GMé | August 2016

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On the cover...

Garia, the luxury golf car for the discerning golf club, has entered into an international co-operation deal with Mercedes-Benz


ÂŁ6.50 Issue 109 | August 2016

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

Fellow of the PGA, David Clare, remains confident as director of golf at the Gloria Golf Resort in Turkey, despite the recent problems affecting the country





wind-fighting efficient nozzle sets


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patented stainless steel full/part-circle riser assembly

Clear flange compartment for illustration purposes only

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On the agenda august 2016 42


Clare’s Turkish Delight

As a Fellow of the PGA, David Clare, director of golf at the Gloria Golf Resort in Turkey, talks about his 18 years working and living in the country.


The Hills are Alive... again

The Hills Golf and Sports Club in Sweden, has experienced a difficult few years, but with a little support from managing director Mats Sterner, the club is enjoying a resurgence.


Ken’s flying High


By Royal Appointment

As one of the industry’s most respected golf course architects, Ken Moodie is about to take flight into the world of aerial photography with a little help from his son.

Featuring a Cabell-Robinson designed golf course, the six-star Royal Palm Marrakech offers the best of Moroccan hospitality in this emerging golf destination.



Business Rates set for change

Chartered surveyor and specialist golf property adviser, Mark Smith of Smith Leisure, explains why your club should get ready for an October Business Rates revaluation.

GMé is published and distributed six times per year by Portman Publishing and Communications Limited Deben House, Main Road, Martlesham, Woodbridge IP12 4SE Telephone (44) 01394 380800 |


Publisher Executive editor Contributors

Michael Lenihan David Bowers Mark Alexander, Peter Driver, Andy Hiseman, Scott MacCallum, Ken Moodie, Aidan Patrick, Charmian Robson, Mark Smith


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from the publisher

“despite throwing millions of dollars at Tiger and Rory – among others – the company was never perceived to be a true golf brand”

No real need for concern as both Nike and adidas focus on apparel I’m no Nostradamus – one only has to see my betting slip for any of the Majors to realise that – but I was not surprised in the slightest to learn that Nike decided it was time to “transition out of equipment, including clubs, balls and bags.” Nor do I feel that it’s a major concern to the golf industry as a whole that both Nike and TaylorMade-adidas are pulling out of the hardware market, with the latter actively seeking a buyer. I don’t believe Nike was ever going to make long-term inroads into the golf equipment business because, despite throwing millions of dollars at Tiger and Rory – among others – the company was never perceived to be a true golf brand. TaylorMade, of course, is a true golf brand, but it pushed the patience of certain elements of the trade to the limit, in my opinion, by continually releasing new club after new club. And, with pro shops stocking less and less hardware, it was perhaps inevitable that two of the worlds largest sporting manufacturers, would reevaluate their golf offering. If you take a look in your local pro shop, the difference between now and, say, just ten years ago is palpable. There’s hardly any hardware nowadays as most business is done via custom-fitting; the shops are full of shelves and racks of apparel – a sector in which both Nike and adidas have decided to remain. Realistically, how often do golfers change their clubs? I don’t know if I’m an everyman golfer, but, on average, I play twice a week and would look to freshen

4 | GMé August 2016

EQUIPMENT, TOO HARD A SELL Nike announced earlier in the month that it is to focus its efforts on golf clothing and shoes

up my bag every four years, which typically tends to coincide with Titleist bringing out new models. Like many I imagine, I tend to stay blindly loyal to one brand – in my case Titleist – despite being told by many pros that I play with, that my game may be better suited to switching to PING. And, as an average golfer, with a handicap of 15 currently, there’s no guarantee even upgrading my clubs would improve my game. Therefore, there’s little justification for companies continually throwing new clubs at the market. Those manufacturers who provide the best products at a competitive price, who invest in R&D to the extent that new

models are a genuine improvement on the last, and who are seen as specialists in their field, will survive despite an overall downturn in hardware sales. We all need clubs to play the game, so the market is there, albeit a little tighter, but there’s certainly no need for doom and gloom. GMé

Michael Lenihan


Hold the front page Garia, the Danish manufacturer of luxury golf cars, has signed an industry first, by agreeing to collaborate with Mercedes-Benz on the simply stunning, Style Edition Garia golf car.

“it is of outmost importance to deliver know how, quality and expertise and Mercedes-Benz have chosen a great partner here”

Cover sponsored by Garia (45) 46 570 580

6 | GMé August 2016

Vehicles with Mercedes-Benz design are already to be seen on water, on land and in the air. Now they will also be seen on golf courses. As a ‘real sports car’, the MercedesBenz Style Edition Garia Golf Car authentically transfers the unmistakable Mercedes-Benz automobile design idiom of sensual purity to a premium-class golf cart, and defines a new class of transport for the golf course. Since 2005, Garia has been designing and building luxurious golf cars, so it was perhaps no coincidence that partner and designer, Anders Lynge, discovered that Mercedes-Benz had launched a design competition to add innovative products to their style collection. Lynge set about creating a MercedesBenz styled Garia, entered the competition and won, with the car debuting at the Open Championship this year. “It is however, about more than winning a design competition and visualizing a concept car; it is of outmost importance to deliver know how, quality and expertise and Mercedes-Benz have chosen a great partner here,” said Lynge. “Garia has many years experience in creating exactly this – a luxurious golf car – and during the last 11 years has established a global network with over 100 distributors.”

The new Mercedes-Benz Style Edition Garia Golf Car is a luxurious golf car, featuring carbon-fibre, sensual wood and high-quality, light-coloured leather. There is a refrigerator under the bench seat, and a stowage tray under the dashboard holds golf balls aligned in a row. Bottle holders on the instrument panel and on the passenger side provide space for glasses and bottles. The pedals are another nice detail – the right pedal has a plus sign, the left a minus, a reference to Garia. In a both practical and charming way, they thereby indicate their functions as accelerator and brake in this electric vehicle. An integrated on-board 10.1-inch touchpad shows vehicle information, with many functions controlled at the touch of a finger, including driving mode ‘sport’ or ‘eco’, the headlamps, windscreen heater and the wipers. It is so constructed that it can accommodate two golf bags slanted rearwards, which allows golf clubs to be conveniently taken out and replaced. Stimulating contrasts between soft and harder materials are likewise typical of Mercedes-Benz, and carefully finished to a high standard, the choice of materials confirms the high-quality character of the Mercedes-Benz Style Edition Garia Golf Car. GMé

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

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Dawson delighted with ‘strong showing’ of golf during the Olympics The return of golf as an Olympic sport was well worth the wait according to president of the International Golf Federation, Peter Dawson. “We are delighted by the strong showing of golf during the Olympics,” he said after Inbee Park of South Korea, and Justin Rose of Great Britain struck gold. “We were always confident that we would deliver high-quality men’s and women’s competitions and we have witnessed that over the last two weeks. “Golf’s success has been endorsed by strong viewing figures throughout the world and genuine interest from enthusiastic crowds in Rio. To see medalists crowned from six different nations is hugely gratifying. “It is very important that we continue to be a supportive, contributing member of the Olympic family. We believe the values of our sport complement those of the Olympic movement and I am both hopeful and confident that we will continue to play our part beyond 2020.” After beating Sweden’s Henrik Stenson to the gold medal in front of a sell-out crowd of 12,000 at Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course, Justin Rose said: “Olympic gold medalist – it sounds absolutely incredible. “I was on that last green, just sort of pinching myself and taking myself back to the quote that I had given about the Olympics all along – that I hoped my

Peter Dawson (centre) president of the International Golf Federation

resumé one day read: ‘multiple major champion and Olympic gold medalist’ and if that happened then I’d be a very, very happy man. “I pretty much just need the multiple major now, but for the most part, I’m there on that quote. “The whole week, I’ve been so focused, really, to be honest with you. I’ve been so into it. I’ve been so up for it. I’ve been just so determined, I suppose, to represent Team GB as best as I could, and it was just the most magical week, it really was.”

South Korea’s Inbee Park echoed Rose’s comments: “I have won majors but I haven’t won a gold medal so this feels very, very special. To hear our national anthem being played over the golf course was just amazing.” The six medals in the two golf competitions were awarded to South Korea (Inbee Park), New Zealand (Lydia Ko) and China (Shanshan Feng) in the women’s competition and Great Britain (Justin Rose), Sweden (Henrik Stenson) and the United States (Matt Kuchar) in the men’s contest.

Nike to quit golf Carnoustie to unveil new club equipment building ahead of 2018 Open Nike Golf has announced that the company will transition out of equipment – including clubs, balls and bags – and will accelerate innovation in its golf footwear and apparel business, and will partner with more of the world’s best golfers. “We’re committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel,” says Trevor Edwards, president, Nike Brand. “We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf.” Daric Ashford, president of Nike Golf added: “Athletes like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Michelle Wie drive tremendous energy for the game and inspire consumers worldwide. “Over the past year the MM Fly Blade Polo, the Flyknit Chukka and Air Zoom 90 have all connected strongly with golfers. We’ll continue to ignite excitement with our athletes and deliver the best of Nike for the game.”

8 | GMé August 2016

Carnoustie Golf Links

Carnoustie Golf Links has been given the go-ahead for a major redevelopment of its golf centre, with works due to be completed in time for The Open Championship in 2018. The planned enhancements will see the current club building receive a complete renovation with a focus on creating modern, open spaces for dining and relaxing after a round. “The planning permission has come through at an exciting time for us as we’ll be able to showcase the completed

developments to a global audience during The Open Championship in 2018,” commented Pat Sawers, chairman of the Carnoustie Golf Links Management Committee. “The new facilities will offer 21st century style and convenience to all of our visitors throughout the year, whether they’re world class professionals from across the globe, or locals looking for a place to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery.” The star feature of the project will be the full length windows that will be installed throughout the upper floor of the building. This viewing gallery will reveal never-before-seen panoramas of the notoriously challenging closing holes of the links course, and will be accessible to all who visit the golf centre. As well as extensive renovations to the club building, golf simulator bays will be installed at the driving range to provide players with the latest technology to use during their practice routines.


Wentworth Club reports £3.9m pre-tax loss

In brief... BagSOLO, a new travel solution that provides the ultimate convenience for travelling golfers, is now available and offers to courier your clubs around the world from doorto-door from as little as £29 each way. Queuing at the airport with the prospect of an excess baggage charge can be one of the most frustrating parts of travelling as a golfer, but BagSOLO offers to relieve the stress of travelling with your equipment, so that you can relax and enjoy your journey while your bags go solo. The UK’s largest golf club operator, Crown Golf, has decided to drop club hire fees at its venues in a bid to attract as many newcomers as possible to the sport, and also to attract lapsed players back to golf. The free club hire deal – available immediately – also includes three golf balls, a pitch mark repairer and some tees to get you started. Macdonald Hotels & Resorts is installing lifesaving defibrillators at all 45 of its properties, including its five golf venues. Keith Pickard, group director of golf and health & fitness at Macdonald Hotels said: “Research suggests that early intervention is key to an individual’s chances of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest, and the investment of £47,000 in the defibrillators could be the difference between life and death for the many thousands of guests we welcome each month.” Representing a fundamental shift to the approach to professional education in golf club management, the Golf Club Management Partnership between the GCMA, PGA and BIGGA has launched a new ASQ Level 5 Diploma in Golf Club Management. Open to all, this accredited golf-specific qualification is perfectly suited for existing managers, and those looking to move into the profession.

