GMé | December 2014

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On the cover...

The European Irrigation Association has awarded Rain Bird the Golf Gold Award for their Integrated Control System


£6.50 Issue 99 | December 2014

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

Vision 20/20, an in-depth report on the future of golf, has been published by the EGCOA detailing the current and future development of the golf industry





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On the agenda december 2014 40


Rory’s Open Trust

Rory McIlroy has turned to the CEO of his charitable foundation to realise his plans for revitalising the Irish Open, which next year will be staged at Royal County Down.


The World Golf Awards

The inaugural World Golf Awards were staged at Qunita do Lago in Portugal last month, with golf resorts from around the globe picking up awards.


Ian Randell and the PGAs


Dryden driving Hockley

As CEO of the PGAs of Europe, Ian Randell talks candidly about the association, as well as the future role of the PGA professional in Europe.

With a background in investment banking, Marc Dryden is transforming Hockley Golf Club in Hampshire into a progressive and modern golf club, fit for purpose.



Swan’s Design Dynasty

Howard and William Swan talk about the family golf course design dynasty that still exists today, 30 years after founder, Alex Swan, passed away.

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 Subscriptions

Michael Lenihan David Bowers Mark Alexander, Dan Chidley, Samuel Frederick, Andy Hiseman, John King, Scott MacCallum, Aidan Patrick, Ian Randell, Jon Wallett, Karine Watne To ensure your regular printed copy of GMé, delivered six times per year, subscribe online at View our library online at

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from the publisher

“golf may be in danger of revisiting history and becoming once again an elitist sport, played by wealthy individuals who can afford memberships at the very best clubs”

As clubs continue to close, golf could again become elitist Wikipedia describes ‘supply and demand’ as “an economic model of price determination in a market. It concludes that in a competitive market, the unit price for a particular good will vary until it settles at a point where the quantity demanded by consumers, will equal the quantity supplied by producers, resulting in an economic equilibrium for price and quantity.” That, in short, is the most obvious reason for the worrying trend that sees so many UK golf clubs closing. But, is it really that ‘worrying’? Sure, it’s horrific if you’re one of the staff who has been laid off. And it’s an irritant if you’re a member who has to find a new club, particularly if the club has shut mid-season taking your subs with it. But golf’s economy appears cyclical – what goes around comes around. Boom and bust. In the good times everybody builds frantically; in the tough the weakest go under. There are far too many golf clubs per head in the UK and that’s indisputable – though Vince Cable is wide of the mark when he says golf clubs take up too much land and should be built on to solve the UK housing crisis. To prove my point, where I live in Suffolk, there are eight golf clubs within a 20-minute drive of my home – and all within an area with a population of less than 150,000. Quite simply, there aren’t enough golfers to go around, so, in the absence of any wholly successful campaign to bring more golfers into the game, for the

4 | GMé December 2014

WIDE OF THE MARK “Build on Britain’s golf courses to solve housing crisis,” said Business Secretary, Vince Cable

health of the industry, there is a requirement to reduce the number of clubs. One only has to watch any David Attenborough nature programme to see that’s the way of the world… if there are not enough scraps upon which to feed, the youngsters don’t make the cut. The other answer, of course, is to create that desperately required strategy to recruit new golfers. Many have tried, but none have been an unqualified success, and without a unified strategy from all of the different bodies and unions within golf, I doubt there ever will be. But this levelling out of supply to demand comes with a caveat: given the number of high-end properties which

have changed hands recently, golf may be in danger of revisiting history and becoming once again an elitist sport, played by wealthy individuals who can afford memberships at the very best clubs. And only the golf industry itself can prevent that reoccurring. GMé

Michael Lenihan

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Hold the front page As we approach the end of another busy year, the Integrated Control System by Rain Bird, has won the European Irrigation Association Golf Gold Award for 2014.

