Spencer. “It helps us decide what level of service we want to provide. It gives us an element of benchmarking.” The idea of using rankings to assess one club against another isn’t new; in fact it’s the basis on which every list is compiled. The evaluation process is, in principle, undertaken to engage magazine readers in debate rather than providing a benchmarking service for clubs. But the fact North Berwick is using the results to assess its pricing and determine its service levels, adds to the intrinsic value of the rankings and their practical application. So what persuaded the Golf Digest panel to include North Berwick in its Top 50? According to John Barton, the magazine‘s contributing editor, it was a case of uniqueness prevailing over banality.

“The courses that do well either have extremely good reputations that have been built up over many years, or they are completely original. It’s an odd mixture. When I think of North Berwick, I think of utter originality.” He continues: “There is a sea of conformity in golf course design. The striking thing about all the new courses that appear on the list is their originality, and some of the old established courses are there not because they follow the rules, but because they defy them. “North Berwick is an example of one of those courses that is littered with originality. Who would build a hole with a wall running alongside a green or a 277-yard closing hole with no bunkers? “There is competition on the list and there are a lot of new courses. I would like to think that as time moves on, that kind of relentless originality stands out even more in a sea of conformity.” | 23



north berwick

BRICK HOUSE The clubhouse at North Berwick

“over the years there has been a tendency to copy Augusta National and be highly irrigated. It is a very unique thing they do, but I think it is regrettable that it is blindly copied around the world”

24 | GMé April 2016

Barton is clearly a fan of creative golf designs rather than the cookie-cutter approach. “We have all played championship courses with trees down each side and utterly forgettable long par fours. Anyone who plays North Berwick will experience holes they will never forget.” Barton explains that the ranking system is continually honed meaning that even slight changes in course assessments can make huge differences. “There is a very fine line between coming 50th and coming 80th.” So, from the club’s perspective, what has North Berwick done to boost its standing? “Our reputation over the last 15 years has improved and we are now reaping the benefits of successive committees making the right decisions at the right time,” says Spencer. “Visitor income is very important to the club and allows for the members’ subscriptions to be relatively low. “But as green fee income has gone up over the years, we have been very careful about making sure we don’t kill off the business, we recruit the staff we need and we provide good service.” Spencer is keen to emphasise the importance he and his staff place on service and the ongoing need to advance service levels every year. But the Golf Digest list is based on the quality of the course so what, if anything can be done about that? “We are fortunate that we are able to invest heavily in the course,” he says. “Whatever the course manager needs to present the course to the standard that people expect; he gets.” North Berwick has a rolling five-year replacement programme with cutting

machines being exchanged every three years. The greenkeeping department busy itself rebuilding tees and revetting bunkers and has an uncanny knack of presenting the course impeccably irrespective of the prevailing weather conditions. The two-pronged attack of delivering a responsive service and placing prominence on the course seems to be working. “Our rankings are very much to do with the architecture and quality of the golf course, but one of the criteria is conditioning, which is obviously important,” says Barton. “But I would come back to originality and there can be many aspects to that. “Take conditioning – over the years there has been a tendency to copy Augusta National and be highly irrigated. It is a very unique thing they do, but I think it is regrettable that it is blindly copied around the world. “And then you think of courses like Bandon Dunes which are much wilder and rugged and therefore paradoxically original, and I think people respond to that.” What North Berwick does so well, and what other golfing venues should actively pursue, is acknowledging what makes them unique and then accentuating these features through continual fine-tuning. North Berwick identified its course and service levels as key differentiators and has gone out of its way to ensure a continuous effort is made to make improvements, regardless of the success of the club. If the latest Golf Digest list is anything to go by, there’s a lesson in there for all of us. GMé

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systems are the same | 25


tkv gps THE WORLD AT YOUR FINGERTIPS The TKV GPS system, which has been launched in partnership with E-Z-GO, offers a wide variety of options from the touchscreen display

GPS takes a turn in a new direction Kevin Marks reports on a new partnership between E-Z-GO and TKV GPS which is set to offer clubs far more choice. GPS in a golf context is often associated with personal yardage and game applications, which ordinarily, take the form of either hand-held or wrist attached devices offering basic yardage to the front, middle and back of greens via text or basic graphics, typically including a digital scorecard. However, the GPS systems with screen mounted displays that the golfer sees in his buggy, belies the sophisticated operational and fleet management software hidden from the golfer’s view. And a new partnership between E-Z-GO ad TKV GPS is about to offer golf clubs around the world a lot more choice when it comes to buggy-mounted GPS. “E-Z-GO has partnered with TKV GPS because we feel they have the best system on the market today,” commented Richard Tyrrell, product manager for E-Z-GO at Ransomes Jacobsen. “It is permanently mounted in the car and offers different levels of amenities for golfers such as exact yardages, enhanced graphics, scoring, messaging and food and beverage ordering. It also facilitates direct communication with golfers out on the course and can be used for alerting or advertising additional services. “However, it’s the various game management features including pace-ofplay, tracking and tournament management – plus the fleet management features such as car tracking, travel history, geo-fencing, car shutdown and reporting options – that has a real and distinct advantage for golf course owners and operators.”

26 | GMé April 2016

Common operational concerns for courses include slow play; course damage from careless driving; car damage and vandalism; time consuming and unsightly roping to enforce cart path rules; member and guest safety; and communication with golfers whilst out on the course. “One of the biggest challenges for operators is knowing where your cars and members are,” added Tyrrell. “It is often difficult to locate or communicate with members once they are out on the course, but the TKV GPS solution offers real-time vehicle tracking, providing the exact location of all cars, at all times. “Slow play is always a concern, and again, the TKV GPS system has the ability to help speed things along with realtime monitoring. The system monitors the pace-of-play, identifying immediate problem areas, despatching marshals to where they are most needed. “In addition, the system generates automatic ‘slow play’ alerts to golfers, making it far easier to manage and enforce rules without having to confront players.” Deliberate or accidental damage to the course or the buggies can be a challenge for many operators, which is why the TKV GPS solution includes a digital ‘geofence’ with car shutdown facility. “Geo-fencing automatically warns golfers when they violate cart path rules negating the need for stakes and ropes,” added Tyrrell. “The system will automatically shut down the car if it drives into a restricted area, and there’s a permanent record of all geo-fence violations.

