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The essential management publication for EMEa golf club operators


Of late, Ireland’s economic fortunes have been mixed, but despite the downturn, a community in the south east of the country is pulling together. page 31

Management Europe

european golf on a roll

Silvermere Golf Complex becomes the latest club to install a synthetic practice facility from European Golf

UK £6.00 Eur 7.25 US $9.50

issue 85 august 2012

publisher’s editorial

An Open finish to savour... but I switched off! It’s quite often called the commentator’s curse: the act of saying something and then seeing it come back and bite you in the back nine... well it happens to publishers as well I recently discovered. And, consequently, I was hoist by mine own petard! Last issue, you may recall, I bemoaned how golf had failed to excite me in 2012; how saturated coverage

the Champions League in 1999, or John Isner’s 70-68 fifth-set win over Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010... we want to witness history when it’s made. So let me put the record straight: even after 141 Open Championships – and as I have always (ahem) maintained – golf still has the ability to thrill and excite, doesn’t it…?

“That is, I suppose, the wonder of sport: nothing is ever certain. And I have no one to blame but myself” has failed to persuade me to pick up my clubs and head out on to the fairways. And then came the 2012 Open Championship. So convinced was I of my own wisdom that, with Australian Adam Scott four shots clear and seemingly on his way to victory at Royal Lytham and St Annes, I decided – as it was such a pleasant evening – to take a leisurely stroll with my wife in the delightful Suffolk countryside. The rest, as you know, is history. I wasn’t around to see it made, however, and was astonished to discover the result upon my return. That is, I suppose, the wonder of sport: nothing is ever certain. And I have no one to blame but myself – and maybe the odd TV scheduler who provides us with wall-to-wall coverage and gave rise to my erroneous stance. I won’t take it for granted again. Putting aside my professional involvement as publisher of a golf magazine, I am, first and foremost, a sports fan. And sports fans want to see such moments, whether it’s Ernie Els’ triumph, Manchester United’s late two-goal burst to win

One thing which has definitely excited me recently is the recruitment of two of the most knowledgeable and wellrespected golf writers within the industry: Adam Lawrence and Scott MacCallum. Both will, I am sure, already be familiar to you through their work with other trade publications and we feel their presence will only serve to add to the broad appeal of GME. We firmly believe this gives GME the best stable of experienced senior writers within the golf industry and confirms our commitment to bring you, our loyal readership, the very best in news and comment from within the golf industry. And I definitely won’t become blasé about that! GME

19 Mark Alexander talks to the CEO of Europe’s largest golf complex... Hartl Golf Resort.

25 Professional golf photography can make a real difference to your clubs public perception.

28 Michael Lenihan

Associate Editor David Bowers Contributors Mark Alexander, Samuel Frederick, Adam Lawrence, Scott MacCallum, Kevin Nash, Aidan Patrick, Charmian Robinson Golf Management Europe is published six times per annum by PPC Portman.

Publisher Michael Lenihan Print The Manson Group

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7 European Golf has installed a synthetic practice green at Silvermere Golf Complex.

SNAG is helping European golf clubs encourage more and more beginners into the sport.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the prior written permission of the publisher. Whilst due care to detail is taken to ensure that the content of GME is accurate, the publisher cannot accept liability for errors and omissions.

PPC © Portman Publishing and Communications Limited 2012

august 2012 GME 3

headline news

Trump opens the ‘Greatest golf course in the world’ After years of wrangling and political machinations and following several thousand column inches of support and opposition, Donald Trump’s muchvaunted Trump International Golf Links, on the £750m Menie Estate, in Aberdeenshire, has opened. Trumpeted as the “greatest golf course in the world”, it follows a classical pattern of two out-and-back loops of nine holes and measures just over 7,400 yards. The billionaire businessman was piped on to the course before cutting a ribbon and striking the first ball with Colin Montgomerie to declare the resort officially open. Trump has clashed with local residents, environmentalists, wind-farm manufacturers and the Scottish First Minister since buying the land seven years ago, but The first of two planned 18-hole courses is under construction at the Secret Valley GC, at Venus Rock Resort, in Cyprus. Nestled in the spectacular Cypriot coastline, and set in a stunning valley setting next to neighbouring Aphrodite Hills, Venus Rock will be one of Europe’s largest beach-front residential developments with around 3,000 properties. Both courses will be Tony Jacklin signature designs and the steep hillside terrain will afford spectacular tee locations and long views towards valley and ocean. The existing Secret Valley clubhouse will serve the first new course while a new and larger clubhouse will be built for the second. A floodlit three-hole loop, for evening play, will be located at the lower end of the course where it links with the beach development.

4 GME august 2012

said the battle has been worth it. Plans for a hotel and houses on the estate have been put on hold until a decision is made on a proposed wind farm off the coast of the links, a scenario which has seen clashes between the American and Alex Salmond. Trump said: “It’s the whole structure that makes it special... the dunes, being on the North Sea – the architect (Martin Hawtree) has done an amazing job. “It’s a special place, Scotland is a special place. I think this is great for golf, and what’s great for golf is good for Scotland because Scotland is the home front for the game.” And while it may have been controversial in the making, golfers have shown their approval by voting with

their feet – or at least their credit cards – as the first eight weeks’ available teetimes were snapped up almost immediately. George Sorial, executive vice president of the Trump Organisation, said: “The reaction we’ve been getting from Scotland, Britain and the global golf community has been amazing. “We have been selling 150 rounds a day and we are booked solid for the next two months. Always one to have the last word, Trump departed the UK with another broadside at the Scottish Parliament.

In an open letter to Salmond, he praised the SNP’s commitment to offer tax breaks to the golf industry, but once again lashed out at the proposals to construct offshore wind turbines near the coast. He wrote: “I read recently about the concept of tax breaks for golfing and other sports stars. It is a great idea and will have a tremendous impact.” However, he added: “A better idea would be not to ruin your countryside and destroy Scotland’s environment with wind turbines which, as you are starting to figure, are costly, inefficient, and just don’t work.”

Faldo to join speakers at Golf Business Forum Sir Nick Faldo will join a stellar line-up of speakers at the ninth annual KPMG Golf Business Forum in Italy, September 17-19, 2012. The six-time Major Champion will take the spotlight during an onstage interview and interactive session with delegates at the business-to-business event, which will be held at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa. Sir Nick, who heads up Faldo Enterprises and Faldo Design – the course architecture practice involved in more than 50 projects worldwide, and is also a lead

analyst on American broadcaster CBS’ coverage of the PGA Tour – will share this thoughts about his work and experience, as well as the Faldo Series, encouraging young people to participate and excel at golf. Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG’s specialist Golf Advisory Practice in EMA, said: “Sir Nick Faldo, through his course design work and corporate activities, brings a wealth of professional experience and deep understanding on the issues related to developing golf courses, resorts and residential communities.

“I feel sure that investors, developers and golf industry professionals attending the Golf Business Forum, especially from the numerous Italian golf projects being planned, will benefit from Sir Nick’s insights and wisdom.”

Savills team-up with Club Inc. Club Inc. has added Savills Oxford-based Golf and Leisure team to its panel of industry advisors “Club Inc. are established experts in golf club management and will be a good contact for us as we continue to develop our services.

“They already act for a number of our clients and their expertise may well prove valuable for others,” said Savills director, Alan Plumb. “We look forward to working with Savills Golf and Leisure experts whose

market knowledge will perfectly complement the sale and strategic advice we provide for golf businesses,” added Niall Flanagan, managing director of Club Inc. and the former president and CEO at Loch Lomond Golf Club.

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New Estonian Golf and Country Club course superintendent, Regardt Barnard, found himself in deep water as he waded in to clear the course’s ponds. To ensure the Sea Course continues to look in pristine condition, the South African got waist deep in the pond on the first hole to clear algae, which has grown rapidly due to the high temperatures Estonia has experienced this summer. The International, an Ian Woosnam signature course, has opened adjacent to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Originally to be known as Amsterdam International, the course has been renamed to avoid confusion with the existing Amsterdam Golf Club. The finishing touches are being made to Golf de Montauban L’Estang, in the Domaine des Saules d’Or development, near Montauban, in the MidiPyrénées, which opens late this summer. The Yves Bureau-designed course, located in the centuriesold Prat de L’Estang wood, features 150 plots around the course. Hunter Grinders provided a week of support in the build-up to The Open at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s recently, with field engineer David Mitchison spending a week grinding all the mowers for course manager Paul Smith. PGA Catalunya Resort is to undergo significant upgrades to its awardwinning Stadium Course, as part of a three-year partnership with The European Tour.

6 GME august 2012

Scottish Golf Union signup with Jacobsen Jacobsen, together with its golf car partner E-Z-GO, have signed a three-year agreement to sponsor the Scottish Golf Union (SGU) and boost the governing body’s role in supporting clubs. The new partnership – a first of its kind for SGU – will see Jacobsen become its preferred and recommended supplier of golf course maintenance equipment,

while E-Z-GO will support the SGU’s national events programme, through provision of a vehicle fleet to assist with the running of the governing body’s 15 national championships. Worth £30,000 over the next three years in addition to in-kind support, the sponsorship is the latest addition to the SGU’s growing portfolio of blue chip partners, joining Scottish Hydro and the

Paul Lawrie Foundation who were announced earlier this year. The SGU works closely with Scotland’s course managers and greenkeeping fraternity, a key audience for Jacobsen. It is hoped the new partnership can help clubs improve the condition of their courses and ultimately deliver long term financial savings. “We are delighted to be launching our new partnership with the SGU,” said Ransomes Jacobsen’s UK and Ireland sales manager, John Quinton. “As an organisation, we have many synergies with governing bodies, nationally and globally, providing support to golf clubs and educating our customers on the long term benefits that using our products can bring. “The Home of Golf is a very important market for us and, as a global company, this will be a valuable association for us.”

Player to design first course in Montenegro Gary Player Design has been appointed to create Luštica Bay Golf Course, in Tivat, Montenegro, the first course in a country formerly part of Yugoslavia. The course is a joint venture between Swissbased Orascom Development Holding and the government of Montenegro, under the company name Luštica Development AD. Samuel Meyer, the managing director of Luštica Development, said: “Since this is the first golf course in

Montenegro, it is especially important to expose the sport to the local youth through lessons and friendly competitions. “We would very much like to see the future generations of Montenegrins actively engaged in golf and maybe even get some serious contenders within the international golf community from this region.” Luštica Bay’s master plan is currently being developed while the company is also in negotiation with several internationally known hotel

operators. Plans include the golf course, marinas, fivestar hotels, gourmet dining and nightlife.

Research pays dividends for Crossover Keen to know if their XPos retail till system was benefiting their customers, Crossover Technologies decided to undertake some market research recently with interesting results. The key facts that the research showed was that the XPos system plays a major role in the running of a golf club, with an impressive 97 per cent of respondents

stating that they would recommend the system to other clubs. Of those surveyed, 85 per cent of golf clubs claimed that the XPos system gave them better control over their business; 74 per cent claimed to have saved administrative time; whilst 56 per cent stated that they had improved their profitability.