“The newly installed Rain Bird irrigation system is the ultimate tool for golf course management”

Cover sponsored by Rain Bird Europe (33) 4 42 24 44 61

6 | GMé December 2014

Rain Bird has announced that the Rain Bird IC Integrated Control System has been recognised by the European Irrigation Association (EIA) as the winner of the 2014 EIA Golf Gold Award. The mission of the EIA is to improve the products, practices and services used to manage water resources and to contribute to the global improvement of the environment. The awards were given at a ceremony during the recent EIA trade show held on November 13, 2014 in Bologna, Italy. An impartial international jury of recognized experts selected the most innovative products, projects or services that promote water and energy savings for environmental sustainability. The Rain Bird IC System provides rapid two-way communication, real time diagnostics and centralised control directly to individual rotors from a central control computer, tablet, radio or smart phone. By using 90 per cent less wire and 50 per cent fewer splices than a traditional decoder system, the IC System is easy to install, expand and adapt as golf courses grow and evolve. No field controllers, decoders, secondary wiring or unnecessary splices mean fewer areas that can breakdown, wear out or malfunction. In addition, the EIA also awarded the 2014 EIA Landscape Silver Award to the

Rain Bird TBOS-II™ Battery-Operated Controller. Rain Bird previously received the 2013 EIA Landscape Gold Award for its IQ Central Control System and the 2013 EIA Landscape Silver Award for its XFS Subsurface Dripline. West Kent Golf Club installed a new Rain Bird Integrated Control System over the winter ready for the 2014 season, with the project being originally designed and tendered through Irritech Limited, with the club choosing Lakes & Greens thanks to the reliability, service and quality of products and installation. The golf course manager for the last five years at West Kent, Darren Burdis said: “The newly installed Rain Bird irrigation system is the ultimate tool for golf course management, and the Stratus II Integrated Control system has helped reduce water consumption due to its ease of operation, efficiency and reliability.” Burdis was very quick to point out that one of his favourite features is the MI (mobile Internet) which he operates daily form his mobile phone with such ease to help him be as efficient as possible, which is always such a concern for all golf clubs in the current climate. Rain Bird will be exhibiting at BTME in January, on stand A9. GMé



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St Andrews Links Academy set to open in China St Andrews Links Trust has announced plans to license its first-ever overseas golf academy in China. The new project, which will see the creation of a St Andrews Links branded Golf Academy in Simapo Island, Hainan, China, will look to harness the renown and reputation of the Home of Golf in order to help develop the game in one of the world’s biggest emerging golf markets. The Links is working in partnership with White Horse Holdings, who are developing a golf complex on Simapo Island, to deliver an innovative facility with the latest technology and an expert team of PGA qualified instructors. St Andrews Links Trust chief executive Euan Loudon said: “St Andrews has a longstanding reputation of introducing others to its values and expertise, those fundamental to the game of golf itself, around the world. “In the 19th and 20th century competition, caddies, golf equipment manufacturing, greenkeeping techniques, which were all born and evolved over hundreds of years in St Andrews, were shared with the wider world and the popularity of the game grew and grew, culminating in it becoming the global sport we see today. “As we look forward to this exciting new venture we wish to build on those traits by harnessing our renown and reputation as the Home of Golf, with values so intrinsic to St Andrews and

golf, and sharing them in a country where passion and interest in the game is at the beginning of a very exciting era. “Our Golf Academy has built a reputation for expert instruction and innovation, linking the values of the past with stateof-the-art technology of the present to position itself in the vanguard of instruction. This approach has ensured we have welcomed some of the best young talent in Scotland, such as Amateur Champion Bradley Neil and the University of St Andrews Golf Teams, through our doors in recent years.”

Cherkley Court gets go-ahead

Industry countdown to BTME 2015

The controversial Beaverbrook Golf Club development at Cherkley Court, in Surrey, looks set to go ahead after a ruling by the UK. The long battle over planning permission now appears over after the UK Supreme Court refused an application by a local pressure group to appeal against the decision handed down by the Court of Appeal in May. Court of Appeal judges overturned a previous judicial review decision last year, in which the local council’s decision to grant planning consent was itself overturned. Supreme Court justices declined to hear the appeal, on the grounds that it “does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance.” The golf course, which is being designed by David McLay Kidd in collaboration with Tom Watson, has been in construction during this summer, and sources close to developers report membership sales have been brisk, despite joining fees reportedly in excess of £100,000.