“E-Z-GO has partnered with TKV GPS because we feel they have the best system on the market today”

3D GRAPHICS Beautiful graphics enhance the user experience

ACCESSIBILITY Access the system from any device

THE BIG NUMBER Distances... the numbers that count

“To counteract the possibility of theft, the entire fleet can be immobilised, after hours,” added Tyrrell. “With the TKV GPS system you have real-time, two-way messaging with all the cars on the course. There’s the ability to issue location based messaging – for example as the golfers approach the 8th tee, they can be prompted to place food and beverage orders at the half-way house. “And, there’s the opportunity to sell third-party advertising on the screen or display special event announcements. The golfer can select from a range of options for digital yardage or enhanced graphics, communicate with the ProShop, send beverage car requests and order food and drinks from the clubhouse prior to completion of the round.” Under the agreement with E-Z-GO, TKV GPS will provide a selection of GPS management systems for E-Z-GO

fleet golf cars, ranging from the entry level TKV 7E – with a 7-inch screen and text-based display – to the TKV 10EX with 10-inch full colour, high-definition screen and graphical interface of the course, with added golfer features such as pro-tips, distance to pin and hazard tools, plus three dimensional holeflyovers. In between these two options sits the TKV 7, a mid-level 7-inch model with a text-based golfer display that adds RealTime Car Tracking and Fleet Management to the features of the standard TKV 7E. The TKV 7EX also features a 7-inch display and encompasses all the benefits of the TKV 7E and TKV 7 with the addition of a custom full colour, high-definition graphical interface of the course with added golfer features such as protips, distance to pin and hazard tools, plus three dimensional hole-flyovers.

All TKV models are installed on the golf car canopy close to the front screen and feature the brightest screens currently available on the market, designed to be seen clearly even when wearing polarised sunglasses. The displays feature the latest high-resolution, touchscreen displays, which are simple and easy to use. Power is supplied via a built-in, high capacity internal battery, taking minimal load from the golf car’s on-board battery. The systems receives automatic software updates, and TKV provides the golf facility with a standard extended care service that includes technical assistance and unlimited customer support. “TKV provides fleet customers with a diverse line-up of cost effective, GPS systems to help them manage their fleet and enhance the golfer experience,” concluded Tyrrell. GMé | 27




Investment paying off as Alcanada lights the way Under the stewardship of Kristoff Both, Club de Golf Alcanada is rapidly earning a name for itself as one of the finest golfing venues in Spain, and as Peter Simm discovers, a significant amount of investment is about to reinforce that position.

28 | GMĂŠ April 2016 SHINING BRIGHT The lighthouse at Club de Golf Alcanada forms a prominent backdrop to most holes

If you were to take a straw poll from golfers to find some of the most iconic images in the game, it’s a fair chance your list would feature the usual familiar faces. The R&A clubhouse and Swilcan Bridge at St Andrews, the island 17th green at Sawgrass, Ailsa Craig and the lighthouse at Turnberry; they’re all traditional landmarks and features that help to single out these venues as the most memorable in golf. You could also make a case for some of the game’s newer ‘kids on the block’ to be included, such as the spectacular Extreme Par-3 19th hole at Legend Golf & Safari Resort in South Africa, and there’s one more name that should be added to your list – the stunning Mallorcan lighthouse that provides the magnificent backdrop for the multi award-winning Club de Golf Alcanada. Situated in the north of the sunshine holiday island in Alcudia, Alcanada is the only one of Mallorca’s 20 courses that sits adjacent to the sea, and is the setting for one of the most memorable and enjoyable golf experiences to be found anywhere in Europe.

Safe to say, once you’ve visited, the image of the lighthouse will indelibly be lodged in your mind and you’ll already be counting down the days until your next visit. Golf in Mallorca has come a long way since the first course opened in 1964 and, enjoying 300 days’ sunshine each year with average summer temperatures in the high 70s, provides the perfect climate for a golfing break, with around 600,000 rounds played in 2015. The game was actually first played in Alcudia in 1934 when a nine-hole course was established before it was shut down during the Spanish Civil War with the fairways used for aircraft. The region had to wait another 69 years for another course to be built but it was well worth the wait, with Alcanada wasting no time in establishing itself among the top courses not just in Spain but on the continent. Opened in 2003, Alcanada occupies a breathtaking location overlooking the Bay of Alcudia, and takes its name from an island with a lighthouse which is situated just 150m offshore and which can be seen from most of the holes.

“It’s a glorious place to work, with year-round sunshine and owners who allow me a certain degree of autonomy” | 29



alcanada GUIDING LIGHT Left, the 8th hole at Alcanada; below, the 16th with the lighthouse in the background; right, the table is set on the terrace of the clubhouse; and below right, the 12th and 13th

“It’s very important to see a golf course as a ‘living animal’, so the number of projects for the future is endless, as there is always something to improve, redesign or modernise”

It’s also situated in an environmentally important area meaning you may be lucky enough to share the fairways with a variety of wildlife – particularly early in the day. Nestling next to the Mediterranean, the course blends naturally into the typical Mallorcan terrain, offering magnificent sea and mountain views to the Sierra de Levante, while a mixture of pine and olive groves, with its soothing soundtrack of mountain goats, provide an alternative backdrop to the azure sea. Little wonder, then, Kristoff Both, the German director of golf at Club de Golf Alcanada, believes he is one of the luckiest men in golf. “I know I’m fortunate to have this job,” said Both. “It’s a glorious place to work, with year-round sunshine and owners who allow me a certain degree of autonomy. “But I have very high standards and the fact I have some latitude does not mean that I – nor the staff here – are able to adopt a laissez-faire approach to our operation.

30 | GMé April 2016

“We are very proud of the high standards we attain and are constantly working to maintain and improve those levels of service; we have to – golf is a very competitive industry. “Like most people in my role within the industry, I work long hours and there is the pressure to perform; but, let’s be honest, where would you rather fulfil that function: on a sun-drenched island in the Mediterranean, or somewhere in northern Europe that is subject to the vagaries of an unpredictable climate,” smiled Both. Under the guidance of Both and head greenkeeper Borja Azpilicueta, Alcanada’s 7,108-yard, Robert Trent Jones Jr-designed course – which is owned by the Porsche family – has claimed a steady stream of media and industry awards. Among its most recent accolades, the stunning 7,108-yard layout has been named best golf course in Europe by visitors to for five years in a row. It was also voted number one course in Europe by readers of leading German

magazine Golf Journal at its annual Golf Travel Awards for an amazing sixth time this spring and has been shortlisted at the World Golf Awards for the title of Spain’s Best Golf Course’ for the last two years. Trademark Trent Jones elements are present: the strategically placed greenside bunkers and hidden breaks on the challenging greens. And, like other RTJII courses, it’s great fun. There’s also plenty to admire off the course, too, with Alcanada’s centuriesold Mallorca clubhouse offering guests the chance to sample regional specialities in its first-class dining facilities on a sun-baked terrace. And should you wish to improve your game, before heading back for a second crack at the tapas, the comprehensive, recently-rebranded Lighthouse Golf Academy offers the ideal spot to hone your swing, including a spacious short game area and covered driving range. Not surprisingly, visitor numbers continue to rise – around 31,000 rounds were played at Alcanada last year – with