Over the last four years, Crossover Technologies has developed a complimentary range of products including XClub for memberships, XBook for tee time, lessons and other bookings and XBar for food and beverage, which can be linked to other providers including competition and handicapping systems, and Paxton for security access control.


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Silvermere benefits from new European Golf chipping green Silvermere Golf Complex, the 18-hole, former European Tour qualifying golf course, is undoubtedly one of the most challenging pay and play courses in Surrey and is available for everyone to enjoy.

The new green delivers the very best in synthetic golf practice facilities, offering players a realistic feel with no deviations, bumps or skips – just a true roll every time. The ball reacts as it would on any real USGA

“I chose European Golf based on several good recommendations”

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer, or an enthusiastic beginner, Silvermere has something to suit all tastes, and has recently called upon European Golf to install a brand new state-of-the-art 400 square metre synthetic undulating and challenging chipping green and fringe. The product can be installed in many forms ranging from single greens through to full golf courses, with a fully trained installation team ensuring quality installations every time.

specification green, and even the fringe grass is great to play all types of chip shot from. Silvermere has everything a golfer needs to improve their game; a fully stocked golf shop, custom fitting facilities, a floodlit driving range, PGA coaches with years of experience and now, a superb short game practice area that can be used all year round whatever the weather. On completion of the new green, Doug McClelland, PGA master trainer at


16 Redcliff Road Melton Enterprise Centre Monks Way West Melton Hull HU14 3RS England TEL; (44) 01482 333120 FAX; (44) 01482 333128

Silvermere said: “I chose European Golf based on several good recommendations. “I could easily see it’s the best product on the market and the beauty of it is, it’s maintenance free!” European Golf also works closely with SNAG – Starting New At Golf – and is working hard to develop short courses designed by leading golf course architects to entice as many new golfers into the sport... a initiative that the great Henry Cotton would certainly endorse. GME

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august 2012 GME 7


BGL toasts new deal with Wells and Young’s BGL Golf, one of the UK’s leading golf course owner and operators, has toasted a new deal with Bedford based brewery Wells and Young’s to provide drinks to all ten of its facilities across the country. The new contract will see Wells and Young’s wine division – Cockburn and Campbell – provide wines, spirits and soft drinks to the three golf clubs and seven public pay-and-play centres, that make up BGL Golf. The bars and restaurants of BGL Golf’s golf centres are open to both golfers and non-golfers alike and serve a vast array of bar snacks and main meals, while the three golf clubs – Plans for an exclusive golf course and luxury hotel in Surrey look set to be given the green light after a government minister declined to “call in” the proposal. In May, local councillors went against the advice of their officers to grant permission for developer Longshot’s proposal to build a 40-bed hotel and golf course at the Cherkley Court estate, in Leatherhead, the former home of politician and newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook. The decision was referred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, but he decided not to call in the decision, leaving it to Mole Valley District Council to determine. Longshot’s chief executive, Joel Cadbury, said: “We would like to thank the local community for their overwhelming support, and those councillors who voted 13 to six to grant our application. “We have promised to return Cherkley Court as the ‘jewel in the crown of the Mole Valley’ and we hope to do just that.”

8 GME august 2012

Redbourn and Aldwickbury Park in Hertfordshire, and the prestigious flagship venue of Burhill Golf Club, Surrey – all offer comfortable and relaxing environments for members and visitors to enjoy a post round drink, snack and fine dining. Colin Mayes, BGL chief executive, said: “Every one of our venues, whether one of the public pay-and-play centres or the members clubs, offer the same high quality service and comfort to golfers and diners alike. “As a group we align ourselves with the highest quality suppliers and the products and services of Wells and Young’s match the high quality of our facilities across the country.”

Tim Sprake, director responsible for Wines and Spirits at Wells and Young’s added: “We are thrilled to be supplying the wine and sprits from our wine merchants Cockburn and Campbell to the superb facilities of BGL Golf. “Our well known wine brands focus on quality and

excellence and we feel this mirrors the courses and players present across the whole BGL Golf group. “We look forward to players being able to reward themselves at the end of the day with a refreshing glass of El Coto De Rioja or TerraMater when they reach the 19th hole.”

Army Captain sets new unofficial world record British Army Captain Stuart Ball has set a new unofficial world record of 432 golf holes played on foot in five days, to raise money for children who have lost parents in the forces. By playing 24 rounds of golf – the equivalent of six Open Championships – in a single working week, Capt. Ball walked over 150 miles, hitting his trusty TaylorMade Burner 2.0 6-iron well over 1,000 times. Crown Golf backed the venture by offering its golf facilities free of charge, and by supplying golf equipment and refreshments.

The Enduro Golf 360 Challenge marathon climaxed at 21:15 at Hampton Court Palace GC on July 6, where Capt. Ball, an officer in the Royal Logistic Corps, ignored pain from blisters and an injured left knee to play the final round accompanied by high-ranking Army officers and other friends and supporters. “It’s fantastic to have achieved what we think is a world record,” said Ball, aged 32 from Odiham. “But it means nothing unless people donate to Scotty’s Little Soldiers and

also to Help For Heroes. Scotty’s in particular needs to raise awareness, so please donate what you can at www.bmycharity. com/Stuball79.

PGA National Russia set to open The first golf course to carry the PGA title in Russia, PGA National Russia, opens this summer. The classic style course, featuring distinctive heatherclad bunkers, is situated next to a tributary of Europe’s longest river, the Volga, and is similar in appearance to a traditional heathland course. Nine holes will open for play in July, while all 18 holes are set to be open by September.

It will also feature the new PGA National Golf Academy, comprising a nine-hole course, putting and chipping greens, swing studios and an impressive state-of-the-art teaching area. Bordering a nature reserve, it benefits from the backdrop of the picturesque Zavidovo countryside, which serves as a home to one of the official holiday homes of the country’s president.

Designed and constructed to European Tour standards, the course forms part of a new, world-class golf and academy facility within the 1,300-hectare Zavidovo Resort Community, 130km north west of Moscow. The course was designed by European Golf Design with the construction a collaboration between local company GeoKam and Braemar Golf who are also providing management services onsite.


ProQuip sizes up Ryder Cup Team weatherwear ProQuip, the Preferred Weatherwear Supplier to The 2012 European Ryder Cup Team, began final preparations for the biennial match during the recent BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club. A fitting session was organised by captain José María Olazábal and ProQuip’s chief designer Richard Head, with players brought in one-by-one by player relations director

Jamie Spence to be personally fitted for tailored weatherwear, while Olazábal himself was measured up for his Captain’s rain suit. “While I am unable to talk about the European Team rain suit in detail, I can say that we have developed an ultra-lightweight and supersoft waterproof-breathable fabric that the players will find is almost completely silent to swing in,” said Head.

Valuation Tribunal success for West Country Clubs In January this year a twoday Valuation Tribunal hearing took place regarding the Rateable Values placed on four West Country golf clubs. The Valuation Tribunal’s decision has now been published with the two chartered surveyors acting for the four golf clubs managing to reducing the combined rateable value for all four clubs from

£460,000 to £347,000 — a saving of almost 25 per cent. The four golf clubs were Saunton, Burnham and Berrow, Taunton and Pickeridge and Enmore Park, and the appeals related to the Rateable Values put on the four courses for the statutory 2010 Rating List. The level of Rateable Value is the main determinant for what golf clubs pay in annual rates for the five-

year period April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2015. Considerable effort went into preparing the cases for the hearing by the appellants’ professional advisers — Mark Smith and Hugh Wilkinson — with Smith commenting: “Hugh Wilkinson and I both know how tough trading conditions are for many golf clubs and it was great to get this result.

“Whilst every appeal should in theory be considered on its merits this decision has important implications. “For those clubs who don’t benefit from 80 per cent rates relief via CASC or where transitional relief is minimal, every £15,000 reduction in Rateable Value typically saves around £35,000 in rates liability over a five-year period.”










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Windsor Racecourse 4 - 6th September 2012

august 2012 GME 9



Royal Dornoch Golf Club, the renowned Championship course in the Scottish Highlands, continues to invest in facilities ensuring they match the standard golfers expect from world championship courses, with the environmentally friendly Halfway House being officially opened by Alison Burnett, a long standing member of the Royal Dornoch Golf Club. London Irish Rugby Club is set to build a new Centre of Excellence at a Surrey golf course after gaining planning approval. The multi-million-pound rugby centre will be built at Hazelwood Golf Course, Sunbury, and the club’s proposals for 206 homes, including a care home, and a new neighbourhood park were also approved. Padraig Harrington has been honoured by Special Olympics – the world’s largest sports organisation for people with intellectual disabilities – at the Castle Stuart Golf Links in appreciation of his tireless commitment to Special Olympics athletes and their families. Sale Golf Club now operates three new John Deere mowers supplied by local John Deere dealer Turner Groundscare, after the club had previously opted for competitive makes when replacing older machines. Burhill Golf and Leisure has rebranded and will, with immediate effect, become known as BGL (Burhill Group Limited) in recognition of its important estate management and leisure divisions.

10 GME august 2012

Fond farewell to Nairn’s Keeper of the Green Following the conclusion to the 37th Curtis Cup, a ceremonial changing of the guard has taken place at The Nairn Golf Club. The handover, which marked the conclusion of an exceptional 31-year tenure, saw golf course manager Iain Carson pass on the reigns of the club’s proud greenkeeping tradition to Ritchie Ewan, his deputy of 25 years. In a career spanning more than three decades at the Highland course, Carson

oversaw numerous changes including most recently a three-year improvement programme that resulted in revetting 60 per cent of the course’s bunkers. Also masterminding a Walker Cup, Scottish Amateur Championship, a Seniors Amateur Open and one of the most keenly contested Curtis Cups in recent times, Carson has fond memories of his time at The Nairn Golf Club. “One of the biggest changes has been the

development of Nairn from a relatively small club in the north of Scotland to one that is recognised throughout the world,” he said. “We are all part of a team here, committee and management, and we have all been involved in bringing the club forward. “For me, having the Walker Cup here in 1999 and getting the Curtis Cup in 2012 has been a great honour. No other club in the north of Scotland has had both of these events and it means Nairn is one of only ten clubs to host both,” he said. “It has been a fantastic adventure which I have enjoyed from the start.” In what many see as a continuation of what came before, the new keeper, Ritchie Ewan praised his former boss and looked forward to the future. “It has been a privilege to work alongside Iain for the last 25 years. He has worked hard to achieve the playing surfaces that we have at Nairn which are admired by so many.”

Clere Golf joins forces with yardage Guru Clere Golf, the graphic communications specialists to the golf industry, has joined forces with Dion Stevens, the European Tour yardage book creator, to launch a new, premium quality course planner. The Tour Edition combines the comprehensive level of pinpoint accurate measurements collated by Dion with Clere Golf’s creativity in presenting course information with clarity.