8 | GMé December 2014

An illustration of the proposed St Andrews Links branded Golf Academy in Simapo Island, Hainan, China

Packed halls at BTME 2014

The industry countdown to BTME 2015 is continuing as anticipation builds ahead of what organisers, BIGGA, claim is “the turf show of the year – packed with over a hundred exhibitors, first-class education and much more.” Exhibitors from across every area of the turfcare industry will be packing four halls of the Harrogate International Centre in January, and the largest ever Continue to Learn education programme is thriving with some seminars already sold out.

Han Zi Ding, chairman of White Horse Holdings and chief executive of Golf Channel China, added: “I have been in the golf industry for ten years and in that period, myself and the White Horse Group have been very fortunate. “We have developed trusted relationships with many great golf organisations, such as the US PGA, European Tour, R&A and the USGA, and we have become a bridge between Chinese golf fans and the international community. And like our audience, our knowledge of the game has grown exponentially too.”

BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: “Our focus is now firmly on ensuring BTME 2015 builds on the excellent foundations of recent BTMEs which have been overwhelming successes. “We’re constantly communicating with exhibitors to ensure BTME remains the ‘must visit’ turf industry exhibition and provides the best delegate experience. We’re extremely confident in providing this in January. “For 2015 we’re particularly proud of our Continue to Learn programme which is the largest and most comprehensive ever. I urge anyone thinking of booking a place on the Turf Managers’ Conference, or any of our seminars, workshops and presentations to act now as places are disappearing fast. “The whole BIGGA team is very much looking forward to welcoming delegates, exhibitors and Continue to Learn presenters from across the UK, Europe and the world and from every corner of the industry to our flagship show.”


Giant’s Causeway project “not going to go ahead”

In brief... The first phase of an extensive bunker renovation at Ipswich Golf Club has been completed ahead of schedule with four holes reopened for play. The renovation, which is being carried out by Martin Hawtree, grandson of Fred who designed the course 88 years ago, will be implemented over a number of years. Neill Ellice, general manager, said: “To have the work completed and the greens back in action so far ahead of schedule is great news for members and visitors alike.” Real Federación Española de Golf, in partnership with Generalitat de Catalunya and other public Spanish and Catalan stakeholders, have announced their intention to bid to bring The 2022 Ryder Cup to Catalunya. PGA Catalunya Resort (Girona), recently awarded European Golf Resort of the Year 2015, is the proposed venue for golf’s biggest confrontation between Europe and the United States. Now in its third year, the BIGGA Future Turf Managers Initiative, which provides intensive personal and professional training for aspiring head greenkeepers and course managers, opened for applications on December 1, 2014. With the continuing support of Jacobsen, this is an unmissable educational opportunity for BIGGA members, especially those who want to advance their careers in the near future. Women golfers are dreaming of a green Christmas this year, according to a recent survey by specialist golf insurance provider Golfplan. Aiming to hit the frost covered fairways nearly twice as much as men this Christmas, women are hopeful of playing golf five times over Christmas, with 48 per cent even stating they will fit in a round of golf on Christmas Day.

Environmentalists are claiming victory after reports that plans for a £100 million golf resort near the Giant’s Causeway, in Northern Ireland, have foundered. The BBC has reported that land earmarked for the controversial Bushmills Dunes scheme on County Antrim’s north coast is in the process of being sold to an alternative buyer. The resort proposal, which included a five-star hotel and 70 golf lodges, had attracted strong opposition. Environmentalists objected because of its proximity to the causeway, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, and, last year, the National Trust, which owns the causeway, failed in a legal challenge to block the plan. However, the businessman behind the proposed resort, Dr Alistair Hanna, died earlier this year and the BBC quotes ‘informed sources’ as saying the project has had difficulty raising the necessary finance and a final deadline for the sale of the land to the group passed without the purchase being completed. The land is now in the process of being sold to one of Northern Ireland’s most successful businessmen, Dr Peter Fitzgerald, the founder and managing director of the diagnostic company, Randox Laboratories, based in Crumlin, County Antrim.