The lowdown on Alcanada and Mallorca

the club remaining popular in Germanspeaking countries as well as the UK, Scandinavia and the Benelux region. But as you would expect from such a successful venue, Alcanada is not content to sit back and rest on its laurels. Far from it, with a further course improvement programme of €250,000 already announced for 2016 and additional investment to follow further along the line. In addition to investing €150,000 on updating and adding to its fleet of greenkeeping machines, Alcanada will spend a further €50,000 on work to improve the irrigation and buggy paths around the renowned layout. Members and guests are in for a further treat later in the year when the club unveils its eagerly-awaited new ‘Lighthouse Bar’ halfway house. Situated by the tenth tee, the new facility is scheduled to open before the autumn and will offer players the chance to make the most of the unrivalled panoramic views that Alcanada has become famous for across the continent.

And, conscious of the lack of accommodation at Alcanada, Both has also been working hard away from the fairways, too, to create a number of new hotel partnerships, with the Hotel Viva Zafiro Alcudia – situated just 3.5km away – the latest luxury venue to link-up with the club. Both said: “It’s very important to see a golf course as a ‘living animal’, so the number of projects for the future is endless, as there is always something to improve, redesign or modernise. For example, last year we built new bridges on the first and ninth holes and a new starter’s hut, and the work will continue this year. “With a five-star golf course, outstanding customer service and an unbeatable location, Club de Golf Alcanada is at the top of golfers’ wish lists who want to play in Mallorca, and we want it to stay that way.” With Both leading the way, put your money on Alcanada continuing to play a leading role in European golf travel in the years to come. GMé

Flights to Palma are available from more than 20 UK airports as well as numerous European destinations, and, at just 70 miles wide and 46 miles north-to-south, nowhere is out of reach on Mallorca – the largest of the Balearic Islands. Opened in 2003, Club de Golf Alcanada occupies a breathtaking location in the north of the island overlooking the Bay of Alcudia, and takes its name from an island with a lighthouse which is situated just 150m offshore and which can be seen from most of the holes. Alcanada works with a number of hotels across Mallorca and, in particular, the Bay of Alcudia including the four-star Vanity Hotel Suite & Spa. Situated in a privileged setting and close to the dunes and turquoise waters of Cala Mesquida Beach, the adult-only hotel offers the perfect location for couples and families to experience not just outstanding golf but the many delights of the region. The Vanity Hotel Suite & Spa offers an extensive range of sports and leisure facilities to enjoy including freshwater swimming pools, cycling, volleyball, spa and variety of excursions, while guests can relax and unwind at a choice of hotel bars and restaurants. Golfers can take advantage of outstanding value on golf breaks when stating at the Vanity Hotel Suite & Spa this spring and summer, with a three nights’ bed-and-breakfast including two rounds of golf available from just €370 per person. | 31




“Rather than replacing traditional memberships, PlayMoreGolf is designed to sit alongside clubs’ existing packages”

In conversation with Jamie Carroll Jamie Carroll, sales and marketing director at PlayMoreGolf, highlights the significant business benefits that a flexible membership programme can offer UK golf clubs. STEPPING UP Dore & Totley Golf Club part of the PlayMoreGolf network, and above, Jamie Carroll

GMé You studied leisure and recreational activities at De Montfort University, so did you undertake this particular syllabus with a career in golf in mind? JC I played nine holes of golf at the age of 13, and from then on I have been in love with the game. At school, and then at university, I wanted to combine my passion for the game with businessrelated subjects, and one of the reasons I chose my degree was that it allowed me to play golf alongside my studies. When I graduated, I managed to get a job within the industry and fortunately this has continued until today. GMé Your first role in golf was working for Crown Golf as a sales and operations manager, so what attracted you to the role, and which venues did you work at? JC My first job was at The Vale Golf Club in Worcestershire, which was Crown Golf owned, where I was part of a successful membership sales team. After a positive couple of years at Vale Golf Club, I was given the opportunity to move to St

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Mellion International Golf Resort. During the four years that I was there, the venue hosted a European Seniors Tour event, which was a fantastic experience and one that I consider myself very fortunate to have been involved in. GMé After leaving Crown, you spent almost five years working for De Vere as UK membership sales & marketing manager, playing an important role in setting up their flexible golf scheme – The De Vere Club. How influential in the roll out of this were you, and what prompted the scheme? JC I was part of the small team that created the De Vere Club back in 2010, where I learned how to create and administer the country’s most successful flexible membership scheme. We felt the time was right to develop this ground-breaking model to help golfers whose needs weren’t being met by the traditional style of golf membership and its success was based on its flexible approach. Golfers brought into the fact that they were able to enjoy the benefits of

TEEING IT UP Carden Park, formerly part of De Vere

FAMILY-FRIENDLY Due to its flexibility, PlayMoreGolf is ideal for families

a single club membership, combined with the flexibility of being able to play throughout the De Vere network.

tional’ memberships are no longer meeting the requirements of a rising number of, typically younger golfers, who are finding it hard to commit to playing golf regularly enough to justify a full club membership. We believe that this is where a flexible approach to golf club membership will become increasingly important and will ensure golf clubs are able to maximise the number of members and revenue for the club.

GMé Following QHotels purchase of De Vere, you left after the De Vere Club was migrated into ‘QFairway’ – another flexible membership scheme – to become a director of PlayMoreGolf, so what are the key differences between the two? JC The key difference between the De Vere Club and PlayMoreGolf is that PlayMoreGolf is a more inclusive programme that all clubs throughout the UK can join, and benefit from increased flexible membership numbers and revenues, while simultaneously improving the experience for golfers. GMé With your past knowledge of flexible memberships, you clearly believe that more clubs should be embracing this type of membership, so do you ever see the day when this model will become more popular than traditional memberships at clubs? JC The latest market figures would suggest that the majority of UK golf clubs are facing declining memberships due to increased competition, a perceived lack of value and an ever-increasing number of people engaging with golf in nontraditional formats such as pitch and putt or par-3 short courses. Nothing beats the feeling of belonging to a club, but it is clear that the ‘tradi-

GMé Many clubs have tried – and failed – to implement flexible membership schemes at their clubs, so how does PlayMoreGolf differ, and what is its USP? JC The key USP for PlayMoreGolf is that it aims to help unify the way flexible golf memberships are undertaken, appealing not only to the transient golfer, but also to avid club members who enjoy the social side of club life as much as playing. Many clubs have tried to implement a local version of a flexible membership scheme, but without having the structure to manage it efficiently and without the member having the opportunity to play at other golf courses, which is what makes PlayMoreGolf unique. By providing more choice and flexibility, we believe PlayMoreGolf will not only encourage people back into the game – and get newcomers started – but also see them retained within the game over a longer period of time.