Fresh from the controversy over the introduction of a six-figure membership fee, Wentworth has run millions into the red. Latest accounts filed at Companies House show RW Wentworth UK – the British-based holding company – made a £3.9 million pre-tax loss, compounded by repayments on huge loans. Wentworth hit the headlines soon after restaurateur Richard Caring sold the club for £135 million to Chinesebased conglomerate Reignwood, with the new owner attempting to slash the 4,000-strong membership by a quarter by introducing a £100,000 rejoining fee. Members of the exclusive club near Virginia Water in Surrey threatened legal action over the scheme as they fought a high-profile campaign against Reignwood, which is owned by ChineseThai billionaire Chanchai Ruayrungruang. In March Reignwood gave in, saying there would be no reduction in member numbers and a new fee scheme would be voluntary. The accounts state that “the strategy of the business remains to sell a limited number of new and full golf memberships in order to preserve lower roundage and course accessibility,” adding that membership is “subject to the successful completion of a rigorous admission process.”

In the report, the directors voice concern that the club’s standards could be seen to be slipping, adding: “The risks and uncertainties relate to ensuring consistent delivery of the product and services offered, to ensure the club continues to be viewed as the premium golf club in the country.” Accounts show that in the period from August 2014 – when RW Wentworth was incorporated – to March 2015, the business turned over £8.1 million with a gross profit of £3.7 million. However, £5.7 million of administrative expenses took this to a £2 million operating loss, while the £1.9 million interest charges drove the club even deeper into the red. The accounts show that RW Wentworth has two loans from Reignwood Investment Consulting (HK), both of which are unsecured and repayable on demand.

Wentworth in the red, not the black

Royal Reesink completes Lely Turfcare acquisition

Ratifying the deal

Royal Reesink NV has completed the acquisition of the turfcare activities of Lely Holding S.ár.l in the UK, Ireland and Denmark. These activities mainly comprise the distribution of Toro and TYM compact tractors, with these activities generating in the region of €60 million in 2015, with Lely employing around 125 staff.

Gerrit van der Scheer, CEO of Royal Reesink, said: “This acquisition adds the UK, Ireland and Denmark to the geographical spread of our activities and strengthens our position in the market for machines for the maintenance of golf courses and of public green spaces. “Going forward, the activities will continue under the name Reesink Turfcare.” Alexander van der Lely, CEO of Lely Holding, said: “The sale of our turfcare activities in the UK, Ireland and Denmark is another step in our strategy of focusing exclusively on our core activity, milking systems and raw feed production. The distribution of Toro machines and TYM compact tractors is in good hands at Royal Reesink.” The purchase price will be financed by an increase in bank financing from €170 million to €185 million as well as a subordinated loan to Royal Reesink that will be provided by River Acquisition BV. Royal Reesink already handles the distribution of Toro in the Benelux through two subsidiaries. | 9




European Golf partners with Sky Television to mark Open Championship involvement European Golf recently joined forces with Sky Television to celebrate the broadcaster securing the rights to last month’s Open Championship. The company’s artificial grass and hole design expertise was put to good use in the creation of two bespoke putting greens at Sky’s headquarters in Isleworth, Middlesex. The greens were produced following a close collaboration between Sky and European Golf, and built to a bespoke design on timber frames using European Golf’s revolutionary Nylon Tour Ultimate and fringe turfs. They even include realistic-looking bunkers that use rubber crumb for the all-important texture. “Nylon Tour Ultimate is a revelation in synthetic golfing green technology, as the contours built into the artificial putting greens give exactly the same kinds of rolling speeds that would be found on a traditional golf course in the great outdoors,” commented David Lowe, European Golf’s managing director. Each green took just ten days to build, and was installed at Sky’s nerve-centre in plenty of time for Colin Montgomerie to hit the first tee-shot at Royal Troon. “We were able to work with Sky on a very detailed brief about just what it was that they required,” added Lowe.

“There was a real understanding from both sides about how the greens could look which helped us complete the job so quickly. “It’s been a real honour to work with Sky, and I thought that their coverage throughout the Open Championship was quite simply superb, with a fresh approach when it came to analysis and the standard of production.”

Bereavement forces sales

Groundbreaking Durabunker project at new TPC Colorado

A West Midlands golf club has been placed on the market for £2.25 million following the death of its main shareholder. The hunt has been launched to find a buyer for Hagley Golf & Country Club, near Stourbridge, after Michael Garratt passed away in April. The Garratt family launched the club in 1980 and has owned the land on which it sits for more than 150 years. The club’s facilities include an 18-hole course, 28-bay floodlit driving range, an allweather short-game area, and clubhouse with conference rooms and four bars. Peter Johnson, managing director of Garratt & Co, said: “The family is very proud of its long association with the club and its members. However, recent sad events have encouraged us to offer the club for sale to enable us to focus on our wider business interests. “Our preference is very much to secure a purchaser who will take the club forward in a manner that we can all continue to be proud of, someone who will endeavour to manage the club along current lines.”

Situated in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, the new TPC Colorado golf course, has become the first new 18 hole development in the world to commission the installation of synthetic bunker faces. The TPC banner is a group of select courses operated by the PGA Tour – the majority of which host PGA Tour events – with the Colorado course the first new course to be built by the group in six years. It’s also another defining step forward in the history of the synthetic bunker and the company pioneering the revolutionary construction method. Durabunker founder, and co-inventor of all associated design patents, Rhydian Lewis, made his first site visit during the initial stages of the project in July, working with local contractors and collaborating with architect Art Schaupeter on bunker design and shaping work. Lewis commented: “Having recently introduced synthetic bunkers and influenced bunker design at Tiburon GC, Florida – home of the LPGA Tour Championships and The PGA Tour – it is fantastic that Durabunker has now

10 | GMé August 2016

The practice putting green at Sky Television, installed by European Golf

Coincidentally, a few years ago, European Golf installed a practice green for Sky Sports golf pundit, Nick Dougherty, who has been suitably impressed with the installation. “To be able to putt on a really good, consistent surface all-year round is something, as a professional, I really needed. I wish I’d got it earlier... it’s really helped my golf game,” he said.

received recognition from an organization of the stature of the TPC. To also be trusted with overseeing bunker construction at TPC Colorado, and to have design input, has been incredibly exciting for us. “Having the TPC approve our synthetic bunker product and trust our company to lead the project, reflects the changing attitude towards alternative, nontraditional, construction methods, which in the case of synthetic bunker faces and edges, is unquestionably far more sustainable and cost effective than traditional bunker construction methods. “As the product matures and proves itself, there is a growing recognition that it is a valuable investment.”

Tiburon Golf Club, Florida

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11/11/2015 10:49 | 11



Trentham opts for Lynx and Infinity after Toro Total Solutions upgrade Two years ago Trentham Golf Club became a Toro Total Solutions customer, and now, the Staffordshire club is enjoying the complete installation of a Lynx control system with 170 Infinity series greens, approaches and surrounds sprinklers. Lynx is a control system renowned for precise irrigation whatever the unique and changing priorities of the course and it is this that particularly appealed to Ed Stant, course manager, who was instrumental in the club’s decision to ‘go red’. “The old irrigation was a Toro block system and, despite being 34 years old and in need of updating, we were also looking for a greater degree of accuracy and control,” he says. “Before, we had to water an entire green at once. Now with independent sprinklers featuring revolving heads and a back-to-back set up, irrigating and maintenance can be specific to the smallest areas and refined to be so much more resourceful.”

The club, together with consultant Roger Davey of Irritech, chose Infinity sprinklers for the greens, green banks and approaches, TR50 sprinklers for the tees and T7s on the practice range tee. And with this combination comes a level of choice the club hasn’t seen before.

Deer Park now future proof

Cornerstone helping to build a brigher future at Wexham Park

The Muir Group has invested a sixfigure sum in Deer Park Golf & Country Club, in Livingston. With £90,000 being spent to upgrade the golf course and purchase new equipment for maintenance, country club facilities were also refreshed this year. A total of £100,000 was spent on redecorating the clubhouse and £80,000 was invested in state-of-the-art gym equipment, bringing the total invested to almost £2million since 2004. Muir Group founder and chairman John Muir said: “I am extremely proud of Deer Park. The country club holds a special place in my heart. All these improvements have our members in mind. “After buying the facility almost 30 years ago, we have always listened and constantly worked to improve it wherever, and whenever possible. “These changes gear the golf club up for the future.” Deer Park general manager Stuart Cruickshank said: “This is a huge boost for the local community. It’s wonderful to see not only the investment in the golf course, but also to the entire country club which includes a swimming pool, spa, gym, bowling centre, restaurant and much more. “The feedback we have received from our members, who feel the benefit of this investment day in and day out, has been extremely encouraging.”

Wexham Park Golf Centre in Buckinghamshire is tipped to become a family-friendly golf venue following a recent takeover. The new owners, the Toureen Group, had long been admirers of Wexham Park prior to acquiring the venue, and under the new agreement, Cornerstone Golf will manage the day-to-day running of the centre, and, together with Toureen Group, they plan to enhance the current facilities with extensive upgrades to the range, short game area, and retail facilities. “We want Wexham Park Golf Centre to become a prime example of a modern, family friendly golf facility that offers something for everyone,” explained Adam Stacey, director of golf operations. “We have a strong membership that includes a vibrant junior section, and we want to maintain this momentum by pushing the club to the forefront of growing the game.” Within the region, Wexham has shared a great relationship with the BB&O. It is a Hub Centre for them and under the direction of Martin Heys, PGA Fellow Professional, they develop the U12 squad. Throughout its time as a centre for promoting the growth and development of golf, Wexham Park has seen many players graduate from its training academy and go on to play at both national and international levels.

12 | GMé August 2016

Trentham staff testing their new Lynx control system

“Getting the most from the course is more achievable now,” said Stant, who heads a greenkeeping team of seven. “When we put fertiliser around bunkers and walk on and off areas for example, we can now water it in automatically, rather than by hand or waiting for the perfect weather forecast.”

“The heritage of the centre and the relationship it has with aspiring golfers within the local community is hugely important to us. “Everyone who comes through our doors is well looked after and made to feel welcome, and hopefully they feel inspired by their surroundings to get out and make the most of the facilities that we have to offer,” added Heys. “The future of the centre is going to be very exciting,” continued Stacey. “We can’t wait to get started on developing the facilities at the club and cementing its place as a sporting hub within the local area.”

The clubhouse at Wexham Park

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Material Matters club together to form sporting alliances In the wake of Team GB’s most successful ever Olympics, Material Matters have been ‘Going for Gold’ themselves with significant growth and expansion in sales, suppliers, ranges and their team, while their focus continues to be driven by their culture of ‘Club Together’ to make buying easy. With over 60 new club reviews completed in the first half of 2016, Material Matters continues to highlight savings across an ever expanding portfolio of purchasing for clubs across the UK, with over 90 per cent of clubs consumable spend now supported by Material Matters. Material Matters continue to use this leverage to secure the very best deals, and have continued to save clubs significant amounts of money, with savings as much as 40 per cent on fuel. In addition, Material Matters are working with forward thinking clubs to motivate, train and develop their teams as Paul Mould, director of Material Matters explains: “We work alongside our eLearning partner, Promote Training, to support clubs,” said Mould, “upskilling in areas like course management for your Green’s Committee and Food & Beverage for your bar and kitchen team to help run a motivated, efficient and profitable business.