Full planning approval for the golf course was granted in February of 2013, but work on the project failed to start. Estate agent Terry Dobbin said: “We had hoped to see, maybe some access roads or sight lines, but unfortunately there has been nothing. The feeling around the town is that it is not going to go ahead, which is a big disappointment.” James Orr, of Friends of the Earth, said: “If the reports are true we will be greatly relieved for the sake of the economy, the unique wilderness around the Giant’s Causeway and for future generations.”

The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

GMé picks up Media Award at EGCOA conference

Michael Lenihan (left) with the Media Award

Publisher of GMé, Michael Lenihan, received the European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) Media Award for 2014 at the recent EGCOA Vision 20/20 Conference in Barcelona, November 4-6. The award, which was presented at a Gala Dinner held at the DoubleTree Hilton hotel adjacent to Real Club de Golf El Prat, was awarded in recognition of the magazine’s support not only to the EGCOA, but the wider golf industry in general.

Presenting the Media Award, Alexander Baron von Spoercken, president of the EGCOA said: “Since the start of the EGCOA in 2004, the support of the media has played a key role in helping us share our message throughout Europe and around the world. Each year we recognise a leading organisation for their support of both the EGCOA and the global golf industry. “We are delighted to give this year’s EGCOA media award to GMé, who throughout the years have provided an unparalleled insight into global golf development. Endlessly in search of emerging industry trends and opportunities for the golf industry, GMé is truly a leading publication.” Commenting on the award, Michael Lenihan who is pictured with Santiago Casanella, European regional manager of Hunter Industries and Alastair Graham of KPMG, said: “Naturally, as the publisher of GMé, I was delighted to accept this award, which reinforces the strong standing that the magazine has within the global golf industry.” | 9




Downs Course at Goodwood marks centenary with nine-hole renovation Exactly 100 years since the legendary, James Braid, created the Downs Course at Goodwood Park, in Sussex, a renovation of nine of the holes is going to return it to its full majesty. To a plan drawn up by renowned modern day architect, Tom MacKenzie, MJ Abbott is currently defying the weather to renovate the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, 10th and 16th on the famous old course which forms a key element of the fabulous Goodwood Estate. MJ Abbott won the contract in 2013 to alter nine of the holes on the Downs Course, which shares the Estate with the more modern Park Course, and the Salisbury-based company liaised with Goodwood on the best time to carry out the work and how best to maximise the available budget “We are currently rebuilding three greens, which Tom MacKenzie has redesigned, as the originals had particularly steep contouring and our six man crew is also improving the run off areas of those greens,” explained Steve Briggs, contracts director for MJ Abbott. On eight of the holes the bunkering is being reconstructed, and once complete, the work will complement that of James Braid on his original design of 1914. The Abbott team will turf the areas using existing and imported turf before handing back to the Goodwood greenkeeping staff where course manager

The 16th on the Downs Course prior to renovation work

Philip Helmn – who is a master greenkeeper – and his team will manage the grow-in. “We had originally estimated ten to 12 weeks for the entire project,” said Briggs, “but the wet weather has meant it will probably be 15 to 16 weeks before we finish. Work should therefore be complete in February. “With the course sitting on chalk downland, the lower areas were particularly muddy during the winter period, so the

decision was taken to move away from those areas and concentrate on the higher up work until the return of the drier weather.” The Downs Course, which was renovated in 2006, has picturesque views across the South Downs, with tree-lined fairways and undulating greens. Golf at Goodwood ambassador, Justin Rose, described the setting as “a wonderful environment in which to play golf. The setting is inspirational.”

Former course Tennessee National turns to to be re-opened Durabunker for bunker refurb The former Thoulstone Park Golf Club, near Frome, which has stood abandoned for more than ten years, looks set to be given a new lease of life. A 54-bed four-star hotel, on the site of the old club, has been given the green light by Wiltshire planners after an outline application was submitted by planning consultant Jeremy Smalley on behalf of the site owners James and Alka Hughes-Hallett. It proposed to build the four-star hotel with bar, restaurant, spa pool, treatment room, gym and a function suite for about 200 people. The 1.4 hectare site has sat largely redundant since the golf club closed in 2002. However, Chapmanslade Parish Council had objected to the plans. In a statement it said: “This application is contrary to the District Plan Policy in respect of hotels not being built in open countryside. The previous application was agreed in order to sustain the 18-hole golf course in place at the time.”