GMé So what’s in it for the golfer, and can anyone, regardless of ability or handicap, sign-up? JC PlayMoreGolf is open to any golfer. Membership starts at £325 per year and despite this relatively modest initial fee, the scheme allows a golfer to nominate a ‘home’ club, which provides them with the same benefits a full member receives. Having become a PlayMoreGolf member the golfer is given a minimum of 100 points – 80 to be utilised at the pre-agreed ‘home’ club and 20 reserved for rounds at other participating clubs throughout the PlayMoreGolf network. Clubs then simply need to determine how many points are redeemed for a round and, once a member’s points run out, they can purchase more and continue playing. At the end of each year when a member renews, any unused home points can be carried forward, free of charge. GMé Many owners and operators fear flexible membership schemes, as they believe their traditional membership will all ‘defect’ to the alternative option, so how would you allay their fears about this? JC Rather than replacing traditional memberships, PlayMoreGolf is designed to sit alongside clubs’ existing packages with the aim of appealing to the broad- | 33



HOLING OUT The 18th hole at Formby Hall

“The detailed strategic plan we have designed for any venues looking to partner with PlayMoreGolf will ensure the transfer from ‘traditional’ memberships is kept to a minimum”

est number of golfers and to provide a compromise between flexible and traditional memberships in order to maximise the amount of members and revenue for the club. Using the De Vere Club as an example, the programme only saw up to three per cent of the ‘traditional’ members migrating over to the flexible scheme. We believe that this migration of memberships to the flexible scheme ensured that the ‘traditional’ members were retained by the venue rather than leaving. The detailed strategic plan we have designed for any venues looking to partner with PlayMoreGolf will ensure the transfer from ‘traditional’ memberships is kept to a minimum. GMé Any statistics on how retention rates for flexible membership compares to the more traditional five-day and seven-day alternatives? JC We do have anecdotal evidence from venues that have operated a successful flexible membership programme, which would suggest the retention rate for golf clubs that join the PlayMoreGolf scheme would be high, for a number of different reasons. A PlayMoreGolf partner club will be provided with a customer sales and retention plan at the start of the relationship, alongside a fully integrated

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customer relationship management (CRM) programme. In addition, a customer communication support package will be provided to ensure that all member activity will be effectively tracked and monitored and any members approaching the end of their contract will be contacted directly and encouraged to re-join. This complete sales and marketing support package ensures any additional administration tasks for the partner golf club are negated, while also enabling the venue to track each of its members effectively, safeguarding them against membership migration. GMé You must visit a lot of golf clubs in the course of your working week, so do you ever get the chance to get your clubs out and have a round? JC I am, of course, a PlayMoreGolf member, with Houghwood Golf Club my nominated home club. As an infrequent golfer, the flexibility works perfectly for me. In addition, I am very fortunate to be able to visit a number of fantastic golf clubs throughout the UK as I continue to help expand the PlayMoreGolf network of courses, which now stands at over 20 venues, and I always have my clubs in the car, just in case the opportunity to play arises. GMé


the golf club game PLAY ANYWHERE Through a partnership with The Golf Club Game, SkyTrak now has the ability to offer golfers the chance to play over 92,000 real or created courses

The Golf Club adds playability to SkyTrak Scott MacCallum takes SkyTrak and The Golf Club Game for a spin, in preparation for a ‘real’ round on the Old Course. For a golfer there can be no finer feeling than marching down the signature hole of a world famous golf course knowing that you and your playing partners are the only people on the planet with the privilege of playing that hole at that time. It is a truly inspiring experience and one which creates memories which will last a lifetime – even if it is pained recollection of a topped 7-iron into the water! However, as we all know, technology has developed in all aspects of our lives and golf is no different; so now you can prepare for that visit to the iconic golf course, or even play your bogey hole at your own course time and time again, without leaving the comfort of your own home. Golf simulators have been around for many years. In the 80s they helped fill the void left when squash became less popular and leisure centres installed them in disused courts, allowing golfers a taste of playing Pebble Beach. Now, following a unique partnership between SkyTrak and The Golf Club Game, that experience, much enhanced, has been transferred to your own home or clubhouse. The SkyTrak Launch Monitor is a practice, play and entertainment system for either home or clubhouse use, while The Golf Club Game provides stunning visual representation and superb gameplay.

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Using cutting edge technology, SkyTrak – created by the maker of SkyCaddie – captures thousands of pieces of data from a golfer hitting a shot into a net while, through The Golf Club Game this is translated into a shot on a hole, one of 92,000 golf courses which have been mapped or created. In other words, if you were to name a golf course, or a hole – the 10th at The Belfry; the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon, the 18th of the Old Course, or that pesky right to left dogleg par-4 at your own place – and you can feel the buzz of pulling off a pitch perfect shot or slowly develop the swing shape which will improve your chances the next time you play the hole for real. Having a golf club ensure that their course has been mapped for use by the system is a great member benefit as it does retain a connection between golf club and player, even when the weather has closed the golf course, or the course is reserved for a competition or corporate event. Indeed, if you wanted to channel your innermost Pete Dye you can use the Course Creator to generate your very own golf course and share it on-line with the rest of the Golf Club Game community. Courses are rated by other players, so, if you have come up with the next Pine Valley you will soon find yourself at the very top of the rankings.