“There are a full range of courses available to consider driving up revenue for the club, including driving up Green Fee revenues from members and visitors, and proven methods on how to generate new interest in your club. “What better way to reward your well trained team than by ensuring they dress the part,” added Mould.

Laceby Manor wins approval

Foxhills Collection first in UK to offer E-Z-GO and TKV GPS

Ambitious plans for a £1.5 million extension of a Lincolnshire club have been given the go-ahead. North East Lincolnshire councillors voted unanimously in favour of the proposal at Laceby Manor Golf Club which will include a spa. Roger Burnett, owner of the site, submitted the plans to build an ancillary spa, gym, offices and a warden’s flat with inclusive parking, access and landscaping to the council earlier this year. The new building will be situated adjacent to the existing on-site clubhouse and car park, between two of the golf club’s 15 holiday lodges. Burnett, who took over five years ago, has previously been granted planning permission for 36 holiday lodges and plans to expand accordingly in the future. The new cedar-clad lodge will have “desirable” views overlooking the pond and developers say it will make good use of current unused sections of the site. It is hoped it will create high-quality services for those on golfing holidays and golfing days out at Laceby Manor.

The Foxhills Collection has taken delivery of 50 new E-Z-GO RXV golf cars featuring platinum silver paint, new super deluxe seats, and for the first time in the UK, the TKV GPS. Featuring genuine hand-stitched super deluxe seats, the E-Z-GO RXV golf cars are also fitted with TKV GPS. The system is permanently mounted in the car and offers different levels of amenities for golfers, such as text yardages, enhanced graphics, scoring, messaging and food and beverage ordering. It also facilitates direct communication with golfers on the course and can be used for alerting or advertising additional services. Foxhills and Farleigh are the first clubs in the UK to adopt the advanced TKV GPS. Marc Hayton, managing director at The Foxhills Collection said: “The sight of 50 new golf cars arriving at Foxhills was a great way to start my day! The technology is really impressive, and the look and driving experience is second to none. “Our members and guests will not only enjoy the deluxe seating and wider bag storage trays, but can be aided through

14 | GMé August 2016

Bar staff at North Hants Golf Club kitted out by Material Matters

“So Material Matters has teamed-up with Serious Sport to launch a new Golf Division to their expanding sport’s wear repertoire, that includes professional uniforms for all departments and roles, including bar, kitchen, office and the pro. “It’s the perfect partnership for Material Matters and their customers,” added Mould.

Marc Hayton (left) with Andy Turbin

the intuitive on-screen course guide. The only thing it can’t do for you is improve your swing!” Chris Reeve, director of golf at Foxhills Club & Resort, added: “With 400-acres at our disposal, the TKV GPS is a fabulous way of allowing us to control where the cars can go which helps us protect the course and should prolong the use of cars into the off-season. “There’s a great buzz around the club from members and visitors who have been the first to use the cars.”

picture gallery

In words & Pictures A brief pictorial round-up of events from around the industry, including news of a new honour for IMG’s global head of golf course management and course design, Paul Burley.







In brief... The merger between the Ladies’ Golf Union and The R&A has moved close to completion with the signing of a heads of agreement by the two St Andrews-based organisations. The LGU’s championships and international matches will run as normal this year with the existing LGU team managing those events, with the business operations of the LGU to be integrated with The R&A group of companies with effect from January 1, 2017. PlayMoreGolf’s targeted digital marketing campaigns have generated more than 3,500 new member leads for its 27 partner courses since February 2016. The UK’s first online points-based flexible membership programme provides partner clubs with bespoke support packages, which include sales training, member acquisition marketing campaign support, a fully integrated CRM programme and a web-booking engine that directly interfaces with the club’s booking requirements. Reinforcing its commitment to apparel, PING has announced the appointment of a new dedicated apparel-only UK sales team. The six new appointments are timed to support the launch of the new performance led Spring/Summer 2017 collection and also the recent changes to PING Apparel, which saw Ping Europe Limited take responsibility from Ping Collection Limited for the selling, marketing and customer services of PING Apparel, throughout the UK and Europe. Lofoten Links, one of the world’s most northerly courses, has announced that golfers will now have the opportunity to stay in one of the most uniquely positioned golf resorts in the world as it launches a range of accommodation in the beautiful setting of the Lofoten Islands.


Paul Burley has been awarded PGA Master Professional status in recognition of his wide-ranging achievements in the golf industry. The Singapore-based 54 year old is IMG’s global head of golf course management and course design.


The golf team at Hamptworth Golf Club has been teed-up with the appointment of the aptly-named Michael Mulligan as head pro, who is an experienced and well regarded player and coach with nearly 20 years’ experience.


Lurgan Golf Club’s head pro Peter Hanna has been named PGA Captainelect, and will take-up the ambassadorial role between 2019-21, succeeding Royal Liverpool’s John Heggarty who replaces Nicky Lumb next April.


Burhill Golf and Leisure has welcomed Sarah Blunden onto its yearlong Management in Training programme. Run within the Golf Division, the programme aims to develop talented individuals into Golf General Managers.


Golf footwear innovator, ECCO Golf, has appointed Andrzej Bikowski as new lead designer. Known affectionately as ‘Bartie’ by his colleagues, Bikowski joins from ECCO Sport where he was head of the design team.


Rob Warrener is relishing the opportunity to take on a new role with QHotels after being appointed as the new head of golf at Mottram Hall. “My aim is to grow the business, with the primary focus on promoting golf itself,” he said. | 15



company profile FINGER ON THE BUTTON Ian Robson has been appointed as the UK and Ireland importer and distributor for Foley United and Neary Technology Grinders

ProSport UK is Open for Business The end of your first year in business is an accolade many new start-ups fail to reach, yet for Ian Robson of ProSport UK, business is looking more than a little promising for the year ahead, as Charmian Robson reports.

Company Profile sponsored by ProSport UK (44) 07779 270501

16 | GMé August 2016

ProSport UK is about to celebrate the end of its first year, and is delighted to announce that it has been appointed the importer/distributor of Foley United products for the UK and Ireland, encompassing the extensive range of professional grinders, as well as the Neary Technologies range. This is a major development for managing director, Ian Robson, and marks a significant personal milestone in his 20 year career in the sports turf industry. Having spent 15 of those years in the grinding sector – focusing primarily on golf courses and local authorities – he is now able to bring all that experience in the field to grow the potential of his own business. “I decided to combine all of my knowledge of turf maintenance and greens care into setting up a company to supply and deliver a number of compatible products,” said Robson. “These would be complimentary to each other and appeal to greenkeepers and groundsmen in the sports turf industry, as well as landscapers and contractors. “The unique range of 3D technology Aqua-Aid soil treatment products have

formed the backbone of sales in this very exciting first year,” added Robson, “and I am delighted to have achieved preferred supplier status at St George’s Park with the introduction of a programme of soil treatments from Aqua-Aid. “The Oars PS and HS in particular have a unique structure not found in any other product, giving it a 3D action in the soil to maximise its effectiveness. This along with Verde-Cal G – a calcium sulfate based product – will complement the existing pitch improvement measures already in place at this world renowned centre of sporting excellence.” Aqua-Aid products are American in manufacture, and have been used extensively on sports pitches and golf courses across the United States and Europe. ProSport UK is currently involved in a programme of education and trialling to demonstrate the qualities and benefit of the range to turf professionals, and anyone involved in delivering the best in natural turf in the UK. Dunmurry Springs Golf Club in Ireland and Gerrards Cross Golf Course have already successfully trialled the products, and are now implementing specific

ON A ROLL True Surface rollers installed on a John Deere machine in use at Royal St Georges

ON TRIAL Adam McColl, course manager at Gerrards Cross who has been trialling Aqua-Aid products

THE MASTERS The Grove, where ProSport will provide support for the British Masters in October

programmes to tackle dry patch, thatch and black layer. Now that negotiations with Foley have come to fruition, their staple of grinders will be joined by the True Surface range of greens care equipment, with ProSport UK the sole distributor in the UK. Thirteen different turf maintenance inserts are available from groomers and slitters, to brushes and vibrating rollers. ProSport UK offers a comprehensive array of products to meet specific turf maintenance needs. During his career, Robson has worked extensively with head greenkeepers, where his wealth of knowledge has helped to enhance their grinding operations.

His expertise over the years is backed by sales in golf courses from small clubs to the top Open Championship venues, and later this year, ProSport will be at the British Masters at The Grove, providing vital tournament support to keep the mowers in tip top condition throughout the competition. Foley United boast some of the most cutting edge grinders on the market, and have options across all of their ranges to suit any budget, whilst delivering excellent results. Be it with the top of the range ACCU-Master Model 653 Reel grinder, or the Model 450 Rotary Blade grinder. There is also a wide range of backup products available, spanning from Work

Stations and backlappers to universal Height Gauges. All of the additional products have been developed with the user in mind, concentrating on enhancing the grinding experience and giving your blades a precision cut every time. As for the future for ProSport, Robson is confident of continued success in the months and years ahead: “I am looking forward to a challenging but exciting time ahead. “I hope to develop the UK market and appoint several regional dealers for Foley and Neary products to expand on the service and increase the potential across the UK. If anyone is interested in discussing the possibilities, I am as they say ‘open for business’.” GMé | 17




GOOD FELLOW David Clare, director of golf at Gloria Golf

ROOM WITH A VIEW The impressive Gloria clubhouse

Gloria is Clare’s Turkish Delight As a Fellow of the PGA, David Clare, director of golf at the Gloria Golf resort in Turkey, talks to Michael Lenihan about life abroad, and the rise of Turkey as a golfing paradise. The late Caroline Aherne’s wonderful comic creation Mrs Merton famously asked Debbie McGee “So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?” One could ask the same sort of question to David Clare, the director of golf at Gloria Hotels & Resorts, in Turkey. “So, David, what persuaded you to move from the north-west of England to the sunshine paradise of Turkey, with its beautiful countryside, stunning coast and beaches, generous people and delicious food?” Exactly, dear reader. What was he thinking…? Since Clare moved to Turkey he has witnessed an extraordinary rise and rise in the country’s golfing profile. His current place of work celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, while Clare himself will reach the same landmark for Turkish residence two years later. It’s a far cry from the Portal Golf & Country Club, in Cheshire, which he left in 1997 after seven years as head professional. Clare, 53, was a late starter in golf, but still managed to turn pro at quite a young age, as he explained when we met at the Gloria clubhouse. “I started getting involved with golf when I was 11 or 12, reasonably late, I suppose,” he said.