10 | GMé December 2014

Tennessee National Golf Club, a signature Greg Norman Design, managed by Troon Golf, recently became the first course in the US to use the patented bunker construction method under the brand name Durabunker. The construction method, formerly known as Envirobunker, employs the use of recycled synthetic material to build revetted bunker faces and edges, offering significant cost and labour savings, a design life of more than 20 years, and many other benefits over traditional bunker construction methods. Phase one of an exciting 32 bunker project was completed last month, and Andrew McClintock, course superintendent at Tennessee National said: “This is a first class venue, but the resounding message coming from the members was that our bunkers were letting the golf course down. “We commissioned Durabunker in October and without doubt we made the right decision.

“The product has absolutely transformed our bunkers, they look awesome and everyone to a man has been blown away by the result achieved through the product and the company. I cannot recommend the product, the staff or the company highly enough.” Rhydian Lewis, director at Durabunker said: “We are very proud of our achievements thus far at Tennessee National, and look forward to returning to site to help complete the project in the New Year.”

Rhydian Lewis (left) with Andrew McClintock

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Profusion in ‘Blind’ pursuit of the perfect bunker Bunker appearance, playability and maintenance are a fundamental talking point for golfers and course operators. Time, planning, labour and cost all play a part in achieving the best bunker condition, but how should clubs research, consider and budget for the best outcome when it comes to investing in changes? Consider engaging an architect, and produce a course policy document specifying the desired look and feel of any proposed alterations, rather than an adopting an ‘ad hoc’ approach. Identify the potential drainage requirements, and create a specification including drainage, bunker edging requirements, a bunker lining system and turf species to be utilised. Set your budget and implement a tender process using specialist contractors that have been researched and verified. Finally, consider the health and safety implications of the contract. The golden rule? Do it once, do it right.

Wimbledon Park Golf Club, where the Blinder bunker system has been installed

Draw up your specification on the basis of achieving the best results over the longest period of time. The most economic specifications may look good on day one, but leave clubs facing the breakdown of edges, faces and bases, contamination of bunker sand, inconsistencies and ultimately a requirement for a rebuild.

As far as bunker construction is concerned, UK-based Profusion Environmental has assisted in the design and specification of the unique Blinder bunker liner system – the only proven bound rubber crumb bunker liner available – with installations in more than 750 bunkers, at over 70 clubs in the UK and Europe.

Scottish merger Campey demo tour in Scotland in Pitlochry generates huge interest An under-threat Scottish golf course has been saved by a merger with a nearby club. Blair Atholl faced a bleak future after member numbers dwindled to just 110 and revenues plummeted. Now, however, the company behind neighbours Pitlochry Golf Club has stepped in to rescue the struggling community course, which was built in 1896. Pitlochry Golf Ltd has transformed the fortunes at its club in the past five years, growing membership by 25 per cent. Following an almost unanimous vote of approval from members at both clubs, the firm will operate both Pitlochry and Blair Atholl from January. Membership will entitle golfers to play and enjoy facilities at both clubs and the deal will create up to four full-time jobs at Blair Atholl. Pitlochry Golf Ltd directors believe their business model could return the club to viability in three years. Director Jon Erasmus said: “We will work with the membership to create a commercial entity that, in time, can stand on its own two feet because this is a vital community resource. “Pitlochry Golf Club was in a relatively similar circumstance five years ago but we have managed to employ more people, build an academy and we are now developing the golf course, which will continue.”

12 | GMé December 2014

The first demonstration tour held in Scotland by Campey Turf Care Systems and distributor The Double A Trading Company has proved a huge success generating new interest in many products including the innovative Air2G2 and Imants Rotosweep. Castle Stuart Links near Inverness, and Glasgow Academy were the respective hosts. Although two very different settings, each was equally valuable as a showcase of Campey products for golf turf maintenance and sports pitch renovation and management.