Steve Richardson, business development director at Clere Golf, said: “When it comes to the design we work with the golf club to develop the graphics which suits their style best, but it’s the information which goes onto each page that sets the Tour Edition apart. “Each book contains critical course details compiled by Dion including superior green detail and drive line information.”

TGI Golf adds marketing strength The TGI Golf Partnership – Europe’s leading golf retail services group, owned by PGA professionals – has appointed experienced golf industry professional Pauline Dale to oversee its extensive marketing solutions. The 39-year-old joins the group as marketing manager, a position she previously held for 11 years at ProQuip, and will oversee TGI Golf’s

marketing programme, which offers its 400-plus partners across the UK assistance in running efficient and successful businesses. “I’ve always admired the professionalism of the TGI Golf Partnership and the way it works,” said Dale. “I’ve known managing director Eddie Reid since he first started working for TGI Golf, and the opportunity to

work alongside him and the TGI team was too good to turn down.” Eddie Reid added: “Pauline has vast experience in golf marketing and knows the golf professional’s business well having spent many years around her father’s Pro Shop when she was growing up. “I very much look forward to working alongside her.”


PGA Catalunya receives first tranche of kit The PGA Catalunya Resort, voted the No 1 golf course in Spain, has taken its first major tranche of course maintenance equipment following the recent signing of a five-year preferred supplier agreement with Ransomes Jacobsen. David Bataller, head greenkeeper responsible for the two 18-hole courses, the Stadium and the Tour said: “I’m absolutely delighted to

take delivery of this shipment as we begin the significant upgrade of our course maintenance fleet. “This new equipment includes some highly productive mowers that allow us to set up our two courses in just three hours every day and ensures we stay ahead of the players. “The equipment will also help us as we continue to enhance the overall presen-

tation of the course and the memorable golfing experience for visitors to PGA Catalunya Resort.”

Ransomes Jacobsen’s Spanish distributor, Green Mowers of Burgos delivered the equipment.

Player salutes La Manga Club’s 40th anniversary South African legend Gary Player has delivered his own personal message of congratulations to La Manga Club as part of the Spanish resort’s 40th anniversary celebrations. Player, winner of nine Major titles and 165 tournaments worldwide during a glittering career, took time out from his busy schedule to record a glowing tribute to the award-winning fivestar venue.

The 76-year-old was La Manga Club’s first director of golf when it opened in 1972 and played a key role in helping the resort establish itself during its early years. La Manga Club hosted the Spanish Open five years in a row from 1973-77 and has gone on to become one of Europe’s leading sports destinations. Player said: “This is a very happy moment for me having been the director of

golf at La Manga Club, a very beautiful place, a great resort with some wonderful golf courses, and so many wonderful people. “If I’m not incorrect I remember playing with Severiano Ballesteros, this wonderful Spaniard who was the bullfighter of golf, and we had a wonderful golf tournament there for television with Tony Jacklin and Tom Weiskopf, and I’m happy to say I won.

“My memories are great and may you have a very special day and God bless you all,” added Player fondly. Player’s video message will be played as one of many glowing tributes to an audience of invited guests at La Manga Club during a special birthday weekend at the beginning of November, the culmination of a series of events to celebrate its anniversary.

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august 2012 GME 11


Club Car will play ‘crucial’ role at Ryder Cup Ryder Cup European Team captain José María Olazábal has said a fleet of Club Car vehicles set to be used by him and his four vice-captains will have a “crucial” role in team management at Medinah Country Club, Chicago, in September. Olazábal, who will lead Europe at the 39th edition of The Ryder Cup, made the comments during an official presentation of the captain’s Club Car at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club. “For the captain, it is important to be as close to your players as possible. You need to get to each match as fast as you can, so the golf cars are crucial,” Olazábal explained. “You need to know how your team is getting on and how your opponents are Huxley Golf, the PGA’s official supplier of allweather golf surfaces, has announced the appointment of Side Golf Ltd as the company’s official distributor in Turkey. The new partnership will bring world-class allweather greens, tees and practice aids to golf courses, resorts, hotels and homes across the Mediterranean country. Speaking enthusiastically about the partnership with Huxley Golf, Kieron Morrissey, business development director of Side Golf Ltd, said: “This is fantastic news for golf in Turkey. “Huxley Golf’s synthetic all-weather greens blend in naturally with the landscapes of the most luxurious resorts and offer unparalleled realism when it comes to ball roll, ball reception and speed. “The proven Huxley surfaces will allow our customers to enhance playing and practice facilities while reducing maintenance costs.”

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doing, and to share that information you need to cut through holes, cut through the crowds to cover the distance.” Olazábal has twice been a vice-captain and has played seven times in The Ryder Cup, leading the celebrations after Europe’s first victory on American soil, in 1987. “The emotions at that Ryder Cup were incredible,” recalled Olazábal. “To be part of the winning team was very special. After we won, everyone was happy and was singing and doing all kinds of crazy things. “There was also a young kid in those days who did a silly dance on the 18th green, but I don’t think you’ll see me do that again.” Asked how he will feel when he jumps onto his captain’s Club Car on the

first morning of The Ryder Cup in Chicago, Olazábal said: “I couldn’t be any prouder. The Ryder Cup is a great event and is very close to my heart.” European Ryder Cup director Richard Hills said: “Club Car makes The European Tour move. “The fleet provides an invaluable service to our

television company, and of course, at The Ryder Cup, the vehicles play an important role – especially for the captains. “The pictures of Seve driving around on his Club Car at Valderrama in 1997 were legendary, so to see Club Car present José María Olazábal with his captain’s car today was poignant.”

Direct Golf UK customers choose Golf Care Golf Care, one of the UK’s largest specialist golf insurance providers, is delighted to announce the success of its partnership with Direct Golf UK. ‘Golf Care Direct’ was created last year exclusively for Direct Golf UK as a specialist golf insurance policy made available to consumers over-the-counter. The comprehensive policy ensures that golfers can be adequately insured both on-and-off the course before they leave any of Direct Golf UK’s 21 stores nationwide and includes equipment cover, personal

liability, personal accident and damage to third party property. “Theft of golf equipment has been on the increase for many years and a specialist policy covers you for that and so much more,” commented John Woosey,

managing director, Golf Care. “We work hard to give our customers great additional value and by working alongside Direct Golf UK we have been able to offer extensive coverage at an unbeatable price.”

Forsgårdens first club to be re-certified Widespread recognition of golf’s social and environmental impact is gathering pace – and is being led by a group of clubs who have shown the way toward everstronger achievements and credible communications through the GEO Certified™ ecolabel. Sweden’s Forsgårdens Golf Club is a leader among

leaders, stepping up in 2009 as one of the very first golf clubs to become GEO Certified™. Three years later, they are the first club in the world to be re-certified by the Golf Environment Organization, and the announcement represents a milestone in golf’s sustainability movement; the first time that any

golf club, anywhere in the world, has been re-certified. Gunnar Håkansson, general secretary of the Swedish Golf Federation said: “We are extremely proud of Forsgårdens Golf Club. They are a world-leading example of a well managed golf course which is active across all forms of sustainability decision making.”


SkyCaddie gets the measure of England Golf One of amateur golf’s long-standing partnerships is to continue, with the renewal of SkyCaddie’s status as Official Rangefinder with England Golf. “We have spent the last ten years helping to improve course information for amateur golfers,” said SkyCaddie’s UK managing director Jacqui Hitchcock, “so extending our previous agreement with the EGU to

support the new England Golf organisation was one of our easier decisions.” John Petrie, chief executive of England Golf, said: “SkyCaddie is the leading distance measuring technology in our sport, and has led the way in product innovation and golf course mapping for over a decade. “We had no hesitation in extending our long-standing relationship with them.”

Golf shows signs of recovery, new survey finds Golf courses in the EMEA region experienced an upturn in business in 2011, according to new research compiled by KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice. Of the 380 golf course owners and operators surveyed, more than half reported more rounds played and higher revenues in 2011 compared to 2010. It is the first time since the onset of the economic downturn in 2008 that the

annual survey has returned positive results. There was a similar improvement in sentiment, with 57 per cent of all facilities surveyed saying their business performance was ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, and only eight per cent as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, compared with 44 per cent and 17 per cent respectively in 2010. Golf courses in Great Britain and Ireland, the largest golf market in the EMEA

region, reported strong results, with 61 per cent of courses reporting ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ results. However, courses in Eastern Europe returned the weakest results with nearly a third of golf courses reporting ‘poor’ results. In terms of future outlook, 46 per cent of golf facilities expected an improved year in 2012, with 37 per cent expecting a similar performance to 2011.

Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice, said: “While there are signs that golf in Europe, the Middle East and Africa has started to recover from the economic downturn, the speed of that recovery is variable across the region. “Although much depends on the overall economic climate, active measures for improved business performance can significantly help facilities to develop.”

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Tel: +44 (0)1462 683031 august 2012 GME 13

Digital Marketing... There’s an App for that!

With the explosion of smartphones entering the market, one Irish company has developed a range of ‘apps’ to help clubs grow their business as Aidan Patrick discovers. It seems that golf course marketing is really starting to adopt the idea of promotion via digital media, and at the forefront of this media revolution is an Irish company with an ever growing network of channel partners. Despite all of the economic doom and gloom coming out of Ireland and the Eurozone, Dublin-based Golfgraffix has seen its business grow by an astonishing 112 per cent in the first half of 2012. And with their latest customer – Mangais Golf Resort in Angola – Golfgraffix has now produced digital media for courses on five continents. Golfgraffix has a team of four digital designers that have worked on more than 60 golf courses, designing smartphone apps, 3D digital flybys and course guides. “It took a while to get golf managers to understand the concept of what we were offering,” said managing director, John Aherne. “But when we show golf managers and owners that we can help drive their business – as we did with BurgGolf in

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The Netherlands when we introduced 5,000 app users in just five months – the light is suddenly switched on. “What we offer is much more than just a great product... it is really a vehicle for the course to have a conversation with their target audience. The easiest way to describe the package is as a ‘push-pull’ marketing device, with both the golfer and the golf course getting something of value. “For the golfer they get a free and very accurate distance measuring device for both the iPhone and Android smartphone platforms, together with interactive scoring, 3D flybys, live weather updates, and – in the case of the Carton House app – they even get instruction drills from the club pro. “From the club managers perspective, they get free messaging to all their users, tee time bookings, news feeds, hotel and restaurant bookings as well as a private members area. “Married with a supply of course guides, most clubs can recoup all their costs in less than one year,” added Aherne. One of the most successful apps has been the one designed for Carton House, as director of golf, Francis Howley explains: “When we decided to upgrade to the newer version of the Golfgraffix

Fergal Philips – The Sunday Times (Ireland)


company profile

app, our decision was based on the new implementation of their localised notification system. We saw the ability to use the app as part of our yield management strategy which has become a hugely valuable tool for us. “With the new app we can promote unsold time slots on our quieter days, so if we have a slot open up that we know we are not going to fill, we are now able to send out a message to golfers within a 20 mile radius advertising the tee-time. “This type of targeted approach had not been available to us before.” Golfgraffix’s latest channel partner is Eagle Promotions in the UK, who specialise in designing and delivering the very best in branded golf club collateral, and has worked with over 1,500 clubs and courses throughout Europe. “We always knew that we needed to have a digital product in our portfolio but the costs associated with developing our own product to a standard as high as our existing products were a huge barrier,” said managing director Philip McInley. “With our partnership with Golfgraffix we now have what we see as the market leader in digital marketing, and are already seeing huge interest from our existing clients with Windlesham Golf Club going live in the next few weeks.