18 | GMé August 2016

“That was through my father, at Crewe Golf Club – playing with them, caddying and so on. “Then, quite quickly, I got down to scratch at 15 playing for Cheshire. And then I turned pro. I went through the tour school which, in those days, was at La Manga Club, where, if you got your card it meant you could enter the tournament Monday pre-qualifiers. “In those days if you didn’t have your so-called card, you could only enter three events in the year. You’d enter the Benson & Hedges, the Greater Manchester Open, Scottish Open and those sort of things. “If you had your card, however, every week there was a Monday pre-qualifier which you could do. Then of course if you got into the tournament and made the cut, you could play the following week, and go on like that. “It was quite easy to get your card, but then it was difficult to get into the events. You’d have a lot of good players trying for the available spots obviously. In those days you’d go to Africa as well in the winter and do the Sunshine Tour, North and South. I played full-time for about eight or nine years before I went to Portal.” Having reluctantly accepted that he wasn’t going to make it as a tour profes-

SHARK BAIT Pictured with Greg Norman at the KPMG Golf Business Forum in 2010, which was held at the Turkish resort

sional Clare changed his life overnight, going from tour pro one day to golf director at Portal the next. “These were the days before the PGA management program,” he smiled. “I qualified as a PGA professional while I was playing full-time – it was a threeyear course so I was qualified by the time I was 19. But there was nothing on it to do with managerial things.” As so often in life, one thing led to another, but it was the playing of the sport, rather than the administration of it, that gave him the opportunity to move to the sunshine and Turkey, gateway to Asia. Clare added: “I was at Portal for eight years. I went to play in Istanbul – I got

invited over with some ex-players in 1997 – and I saw this amazing complex (Kemer Golf & Country Club), designed by Donald Steel. I met the owner and, just by chance, got friendly with him. About three months later they contacted me and enquired if I was interested in going there. “I’d been married about three years and my wife at the time was working in marketing for Rolls-Royce in Crewe. So we decided, yeah, we’d go over and see what it was like for two years. And I’ve been here ever since. “I was fascinated immediately. We had all these local kids caddying from the village, like a peasant village. In the

middle of this you’ve got your two villages and in the middle this mega complex… houses of 10 and 20 million Euros.” That was in 1998. At that stage Turkey was just starting to create a ripple in the world of golf tourism. Since then, however, its rise, of course, has been phenomenal, as it grew to rival the more established destinations of Portugal and Spain. And, arguably, at the centre of that burgeoning empire is Belek, where Clare finds himself now, leaving Kemer for Gloria in 2008. Belek has grown from a beach village best known for its views of the snowcapped Taurus Mountains into a thriving golf hub, having not looked back | 19




SWING EASY David Clare, who has enjoyed 18 happy years thus far in Turkey

“I think I would only go somewhere where it was really new, of which there’s very few around these days”

20 | GMé August 2016

since it pulled in four of the world’s top five – Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose – for the eight-man $5.3m Turkish Airlines World Golf Finals in 2013. Turkey, and Belek in particular, was now making waves, let alone creating a ripple. “When I came to Turkey in 1998 there were about four or five courses here and three in Istanbul. Those three each had a British professional – me, Chris White and John Dent. That’s all changed now too. The Turkish guys have come through, so, as the foreigners leave they’re not being replaced,” noted Clare. His role now, overseeing the golf side of the business at Gloria Hotels & Resorts – two 18-hole championship courses and the nine-hole Verde course – is a complete sea change from his life as a touring pro. While initially, at Portal, it was a new experience, moving to Kemer and, subsequently, Gloria constitutes something of a culture shock for the affable guy from Nantwich in Cheshire. He said: “(At Portal) With the corporate stuff, a lot of it was outside looking after them, dealing with them, even doing clinics and being involved that way. You weren’t actually behind a desk. You’d have secretaries to do the paperwork and that type of stuff. You were still involved on the ground with the golf. “Then to go to Kemer, where, because we had a massive equestrian department, plus tennis and golf – in all there were six departments – that was a different experience. Suddenly you’re given a budget, and you’ve now got to make that work.

“We had to bring in the members, as there was no corporate business whatsoever, because it was so new. Then, to go from there to here, where it’s all about numbers and operating, well... certainly here you’re really behind a desk a lot more.” When you’ve been successful in such roles, as Clare certainly has, people tend to sit up and take notice. But he’s in no rush to depart Turkey – and who can blame him? He considered: “I don’t know about the future, because this is the biggest job here: 45 holes, the three hotels. “I’ve been involved with the federation as well. I was the national coach for eight years and we won some things. We’ve got the kids playing. When I came we had 600 golfers; the national team was six. In four years we won the European Boys’ Championships. “I think I would only go somewhere where it was really new, of which there’s very few around these days. “I’ve seen so many things grow at Gloria,” he said. “We’ve put together the big tournament with Tiger Woods, a $12m event. We’ve had the World Amateur here. We’ve done all sorts of different things. “With that knowledge, to go somewhere new would be exciting, but to go to somewhere like Dubai where, it’s already set up, I wouldn’t really fancy that.” That’s not to say people won’t come calling. But Clare is currently very happy where he is, thank you. Gloria, it seems, has stolen his heart. GMé

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hills golf and sports club

Following bankruptcy The Hills are alive again Peter Driver, Ransomes Jacobsen’s long-standing public relations manager, who retires at the end of August, pays a nostalgic visit to Hills Golf and Sports Club in Molndal, Sweden. I first visited Hills Golf and Country Club as it was then known, back in 2006 shortly after it opened; returned in 2013 after the club had come out of bankruptcy and my final visit was in April this year, just as the new season was starting. Hills Golf and Sports Club is located just south of Gothenburg, and is now owned by a six-man consortium headed by European Tour golf professional, Johan Edfors. The course was designed by Arthur Hills, Steve Forrest Associates and built to be northern Europe’s premier championship course. Set within 150 hectares, of which 60 are managed, there is ample space to accommodate large galleries. It opened in the summer of 2006 and at 7,100 yards is around 600 yards shorter than on my previous visit. This is the result of losing some leased land following the club’s financial crisis, but with some clever adaptations, the lost holes have

22 | GMé August 2016

been reincorporated into the existing land, ensuring that it is still a formidable championship golf course. Each hole has seven tee positions which allows golfers of all abilities to enjoy the course. On my arrival, I was greeted by course manager Kerr Rowan, who immediately apologised that Mats Sterner, the managing director, was running behind schedule and would join us shortly. As is typical in Sweden, the hospitality was superb and we were ushered to a table in the Members area, where we were immediately offered the lunch menu. Rowan is the son of a greenkeeper and was born at Royal Troon – not a bad pedigree for someone who was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. He attended Elmwood College in 1997 to begin his formal greenkeeping education, then joined the greenkeeping team at the Welcome Hotel in Stratford-uponAvon.

He returned to Elmwood College for a year, then on to Gleneagles, back to Elmwood to complete his Higher National Diploma Golf Course Management, Greenkeeping and upon graduation in 2000, went to the USA and spent seven months at Westchester Country Club, followed by almost a year at Augusta. He returned to the UK and worked at Dundonald Links for four years, then went to Australia for six months, returning to spend four years as deputy head greenkeeper at The Carrick on Loch Lomond, followed by three years as head greenkeeper at Ranfurly Castle before taking up his current role in April 2015. Rowan heads a team of 20 in the summer, which reduces to five in winter. It’s a cosmopolitan crew and includes six Brits, two Hungarians, one Italian and one Turk; the remainder of the team are all Swedes. THE TEAMWORKS (LR): Kerr Rowan, course manager of Hills Golf Club, Sweden, Ivan Vasilev of Jacobsen dealer GVM and managing director, Mats Sterner

“Every activity on the golf course is concentrated on achieving the club’s vision, and that is by June 2017 to be the best in Sweden” “Every activity on the golf course is concentrated on achieving the club’s vision, and that is by June 2017 to be the best in Sweden,” said Rowan. “Right now I think we’re in a good place. We’ve learned a lot from last year and will be tweaking the maintenance regime on the greens slightly to make them firmer. “I’ve had ten guys in over the winter to carry out a lot of work. For the last two-three years it’s been mainly about re-construction; last winter it was more about refinement and raising the quality of the golf course. “We’ve concentrated on drainage and added 22 additional drains on the fairways to ensure we keep them firm and fast. We’ve also installed about 400 metres of new walking paths, to provide dedicated direction for the golfers and new cart paths on the 7th and 8th so that we can keep the golfers moving, and speed up play. “During the really dark, cold winter months we concentrated on tree management, thinning and removing where necessary to give more light and better air movement to create a positive growing environment for the grass. “We’ll continue to measure all the work and quality levels across the golf course undertaking monthly audits on tees, fairways and bunkers together with

the weekly testing of greens for trueness, smoothness and firmness, using a variety of tools including a Parrymeter, Clegg Hammer and Stimpmeter,” added Rowan. “Other work carried out included the construction of a new 18th tee, extending the hole by 70 metres and flattening the landing zone to make the approach better. We also did something similar on the 16th, and on the 8th we widened the fairway to give more options for the golfer. “Our philosophy is to provide a course that is more playable for a wider range of golfers. More golfer friendly, but less punishing from the tee. That’s why we have seven tees on all holes, which enable us to cater for the high handicapper up the Tour golfer. “We have an LPGA Tour event in 2017 and that’s why we have our vision in place; we want to be Sweden’s No 1 golfing experience. “We recently signed a five-year preferred supplier agreement with Gräsvårdsmaskiner AB (GVM), our local Jacobsen distributor, and I’ve been particularly impressed with the LF fairway mowers – we have an older LF3800 and two of the latest version, the LF570. “They follow the contours of the fairways really well; we box off most of the time and the finish is very good.