“Having a golf club ensure that their course has been mapped for use by the system is a great member benefit as it does retain a connection between golf club and player”

STUNNING 4K GRAPHICS Immerse yourself in the game’s realism

LIGHTHOUSE The famous lighthouse at Turnberry

DREAM COURSES Whether real or imaginary, the courses are stunning

But there’s more. You and your mates, not to mention many soon-to-be playing partners on the Golf Club Game social networks anywhere in the world, can play matches or rounds with or against each other without leaving your home. Your own kitchen could become the 19th hole and with Skype you can still bore everyone silly with shot by shot breakdowns of your round – just like the real thing! Realistic ball flight trajectory, bounce and roll – including the draws, power fades, hooks and slices plus wind strength and direction are taken into account. With chipping and putting, the ball follows the contour of the surface and its path and speed will be taken into account. Please note that misses, shanks, tops and fats will also be recorded. In fact, all data is recorded so you can identify

recurring flaws in your swing, work to rectify and see gradual improvement in your game. In fact, the system is so good that Greg Norman Golf Course Design has become a partner so that the Norman designers can create virtual representations of the courses they have designed, so clientapproval can be given before ground is broken. This provides much more clarity at an early stage and reduces the chances of costly misunderstandings between client and designer. The graphics system used is high resolution which allows the user to move in real-time around the golf course. So realistic is it, that should you be faced with a blind shot you can take a look using the virtual camera – course fly-overs are standard features. If you want you can set the virtual camera into the ball itself so that you can

feel the force of your driving as you fly with the ball. It is PC compatible and golfers can either purchase an annual subscription or pay a one-time fee. It is recommended that you have an Intel processor i7 and Windows 10, although it will operate with an i5 Intel processor and Windows 7, while you need a reliable broadband connection, a high-spec graphics card and 20 GB available space on your hard drive. We all know that practice is the only way to improve our golf, but with SkyTrak and The Golf Club Game combining, the pain and boredom of practice is replaced by a fun, interactive, game which opens up a whole new approach to golf. I know it’s reputed to be the toughest hole in golf, but let’s just see if we can find a way to par the Road Hole at St Andrews. GMé | 37



synthetic turf systems

Holinaty overseeing a synthetic ‘Success Formula’ Southwest Greens Construction is building a world-class name for themselves in the construction of synthetic ranges and courses, as Scott MacCallum reports. With extreme weather meaning that many golf courses can lie unused until they dry out from too much water, recover from drought conditions from a lack of water, or simply close during harsh winter seasons, golf clubs are seeing revenue down on both the green fee side as well as the food and beverage side of the business. If only there was a way of ensuring that golf could continue in such circumstances. Well… Southwest Greens Construction produces high performance synthetic turf systems which can be played on when conventional natural surfaces lie behind “Course Closed” signs because of the above mentioned weather challenges. Still a relatively new industry, the development of synthetics in golf – led by Southwest Greens Construction – has been moving at a remarkable pace and now offers the discerning golfer a viable

38 | GMé April 2016

alternative to the more traditional game played on natural turf. If a stamp of approval for synthetic golf surfaces was needed, it arrived in the shape of ‘Golf Up’, a nine hole golf course, academy and driving range near St Tropez, in the south of France, which is being built entirely with Southwest Greens performance synthetic turf systems. With more than 35,000 square metres of installed turf, Golf Up will have SWG fairway, rough and bunker systems as well as its Pro System on the greens. “Since we started developing the concept of this facility more than three years ago, it became very clear that we had to do the entire project using synthetic turf,” explained Robert Roussille, executive director of Golf Up. “First, because of the positive impact on maintenance and operational costs which was critical to the financial feasibility of the project and, second, having

the ability to have the training centre and golf course open all year round with the same exceptional quality of turf.” Golf Up demonstrates that there is an alternative to the traditional golf development, and golf operators, with an eye on workable business plans, will surely consider high quality synthetics as a way of building a successful facility. “The golf industry has changed. It continues to evolve and we are now seeing what is possible when you combine high quality synthetic turf systems with innovative design,” said Kevin Holinaty, president of Southwest Greens Construction, “and the sheer size of Golf Up’s facility makes it even more unique within our industry.” Southwest Greens Construction is the exclusive construction arm for Southwest Greens International, a subsidiary of Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet and flooring company. The SWG brand counts with over 40 PGA pros, HANDS-ON Main picture: Kevin Holinaty (pointing) pictured with Jim Wagner of Nicklaus Design; right, the recently completed GTA range in Hong Kong and below, the ‘Golf Up’ range under construction

“we are now seeing what is possible when you combine high quality synthetic turf systems with innovative design”

including Jack Nicklaus, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, and most recently, Sir Nick Faldo, as customers. The greens have Tour quality speed and playability all year round, and with the addition of several solutions for the many problem areas of the golf course, Southwest Greens Construction is well positioned for future positive growth within the industry. The stunning impact of the Southwest Greens brand on the world of golf, has been greatly enhanced by the many success stories from Southwest Greens Construction around the world. Beyond Golf Up’s facility in St. Tropez, Southwest Greens Construction has successfully completed several golf course projects across Europe, Asia, and North America. Last year the now famous facility in Hong Kong designed by Nicklaus Design was completed, and gives an idea of what can be done when combining Southwest Greens Construction’s product, talent, and project management. The arrival of synthetic golf surfaces has only been made possible by the research and development which has gone into making the golf played on them as similar to that of natural turf as is possible. Holinaty and his team live by a ‘Success Formula’ which is based around

the premise that they never fail to meet the expectations of the client – the business owner – and more importantly the golfers who play on their synthetic turf. “We measure performance with the three Bs – the key factors that golfers value – and we genuinely take pride in the fact that we meet or exceed expectations no matter the climate in which we are operating,” explained Holinaty. “The three Bs are Ball roll, Ball bounce and Ball bite and to ensure these are in place our unique Pro System has been developed by our team in co-operation with the R&D department of Shaw Industries, SWG’s parent company. “Further, we use our business development experience within our executive team to advise our clients throughout the process of building their project. From the initial idea right through to after the construction is complete and the facility is operational,” said Holinaty. Describing them as synthetic golf surfaces is actually inaccurate as much of the development into what has been developed is what goes on beneath the surface. In fact there are nine different layers which lie beneath the synthetic turf at the top. These include top dressing, silica sand infill, shock pad underlay, multiple rock layer and drainage layers and geo-textile membranes.