“What also has us very excited is the Golfgraffix portable simulator... from September onwards we will be able to offer all our clients a fully playable version of their golf course.” Golfgraffix will soon be launching a new product called GolfPro; this is an

affordable home simulator on which any course digitized by Golfgraffix can be played. This is a unique offering and has many benefits. “Our hope is that each one of our client courses will have a GolfPro unit in the clubhouse, which can be used for fun events like the longest drive or closest to the pin on corporate days, or even during weather delays,” added Aherne.

“In addition the client can take units to be sold in the pro shop with a very good margin adding to the value chain.” Golfgraffix are also working with Dutch company Golfbaan Animatie and have worked on five courses in 2012 already, including an Audi brand sponsored app for Lage Vuursche. Other channel partners include 3D Eagleview for Spain, Portugal and Ireland, Ritchie Golf for New Zealand and Australia and Prosecrets for Japan and Asia. Another use of the Golfgraffix product is in the redesign of existing courses as Aherne explains: “Often any redesign proposal will have to go through a committee and members approval process, and with our low cost visualisation we can now mock up any new hole designs and not only show the changes in an animation, but actually have the members play the new hole with their own clubs on the GolfPro simulator. “This is something which I believe will be of genuine interest to many European golf clubs, as it will allow the committee to actually ‘play’ the course, rather than simply look at architects drawings.” Having worked with the likes of Nicklaus Design, Greg Norman Design, RTJII and Paul McGinley already this year, expect the name of Golfgraffix to become a very familiar one at a golf club near you over the next few years. GME

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campey left handon page tour


European Greenkeepers get the Campey treatment

As Charmian Robinson reports, Campey Turfcare has just returned from a highly successful Scandinavian Tour.

Greenkeepers from across Europe have been keeping up to date with Campey Turf Care System equipment during the company’s recent six-country tour. And several weeks of the tour were devoted to major turf issues specific to golf courses. In particular, the team looked at aeration as the main theme with the Koro Recycling Dresser, the Imants Shockwave, Rotoknife, Sandcat and the Coremaster Xtreme being used on tees, greens and fairways to demonstrate the latest equipment and techniques available. Campey Turf Care is well known for its pioneering work in turf maintenance and sports pitch renovation. The company and has spent many years

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working closely with the top machinery manufactures around the world in developing innovative equipment and best working practises. “We are relentless and resolute in our pursuit of excellence across the spectrum of sportsturf surfaces,” said managing director Richard Campey. “Our machinery range is the result of huge investment in trials and extensive research by our manufacturers and suppliers. It is our experience and their engineering know-how that keeps us the leaders in our field.” The first of several golf courses visited on the summer tour was Grini Golf Club, Norway where the Campey team met up with Kaare Martin and Thomas from PGM – the main machinery distributor for Norway – who had organised the visit. In total, more than 40 greenkeepers attended the first product demonstration at Grini Golf Club despite the very hot conditions.

This was followed with a visit to the stunning Bjaavann Golf Club, just north of Kristiansan. There are few courses which can match the magnificent scenery of this one, set in beautiful rolling countryside. Greenkeepers and groundsmen came from across the south of Norway and saw a range of machines put through their paces. The Imants Sandcat was seen sandbanding a large tee, alongside the Koro by Imants Field Top Maker with scarifier collector. The Dakota 412Turf Tender and 410 Turf Tender were busy topdressing fairways and greens. The Imants Shockwave and Rotoknife worked hard on the fairways – which have less than 60mm of root zone over granite underneath!

“PGM Kaare Martin Grasmo have to be congratulated for their organisation and good humour in the sometimes testing conditions.” Richard Campey and Teemu and Jorma from NH-Koneet Oy, machinery distributor for Finland worked closely on the final stages of the tour covering golf. With a demonstration day held at Aulangon Golf Club, Hameenlinnaand, more than 20 greenkeepers and groundsmen attended. This was an opportunity to show the Imants Sandcat and Koro by Imants Field Top Maker (with scarifier collector) on greens and tees. Other machines were used on the golf driving range. Vaasa Golf Club was last on the visit list in the north of Finland. The team were met by Kai Lehtosaari, the course manag-

“The numbers of attendees over the whole tour was beyond our expectations and this is no mean feat considering we are a UK company which relies on the efforts of its distributors to invite the guests. We have nothing but praise and admiration for their efforts.” The Coremaster and Vredo Seeders had a much easier time of it on the sandbased greens and tees. “Our thanks to Terje, the course manager, for making this event possible,” said Simon Gumbrill, Campey sales director. “We were delighted that so many European Golf professionals green keepers and course managers came to see us. “They have listened to all recommended methods of operation, even from their English counterparts. We have been met only with enthusiasm.” Similar demo days were held at Sola Golf Club, Stavanger, Norway, with PGM, for the south-west section of the Norwegian Greenkeepers Association and Fana Golf Club near Bergen where the Koro FTM, Imants Shockwave, RotoKnife, SandCat and Dakota Turf Tenders were all demonstrated to the assembled greenkeepers. “Our thanks to all the greenkeepers who travelled from as far afield as 125km to attend these events” said Gumbrill.

er, who has worked at the golf club since 1979. Lehtosaari has overseen the construction of the 36 holes, with another nine to be constructed next year. Unusually there are no bunkers, but only large boulders of granite to act as fairway hazards – the largest is 700 cubic metres of granite stone. Apparently most of the construction had to be carried out with the help of dynamite! “It is extremely gratifying to see fellow professionals take the time and show such interest in what we are trying to do,” added Campey. “The numbers of attendees over the whole tour was beyond our expectations and this is no mean feat considering we are a UK company which relies on the efforts of its distributors to invite the guests. We have nothing but praise and admiration for their efforts.” Campey’s European Tour proved so successful that another tour is already scheduled for next year with plans to include more golf venues. GME

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club focus

Economy of Scale at Hartl

Mark Alexander visits Europe’s largest economy to find out how its biggest golf resort began and how it has been forced to adapt through turbulent times.

From the air, the German countryside looks neat and methodical. There is order and uniformity down there. From the ground, it is just a blur. Travelling at 240kph along one of the country’s infamous autobahns, you don’t see much apart from trees and cars whizzing by. This is the fastest I have ever travelled in a car and I am trying to keep my cool in front of my laid-back driver. It’s a day of firsts. My record-breaking commute is the final leg of a trip that will

take me to the Hartl Resort at Bad Griesbach in Lower Bavaria. Not only will this be the first time I will play golf in Germany, but it will also be a landmark for me in terms of scale – as golf resorts go, they don’t come much bigger than Hartl. Five 18-hole championship courses (three designed by Bernhard Langer), a 200-bay driving range and a 72-hole practice putting green ensure Hartl makes an impression.

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Hartl Golf Resort Am Brunnenplatzl 2 D-94086 Bad Griesbach Germany TEL; (800) 1299 1299 FAX; (49) 8532 790 45 email; CEO; Volker Schwartz Director of golf; Andreas Gerleigner Club founded; 1989

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Three nine holers and two six-hole practice courses complete the set-up – that’s 129 holes spread across ten golf courses. This is golf but on a colossal scale. But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, Hartl started out as a health resort when Alois Hartl founded the first thermal spring here in 1970. Twelve years later the first hotel was built followed shortly after by two others. This was boom time for Germany’s health tourism market which profited from insurance policies that paid for their clients’ fitness breaks and extended holidays. This lucrative arrangement meant the average stay at Hartl reached 14.5 days during the early 1990s with occupancy rates topping a staggering 94 per cent. “When guests arrived at Christmas time,” recalls Volker Schwartz, CEO at Hartl, “they had ten minutes to decide whether they wanted to book for next year. If they didn’t decide in that time, the room was sold to someone else. There was a 50-person waiting list for each room. It was like printing money.” The good times weren’t to last however, and in 1995 the German government changed tact and amended the system so that insurance policies could no longer fund the public’s getaways. It was a shift that profoundly affected Hartl which saw its average stay drop by ten days. “It meant we had to find new target groups,” says Schwartz, “so Mr Hartl decided to build golf courses. There was a shift from the health holiday to the golf holiday.” The change prompted an unprecedented golf boom in the Rott Valley producing

five 18-hole courses laid out across varying terrains rented from local farmers. In fact, the development required 300 individual contracts to be drawn up with neighbouring land owners; the co-ordination of which must have been exhausting. Nevertheless, the investment in both time and money produced two clusters of courses each just a short drive away from the existing resort. Now welcoming golfers for at least six months of the year, the transformation of Hartl from a wellness centre to sporting retreat is complete. German ingenuity and organisation meant that the team at Hartl recognised the significance of the shifting regulatory landscape and grasped the scale of the transformation needed to counteract an end of an era. The focus on golf was met with German efficiency and guile. For instance, great significance was placed on education and instruction with 36 golf professionals employed throughout the year from six different nations (between May and September this figure rises to 45). There was also a membership scheme that has attracted 4,500 members who pay €1,050 annually to play on Hartl’s ten courses. Add to that 190 tournaments which are organised throughout the season and you can see why the resort was compelled to develop its own software programme to cope with the scale of its growing operations. The courses produced during the 1980s and 1990s are varied and purposefully built. While the Beckenbauer and Mercedes-Benz courses are relatively flat, the 18 holes at Brunnwies provide a fine workout for your legs and lungs.

This was Langer’s first design in Bad Griesbach and has become a perennial favourite of the German golfing public with the Rott Valley of Lower Bavaria providing a constant and picturesque backdrop. Interestingly, the Brunnwies campus also has a dedicated golf course for children – the Chervò Junior Golf Course – on which adults are not allowed to play. The six-hole layout features special targets, obstacles and large comic and cartoon figures that certainly stand out in the Bavaria countryside and are apparently popular with the kids. The Beckenbauer Golf Course runs alongside the Mercedes-Benz Golf Course. Both are surrounded by rustic agricultural land and feature water hazards to varying degrees that demand accurately placed tee shots. The outstanding feature of all the courses at Hartl is the high maintenance standards that are evident throughout. Overall the greens run smoothly, the bunkers are in good shape and the tees are in fine order. However, to attract the numbers needed to make the mammoth resort work, Schwartz says the resort had to do things differently and that meant ruffling a few feathers. “In Germany, you are able to play golf if you are a member of a club. There are some public courses but not that many; maybe four or five,” explains Schwartz (pictured right).