Commenting on the tour, Chris Haspell, course manager at Castle Stuart Links said: “We are in a fortunate position of being closed over the winter months, so this was an ideal opportunity for my staff and neighbouring greenkeepers from clubs to see latest kit on offer.” Managing director Richard Campey, who attended both events added: “What is so gratifying is talking to so many informed professionals. The thirst for knowledge in our industry is very high, and this is our way of showing the equipment to its full potential.”

Assorted greenkeepers attend the Campey demo tour at Castle Stuart in Scotland

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Golfclub Zillertal-Uderns praises Toro as the Austrian club plans Ryder Cup bid Surrounded by mountains in a picturesque Austrian valley, the new Golfclub Zillertal-Uderns was constructed to be in harmony with the natural landscape. This includes how they manage the course with Toro irrigation technologies to manage water resources efficiently, along with Toro hybrid and batterypowered greensmowers and other Toro equipment to maintain its championshipquality turf. Located in Uderns in the state of Tyrol, Austria, Golfclub Zillertal-Uderns is the region’s first golf club and the only new golf club to open in Austria in 2014. The 65-acre, 18-hole course is equipped with state-of-the-art Toro irrigation products, supplied by Toro distributor Prochaska, including the Toro Lynx Central Control System. The Lynx system puts critical course information at the user’s fingertips, allowing course personnel to monitor and precisely manage irrigation schedules. Adjustments can be made based on soil moisture, salinity and temperature data reported by Toro Turf Guard wireless soil sensors installed on each green. The system is integrated with a weather station, as well as pump control software, that allows the course to efficiently manage power usage.

Course staff can also access all of this information in Lynx with their mobile phones. “The installation of the comprehensive Toro irrigation system and partnership with Prochaska really allowed us to get our course up and running quickly without sacrificing quality for our members,” says Heinz Schultz, owner of Golfclub Zillertal-Uderns. “It also contributed greatly to our ability to apply for hosting

Three into One in Scotland

ClearWater planning on a surprise on stand C15 at BTME

Three of the oldest golf clubs in the north-east of Scotland will merge to secure a new lease on the Kings Links Golf Course, in Aberdeen, with The Northern, Bon Accord and Caledonian clubs planning to amalgamate. Merger proposals have been mooted for the past 15 years, but previous attempts to bring the clubs together failed. The Bon Accord club was founded in 1872, the Caledonian in 1899 and the Northern in 1897. The aim is to have the new club established by April next year. As part of the plan, the trio want to find a new home and hope to secure a lease for the Kings Links Golf Course, claiming the facility has gone “downhill” in recent years. All three use the municipal course and currently have three separate, neighbouring clubhouses within about 100 yards of each other. The group behind the amalgamation have already raised the possibility of taking over the lease with Sport Aberdeen, with the clubs eyeing councilowned land across the road – the former Broadhill Bar – as a potential site for a new clubhouse development.

David Mears, joint managing director of Highspeed Group – a regular exhibitor at BTME – has hinted that the company will be unveiling a surprise announcement on stand C15 at the show in January. When pressed on what the announcement was about, Mears was reluctant to divulge details but commented: “If you are washing machinery, it would certainly be in your interest to visit the Highspeed stand!” Highspeed Group, with their various brands has become a ‘One Stop Shop’, particularly in the UK in recent years. From the oils and lubricants company formed in 1969, the company, under the leadership of Andrew Vincent and David Mears since a management buy-out in 2001, has grown considerably with new brands created and existing ranges expanded. The range of products offered by Highspeed includes ClearWater, which is widely regarded by many within golf as the number one below ground Water Recycling System. The system is gaining new customers regularly, especially since the introduc-

14 | GMé December 2014

The scenic view of Golfclub Zillertal-Uderns in Austria

of the 2022 Ryder Cup. That alone is a testimony to the perfect quality of course and our facilities.” “We are delighted that Golfclub Zillertal-Uderns has chosen to use Toro irrigation and turf equipment,” adds Andreas Heger, Prochaska president. “It’s a beautiful course, and Toro products are the ideal choice to not only maintain that beauty but also use resources efficiently for years to come.”