“I also like the Eclipse 322; great rideon mower, excellent consistency of cut, easy to maintain and very frugal on fuel. This season we purchased four Eclipse2 walking greens mowers and a Smithco Spray Star 2000 from GVM as we continue to refresh the fleet.” While I was speaking to Rowan, Sterner arrived at our table. I now had an opportunity to talk to him about the management of the club and its development in the future. Sterner is an interesting character, who began his 30-year career in the golf sector in 1985 as a professional golfer, and in 2000 competed on the Challenge Tour. In 2002 became the director of golf at Hills, and in 2007 was appointed to managing director. He resigned in 2011, when the club got into financial difficulties, but returned when he was approached by the new ownership group in 2012. He is responsible for 40 staff in high season, which reduces to 15 in winter. The restaurant had been fully refurbished and only opened three days ahead of my visit. It was almost full when we sat down to our lunch, and I could see that Sterner had difficulty concentrating on his meal as he was watching how the staff performed and went about their duties. | 23



hills golf and sports club

A ROOM WITH A VIEW The clubhouse at Hills Golf Club

“We lost between 50-60 members following the bankruptcy, but have now replaced them and our current membership stands at just over 700”

24 | GMé August 2016

“As Kerr has already explained, we are driven by our vision and that’s to provide the best golf experience in Sweden,” said Sterner. “Obviously that means a first-class golf course, but what we want is for every aspect of what we do to be first-class. “The level of service from our staff has to be our top priority; they are responsible for the overall experience and we spend a lot of time and effort training them to deliver this. “Also, to achieve this we need trusted partners who buy into this vision. For example, in March we signed a fiveyear preferred supplier agreement with Gräsvårdsmaskiner AB (GVM), our local distributor for Jacobsen golf course maintenance equipment. “Obviously the agreement is for the purchase of machinery, but it includes a specified and planned maintenance programme for every item, together with full staff involvement and training. “We lost between 50-60 members following the bankruptcy, but have now replaced them and our current membership stands at just over 700. We also have around 25,000 rounds a year, in what is a relatively short season by UK standards. “To ensure that we stay on track with our vision we send out a detailed survey the membership, which then drives various tailored marketing programmes to ensure they maximise their usage of the facility. “Probably the most exciting project and one that will ensure the long-term future of the club is the €150 million joint venture with Veidekke Bostad AB,

a major Swedish house building group, to construct 250 houses and 150 apartments. It will be the fourth largest housebuilding contract of its kind in Sweden and is due to be completed within six years. It will be known as Hills Villastad. “The first 17 houses were all sold, off plan, within a week of being released in the first quarter of 2016. These initial villas will be ready for occupancy in 2018 with the final phase completed in 2021,” continued Sterner. “There is a great demand for housing adjacent to the golf course due to the scenic environment and proximity to the Sandsjöbacka nature reserve. Veidekke have already received over 1000 applications. “We think it’s important that the dwellings are built taking into account the unique nature and proximity to our club and it was important for us to be a part of the construction process. The villas will be built on the hillside to the right of the clubhouse, while the apartments will be located on the lower, flatter part of the area. The development will also include a 50,000 square metre park built with the support and co-operation of the Mölndal municipality. “We are also delighted to welcome Carin Koch, Sweden’s former Solheim Cup captain, who has joined us as corporate events manager. She is a great addition to the team and her appointment is further proof of the realisation of our Vision 2017.” Hills has risen from a catastrophic financial situation and restored its credibility within Sweden’s golfing sector, and Vision 2017 looks a shoe-in. GMé

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bunker renovation

“It is a superb product for resolving many drainage issues, and it is also perfectly suited for bunker applications, which is a great fit with the other products in our portfolio at EcoBunker”

Allen plugs the gap in bunker drainage Richard Allen, the inventor of EcoBunker has been appointed as the UK golf distributor for HydroBlox, a unique drainage solution for bunkers as Aidan Patrick reports. PARTNERSHIP Richard Allen (above right) with Chuck Hutton of IVI-Golf

26 | GMé August 2016

According to Thomas Edison, ‘Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress….’ How many of us, passionate golfers all if we are honest with ourselves, have felt discontent about one aspect or other of our golf course? The chances are that many of you reading this article have, at some time, dreamt about improving or renovating your golf course in some way. However great your ideas may be, unless you are one of only a few hundred golf course architects covering the globe, or a very talented greenkeeper with a strong influence at your club, you’re not ever likely to see them realised. However, someone who was discontent about the unsustainable way bunkers were constructed is the inventor of the EcoBunker construction method, Richard Allen, and the story of how Allen’s ‘restlessness’ has progressed to a viable and sustainable bunker construction option for many golf courses, starts many years ago. “Ever since I first picked up my first cut down golf club given to me by my dad, who was an excellent amateur golfer and

surveyor by profession, I was gripped by the game and in particular the design aspects,” said Allen. “Years later, after considering applying for a professional qualification in golf course design, I finally decided on a ‘safer’ career, with more job opportunities, hence my decision to become a civil engineer. “Even though I was working full time in a demanding and exciting job – focussed mainly on highway, drainage and utility infrastructure design – I read widely, and discovered that several civil engineers had made a major impact on the golfing world, which was always an area I was keen to work within. “For example, Seth Raynor, the original choice for the design of Cypress Point before his untimely early death, was a practicing civil engineer and remains a major influence on many of today’s designers. “In the early 90’s the construction of the M4 River Neath Crossing cut through Swansea Bay Golf Course, and I took on the responsibility of designing permanent and temporary haul roads and access roads across the course.

LEVEL BEST Richard Allen getting the levels right at Apeldoer

SANDY PAR A beach bunker at Apeldoer Golf Club

“I am sure my knowledge of golf helped me to design solutions which minimised disruption to the ongoing course operations, which reduced the costs and compensation claims. “Following this, I sought out every opportunity I could to use my civil engineering skills to assist in solving golf related challenges. “Amongst several highlights, I got to design a new par three – where a new pond required planning consent and permits from the Environment Agency – and later, a land drainage project at Maesteg Golf Club that I surveyed, designed and supervised was judged to be The Water Management Project of the Year by the STRI in 2010.” So how did this lead on to invention of the synthetic bunker edge solution? “I think that golf bunkers, more than any other aspect of the golf course, require a combination of greenkeeping (agronomy), architectural (shaping) and engineering knowledge,” added Allen. “The fringe grass and the shaping allowing for ease of maintenance are the greenkeepers domain, but drainage and structural issues (particularly if a high face is needed) tend to be civil engineering skills. “Quite simply, as an engineer who was passionate about golf, my awareness of bunker edge maintenance challenges did, I think, help me to spot the opportunity when they presented itself.”

Moving on from this, Allen has also applied his knowledge gained working in golf course design to benefit his civil engineering work. “Sustainable Drainage (SUDS) is big issue at the moment, as we look at the potential impacts of climate change and increased potential for flooding following more extreme intensity rainfall events. “A key objective of SUDS is to try and infiltrate as much rainfall into the ground as possible, reducing run-off. This relies very much on creating permeable soil conditions, but to my surprise I couldn’t find any useful relevant civil engineering design guidance. “However, through my interest in golf, I found that by using a modification of the USGA green profile design in the base of swales and detention basins, I could infiltrate rainfall quicker, and more reliably, and this design detail is now being widely used.” As a consequence of combining engineering and greenkeeping practices, Allen has now been noticed by some leading suppliers to the golf sector of drainage and erosion control products. His company, EcoBunker, is now working in partnership with US based IVI-Golf (famous for the Sandtrapper range of bunker liners) to jointly promote a range of erosion control products in Europe. Not content with solving edge erosion problems via his ‘brainchild’ EcoBunker,

Allen is now very excited at a new opportunity to resurrect his passion for solving drainage problems. Back in 2010, Allen took the opportunity to design a drainage solution at Pyle & Kenfig GC. Despite being a mostly free draining links style course, the 10th fairway had stubbornly refused to drain for many years, with standing water an issue. “Through research, I found a novel product called ‘Aquadyne’ and I decided to incorporate it into an integrated drainage design solution,” said Allen. “The results were a resounding technical success, which eliminated ponding, even during very heavy rain.” Many greenkeepers will testify to the success of this product and many more will wonder what happened to it. Suffice to say, that this drainage product is now back, and even better than before under the new brand name ‘HydroBlox’. “I am honoured to be chosen by HydroBlox to represent them as their preferred supplier to the golf sector in the UK,” commented Allen. “It is a superb product for resolving many drainage issues, and it is also perfectly suited for bunker applications, which is a great fit with the other products in our portfolio at EcoBunker. “As a result we are now able to offer a ‘one-stop’ shop suite of products for bunker construction, as well as other novel, low maintenance solutions for the golf course.” GMé | 27


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digital marketing

“We knew that we had the best product on the market, but the problem was that we were just a little too expensive”

SIGN OF THE TIMES John Aherne of Golfgraffix at Carton House

Golfgraffix offering clubs your course in their pocket Scott MacCallum speaks with Golfgraffix managing director, John Aherne, and discovers how clubs can communicate more effectively in the digital age, whilst at the same time, helping to generate additional income streams. Golf has always been notoriously slow at moving with the times, with many clubs more than happy to carry on in the same manner which was ideal for the 1960s, but not so in today’s more competitive, commercial climate. The game need to modernise and golf clubs need to ensure that they are providing their membership with the best possible package, whilst making themselves attractive to visitors and potential visitors alike. “Golf clubs in the UK and Ireland spend less than 1.5 per cent on marketing against the 4.5 per cent which is the average throughout the leisure industry,” revealed John Aherne, managing director of Golfgraffix, a leading visualisation and marketing company, which is offering clubs the perfect means to promote themselves, while at the same time ensuring that members and guests benefit from additional information.

“We know that golf is experiencing a drop in participation with many clubs struggling to attract new players,” said Aherne. “We also know that golf clubs are not sure how to communicate effectively in this new digital age properly, nor fully understand how to advertise themselves properly. Indeed they can’t often afford to advertise themselves. We can help them.” Golfgraffix produces bespoke Apps for golf clubs and golf resorts which provide any amount of useful information for members and visitors – as well as proven additional income streams – which can be a real lifeline for golf clubs feeling the pinch. Aimed at both members and guests, the app is a prefect communication and marketing tool. There are news sections, videos and on-line forms for those people wishing to apply for membership.

For the visitor, there are opportunities to book tee times and find their way to an unfamiliar course through GPS, while 3D course guides and 3D Flybys ensure that even a first time visitor can tee up with useful knowledge about the course. The pro can also introduce loyalty schemes in the shape of rewards for regular purchasers. For the member, there is also tee time booking, social media and tips from the pro to bring that eclectic score down on a regular basis. “We knew that we had the best product on the market, but the problem was that we were just a little too expensive,” explained Aherne, who started the company in 2009. “Clubs would love the product, but when we started to talk about the cost of the App, that’s when the conversation would falter. They absolutely loved it but they just couldn’t afford it.” | 29



APP IN-HAND John Aherne showing off his iPhone running the Carton House app

“So not only is the club getting the product with all the bells and whistles on it, they are generating revenue as well”

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But not to be daunted, the Golfgraffix team sat down and looked at other options. What they came up with is a business model which would gladden the heart of even the most impoverished of golf club treasurers. “We’ve gone back to the golf clubs and said that we know you love the product, but also know it might be outside of your budget,” explained Aherne. “So rather than paying the full amount, we will offer the full product for £50 per month, and the worst case scenario for you would be that over the length of the three-year agreement you will pay £1,800, and in exchange you will get a product which is worth £10,000.” The proposal became workable because the club assigns the in-app digital marketing rights to Golfgraffix who then bring in local sponsors on behalf of the golf club. “When we reach a certain figure, a revenue share with the golf club kicks in so in most cases the original £1,800 commitment is wiped out and the App starts to become a profit centre for the club. “So not only is the club getting the product with all the bells and whistles on it, they are generating revenue as well,” explained Aherne, who added that sponsors generally receive two four-ball tee times annually as part of their agreement. With 250 golf clubs worldwide already signed up to Golfgraffix, Aherne expects

to achieve the targeted figure of 750 clubs in the UK and Ireland within the next three years, and the company is expanding to cope with the demands brought by such growth. “It is a case of visiting golf clubs and selling the App to the committees and members face to face. We are currently signing up around six clubs per month, but we expect that rate to ramp up significantly quite soon. “We have increased our staff from four to 13 this year alone, with a further increase to 18 due before the end of the year. A sales office has been opened in Preston to complement the operations headquarters which is in Ireland,” added Aherne. Great care has been taken in recruiting the correct people because Aherne is well aware that when the team is approaching sponsors, they are doing so on behalf of the golf club. “We work extremely closely with the golf club and they have a veto on sponsors, so if they don’t want a competing golf shop or a competing restaurant, that’s fine by us.” With the Golfgraffix ClubLink App providing so much inter activity and wonderful information, we will all need to ensure that our smartphones or tablets are added to the check list of clubs, trolley, shoes before we head off to the golf club. Perhaps golf is beginning to move with the times after all. GMé