Nothing has been spared in ensuring that the golf experience is a real as possible. The cup system has been patented and mimics the R&A and USGA requirements for cups, while the SWG Bunker Lip System creates perfect bunker lips and edges which require minimal maintenance. Think about this too. Hydrochill – a patented formula which alleviates the issues synthetic turf has experienced previously with overheating – cools the turf, and with its anti-microbial properties also absorbs any type of smells from foreign substances. Another key factor in ensuring that problems previously associated with synthetic turf have been addressed and are no longer a factor. To ensure that maximum benefit is taken from the high quality materials used, SWG’s own Project Management Team will oversee all work, and this is one of the key factors in their “Success Formula.” “All elements, from best in class materials and turf systems, to its industry leading installation craftsmanship, are all over-seen by the industry’s top project managers to ensure that the client gets exactly what they want – a high performing golf facility that impresses even the most discerning golf player,” concluded Holinaty. GMé | 39



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tee time management

“a tee time is the most perishable product a golf club sells”

THE NEXT GENERATION Effective tee time management is crucial for clubs to prosper

Time really is Money states Promote Training Promote Training, the first dedicated eLearning provider to the golf industry, has launched their latest course entitled ‘Tee Time Management’. Aidan Patrick speaks with partner, Matthew Orwin about how the subject impacts on private-member and proprietary clubs. There are plenty of golf clubs that don’t operate a tee booking policy, preferring instead to allow members and visitors to simply ‘turn-up and play’ without pre-booking. Yet, regardless of whether the club does, or doesn’t, book tee times – they are still distributing their core product – golf – in units of time. This creates a unique situation that emphasises the importance of effective tee time management. And according to Matthew Orwin, jointpartner of Promote Training, “a tee time is the most perishable product a golf club sells.” As Orwin explains, the word ‘perishable’ is rarely associated with tee times: “Many golf club employees would consider the perishable products of a club to be located in and around the food & beverage department, but the reality is often different.

“Many food goods can be frozen, instantly stopping their decay and extending their shelf-life. “Even when some food has gone past its best for its original intention – bread for sandwiches as an example – it can be reinvented and used for something else. You could, for instance, make bread & butter pudding,” smiled Orwin. “But, there is absolutely nothing you can do to delay the decay of a tee time... you can’t stop time by freezing it and then defrosting it later when you have the demand. “You can’t reinvent it and package it up as something different when it’s past its best. The clock ticks, the tee time decays, and when that 8am tee time on Saturday has been and gone – it’s lost forever.” It’s the highly perishable nature of tee times that makes the monitoring and analysis of course utilisation vitally important to any golf club operator.

According to the English Dictionary, ‘utilisation’ is defined as “to make practical and effective use of,” and in relation to your golf business, you want to ‘utilise’the tee times on offer – before it’s too late. But how does this relate to member clubs, where the majority of on-course traffic is from annual-paying members? Orwin explains: “There may be some people reading this and thinking ‘Ah, yes, but I’m at a members-club and therefore ‘utilisation’ doesn’t apply to me.’ “In some rare cases, this may be correct, however, in the vast majority of instances – it’s completely wrong. “Utilisation of the golf course at peak times is as pressing an issue for most member-clubs as it is for more commercialised proprietary businesses,” continued Orwin. “Ensuring that members have the maximum number of tee time choices | 41



“We don’t think there’s any doubt that cramming people on in quick succession for extended periods of time impacts negatively on the pace-of-play”

possible during peak times means that you’re preventing complaints about not being able to get on the course, whilst potentially freeing up other tee times that can be sold to non-members.” An in an attempt to reinforce the point, Orwin stresses: “How many have heard the following comment... ‘This club has too many members – I can’t get the tee time I want’, or maybe, ‘There’s too many visitors and societies on this golf course – I can’t get the tee time I want.’ “If so, then course utilisation should very much be in your thoughts.” There is the commonly held conviction that increasing course utilisation, can impact on the pace of play, and slow things up out on the course, but Orwin remains unconvinced. “We don’t think there’s any doubt that cramming people on in quick succession for extended periods of time impacts negatively on the pace-of-play,” he said. “However, we certainly don’t believe it is an absolute rule that it will always slow things down out on the course. Perhaps a more accurate summation would be that cramming people on in quick succession for extended periods of time will exacerbate a pace-of-play problem. “The reason we mention it is that the core problem often isn’t increased utilisation– it’s something that’s happened out on the golf course somewhere. “In any event, there are plenty of slowplay-beating initiatives and strategies that should be undertaken before neces-

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sarily jumping to the idea that the golf course is too busy and therefore operating over utilisation capacity.” Most golf club owners, operators and managers appreciate that effective tee time management is very much a quantitative exercise, which in-turn, forms a statistical analysis of what’s happening on the golf course, day-to-day and season-to season. These measurements take the form of KPI’s – ‘Key Performance Indicators’ – which are also sometimes known as ‘Critical Performance Indicators’, which quite aside from the basic ‘how many people played when’ question, offers a whole raft of additional KPI’s that need to be assessed. UTILISATION “These KPI’s can be grouped together into certain specific areas,” added Orwin, “and from a utilisation perspective, include tee times – how many tee times were booked from those available; tee time occupancy – how many player slots were booked from those available; and player occupancy – how many players on average occupied each booked tee time. FINANCIAL “Financial KPI’s include tee sheet revenue yield – the total revenue achieved from green fee customers and members, compared to the maximum that could have been achieved; average fee per round – the average fee that anybody pays to play the golf course; and RevPAR

– the revenue achieved per available round. ARRIVAL “Arrival KPI’s include no-shows – the number of players that were booked in for a tee time but none of which turn up to play; short-shows – the number of players that were booked in a tee time but some of which didn’t turn up to play; and day-shows – the number of players who played but didn’t pre-book a tee time. BOOKING “Finally, booking trends include the booking window – how far in advance are players booking their tee times; booking time – what time of day are players booking their tee times; and booking method – how are players booking their tee times... in person, by phone or online? “Having a system in place that constantly monitors these KPI’s will allow the club to identify inefficiencies in the tee sheet, in order to implement tee time strategies that will correct, or at the very least, minimise them,” added Orwin. “Tee time management can be a complex subject to grasp, but with the aid of the eLearning course which has been developed by Promote Training, I am certain that club managers will be able to better understand the subject, and, more importantly, increase tee time efficiency.” GMé




‘Specialist in Golf Course Construction’ Repton Short Course at Rudding Park Royal Birkdale, Royal St George’s Carnoustie, Goodwood

JOHN GREASLEY LIMITED Ashfield House, 1154 Melton Road, Syston, Leicester LE7 2HB Telephone: 0116 269 6766 Fax: 0116 269 6866 BAGCC Email: | 43



BEFORE A soil sample taken from Dunmurry Golf Club before Verde-Cal G was applied...