“At Hartl, you can play without a membership. We were the first club in Germany to do this on a massive scale. We put it in the press and told people to come to us if they found they weren’t allowed to play elsewhere. “It caused a lot of trouble with the German Golf Federation because they obviously wanted people to become members. For normal players, you don’t need to be a part of the German Golf Federation – you just play for fun. “If you want to play in a team or become a pro, of course you need it, but for normal people – no.” Thanks to Schwartz’s forthright views and international background – he joined Hartl in 2010 after a series of senior positions in the tourism industry that included a key role at Thomas Cook – the resort isn’t stopping there. In fact, Hartl is looking to expand its international reach from its current markets in Switzerland, Czech Republic and Scandinavia into the UK and further afield. “Hartl is special because you can play five golf courses without loosing time travelling between games,” he says. “We want to get international guests because we have another big asset – Bavaria. “We have good beer, good food and good people, so we are a good alternative to places like Portugal. When you think about Germany, you don’t think about golf. Instead, you probably think about cities like Berlin and Munich, but hopefully that will change soon.” GME

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Toro continues its Scottish successes

Machinery supplier Toro has recently agreed extensions to its deal with top Scottish golf venues St Andrews Links and Gleneagles. Adam Lawrence finds out why.

Whatever business you’re in, trumpeting the fact that you deal with some of the biggest names in your industry is great marketing. So it’s not that surprising that Toro is making great play of the recent announcements that its contracts to supply equipment to two of British golf’s best-known venues have been renewed. But there’s more to it than just a PR boost. From a greenkeeping perspective, there can hardly be a more challenging environment than the run-up to, and the week of, a major championship. If your equipment performs well under those strains, it’s likely to do well anywhere – and if problems are revealed, well, then that’s great feedback for your engineering teams. Toro has recently signed new agreements with 2014 Ryder Cup venue Gleneagles – continuing the company’s run of success with Cup hosts – and with the Home of Golf itself, St Andrews Links. Along with its distributor Lely UK, and an extensive dealer network, the company will be supporting both facilities, in both their day to day operations and through the huge events attracting global audiences that will be held there over the next three years. “As with many high profile customers, our relationships with Gleneagles and St Andrews go back a lot of years” said Toro corporate accounts manager Andy Brown. “We are very proud of our proven track record with Ryder Cup venues on both sides of the Atlantic who have placed their faith in us, and have used Toro equipment and irrigation in the preparation and staging of their biggest event.” The Perthshire resort plays host to the Ryder Cup in September 2014, with the Toro equip-

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ment helping prepare the PGA Centenary Course for the three days of matches. The King’s and Queen’s courses will also continue to benefit from Toro machinery. Ryder Cup week itself places intense demands on the maintenance crew. One might think that, with only a small number of matches on the course, the greenkeeping team has it easier than at an Open, but the special nature of the Ryder Cup imposes its own strains. “When does it get light in Gleneagles in late September?” asks Brown. “You’re talking about 7.30am before you can sensibly get on the course, and that puts pressure on the team. “Then there is the prospect of bad weather, which is more likely at that time of year. So we will provide the Gleneagles team with additional products to supplement their own fleet of machinery. “They might well decide to cut fairways with greens triplexes, and they wouldn’t normally own enough of those for their routine course maintenance practices. At Celtic Manor in 2010, we provided a fleet of extra triplexes plus additional walk greens mowers, Workman utility vehicles and the like.” Preparing for and hosting any big golf event is about teamwork, and the same applies here. Toro, Lely and the local dealer each play a key role. “A combination of our dealer and Lely will provide extra technical support, and if it’s needed for Toro to put in a couple of extra technicians, we’ll do that,” Brown adds. “Lely will provide the equipment, based on what is required, and we support them behind the scenes. Lely has a huge tournament support fleet – in the region of US$1.5 million worth of equipment. “Fortunately for us, the Ryder Cup is held later in the year, so that fleet is not under so much pressure supporting other events as it would be earlier in the season.”

At the Ryder Cup, course preparation is not just in the hands of the greenkeeping team. Course managers must work closely with the home captain, who may want to tweak the setup to benefit his team. “From a year or so out, we will be working with Scott Fenwick and his team at Gleneagles as their ideas and plans take shape on how to prepare the course for that week,” says Brown. “At both Celtic Manor and the K Club, Jim McKenzie and Gerry Byrne had to work out what to do with the setups – and obviously the home captains can request changes to the setup based on what they believe will provide an advantage to their team – such as shaving surrounds to favour the bump and run shot, or narrowing or widening fairways if there’s a perception that one side’s players are better drivers of the ball than the other.” At St Andrews, the challenge is, if anything, even bigger. Not only does the Old Course host The Open every five years, but each autumn it is one of the three venues for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. That championship heritage – and the town’s iconic status as the Home of Golf – makes for huge numbers of very demanding visitors. St Andrews Links Trust chief executive Euan Loudon says: “Maintaining the historic courses at St Andrews Links, including the Old Course, in top-class condition is our prime duty and working

closely with Toro has been key to achieving arguably the best conditioning on the courses in modern times. We look forward to developing the partnership with innovative new approaches and technology to ensure we continue to set the benchmark for effective and sustainable management of links courses.” Spanning seven courses, 117 holes, around 900 acres, 230,000 rounds of golf a year and 600 years of history, the needs of the Links are immense. “The level of expectation people have when they come to St Andrews is second to none,” said Brown. “People who have travelled around the world to visit are going to play whatever the conditions, and the result is that the courses are packed from dawn till dusk. “During some of the bad weather we have faced recently, they had to close the links for an hour and a half, the first time they’ve ever done that in July. And only one group on the whole links came off the course! The rest kept playing!” The other aspect of working at St Andrews is that, because of its status, it serves as a global hub for the golf industry. “We bring a lot of golf industry people to visit the Links, to look behind the scenes and talk to the guys who are maintaining the place,” Brown adds. “That is very useful for us, but I think the Links people enjoy it too – they like to see themselves as leaders in the business of golf maintenance, and they have taken it to new levels of professionalism.” GME

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24 GME august 2012



It is said that an image can tell a thousand words, but is this true in golf? Professional golf course photographer Mark Alexander makes his case for photography.

First Impressions

Like curry, politics and religion, photography prompts an immediate response. Indeed, unlike other media, there is no pause, delay or interruption when you look at a photograph – you either love it, or you hate it. For some, however, the issue of photography goes far beyond merely preferences. “I can’t believe they don’t get it,” exclaims an incensed magazine editor. “Good photography can make such a difference to their coverage.” Sitting quietly, I let the respected journalist let fly, venting his fury on golf clubs that clearly don’t agree with his assertion. With 22 years under his belt, the daily search for images for his market-leading magazine has clearly left its mark.

I have heard this so many times from editors. Faced with a dearth of good photography, they inevitably fall back on clubs that do provide good-quality images that capture the spirit of the game and instil a desire to play. That, after all, is what magazines, websites and newspapers are all about. The result is clubs with good photography get greater coverage. Thankfully there are clubs that commission professional photographers and, as a result, readers can enjoy images that transport them to the tee, all in remarkable high-definition. One club that went down this route was The Renaissance Golf Club – a sublime Tom Doak-designed track that straddles an undulating parkland site that is full of character and history. Despite having a portfolio of shots provided by members, the club needed

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imagery that properly reflected the high standards set by the owners. “We had taken quite a lot of photos ourselves and our members had given us quite a few, but they really didn’t cut the mustard as far as telling the story of the club itself,” explains Simon Holt, membership director at The Renaissance Golf Club. “We didn’t want to put too many words on our website and we don’t do any advertising, so the pictures were the only window onto the course and we wanted them to be as good as possible.” He explains that by studying different websites he was able to get an idea of the kind of images he wanted. “To expose the course in its best light, you need to get a professional in,” he says, “so I researched photographers in the golf industry and found one I liked. “Looking at the website, I liked the way the images were set and how they showed the undulations of the golf course. It was different to other professional photographers who didn’t know about golf.” By a remarkable twist of fate, a drop of luck and a heavy dose of coincidence, Holt selected me to photograph the course last summer. It turned out to be a three-day shoot that despite some iffy weather and on-site construction work produced a decent set of shots. “We have received lots of positive comments about them,” says Holt. “Before, people would look at the images and think they were nice, whereas now people are drawn into them.

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“They say that they feel like they are there – the pictures tell a story rather than just showing a golf hole – they say so much more about the golf course.” Holt’s generous comments perfectly sum up what I set out to achieve when I photographed the course. For me, it is not enough to simply create a record of the shape of the hole. The image has to be powerful enough to prompt a reaction and encourage the viewer to play the course. There are a number of techniques that I use to generate that kind of response, and none is more powerful than shooting with the right light, at the right time, in the right location. To do this, I survey the course ahead of a shoot to pinpoint angles that show off the course to its best. After that, it’s a matter of timing, and that means early mornings (some of the Renaissance photos were shots at 5am) and late evenings. It may seem like artistic indulgence to restrict my photography to these daily extremes, but shooting out-with these special times, creates bland-looking shots that do nothing for the course. If I could shoot during the day and still produce images that sing, then I would, but sadly it doesn’t work that way. For instance, I photographed Tanka Golf Club on the beautiful island of Sardinia just as the sun was reaching the horizon. The saturated colours, fantastic cloud formations and incredible views made for a collection of shots that are

now being used to market the resort around the world. As the club’s golf director points out, having access to professionally taken images has had a direct impact on the business: “Speaking as a director of a commercial golf course, I think using a professional golf course photographer means you can produce a high standard of materials that you can send out to existing and potential clients,” explains Richard Cau.

It might save money initially, but the course would suffer in the long run, as would the club’s coffers. Similarly, using sub-standard images to market and promote your club could have a detrimental effect as visitors and potential members look elsewhere for their golfing inspiration. Creative and striking photography can raise the profile of a club to a new level. It can illustrate all the features that make golf courses special, compelling the view-

“Ultimately, working with a professional golf course photographer is a good investment for golf clubs and resorts.” “Achieving high standards reflects well on the standard of the golf course which attracts high-quality clients. Ultimately, working with a professional golf course photographer is a good investment for golf clubs and resorts.” The idea of making a financial commitment to photography is a notion some clubs find puzzling. After all, why pay someone to photograph your course when a member will do it for free? As a result, the charity of an obliging member is often seized upon by clubs that need good photography but are unwilling to budget for it. If the same policy was employed on the greenkeeping side, how would the course look if members cut the greens with their Flymos?

er to make a booking or renew a membership. But I would say that – golf course photography is what I do. I have shot golf courses all around the world and one of the recurring trends I notice is that premier league clubs and resorts rarely question paying for goodquality imagery. There are exceptions, but generally they see it as an investment that will inspire visitors and maintain their lofty position. Another returning theme is that new golf developments eager to draw attention to their attributes, readily add photography to their must-do lists and assign a budget to pay for it. If the big boys and new kids rely on it, why should photography be such an after-thought for everyone else? GME

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beginners golf

How to ‘SNAG’ new Golfers As Scott MacCallum reports SNAG is really beginning to help promote the game of golf to countries across Europe, and in-turn help struggling golf clubs bolster their bottom-line.