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

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

YOUR COURSE IN THEIR POCKET UK Office: +44 (0)1772686761 Irish Office: +353 (0)14100990 | 31



“I had been disappointed with the poor quality of many videos and aerial photos of golf courses I had seen on golf club websites and realised we could do something much better”

In conversation with Ken Moodie As one of the industry’s most respected golf course architects, Ken Moodie is about to take flight into the world of aerial photography with a little help from his son. HONOURED Pictured in 2005 receiving the Toro Award from Bob Buckingham at St Andrews, and above, the Creative Golf Video team: (L-R) Sam Moodie, Mark Kendrick and Ken Moodie

GMé Where did you grow-up, and at what age did you first become interested in playing golf? KM I grew up in Scotland, in the town of Linlithgow, and started playing golf from the age of three or four. I was given a plastic golf club and ball on holiday and followed my Dad around the golf course with it before progressing to cutdown hickory clubs and eventually steelshafted ones. As a family we used to play putting and pitch & putt in the park and so I was able to learn the basics of the game that way. GMé You were educated at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, and achieved a BA Honours in Landscape Architecture, so was it always your intention to work as a golf course architect? KM No, originally I had planned to work in all areas of landscape design and had the naïve impression that I could do some golf course design part of the time. It was only because a couple of my fellow students, Tom McKenzie and

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Ross McMurray, who coincidentally are currently the president and vice president of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, were studying Landscape Architecture as a route into Golf Course Architecture that I looked at it more seriously. I was able to write the brief for my own project in my final year at university, and utilised the site for the Loch Lomond Golf Course when it was first being planned, and before Tom Weiskoft had even heard of it. There was even a brief time when my design might have been built, although I realise now that I would have lacked the skills at that time to do it justice. GMé In 1989 you joined Hawtree as an associate architect, which must have been a fantastic way to learn your craft. During you nine years working for Martin, what would you say was your defining moment? KM I was very fortunate to work on many projects throughout Europe during my time with Martin and learnt a great deal during that period.

ON THE MIC At the 2011 EIGCA Conference

FAVOURITE Marine Golf Club in Sylt, Germany

My best experiences were working with him on the rebuilding and recontouring of the greens at Royal Birkdale, and the six months I spent living and working on a project at Real Golf de Bendinat in Mallorca. I also enjoyed helping to design and realise the Millennium Golf Course at Vilamoura which entailed regular visits to Portugal which I loved.

This was built for a charitable group in partnership with the local council, on the basis that disadvantaged children would get free access for 50 per cent of the time. It was great to attend the opening with my colleague, Ken Brown, and to see so many kids enjoying playing the course I had designed. It has no bunkers but lots of interesting mounds, swales and grass hollows to provide interest.

GMé In 1998, a year after GMé was launched, you decided to branch out on your own and form Creative Golf Design, so what prompted the move away from Hawtree, and do you have any regrets? KM Not at all. The first couple of years were tough, but I was fortunate to have some ongoing work finishing projects I had started with Hawtree’s as I built the business. I am very fortunate to say that, since then, there has been no time when I have not been busy with work. GMé Now into your 19th year running your own practice, what would you say has been your proudest design project to date, and why? KM In terms of new designs, while I am proud of the new championship links course I designed for the Marine Golf Club in the north of Germany, on a very flat and featureless site, I am probably most proud of a small pitch & putt course I designed at Stockwood Park, near Luton, which opened in 2005.

GMé In 2007, you were invited to become president of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, a post you held for two years. What, in your opinion, are the benefits of becoming a member of the EIGCA? KM The main benefit – in addition to your recognition as a qualified golf course architect – is the opportunity to meet and discuss golf course design and construction issues with fellow architects and partner consultants and companies within the golf industry, which I find invaluable. We have wonderful conferences every year where there is the opportunity to learn new design ideas and techniques, and to contribute to discussions about the development of the game which is in all our interests. GMé You’ve been involved – together with your son – in the recent launch of Creative Golf Video, so what is the thinking behind this new venture?

KM I had been disappointed with the poor quality of many videos and aerial photos of golf courses I had seen on golf club websites and realised we could do something much better. Many of these are produced by complete amateurs who happen to have a drone but little knowledge of how to best present a golf course in visual terms. We started with a small drone for aerial footage and have now teamed up with Frozen Moon Productions to offer clients complete video packages using a more sophisticated drone and a whole range of other cameras and equipment for ground-level and internal clubhouse shots. These videos can be used in different parts of the golf club’s website and also compiled into a short promotional video to give potential visitors and new members the opportunity to see the facilities on offer. Short clips can also be provided for use on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter for social marketing campaigns. GMé Are you able to pilot the drone whilst photographing courses, or do you leave that to your son, and have you ever harboured any ambitions to become a pilot? KM Yes, we are both qualified drone pilots but I generally leave it to my son so I can concentrate on the shots we are trying to get. | 33




FLYING HIGH A panoramic view of holes 7 and 9 at Moortown Golf Club

“Unfortunately there are too many amateur designers in the marketplace who give the profession a bad name”

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We are also working with Mark Kendrick, of Frozen Moon Productions who is a very experienced video filmmaker and producer, as well as a drone pilot, so he is involved in most of the video projects we do. I would like to learn to fly a plane one day but probably when I am less busy with work! GMé It’s often said that a ‘picture speaks a thousand words’ so if true, do you think that video will ever take the place of the written word? KM I am sure it will never completely replace, it but in today’s culture of gathering information quickly via the internet, pictures and video are even more important than they were in grabbing attention and giving a powerful first impression, which is crucial in gaining business in an increasingly competitive golf market.

GMé What one line of advice would you give to any graduate currently considering a career in golf course architecture? KM You need to have a real passion for golf and golf course design because it is not an easy profession to succeed in. GMé Do you prefer to be referred to as an architect or a designer? KM I don’t really mind although I suppose the term ‘architect’ does imply a higher degree of technical knowledge and professionalism which is required to do the job properly. Unfortunately there are too many amateur designers in the marketplace who give the profession a bad name, and in my opinion, it would be good if only qualified golf course architects could use that title.

GMé How do you see you time split between Creative Golf Design and the new video business?

GMé How often do you get the chance to play golf, and do you actually enjoy playing, or do you spend most of the time assessing the design of the hole?

KM Most of my time will still be spent on the golf course design business and my son Sam, and our business partner Mark, will be taking the lead in the future video work that we do. However, I will maintain a keen interest and help with setting up the plan for the video work to present the golf courses in the best way possible and review the footage with them afterwards.

KM I play golf most weeks when I am not too busy with work, and find playing relaxing without analysing the design aspects of the course. In addition to playing at my home club, I am a member of two golf societies, including the Alister MacKenzie Society, which gives me the opportunity to play some of the best golf courses in the north of England. GMé


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royal palm marrakech

By Royal Appointment in six-star Marrakech A couple of months apart, both Michael Lenihan and Mark Alexander visited the impressive Royal Palm Marrakech to sample the best of Moroccan hospitality while assessing first-hand, the challenges facing an emerging golfing destination.

36 | GMĂŠ August 2016 DESERT OASIS The par 4, 14th (main picture) requires a carry over sand dunes to the green, and right, the sun sets on the six-star Royal Palm Marrakech hotel

Not too far from the entrenched enclaves of Spain and Portugal, almost in earshot of the ex-pat bars and alltoo familiar twang of Brits abroad, is an emerging golfing destination eking out a niche in the ever-challenging travel market. Morocco has already enjoyed the attentions of movie stars and musicians during the ‘60s and ‘70s and now it has set its sights on golfers. The country has seen an extraordinary surge in new golf developments in recent years, resulting in clusters of high-end resorts designed to cater for those more adventurous types who have grown weary of the northern reaches of the Mediterranean. One such oasis is the six-star, Royal Palm Marrakech. This sprawling, exuberant resort is one of a new breed of golfing venues recently opened around the exotic city of Marrakech. Intentionally grand and beautifully styled, the Royal Palm Marrakech has been purposely built to impress travelling golfers who seek sunshine, golf and luxurious surroundings. There are a host of different restaurants to choose from as well as lavish villas and suites and an expansive sports centre to enjoy. The main pool spans 2,000m2 while the spa, sports centre and kids club

might as well be resort entities in their own right with each featuring the kind of facilities and physical presence of a boutique residence – the 3,500m2 spa with its 18 treatment rooms is simply vast. Everything here is on massive scale. It has to be. The snowy peaks of the Atlas Mountains act as a constant and monumental backdrop. And nowhere is this effect more pronounced than on the Cabell-Robinson-designed course which exceeds the ubiquitous 7,000-yard mark when played off the back tees. Book an early tee-time to avoid the haze and your regimentation will be rewarded with jawdropping back drops as well as a course to yourself. High handicappers will appreciate the wide open spaces off the tee, which the resort’s director of golf, Michel Besanceney, says reflects a more friendly approach to golf. “The course has been built to please clients, not to please 0.01 per cent of the very best players. I want to smile at the end of my 18 holes and for the golfers to make more pars than usual.” And he should know. Besanceney is a former French tour player who teed it up with the best of them at the 1995 Open Championship in St Andrews (he played

“The course has been built to please clients, not to please 0.01 per cent of the very best players” © Mark Alexander Photography | 37



royal palm marrakech PARADISE LOST (L-R) The par five, 6th hole with the Atlas Mountains in the background; one of three eateries located next to the swimming pool; an external view of the hotel overlooking the course and below, the 11th.

© Mark Alexander Photography

“Training is not that easy. Language is an issue because the gardeners don’t speak English or French. It’s difficult. You have to be patient here”

a practice round with Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Constantino Rocca which he describes as “good fun”). He was also the project manager during the construction phase of the golf course at Royal Palm Marrakech, which eventually opened in 2013. He explains that prior to work commencing, the site was a featureless plain onto which 1,500 palm trees were introduced and 1,000,000m3 of earth moved. Today, it’s hard to believe so much has been transported to such a natural-looking site. “Everything you see here was planted by hand. It was like the surface of the moon before,” he explains. If the fairways are welcoming, the putting surfaces have the potential to cancel out any advantage with numerous pin positions that could cause concern. These include properly devilish Sunday placements which look as if they are used as frequently as woolly scarves during a Moroccan summer. “During the construction process, we wanted to make sure we had plenty of

38 | GMé August 2016

pin positions and flat landing areas, but Cabell, like most architects, wanted to kick some ass at the opening pro-am. He wanted to give the pros something to remember,” says Besanceney. “I suggested we put the handbrake on, and we did and we succeeded because most people still enjoy playing the course today.” There are greens out there with big slopes, but the majority adopt a more subtle approach if a little off the pace you would expect. This is a course to be savoured along with the sunshine, but it certainly won’t be the toughest course you’ll ever play. Saying that, it has its moments – the par three 7th with a peninsula green is a tester, while the dogleg right at 13 demands an accurate tee shot and a well-judged second to make the dancefloor in regulation. The downhill oneshotter at 17 poses even more questions with water to the right and bunkers to the left. But Besanceney admits there is still work to do on his golfing oasis.