AFTER ... and the results of the trial after with the black layer removed

Aqua-Aid penetrates European Market As Charmian Robson writes, a range of new soil enhancing products from Aqua-Aid are assisting greenkeepers and superintendents maintain their courses in first-rate condition. Over the past two-years Aqua-Aid has had phenomenal success in breaking into the European Golf and sports turf market, thanks to the unrivalled performance of soil enhancing products such as Verde-Cal G, the new 3Dimensional OARS PS and OARS HS range, and Worm Power. A major factor in this achievement is the combination of new scientific developments resulting in highly sophisticated products to improve soil conditions for healthy plant growth, and a renewed understanding of the importance of plant available calcium in the soil. Alongside this is the expertise that accompanies these products and a strategy to inform turf professionals through seminars of the exciting changes to greens care in Europe and the US. With over 30 years’ experience in lawn care, landscape, golf, manufacturing and the sales industry between them, Jim Miller of Aqua-Aid USA and Hans De Kort from Aqua-Aid Europe presented the latest facts to 250 greenkeepers in four days across Spain, Belgium and The Netherlands at seminars such as the one held at the Millennium Club, in Antwerp in March of this year. Hosted jointly by the Belgium and Dutch Greenkeepers Associations it was attended by over 120 top greenkeep-

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ers from golf clubs across Belgium and The Netherlands. Other similar seminars have since been held in Sweden and the United Kingdom, explaining how Aqua-Aid tackles drainage, compaction and aeration issues through precisely targeted soil management. A number of high profile European golf courses that use products in the AquaAid range include The Kennemer and The Dutch – both host to the KLM Dutch open – La Fregate in Marseille, France; St. Leon-Rot & Gut Kaden in Germany; Portmarnock, Dunmurry, Portlaoise and Waterville in Ireland, and many more in Spain and other EU countries. Many have already seen the vast benefits to their courses, including improved drainage/reduced black layer, firmer playing surfaces, and over all healthier soil plus a reduced maintenance cost. Each product in the range plays a specific part in delivering the perfect soil environment to encourage grass to grow to its optimum state. Niall Richardson, Irish greenkeeper and golf course superintendent at Netherlands based The Dutch Golf Club, (which this year hosts the KLM Dutch Open), has been using both 3D Oars PS – penetrating surfactant – and 3D Oars HS – hydrating surfactant – on the course, with outstanding results.

PGA CATALUNYA SEMINAR Instruction on application of Aqua-Aid and effects on moisture at PGA Catalunya

As demand in Europe has grown, Jim Miller, who has been involved with the Verde-Cal range since its inception, is now a regular visitor presenting and explaining the technology that has changed the approach to soil management so radically, and in particular, the application of thCaTM – a unique and specialised type of chemistry that helps create soluble calcium as well as other nutrients in the soil. The importance of calcium cannot be under-estimated when it comes to producing a healthy plant. Just some of the aspects which calcium effects within the soil and plant are; plant stress, colour,

root system, water movement or transpiration, recovery period and effect on the grass when cut and photosynthesis. The unparalleled effectiveness of Verde-Cal and Verde-Cal G has been seen by every greenkeeper who has used it, and one case that epitomises just how well it can work is that from Dunmurry Springs Golf Club in Kildare, Ireland. Verde-Cal G was recently trialed at Dunmurry, producing excellent results in removing black layer from the club’s second green. The trial was carried out by golf course superintendent Gerard McEvoy, who had

been looking for a product that included gypsum in the correct formation of calcium sulfate dihydrate to break down the black layer. McEvoy has been at the course since it’s construction in 2005 and was aware of the black layer problem on the greens, and had been treating with hollow coring whilst looking for a gypsum based product. The aim was to see how effective Verde-Cal G was against black layer, and he explains how the trial was conducted, why gypsum is so important and the outcome of using the product. “I found the Verde-Cal G to be very easy to apply; the solubility is very good | 45




SHARED KNOWLEDGE (L-R) Jim Miller of Aqua-Aid USA and Hans De Kort of Aqua-Aid Europe at a recent seminar

46 | GMé April 2016

and it breaks down very rapidly,” said McEvoy. “We put down four applications on the second green and one application on all the others, so we treated our worst green quite heavily to see if we could break down any layers that we might have in them. “You can see by looking at the pictures, there is a massive difference in the two samples and it clearly shows the Verde-Cal G did a great job in dispersing the back layer.” Verde-Cal G is a Calcium Sulfate in a very fine granular form combined with thCaTM – an organic complexing agent – the calcium in gypsum becomes more readily applicable for soil or plant use without effecting or raising ph. The amalgamation of these chemicals leads to a quicker response at lower rates; loosening compacted heavy clay soils, and improving aeration and water percolation being the most common benefits. VerdeCal G will be visible in CEC readings within 1-2 weeks after initial application; Normal calcium or gypsum products take up to four years to become available for the plant uptake. The product releases locked-up ions from the soil profile and make these nutrients available for the plant to use. Also leaches excessive Sodium (Na) and Magnesium (Mg) from soil profile. There are two forms of gypsum; dihydrate and anhydrite. The dihydrate form is the most freely available, and is just what McEvoy was looking for when he was considering Verde-Cal G. VerdeCal G also has a very high Ca content, over 22 per cent – over four times compared

to normal Gypsum, which is one of the reasons why this product is so effective. “We wanted to use gypsum because it is a flocculent, so it aggregates the soil partials together and opens up the soil profile without raising the pH,” he began. “This helps to increase the percolation rate of water through the soil profile. “The main reason for using it was because the upper layers of the greens were retaining too much moisture despite a very aggressive aeration and topdressing program applying over 200 hundred tonnes of sand to the greens per year.” In February 2015 the greens underwent their first of two hollow corings using courser sand than normal. VerdeCal G was incorporated after the second hollow coring, with the first application going on in August followed by repeat applications at four weekly intervals. “We normally see the black layer forming in the wetter months of the year, so we began our Verde-Cal program in August to try and prevent it from re-occurring. This coupled with the use of a coarser sand when hollow coring seems to have worked.” One application of Verde-Cal G was put on at 50 grams per meter square to the second green on the second week of August. This was repeated again in September, October and November until the soil profile was analysed again at the beginning of December. The sample showed a vast reduction of black layer in the second green with a healthy and open soil profile that is able to cope with heavy amounts of rain fall going into the winter months. GMé

AFT>GME 18912_. 18/09/2012 12:38 Page 1


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Effectively playing The Drain Game Regardless what type of golf facility you operate, without effective drainage, your course is never going to retain members as Scott MacCallum reports.