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In the old days taking up golf used to be a traumatic business. We would be presented with a cut down club which, while significantly shorter than those used by mum and dad, still weighed enough for us to resemble a hammer thrower when we attempted our first swing. Then there was the ball which at 1.62 inches was smaller than today’s version, and it invariably sneered up at us – the results of facial scars sustained during previous rounds. Yes, we knew what was expected of us. Hit, or rather “swing through” that pesky little ball and send it arking down the Practice Range. That was the idea but making any contact at all would be beyond us for much of the time. There was light at the end of the tunnel when we could actually hit it on a regular basis, but the first time we got it right and the ball did set off in an encouraging parabola we felt four feet tall. Then someone mentioned a “hole” and our brain was scrambled once again. Now those new to the game don’t have to go through the sort of pain we endured all those years ago. SNAG has arrived taking away the pain and replacing it with fun for those wishing to bring golf into their lives. SNAG – Starting New At Golf – is designed to make golf accessible to those who perhaps never felt the Royal and Ancient game was for them. To watch SNAG in action immediately brings a smile to your face, as does the terminology. Can you imagine Peter Alliss commentating on Ernie Els “snagging out on a

Flag Sticky” or deciding whether to use his “launcher or his roller”, the only two clubs you need to play the game. Unlike traditional golf there is no hole, which immediately makes it much easier for anyone to set up a course. Place your Flag Sticky, a weighted cylinder covered in hook material anywhere – indoors or out and you have a target to aim at. You tee off from the Launch Pad, the ball will fly a maximum of 75 yards and success is when the ball, slightly smaller than a tennis ball and covered in loop material, sticks to the Flag Sticky – you can see how it can be come addictive. And while it sounds like the ideal game to attract children – and it gives an ideal option for a PE or Games lesson – it is very much more than a beginners’ game or a youngsters’ game. “We are looking at creating short courses with the aim of, for example, attracting a group of people for an evening,” explained Guy Higton, of International Golf Development, who is promoting the development of the game in Europe, and as of a recent agreement, Middle East and Africa. “Play SNAG for 45 minutes to an hour and then have a few beers afterwards, or a family who can all play together as a social activity. We see it as a leisure based activity which acts as a pathway into golf as well as a stand alone sport. “You’d just pick up the launcher or the roller without having any formal training and start playing. You learn by having fun, without actually realising it, and all the steps eventually come together,” said Higton.

SNAG was created by US PGA Pros, Wally Armstrong and Terry Anton, 12 years ago but has really begun to take off over the last two or three years. The SNAGOLOGY – yes I believe it is actually a word – was to “get people physically active by introducing them to golf in a fun and easy way that encourages a lifetime of positive experiences and relationships.” Ironically it is better known in mainland Europe than in the Home of the Game but with individual Federations funding equipment to be supplied to schools for the time being a youngster in Eastern Europe is more likely to become exposed to the game than in the UK. “For example, thanks to the funding of one national partner, every school in the country is going to be supplied with equipment and we will be going over there to train all the PGA pros,” Higton revealed, adding that while bringing in the golf bodies and the PGA’s, SNAG is open to individuals as well and help can be given to allow them to start playing. “Ultimately we are looking to have a partner in every country in Europe and we already have the majority signed up and participating,” said Higton, who is keen to stress the benefits of the game being played in a safe and friendly environment and opening the door to the more traditional version of the game. It is hard to argue because with the rising age profile of golf club members it is vital that the next generation of golfer is

identified, captured and then retained within the game. Higton cited the example of where short courses were built for €1,000 and are now turning over up to €2,000 a week. “At a time when the industry is struggling it is great to see such a success being made of it. “At last the industry has started to realise that it needs to do something to develop the game at the grass roots. Other sports have well defined roots or are much more accessible but golf has never been able to get over those barriers,” said Higton, referring to the cost of equipment and membership fees which mean the game is out of reach to large sections of society. As it stands a couple of people can be set up to play for less than £100 while for less than £1,000 enough equipment can be purchased to enable a decent sized group to enjoy SNAG. “We very much see SNAG as a pathway to the game and the more successful we become the better it will be for the game,” said Higton, who points people to the website for more information. Perhaps if SNAG had been around a generation ago fewer people would have been traumatised by the game, and stuck with it for the long haul. With fun and freedom derived from swinging a SNAG launcher fewer of us may also have been left with golf swings that wouldn’t be out of place at a Campanologist Convention! GME

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dunmore east classic

Of late, Ireland’s economic fortunes have been mixed. Despite the downturn, a community in the south east of the country is pulling together with golf as a linchpin, as Mark Alexander finds out.

Irish Ayes

In a quiet corner of south-east Ireland lays the sleepy fishing village of Dunmore. With its secluded beaches and busy harbour, this is a quintessential seaside town that attracts day trippers and those seeking a refreshing sea breeze. It’s the end of April and the weather has been punishing which has put a dampener on the run-up to the tourist season. Despite that, the local pubs and restaurants are resonating to unmistakable sound of laughter, music and the ring of cash registers. Golfers in their droves have descended on this charming little town from across the UK and Ireland to play in a week-long tournament at four

attractive courses all within a 15-minute drive of Dunmore. More importantly, the players who have registered for The Dunmore East Golf Classic are here to enjoy themselves whatever the weather. The driving force behind this well-run money spinner was the father of the current tournament director Tony Boland (pictured above). “My father was a great lover of golf,” he says. “Twenty years ago, Faithlegg and Waterford Castle had just been developed so my father came up with the concept of a team event and marketed both at home and in the UK. “The first couple of years attracted 150 players and then in the third year, we invited journalists from the UK to play against their Irish counterparts in a Ryder Cup-type tournament.”

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The success of the press trip secured valuable media coverage sparking interest in the competition. The resulting participation reached a peak towards the end of the 1990s when over 500 visiting golfers attended the annual four-day event regularly. Bearing in mind, Dunmore is home to just 700 souls, these were heady days for the southerly town. “There was the Celtic Tiger thing and more and more courses were coming on board,” says Boland. “Golf in Ireland was popular and prominent.” The good times lasted for another five years. By then, Ireland was preparing to host the 36th Ryder Cup and reap the rewards of an event that would eventually inject €143 million into the Irish economy. Golf and Ireland were booming. However, shortly after Europe’s famous victory in the rain, Ireland’s golf explosion fizzled out. Perceptions of opportunistic price rises proved devastating and the expected boost to the golf industry stumbled before it got off the ground. “It was perceived that prices shot up, but you wouldn’t have noticed it as much in this area,” says Alan Skehan, (pictured above) general manager of Dunmore East Golf Club. “There were clubs that put up their prices, and that was a bad idea. It wasn’t good for Ireland as a whole and it certainly didn’t benefit anyone in the long term.”

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Dunmore East sits high on a clifftop overlooking the town that bears its name. It was built in 1992 when Skehan’s parents decided to quit farming in preference for golf. They made a leap of faith by creating nine dramatic holes that negotiate their way through crevasses and plateaus with the Atlantic Ocean as a constant companion. Before Ireland’s economy imploded, the Skehan family made the most of the good times by creating 45 holiday homes in 2002 and laterally extending the course to 18 holes. It was a shrewd move. When the Celtic Tiger’s roar was echoing around the world, the number of holiday homes in village doubled. “All the apartments were sold back in the good days, which was a bonus,” says Skehan. The timing was impeccable. The family’s investment paid off just in time, but Ireland’s snarl was becoming a whimper and the club had to make changes. “Our green fees were higher back in 2006 but we dropped them in keeping with everything else in the country to keep things as realistic and affordable as possible.” The price cut resulted in a weekend round at Dunmore East Golf Club being set at just €25 – down from €35 in the boom times. This acute price awareness is being felt throughout the south east of Ireland. For instance, packages for the Dunmore East

Golf Classic start at €399 per golfer for five nights of self-catering accommodation and four rounds of golf with breakfast and four evening meals thrown in. This extraordinary value is only possible because the local community came together in recognition of the important role golf, and the Dunmore East Golf Classic, can make locally. By working together, hoteliers, restaurateurs and secretaries created a unified approach that is palpable every time you set foot in a pub or on a tee.

“We started eight years ago when times were good. That was the time of the Celtic Tiger – things are different now,” says Tom Corcoran, vice captain of Tramore. “If we were to do it now, we wouldn’t do it as extensively, but we are delighted we have done it because it’s there for the future.” The investment is already paying off. Last year the new-look Old Course hosted the Senior Ladies Home Internationals and in three years time will stage the Irish Amateur Golf Championship.

“We started eight years ago when times were good. That was the time of the Celtic Tiger – things are different now.” “There wasn’t as much of that going on when things were going well because we didn’t have to – there were so many tourists coming here,” says Skehan. “Now, things have tightened up, we have to do things differently. There is now a tourism commerce group in the village that meets once a month which helps keep everyone informed about what’s going on. It’s working really well and has brought the community closer together.” Another club affiliated to the Dunmore East Golf Classic and doing things differently is Tramore Golf Club which completed an extensive development project in 2011 that saw the existing 18 holes remodelled and the club extended to a 27-hole facility.

Renovations and remodelling aside, Corcoran says collaboration between local golf clubs, encouraged by the Dunmore East Golf Classic, is also bearing fruit. “We had 64 playing today and 64 playing tomorrow and over the four days,” he explains. “That wouldn’t happen if there wasn’t co-operation between the clubs.” With year-on-year successes in tricky times, the future is looking bright for the Dunmore initiative. “I have a great relationship with all the golf clubs who couldn’t be more helpful or encouraging,” says Boland who has been championship director for two years. “We’re up 20 per cent on last year, so if we can get over the 300 mark next year and keep it going, I’ll be happy.” GME



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Drought and Deluge: How to be best prepared The weather in Europe this year has been varied to the extreme, with parts of the UK deluged with rain whilst parts of southern Europe are experiencing drought conditions. Kevin Nash takes a look at how clubs can effectively conserve water reserves.