“I am impatient,” he says. “We suffer with the greens. The water we use is recycled waste water from the city. It’s OK for construction because the water had many elements in it that helped the grass to grow. But when it comes to maintenance of the greens, there is disease. It’s kind of tricky.” He continues: “The other challenge here is that everything is clay, so greenkeeping can be tough.” The resort has only one greenkeeper and 45 gardeners with limited golf course experience. Besanceney says the transfer of knowledge is ongoing but far from straightforward. “Training is not that easy. Language is an issue because the gardeners don’t speak English or French. It’s difficult. You have to be patient here.” The resort is spread over 231 hectares and was once a working olive grove. In fact, Royal Palm Marrakech continues to produce its own olive oil which has a decidedly nutty overtone and is used liberally in all three restaurants. Outside, the 18-hole course ambles its way through the former grove with space

A prestigious oasis of calm in Marrakech

© Mark Alexander Photography

aplenty. And yet despite its size and limited horticultural expertise, the resort is well maintained with colourful flower beds surrounding both tees and greens. The issues Besanceney describes are well hidden from the public. Royal Palm Marrakech is a visually pleasing resort, and since it is part of the Beachcomber group, it carries off it duties with poise and dignity. The service is impeccable and the accommodation fabulously designed with contemporary Moroccan styling. The legs may be paddling furiously beneath the surface, but back on top everything is calm. Looking ahead, Besanceney has a clear goal in mind. “I want to create a perfect garden that matches the level of the hotel,” he says. “I always try to find better quality and then everything will come from that. For example, the greens are slow – we can’t get a good speed on the greens. “They are getting better, but they are still slow. That’s something we’re trying to fix.”

Besanceney’s pursuit of improvement bodes well, especially as the golf element of the resort will soon have its own clubhouse featuring a restaurant, bar, locker room, pro shop and swimming pool, adding even more options for the guests to contemplate. Royal Palm Marrakech certainly has a lot to offer but don’t let the size of the place put you off. This is, after all, a place in which to lose yourself. And while there may be issues facing the golf operation, it seems Besanceney’s unflappable determination to seek out improvements will ensure its continued and unhurried ascent. The real challenge facing Morocco and Royal Palm Marrakech stems from the flailing confidence of holidaymakers to journey to Africa due to the ongoing threat of terrorism. Should Morocco survive the drop-off in European visitors – and it is worth pointing out the country is yet to be afflicted by the horrors seen elsewhere – there will be a desert oasis waiting for those seeking something new. GMé

The exceptional Royal Palm Marrakech welcomes you among the gentle plains of the Atlas region, just a dozen kilometres from the charming ‘Ochre City’ of Marrakech. Set in extensive grounds of palm trees, age-old olive trees, orange groves and flowering lavender bushes, the second Royal Palm Hotel, featuring 134 suites and villas, invites you to soak in the authentic local culture and live an enchanting tale. In this unchanging décor lined with stately palm trees, the friendly, open smiles and enthusiastic ways will amaze you: the service is ever-present to look after your every need, discretely anticipating them while preserving your tranquillity. A true reflection of Morocco itself, at the crossroads of ages, the furniture and decoration of the hotel combine traditional craftsmanship with contemporary design. The resort offers three restaurants – La Caravane, L’Olivier and Al Aïn – offering an inventive, heavenly-tasting gourmet cuisine, with the very best colours and flavours of fine Moroccan cuisine. The Spa by Clarins offers a haven of well-being, providing Clarins body care treatments, Moroccan beauty rituals and suites for private consultations. Three nights on a bed and breakfast package in a Deluxe Room start from £380 per person, based on twin occupancy. For further information, and current rates and availability, call Beachcomber on (44) 01483 445 685 or visit | 39



golf business conference GREGG SAYS Gregg Patterson , the former general manager of The Beach Club in Los Angeles entertains delegates at last years conference

Big Opportunities await in Amsterdam As the Golf Business Conference returns to Amsterdam this November, the theme this year will be The BIG opportunity as Aidan Patrick discovers. The European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) has announced that centrally located Amsterdam will, once again, be the host city of the 11th Golf Business Conference Europe this autumn. Attended, on average by 150-200 golf industry professionals – 60 per cent of whom are golf course owners, managers or directors of golf – this year’s conference will take place between November 2-4, at the Novotel Amsterdam Hotel, Schiphol Airport, which is a beautifully designed hotel with a great ambience and a very convenient location, just four minutes by train from Schiphol Airport and 20 minutes from the heart of Amsterdam. Last year’s conference, which was entitled From VISION to Action, had the largest attendance since 2010, and the EGCOA believe that this year’s conference will again build on this record. “We aim to offer a refreshing insight into the European & global golfing industry, offering realistic, actionable solutions to the industry,” commented Matthew Enevoldson, communications and project manager for the association. EGCOA president Alexander Baron von Spoercken added: “After the popularity of last year’s event, we are delighted

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to bring this conference back to Amsterdam. “Since our first event in Amsterdam in 2006, we have seen it grow significantly, becoming the hub for the European Golf Industry. We expect this year to build on our previous success and to be the largest conference yet.” The 2016 conference theme – The BIG Opportunity – will highlight the success of many golf facilities across Europe who have taken action to adapt their approach to the fast changing golf market. It aims to develop and build new ways to take advantage of the big social, economic and marketing opportunities the sport is currently facing. These opportunities have come about through a particular set of circumstances seen by the industry in the last year. With Europe’s economy gaining in confidence, people are once again finding the money, time, and will to take on new challenges, and with the return of the sport to the Olympics following a 108-year absence, golf has been brought to the attention of potentially, many new beginners. “So, how do we as an industry take advantage of this big opportunity?,” asks Enevoldson.

“Since our first event in Amsterdam in 2006, we have seen it grow significantly, becoming the hub for the European Golf Industry”

NEW VENUE The new Novotel Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport

POWERPOINT A delegate snaps a presentation

ON THE MIC Salvador Lucena, general manager from Monte Rei

“With a selection of excellent speakers, from inside and outside the industry, this years’ conference aims to help owners and operators from across Europe, better understand how to ensure that they are ready to take on such a challenge. “Whether by improving your customer’s journey, developing a modern and responsive marketing plan or by exploring the hidden revenue that is laying dormant in your course. “This year, we will introduce the use of workshops to allow delegates to put their personal circumstances to our top speakers, and to leave the conference

more certain on what action they should take to get the most out of their course.” And to reinforce the popularity of this annual event for industry suppliers as well as golf course owners, Enevoldson added: “What better opportunity for you to get face-to-face with the decisionmakers in the golf industry, than by attending the 2016 European Golf Business Conference. “You can present your brand, company and products to our attendees, and meet potential clients and new employees face-to-face. “Our dedicated exhibition, which runs along side the conference, allows suppli-

ers space to demonstrate their services and products to over 200 potential partners and customers. “So come to the Golf Business Conference to learn from inspiring speakers; to meet-up with colleagues and suppliers from all over Europe and the US, and to hear where the opportunities are in the golf business... share your small and big successes and together we will find the best opportunities for the new season.” Tickets for the 11th Golf Business Conference Europe are now open with a special discount for early registration at GMé | 41



realitee golf

TIME FOR GOLF The smart watch worn during play

STRIKE A POSE A model of the REALiTEE concept

Shultz offering golf a REALiTEE check Founder of REALiTEE Golf, Dave Shultz, speaks with Andy Hiseman and Corey Ross about how his unique indoor golf concept could revolutionise the industry. Here’s a reality about the golf world we live in – the average amateur isn’t getting any better. Despite decades of advances in technology, breaking par for most amateurs seems as impossible as running a fourminute mile used to be in athletics. And since the 1960s the average amateur golf score has remained around or above 100, according to research conducted in the USA by the National Golf Foundation. The fact that golfers aren’t improving is something which REALiTEE Golf founder Dave Shultz is setting out to change – with lowering the world’s golf handicaps a core goal of the new venture. And REALiTEE Golf’s potential to reverse the sport’s declining participation trend has attracted interest throughout the golf industry since it made its debut at the 2016 Golf Industry Show in San Diego, in February. So what is it, exactly? Well, a short second video on provides the quickest answer, revealing how it cleverly condenses 18 holes indoors, without losing the sport’s authentic challenge to hole out. Tee shots and approach shots take place in TruGolf simulators. Then you step into REALiTEE Golf’s show-stopping, open-plan ‘live play’ area to chip and putt your way into the hole.

42 | GMé August 2016

Ceiling-mounted laser-effect spotlights show you exactly where to place your ball. Yes, holing out properly. What was – until now – the weakest part of indoor golf becomes REALiTEE Golf’s most spectacular advantage over a driving range and other indoor golf centres. And we’re not talking just any old chipping and putting area. Shultz has struck a deal with renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones II to design authentically-playable undulating surfaces which will become one of the most talkedabout aspects of REALiTEE Golf. Shultz also promises some additional surprises in the REALiTEE live play area which will delight true connoisseurs of the sport, while maintaining playability for beginners and very young golfers. REALiTEE Golf will also offer restaurants, bars, retail outlets and familyfriendly play areas for the non-golfers, all under the same roof. The whole enterprise will suit a family looking for a few hours of accessible entertainment as much as it will attract a group of golfers looking for the ultimate indoor experience their sport has to offer. With the venue for the first REALiTEE Golf attraction set to be announced shortly, California-based Dave Shultz – a

THE BIG PICTURE Founder of REALiTEE Golf, Dave Shultz, pictured in front of a visual

former high-ranking General Electric executive and self-confessed problemsolver – is passionate about giving a boost to the sport. “REALiTEE Golf was born out of my desire to create something more fun than the driving range,” he said. “It’s virtual golf but it stays true to the values of real golf – and that’s why we think it is the best golf practice facility ever invented.” But will REALiTEE Golf produce brandnew, long-term golfers, and will it make existing golfers better? Shultz has identified three key ways in which condensing the golf experience into a 100,000 square foot, 12-simulator experience with 40 yards of short game space per hole will help the sport to grow. Shultz is confident that REALiTEE Golf will create real golfers from scratch far better than at today’s high-tech driving

ranges, where many customers are happy simply to be ball-bashers, never crossing over into the ‘real’ game, and never visiting a conventional golf club. In offering real golf, where the ball is holed out in an authentic golfing environment, Shultz’s REALiTEE Golf venues will give beginners a taste of what a real golf course feels like, in a benign, unthreatening environment. Shultz explains: “Currently, newcomers can be put off the sport because they find golf courses intimidating, the challenges of the game frustrating and the rules of golf and etiquette imposing. Those same customers will find REALiTEE Golf friendly and inviting. “REALiTEE Golf is meant to be a social experience, catering to players of all abilities. For example, we will assist beginners by making it easier for players of differing abilities to play together.