“Clubs were seeing their customer base dwindle and people were becoming more critical if they were paying subs or a green fee and not being able to play”

PRECISE INCISION A close-up of the Sandbander in operation

It is probably logical to assume that there would be a spike in the sale of drainage machinery to golf clubs during the recent record rainfall and flooding in the UK. Well, indeed it was true that sales spiked during that time, but to say it was logical is wrong. As Harry Jurgens, owner of AFT Trenchers points out, the best time to carry out drainage work is not when golf courses are wet and waterlogged but when they are dry. It’s the age old adage, ‘Fix the roof when the sun is shining.’ “We see a surge in sales when the weather is very wet, but it is actually the worst time to carry out drainage because clubs have to close fairways and greens to carry out the work and the task is much more difficult than it would be if it were carried out in dry summer weather,” explained Jurgens, who bought AFT 15 years ago having become managing director three years before that. “The thing is that members of the Greens Committee are not thinking about drainage in the summer, while

48 | GMé April 2016

the greenkeeping teams are busy with mowing and carrying out their regular summer tasks.” It is through having such a handle on the inner workings of a golf club that has enabled AFT Trenchers to develop machinery which can cope at times when golf clubs are actually pressed into adding drainage. “We introduced the AFT 45 shortly after I joined the company,” explained Jurgens. “It is a small, lightweight, small chain, trencher specifically aimed at golf courses. “This was attractive to the clubs because it enabled greenkeepers to carry out drainage work quickly and efficiently when it was needed, according to their own time schedules and not having to bring in a contractor or close part of the golf course.” The AFT 45 proved an instant success with 60 being sold in the first year, mostly to top end golf clubs. The company followed this up with the Wizz Wheel 75 – a larger version of the Wizz Wheel 55 launched some time earlier – which

proved a hit with contractors, thus ensuring that AFT had successfully covered both the golf clubs’ and the contractor market. The start of the recession was another key time for AFT with much smaller golf clubs beginning to purchase the AFT 45. “Golf clubs were seeing their customer base dwindle and people were becoming more critical if they were paying subs or a green fee and not being able to play because the course was closed. “There wasn’t the loyalty to golf clubs which had existed previously, so what I would describe as second tier clubs became very interested in buying our machines to enable them to carry out work themselves – adding drainage to keep courses open when previously they were waterlogged or flooded.” Jurgens is well aware of the fact that AFT is not operating in the ‘sexy’ side of the golf business, but he is keen to spread the word that it is fundamental to the success of many of Europe’s golf clubs.

CLEAN AND EFFECTIVE The AFT 45 in use on a golf course

“I always say that members are happy to pay for golden taps in the locker room because they can see them every day, but with us, if the course is not playable, it is the fault of the greenkeepers, but as we produce equipment which works underground, when the flooding problem is solved, the attitude is often ‘Why did we spend money on that equipment?’” Jurgens has seen AFT’s turnover treble in the time that he has owned the company, while this year they hope to sell their 500th AFT 45 with the market extending through Europe to Japan and the United States. His language skills and willingness to travel to promote the benefits of AFT Trenchers have gone a long way towards ensuring the company’s success. “Our big selling point is the fact that at under 250 kilos, the AFT 45 is much lighter than the competition and can work well in the sticky wet conditions that most golf clubs need to persuade them that something actually needs to be done.”

Another key piece in the AFT Trencher machinery stable is the Sandbander which adds 25mm slits to a depth of 250mm to secondary drainage, which allows surface water to drain through or moves water towards the main drainage. “Many drainage problems are caused by the fact that the top six inches of soil can be very compacted creating enormous pressure on the ground,” explained Jurgens, who works extremely closely with the STRI on the development of drainage machines. “The Sandbander has a big advantage over a gravel bander, for example, as you don’t actually improve the soil by adding gravel. Sand is not only a marvellous drainage medium – all swimming pools have sand filters while you never see a beach clogging up – but, because of the hydroscopic nature of water and sand, excess water is drained but retained in the sand four inches below the surface benefitting the root zone,” said Jurgens, who talks with a passion and knowledge of the subject which showcases just why

the company has been successful over the last 20 years . “This means that irrigation water doesn’t just benefit the plant as it percolates through the root zone, it is held in the sand band, thus keeping the root systems moist.” If Jurgens has one piece of advice for golf clubs it is that drainage is not just a one off operation – install it and then sit back thinking the job is done. “It is not something you do and then forget about. The only way a golf club would get away with that is to put up signs saying ‘Don’t walk on the grass’. “The more successful a golf club, the more players they have adding to the surface compaction, so the more on-going maintenance work is required, and with golfers no longer forgiving of having two or three holes closed due to waterlogging, our drainage equipment is becoming a vital element of a greenkeeper’s toolkit.” Drainage may not be ‘sexy’ but you just can’t do without it. GMé | 49


signing off

“The recent tendency for certain American golfers to start preaching about religion when they’ve won a Major tournament has always grated with me”

The Son of a Preacher Man has right perspective on religion Like the majority of English golf fans I was delighted to see Danny Willett emerge victorious at the Masters. There’s a certain vicarious pleasure in seeing somebody one wrote about as a young amateur come good in the professional ranks and win a Major. I’m sure my cup of vicarious joy will overflow when Charley Hull secures her first women’s Major – it will happen – for I first met her and her parents when she was just seven years old. They appear to have raised a very level-headed and pleasant daughter. As a soft, southern *****, I would have preferred Danny Willett to have come from Hampshire, rather than Yorkshire, but you can’t have everything. He too – the son of a Church of England vicar and a teacher – seems to have a well-rounded view on life. I was particularly taken by one quote of his I read. He said: “I am a Christian – I was brought up in a Christian family – but a lot of the Americans take it slightly over the top at times. I think he has bigger things to deal with than whether I shoot 65 or not at the US PGA.” As I said, well-rounded. The recent tendency for certain American golfers to start preaching about religion when they’ve won a Major tournament has always grated with me. I can’t understand why it’s allowed. If somebody got up and started eulogising about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign they would be whisked away from the prize-giving ceremony in a moment. Similarly if Willett had used his green jacket ceremony to extol the

50 | GMé April 2016

MASTERFUL WILLETT Danny Willett wearing his green jacket with pride

virtues of the United Kingdom remaining in the EU – or otherwise – he would have been damned by all sides. To a certain extent I can see why such overtly religious outpourings are tolerated in the deep south of the USA, but not in the UK or similarly more secular societies. Would those in power at the R&A or the USGA be so accepting if the winner of the tournament was a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or a Son of Satan? Or, perish the thought, a science graduate who remarked upon the factual basis of the theory of evolution rather than creationism... Golfers, like any of us, are entitled to their own personal beliefs. But they should be reminded that they have a responsibility to the wider sport as a whole

and should just keep their speeches on the subject of golf, and maybe their families. There’s no evidence there is a God, and, as Danny Willett correctly attested, if there was, with all the terrible things happening in the world, it’s fair to say he wouldn’t give two hoots about somebody winning a golf tournament. GMé

David Bowers


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