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In the old days, golf courses were very much at the mercy of the elements. Remember Seve’s audacious bumpand-run at a rock-hard St Andrews... or cast your mind even further back to Arnie, Jack and Gary hitting off tight lies on parched fairways. Why, back then, some of the greens might more accurately be described as browns. Now, of course, golf courses are lush and verdant... yes, even the seaside links that used to change colour before your very eyes. Some traditionalists would still like to see courses react to climate changes, but modern day professionals expect nothing less than pristine playing conditions, and amateurs too like their courses to look like those they see on television. But it’s not easy getting courses just right, particularly when you have to contend with the vagaries of the European climate... the weather is, after all, not just a favourite topic of conversation, but almost a national obsession. The UK has just suffered the two driest winters on record, followed by one of the wettest summer’s in living memory. In stark contrast, parts of southern Spain are experiencing the hottest summer for over 40 years, with temperatures regularly in excess of 30°c most days. With many golf clubs already having to up their game to cope with the challenge of the recession, limits on irrigation, or even outright bans, pose an additional, potentially crippling burden. So the question that many golf clubs across Europe now have to answer is how to ensure the continued long term success of their major asset, a green and inviting course? With an uncertain and unpredictable climate that veers between feast and famine (or, more accurately, drought and deluge), clubs simply must make provision for the availability of their own independent water supply. A major factor in this is the fact that in the formative years, the grass used on golf courses would adapt to even extreme

shifts in weather conditions... the course would green up quickly in the wet, and return to normal rapidly following a break in any drought. The grass was tougher and recovered more easily (unlike the weeds, which would die off in very dry conditions), but now even subtle shifts in the climate can lead to courses suffering damage. The most effective way to counter water shortages is to construct a reservoir, and the most cost-effective option is a lined earth bank reservoir. This method of construction is relatively low in capital cost, particularly when set against the considerable benefit that can be gained. Golf course builder and reservoir expert Brian Pierson says the construction of a reservoir should not be confused with the creation of a golfing water hazard. “Whenever possible, a reservoir should be constructed in an unobtrusive location, usually tucked away in the rough,” said Pierson, who adds that the banking surrounding the reservoir should also blend with the landscape to enhance the visual aspect. “That way, when water levels drop during the summer you’re not faced with an unsightly eyesore.” The vast majority of golfers may not even be aware that a course has a reservoir, and it should certainly never come into play. A common misconception is that a reservoir has to be sited at the lowest point on a golf course, a view which Pierson challenges. “It can actually be higher up, as water can be pumped up to the storage area,” added Pierson. “Another benefit of having your own reservoir is that you can ‘harvest’ water, not just from the fairways or practice grounds, for example, but also from car parks and the areas around clubhouses. “So a relatively small area of sloping ground – for instance, 15,000 square metres – could yield 6,000 cubic metres of water every year.”

Harvesting means that not only will a course be in better shape when it’s dry, thanks to the water reserves, but when it’s wet too. Pierson continues: “Many courses already have unlicensed boreholes that will normally provide 20 cubic metres a day as a reservoir top-up, and in addition, licensed winter abstraction can also be used.”

It makes a course easier to maintain, as fertilisers and weedkillers need to be watered in. Another considerable benefit is the positive impact on other revenue streams such as green fees, membership, catering and so on, that comes from having a course in tip-top condition. “If there’s a course that’s looking a bit shabby, and another one just down the

“If there’s a course that’s looking a bit shabby, and another one just down the road that’s in much better shape, which one are you going to play?” The financial implications of on-course water storage – the overall cost of reservoir construction, water harvesting and limited abstraction – are actually very low when compared with buying from a water company. Buying water from the mains supply to irrigate only the greens, tees and approach areas of an average 18-hole golf course can exceed £100,000 over a tenyear period. At present, a 6,000 cubic metre reservoir (roughly about the size of a football pitch) can usually be built for well under that figure. It will be lined with a durable plastic material, which is not only more aesthetically pleasing but more economical than concrete. But there is more to an on-course reservoir than simply financial savings.

road that’s in much better shape, which one are you going to play?” asked Pierson, whose recent reservoir projects include courses at Royal Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, North Foreland in Kent and Banstead Downs, Surrey. Based in the New Forest, Hampshire, Pierson has over 45 years’ experience in golf course construction and alterations, and has worked on over 250 golf courses, including many famous names... he is the only course builder in the world to have constructed two new courses at St Andrews, the “home of golf.” With extensive experience in irrigation, construction, project management and consultancy, he can see through a reservoir project from conception to completion, ensuring a cost effective solution, on time and within budget. GME

Brian Pierson

Brian Pierson The Golf Course Builder Project Management | Consultancy | Construction Lakes and Reservoirs Brian Pierson has been involved in golf course construction and alterations work at over 250 courses. Contact Brian Pierson on +44 (0)1425 475584

august 2012 GME 35


renewable energy

Wind energy the key element for Rain Bird

Rain Bird has become the first major golf supplier to embrace renewable energy for use out on the course. Kevin Nash speaks with Rain Bird’s energy product manager – Iain Macpherson – about the plans for the future development in this growing sector. The Germans get it, the Danes dig it. The Italians are itching for more, the Swiss are on a roll and now the Turks are turned on by it... but still many Brits are failing to fully embrace renewable energy, despite significant financial incentives. To someone like Iain Macpherson, with 20 years’ experience in the golf industry, it’s a total no-brainer. “Instead of asking ‘why?’ surely we should ask ourselves ‘why not?’ Otherwise we really are looking a gift horse in the mouth.” Macpherson is renewable energy product manager at Rain Bird, a compa-

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ny with a reputation to match its 80 years in the golf industry, and he speaks with conviction about the need to produce cleaner, greener energy. To him it’s not just about cutting costs, although that’s important, but also about the environment. He spent much of his early life in Germany (he speaks the language fluently) and readily identifies with the way of life there and countries like Denmark, where 20 per cent of electricity is produced by renewable means. “The UK has taken up feed in tariffs to promote green power, but the public perception has lagged behind,” he says. “The UK is currently at the forefront of renewable energy because of tariffs and return on investment, but the public has yet to really take to it because of perceived potential failure, the ‘Nimby’ or ‘not in my back yard’ attitude and an often negative media stance.”

Not everyone is against the idea, however. Jack Nicklaus, for one, was quoted recently in The Scotsman as saying he had no issue with wind turbines, and if it’s good enough for the Golden Bear... In fact, research by trade association Renewable UK found that just over twothirds of adults were in favour of turbines, and over half found the appearance of wind farms acceptable, with 17 per cent against and nearly a quarter neutral. The survey found that the three per cent of those surveyed who were “strongly” against were also the most vocal, hence the generally negative press.

“When people think of turbines they tend to think of the 80 metre structures that crop up in clusters on moors and hills,” added Macpherson. “Our turbines are medium-sized, and 25 metres in height, about the size of a large oak tree, and are designed for the purpose of direct offsetting the energy consumption of a golf club. “This is green and local energy ‘distributed’, is not intrusive or on a national scale. It is known as distributed energy, and the Government is actively promoting it to offset the strain on a system failing to meet demand.”

“the five square metres of footing for a turbine could be worth so much more... up to £40,000 a year.” The manufacture of turbines would mean jobs, exports and innovation... all things that Britain takes a pride in. Macpherson points out British entrepreneurs often head overseas to find success, such as Sir Terry Mathews, who brought the Ryder Cup to Celtic Manor in his native Wales but made his fortune in Canada, or Sir Jonathan Ive, the Apple design genius, originally from Essex but long since based in California. “We sell the likes of British Steel, Cadbury, Land Rover and Jaguar and wonder how others can make the brands successful. We’re the greatest selling nation on earth; the problem is we’ve almost sold out.” Macpherson says Britain’s last boom came on the back of oil and banking services, but that era appears well and truly over. “Renewable energy is big business everywhere else. “China, for example, is erecting 36 turbines every day, and 2010 saw more global investment in renewable energy than fossil-fuel plants for the first time. Do they all know something we don’t, or do we simply have the wrong mind set?” Onshore wind power in the UK added £4.68 (half of one per cent of the total) to the average householder’s annual energy bill, according to Ofgem’s Renewables Obligation (RO) annual report for 2010/11, while imported gas added around £120 (or ten per cent of the total.) Macpherson says, “A wind turbine does not necessarily contribute to noise pollution. “From 60 metres away, in average conditions, the noise from the blades can be only 40 decibels, between a whisper and normal conversation, actually below standard background wind noise levels. “At Rain Bird we advocate putting turbines at least 250 metres from the nearest housing, to avert any planning concerns. “Our turbine is one of the quietest in its category, and permission is normally given within about six months.

Macpherson (pictured right) compares the visual impact of turbines with the electricity pylons that stretched across Britain from the 1950s. “There are currently 88,000 pylons in the UK, a quarter on the National Grid’s main transmission network in England and Wales – the 50 metre steel lattice towers in the network carry electricity for thousands of miles, and are a bigger blight by far. “There are currently fewer than 4,000 turbines in the UK, including 1,300 offshore. There are plans for 8,500. By 2020 it’s estimated that renewable energy will supply up to 30 per cent of energy and could employ up to 42,000 people in the UK. “This is a potential success story and will offset the carbon footprint contributing to the government directive of a 15 per cent reduction... how can people in golf not look at making the most of subsidies available for green investment?” Macpherson, is a former director at Robin Hume Associates, and is an expert in irrigation, sports turf and project management. “I eat, sleep and drink golf,” he says, and plays off a “rusty” seven handicap. In the past Macpherson has worked on top courses including The Belfry, Dun Laoghaire, The Roxburghe and Terre Blanche Four Seasons, and alongside course designers such as Thomas, Hawtree, Faldo, Trent Jones and Nicklaus. He has also worked at stadia in other sports, including Royal Ascot, Headingley, Murrayfield and the ground in Kiev, Ukraine, that hosted the European Championship final earlier this year. “It’s often said that the five square metres in front of the bar, where the butcher, baker and candlestick maker meet, is a key area for golf clubs. “But the five square metres of footing for a turbine could be worth so much more... up to £40,000 a year. “Surely it’s time for golf clubs to go for renewable energy. Why not?” GME

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disabled golf


Disabled championship proves a boon for ESN

Later this month, East Sussex National will play host for the third time to the Disabled British Open. Article by Samuel Frederick. With the eyes of the world upon London this summer, disabled sport, in particular, has never enjoyed such a high profile in the UK. The Paralympic Games takes place from August 29 to September 9. Never before will the laptops and lenses of the nation’s media have been so focussed on the exploits of disabled athletes. The ideal time then, for East Sussex National to celebrate a hat-trick of Disabled British Open golf championships. And, with a sense of timing that would have delighted blubbing South African swimmer Chad le Clos, this year’s Disabled British Open takes place just days before the Paralympics begins – the third successive occasion East Sussex National has been the host.

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The chances of the Disabled British Open existing at all without the presence of London 2012 were remote. The event was delivered initially, in 2009, through Tourism South East as one of the projects of the Accentuate programme. That programme’s raisin d’etre was to “create a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK.” With 2012 here, even those behind the event could be excused for taking a step backwards and expressing some surprise at how well the Disabled British Open has flourished. It is fully subscribed, for the fourth successive year, and golfers are travelling from across the globe to participate, including Monique Kalkman, a Paralympic legend.