“On a full-size course you avoid pairing non-golfers with experienced golfers because it tends to ruin the experience for both of them. But REALiTEE Golf makes issues which arise from this scenario – for example pace of play – irrelevant. Experienced golfers will definitely be more willing to assist beginners at a REALiTEE Golf venue.” New technology will be brought into play when golfers of widely differing abilities play together. “Our simulation software can vary difficulty levels for both the long game and the short game, even though you may all be playing to the same flagstick,” said Shultz. Today’s tech-mad younger generation will especially take to REALiTEE Golf, Shultz says. “You’ll experience spotlights, lasers, smart watches, HD graphics, power-ups and more at REALiTEE. “What kid doesn’t love those things?” | 43



realitee golf

PLAY-TIME A concept of what the ‘Live Play Area’ inside the REALiTEE indoor arena could like like

“people will find it easy to transition from a REALiTEE facility into ‘real’ golf – and that’s what the golf industry needs, now more than ever”

44 | GMé August 2016

Shultz says REALiTEE golf also helps beginners achieve success more quickly than in real golf. “For instance, we can replace the normal golf ball with an alternative ball on the tee. Kids can smack the special ball into the screen and our software can give a power boost like it’s a 250-yard drive down the middle. Complete beginners and youngsters will enjoy instant satisfaction when they play REALiTEE Golf.” Golf coaches are among those who most get excited about the potential of REALiTEE Golf, according to Shultz. “They love the idea of a completely programmed, controlled and computerguided practice session,” he said. “For example, a golf coach can host 20 students in a REALiTEE venue, preprogram each of their rounds, and then observe each pupil from tee shot to putting, all in an incredibly compact space. “Let’s say my goal is to improve a pupil’s bunker play. At REALiTEE Golf the coach can set it up so that all shots in the live play area start in a bunker, when advancing to the short game from the golf simulators. “There will even be steep-faced pot bunkers and mounds which require you to hit those delicate flop shots,” he said. The video technology and indoor environment of REALiTEE Golf make it possible to record a pupil’s entire round of golf to review later – including chipping and putting. “Think about how much that would cost in an outdoor environment,” he said. “It’s just not feasible.” Plus the amazing quality of today’s advanced synthetic golf turf, Shultz says,

means that a REALiTEE coaching session will feel just like the real thing. “Modern synthetic turf is more than good enough to coach the short game,” he said. “Many Tour pros now use synthetic greens and chipping areas for their own practice.” REALiTEE Golf’s 100 per cent indoor environment enables play after dark and in bad weather, and the condensed experience also makes longer sessions of 27 or 36 holes more feasible for today’s time-poor consumers. And for those with particularly busy schedules, Shultz says REALiTEE Golf will make it easy to squeeze in 12, six or even three holes. “You can start a round and come back to it days or weeks later,” he said, “and pick up right where you left off. Just sign in and the software will recognize where you left off last time. “Or you could play a few holes with friends, pause to watch a football match in the sports bar, and then pick up the round again later. REALiTEE will be a very social experience, and this will drive more play.” And the no-barriers social factor, Shultz believes, is one of the key ingredients golf needs to provide, to prevent people from walking away from the sport. “REALiTEE Golf will be a key new entry point to the sport,” added Shultz. “But unlike the recent trend towards hightech driving ranges, people will find it easy to transition from a REALiTEE facility into ‘real’ golf – and that’s what the golf industry needs, now more than ever.” GMé



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business rates revaluation

“All golf venues will get their new draft Rateable Values published online this October, and new rates bills reflecting the new Rateable Values will start from April 1, 2017”

Business Rates set for October change Chartered surveyor and specialist golf property adviser, Mark Smith of Smith Leisure, explains why your club should get ready for an October Business Rates revaluation. A TAXING MATTER Mark Smith, above, is a chartered surveyor and specialist golf property adviser

46 | GMé August 2016

Business rates are the UK government’s commercial equivalent of Council Tax, and are a big overhead for most golf club operators. After payroll, they might be your largest yearly overhead, and combined, they cost UK occupiers around £27 billion each year. Most likely, your business rates bill will be larger than your Corporation Tax bill, and with a national business rates revaluation fast approaching, it makes sense to start thinking about ways in which you can help to minimise the new bill. In simplified terms, your rates bill has two components: your venue’s Rateable Value times the multiplier. You can’t influence the multiplier – it is set by government each year, but you can do something about your future Rateable Value.

Your Rateable Value is meant to represent your venue’s yearly rental value assuming good physical repair at a specific point in time. The current valuation date is April 2008 but for the forthcoming revaluation, it will be April 2015. Your Rateable Value is a hypothetical assessment. Your venue may be freehold with no rent payable and parts may be in poor physical condition. However, that won’t stop you getting a yearly bill of around £40,000 for business rates if your venue’s estimated rental value in good repair – and hence Rateable Value – is £80,000. The government’s current tax rate on Rateable Value is near on 50 pence in the pound. All golf venues will get their new draft Rateable Values published online this October, and new rates bills reflecting

PASSING GO Sadly, when paying Business Rates, owners can’t use Monopoly money

the new Rateable Values will start from April 1, 2017, so you may wish to start giving thought to two things. Firstly, when you get your new Rateable Value you will need to think about whether it is too high. Secondly, if you think it may be too high, you need to consider how best to address the problem. This is because the government has introduced a major change to the current appeal process, which has previously operated for around 25 years. The new system is called ‘check, challenge, appeal’. For years the current business rates appeal system has been heavily criticised for being too slow, with a contributing factor being that the system was often plagued by poorly researched, speculative appeals, by ratepayers and their professional advisers. As a result, over 955,000 appeals have been submitted on the current

2010 Rating List, with the vast majority of these appeals resulting in no saving. Yet all of these appeals, still had to be processed by the Valuation Office Agency – the body who are responsible for setting the Rateable Values in the first place. The ‘check, challenge, appeal’ system aims to weed out these speculative proposals, so that only genuine cases can go forward. The ‘check’ stage will require the ratepayer to confirm the accuracy of the facts held by the Valuation Office about the property, and to provide any missing information. The specifics given will be binding on the ratepayer for the other two stages – so this is more than just a ‘box ticking’ exercise. Care will be needed when completing this stage, as penalties of up to £500 for providing false or misleading information will be imposed.

Ratepayers can’t move to the ‘challenge’ stage until the ‘check’ stage has been completed. The ‘challenge’ stage will allow businesses to challenge the Valuation Office’s assessment of their new Rateable Value. This must be done within four months of completion of the ‘check’ stage. Owners and operators will need to set out the grounds for their challenge, and provide an alternative valuation with supporting evidence – the Valuation Office will then provide a ‘proportionate response’. Discussions will then take place between the parties and will be brought to an end when the Valuation Office issues its ‘decision notice’, setting out whether or not it is going to change the Rateable Value. If the golf club is unhappy with the Valuation Office’s decision notice, then the owner or appointed representa- | 47



business rates revaluation

ON THE UP Assessing Business Rates can be complicated

“I had a number of cases for clients where the savings were well over £100,000 and for one client, the saving was just short of £500,000”

48 | GMé August 2016

tive, can go to the third ‘appeal’ stage, which is an appeal to the independent Valuation Tribunal. Fundamentally, the main thrust of the changes is having to state all your key evidence up-front when you challenge the Rateable Value assessment. Critically, the new rules are suggesting that there is limited scope to introduce further key evidence at a later date to advance your case. This means that if you are not really thorough up-front when challenging your Rateable Value, you will severely diminish your chances of a successful challenge/appeal later in the process. An early criticism of the proposed new system is that when the Valuation Office publishes your venue’s new draft Rateable Value, they will not provide you with the supporting evidence they used to reach their conclusions. This means they will not make available the data of rents paid at relevant golf venues in the UK at the time of the set valuation date. If you don’t have access to this information, then how can you be expected to make a strong case at the outset? This is particularly so if you are not aware of the key evidence needed to support your case and are not able to introduce new, important evidence at a later stage. If you have used a professional adviser to appeal your Rateable Value in the past, or are thinking of using one in the future, then bearing in mind the change in procedure regarding early production of rental evidence, I recommend that you make sure that they really do have

proper knowledge of the golf club rental market. After the new draft Rateable Values are published this October, I will be taking a close look at my clients’ new golf venue assessments across the country and comparing them with the key golf property rental evidence. If you would like me to have a look at your venue’s new Rateable Value and give you my view on whether it is too high, then email and I will add you to my list of venues to look at. I will do this research for you without charge or obligation on your part. It will be interesting to see how accurately the Valuation Office has evaluated changes in the golf sector and what the opportunities are for golf venues to reduce their business rates bills from April 2017 onwards. Certainly, in previous rates revaluation exercises there have been some good savings to be made. Tax savings of £30,000 to £60,000 over the life of the various Rating Lists on golf venues were commonplace, and in some cases, the savings were much higher. I had a number of cases for clients where the savings were well over £100,000 and for one client, the saving was just short of £500,000. Similar results may be possible for venues with the forthcoming April 2017 revaluation, but considerably more time and effort up-front will be needed to get such results. So start planning now, and be prepared for 2017. GMé

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04/07/2016 09:06 | 49


signing off

“If the IOC persist with golf in Tokyo 2020 – and all indicators are that they will – might I suggest they revamp it slightly? Well, quite a lot actually”

Golf, in its current form, has no place in the Olympic Games Congratulations Justin Rose, Olympic gold medallist. But for all his passion for the event, and the tension of the final day, I still believe that golf, in its current form, has no place in the Olympics. Nor, for that matter, has football or tennis. In athletics, the Olympic Games is the world pinnacle; likewise swimming, rowing, cycling, sailing, gymnastics and horse dancing – even though I don’t consider the last two as genuine sports: if a judge is required to subjectively decide who’s won, as opposed to the competitors determining the outcome, then it’s not a proper ‘sport’ in my view. The Olympics comes a very poor second to the four Majors in golf – and probably not even as high as second, given that several events claim to be the ‘fifth’ Major and that, to most professional golfers, it’s the purse that counts, week in, week out. Then, of course, for Europe and the USA, there’s the Ryder Cup. Would Rose be happy with his gold medal if he had to forego his place on the Ryder Cup team? Only he can answer that, but I suspect the answer would be ‘no’. Similarly, tennis has its four Majors, each attracting the very best players from across the world, whilst football has the FIFA World Cup, which, for all its accusations of corruption and political wrangling, is still the ultimate showpiece for a footballer’s talent. Few kids kicking a ball around in the back streets of Rio would have gone to sleep dreaming of representing their country in an Olympic football competition.

50 | GMé August 2016

GOLD STANDARD Olympic gold medal winner Justin Rose, before the start of the competition

Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, would probably not approve of the prevalence of professional sportsmen and women in the event in the 21st century. Not so long ago it was an amateur competition – and rightly so. The advent of ‘professionalism’ in many sports has changed the face of the games, but those ‘professionals’ spend most of their time training in order to peak at one or two championships. And it’s only at those events where they’ll come up against the cream of the sport’s competitors. They’re not travelling around the world every week playing against the same people who just happen to be the best in the world anyway.

If the IOC persist with golf in Tokyo 2020 – and all indicators are that they will – might I suggest they revamp it slightly? Well, quite a lot actually. A two-person, team event: one man, one woman. And make it for amateurs only. Then you’d see the best available players in the world busting a gut to compete. GMé

David Bowers


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