The 47-year-old Dutch woman is the first and only woman to win Paralympic gold in two separate disciplines – wheelchair tennis and wheelchair table-tennis – and has set her sights on winning golfing gold at 2020, subject to the sport’s acceptance. And, for the second successive year, organisers are putting on a junior event alongside the main feature to encourage young disabled athletes to give golf a try. It all adds up to a heady mix.

“I am now determined to see how we can review our memberships in the hope of encouraging more disabled golfers into the game.” East Sussex National is no stranger to major golfing events, having hosted the European Open in 1993 and 1994, so the infrastructure was in place for such an event – the Disabled British Open is recorded and shown by Sky Sports, so there is a need, among many other things, for good media access.

“Having spoken to – and read testimonials from – disabled golfers I have a greater appreciation of the importance of golf in their lives.” Esther Fox, project director for Accentuate, explained: “In the years Accentuate supported the event we were constantly impressed by the talent on display and it was clear to see just how important the tournament was to golfers because of its professionalism, allowing a range of disabled people to compete equally. “Events such as the Disabled British Open have been instrumental in Accentuate achieving its aims and long may it continue to thrive.” So, it’s a fabulous event, attracting players and their spectating families from numerous countries – but how has it been for the host club? East Sussex National’s golf operations manager, Steve Graham, has no doubts that it is not only London and its Olympic strands which will receive a legacy from 2012. He explained: “East Sussex National was unique in its design when it was built in 1990 – the owners’ vision was to bring a different style of golf to the UK and they would, I am sure, be delighted at how the club has embraced the opportunity and challenge of hosting the Disabled British Open. “Everybody at the club looks forward to hosting the event as it creates enthusiasm and focus among the staff. Everyone finds it a very humbling experience as the competitors are inspirational, and we attract a large group of volunteers who spread the good name of the club. “Every club should consider hosting the event; it changes your perception on life and the game itself. We have seen the power of sport in the Olympics and you could not fail to be touched by the joy on the faces of the disabled runners and their families as they carried the Olympic torch. “Similarly, the game of golf has the ability to change lives; it offers a physical and mental challenge with golf membership providing great networking opportunities and social interaction. Having spoken to – and read testimonials from – disabled golfers I have a greater appreciation of the importance of golf in their lives.

Graham added: “There was no hesitation on East Sussex National’s part when asked by the organisers to host the event as the infrastructure was already in place to meet the needs of the competitors, their families and helpers. “We have hosted the PGA Assistants Championship and regional Open qualifying this year, and the organisers of both events were very complimentary about the club and its facilities. We can offer excellent event support for such events, with excellent parking, five-star accommodation and with two golf courses that we believe remain as good as any in Europe. “The coverage the event receives, not just domestically but overseas as well, grows year on year and, as the host club, we are always part of that positive PR. “East Sussex National is seen on TV and in print and everybody is smiling and enjoying themselves in a great atmosphere and environment. “On top of that there is the supplementary repeat business which can be generated via hosting a successful event. The benefits for the club moving forward are clear to see. “On a personal level, I support the efforts of sports’ governing bodies in trying to introduce and engage those with disabilities into participating in sport. And, commercially, there are also subsequent membership opportunities at a time when clubs are facing declines in this area. “It is true that East Sussex National is in a more favourable position than most clubs as we do not need to make the physical adjustments to the premises that others would, but we need to market the virtues of the facility.” Working with the event’s promoter – Remarkable Events – East Sussex National has clearly done a high-quality job on all counts. When the Paralympic powers-that-be reconvene to consider golf’s inclusion in 2020 – it has been ruled out for Rio in 2016 – they could do worse than consult those at East Sussex National to discuss its positive effects. GME

august 2012 GME 39


my view

Chadwell Heath... Green; Urban; Inclusive As the sporting world is focused on London this month as the Olympics hits town, an urban golf design on the outskirts of the city is winning design awards as Aidan Patrick reports.

40 GME august 2012

Golf course architects Weller Designs and Cranfield Golf Academies recently won the Havering Business Green Award for the most environmentally sustainable project with the award category centred on “environmental sustainability being a key consideration in the design and construction of a new development.” The project at Chadwell Heath Golf Club in London, also highlighted some of the regular issues facing existing golf courses in urban areas where pressure of “enveloping” housing and urban infrastructure has lead to a number of detrimental maintenance and operational issues. Various design measures were incorporated into the project to mitigate such problems and can apply just as easily to existing “urban courses”. The first phase of the new Chadwell Heath development is now complete and forms part of a wider development which includes a further nine holes, a driving range, a par three course and a planning proposal for an Adventure Golf Facility. Partner at Weller Designs, Bruce Weller said: “When we embarked on this scheme, we recognised that such a project within what is essentially an urban environment,

provided many opportunities to take nonproductive private agricultural land on the urban fringe, and transform it into a local amenity with public access for everyone.” The project incorporated a number of elements that were of environmental benefit, including the recycling of over one million tons of construction waste which would otherwise have gone to landfill, as the soil was used to profile the course. Also incorporated was a water harvesting scheme which was designed to take surface water back to a central irrigation lagoon in the winter for reuse in the summer months. The project included 22 hectares of native woodland planting, wetland, ponds, streams, wildflower meadows and the regeneration of a variety of eco-systems under an agreed future management regime with Natural England. Finally, through a local schools initiative, Cranfield Golf Academies will provide schools with special dispensations to play both the course and use the practice facilities on-site. Chadwell Heath reflects many of the issues which golf courses in the urban

areas are currently facing, issues which Weller Designs tackled effectively on this project through an informed design process. It is no coincidence that many golf clubs facing operational and maintenance problems were built in the 70’s and 80’s just outside urban zones which have slowly been enveloped by urban sprawl. Such golf clubs are being “squeezed” by issues both beyond their boundaries and beyond their control, such as new housing developments, road noise and often flooding. These “outside Agencies from beyond the boundary”, as Weller likes to refer to them, can all be tackled given the right approach with the local community taking ownership of the club a key factor. “An approach being undertaken at Chadwell Heath at the moment includes free golf and tuition days for all the local schools,” added Weller. “This encourages the local community to take part ownership of ‘their’ local facility, and can help with reducing anti-social behaviour which can often affect the golf club. “Safety in terms of balls straying onto neighbouring properties that have perhaps sprung up over night is a difficult issue to deal with, especially if the course is ‘land locked’ with no internal space for manoeuvre,” added Weller. “Again communication with the neighbours as well as the golfers is of paramount importance as the problem of balls landing in residential gardens on a boundary isn’t going to go away unless dealt with directly. If children reside in these properties then the issue is even more pressing. “There has been in the past a sense of ‘well it’s always been that way’ or ‘buyer beware’ but times have changed and clubs need to act when health and safety is concerned,” Weller continued. “Golf clubs need to have a clear plan of action and also consider what alternatives to the routing of the course are available should the worse case scenario of a hole(s) having to be closed or significantly altered on safety grounds. “The use of a golf course architect who will prepare plans and or studies is an important factor if the club decides to go

and see its neighbours – it indicates to the residents that the club is taking the issues more seriously. “Liaising with all the boundary neighbours at Chadwell Heath played a key part in what was an iterative design process.” Flash flooding on an urban course is also an increasing issue according to Weller, as more surrounding land is built on: “Many clubs have mistakenly built a pond or lake where flooding occurs in the belief that it will solve the problem. “However this usually doesn’t solve the issue and it is therefore imperative that the golf course architect works closely with a Hydrologist and the club to design a functional and aesthetic scheme, which manages the water flows and storage capacity.” As well as the water harvesting scheme installed at Chadwell Heath, a significant water management and noise attenuation design was also incorporated. Urban noise particularly from roads can be a real blight on any course, with trees and shrubs doing very little to actually screen out the sound. “Re-grading the boundary to create a linear 3m to 4m mounding is particularly effective in attenuating noise,” added Weller. “The added advantage of such an acoustic screen is that being made of soil the mounding absorbs sound rather than reflecting it, so issues of traffic noise being bounced back to a residential property nearby is reduced. “Such acoustic screening was designed along the northern boundary at Chadwell Heath to significantly reduce the traffic noise from the adjacent A12 dual carriageway. “The added advantage of earth based screens is that they can of course be used for planting which can make the screen visually more appealing.” Chadwell Heath is a success on so many different levels and is an example of how a golf course should be designed to accommodate modern urban pressures. As a sustainable and environmentally creative scheme, the London Borough of Havering now have an amenity they can be justifiably proud of. GME

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august 2012 GME 41

the last word

“People who can win upwards of $500,000 for four days’ work should not be participating in the Olympics. There’s no Corinthian spirit involved...”

I just can’t get excited about golf at the Olympics

I’m writing this with my leg elevated at an angle of 90 degrees and with a grimace of my face. No, I’m not practising the hokey cokey – though if that truly is ‘what it’s all about’ then I may as well give up now. I’ve been diagnosed with cellulitis which not only put paid to a muchawaited round of golf with a photographer friend of mine but also prevented me from taking up my seat at the Olympic hockey venue on day two of the Games. As you can imagine, I’m not in the best frame of mind, but I am, if nothing else, a professional, and I will soldier on. Talk of the Olympics – as much as it hurts me to mention it still – brings me on to 2016 and an old bone of contention in the GME offices: should golf be included in the Olympic Games? It has been included, of course, for Rio, in four years’ time, yet I don’t believe it should have been.

The success of the Olympics down the years has been the triumph of the ordinary person – it was conceived, of course, as an event for amateurs. Until recently, when money started funding athletes, it still was. Yet the re-introduction of tennis and the grey areas concerning sports such as football has turned it into just another professional sports competition – albeit the most exclusive of its kind. But the charm still lies, for me, in cheering on lesser-known individuals such as those in the archery, canoeing (hell that looks hard!), shooting or water polo. Or hockey, if I hadn’t missed the ruddy chance! Cycling and basketball may be ‘professional’ but the Team GB entries don’t have the ‘superstar’ status of those in football or tennis. And the Olympic version of the sports are far more riveting than their big-money contemporaries.

I can’t get excited about watching Andy Murray or even Maria Sharapova in the tennis, whereas a couple of weeks before at the Wimbledon Championships I was enthralled. Nor, even as a massive football fan, can I get excited by seeing Team GB stumble past UAE – though 48 hours later I’m sat watching Wessex League Petersfield Town take on Southern League Gosport Borough in a meaningless pre-season friendly. My excuse for that is that I consider it to be REAL football. People who can win upwards of $500,000 for four days’ work should not be participating in the Olympics. There’s no Corinthian spirit involved there and, quite simply, golf does not lend itself to the quickfire nature of Olympic viewing. And without TV, the modern Olympics would have no raison d’etre. Like cricket, golf should be reserved for its proper time and place. I won’t be watching golf at the 2016 Olympics, though I didn’t watch the hockey in 2012 either. I don’t know if I mentioned that at all earlier... GME

David Bowers

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GMé | August 2012  
GMé | August 2012  

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