The ClearWater system at Holme Hall

tion of what has become a real winner: the Buy Now – Pay later offer, with ClearWater offering probably the least expensive, and most effective solution to legal compliance, pollution prevention and effective wash-off within golf.

picture gallery

In words & Pictures A brief pictorial round-up of events from around the industry, including news of a new role for Master Greenkeeper, Daniel Lightfoot, who joins Syngenta from Bearwood Lakes.







In brief... Las Colinas Golf & Country Club has announced the appointment of globally-experienced director of golf, Sean Corte-Real. In a career that has spanned multiple continents, Core-Real brings with him over 12 years golf resort industry experience having previously held the director of golf and project manager position at Iguassu Golf Resort in Foz do Iguacu in Brazil. England Golf is offering a series of recommendations to help golf clubs increase their membership and survive and thrive in a challenging climate. They are contained in the Results Book from the 2014 Golf Club Membership Questionnaire which includes advice to attract new members, retain current members and appeal to junior golfers. The biennial survey paints a ‘precarious’ situation, with declining memberships and an increasing number of independent, unaffiliated golfers. QHotels has added six former De Vere Hotels to its portfolio. The QHotels brand is looking to strengthen its nationwide presence and complement its award winning guest offer with premium golf, spa and leisure facilities. The six hotels, located across the UK include Cameron House in Loch Lomond and Dunston Hall in Norfolk. They will be managed alongside the existing QHotels portfolio of 21 hotels led by managing director Michael Purtill and finance director Ian Goulding. The TGI Golf Partnership, golf’s leading retail services group, owned by PGA professionals, has announced the shortlists for its coveted Partner awards. The four awards – New Partner of the Year, Most Improved Business, Pro Shop of the Year and the marquee Partner of the Year – will be handed out at a gala dinner, staged at the Marriott Worsley Park on February 3, 2015.


Syngenta has appointed Master Greenkeeper, Daniel Lightfoot, as the company’s new business manager for turf, vegetation and pest management, joining Syngenta from Bearwood Lakes Golf Club in Berkshire.


Direct Golf, the UK’s number one discount golf retailer, is celebrating after a record-breaking run of sales across the Black Friday five day event – when sales online jumped a whopping 203 per cent from last year’s figures.


Golfers at Pyrford Golf Club have raised a record-breaking amount, in the club’s most successful fundraising year, with the club donating a cheque for £13,000 to Mike Hey at Shooting Star Chase, the club’s official charity for 2014.


The Richard Mille family is delighted to welcome TV presenter and journalist Sarah Stirk as the latest friend of the brand. Sarah is the face of golf on Sky Sports in the UK and writes regular golf columns for newspapers and magazines.


Lely UK has announced the appointment of David Cole, once its sales manager, to head up the company’s turfcare division, best known for its distribution of Toro professional turf machinery and irrigation products.


Colliers International is inviting offers in the region of £7 million for The Marine Hotel, a magnificent four-star hotel situated next to the world famous Royal Troon Golf Course on the west coast of Scotland. | 15



company profile

Your Sixth Sense with ESP Leisure ESP Leisure has been deploying golf management systems for nearly 25 years, and as the company plans to expand into Europe, Scott MacCallum speaks with managing director Carolyn O’Connor about ESP’s suite of applications.

Company Profile sponsored by ESP Leisure (44) 020 8251 5100

16 | GMé December 2014

It used to be that if you wished to play one of your favourite golf courses you first had to get hold of your handicap certificate, and then you would make an appointment to visit the secretary at the club you wished to play. Obviously you would dress in collar and tie for the meeting and then you would be faced with persuading the aforementioned secretary that you were of sound character and possessing of a reasonable enough golfing ability to be let loose over those hallowed 18 holes. It was more stressful than a job interview. Nowadays however, in these competitive economic times, golf clubs know that every pound is equally important in the battle to stay financially viable and that, while standards have to be upheld, it doesn’t matter whether that pound comes from the pocket of Maurice Flitcroft or Sir Michael Bonallack. When it comes to allocating otherwise wasted tee times, very few golf clubs can afford to turn revenue away. Hence the reason that golf clubs have invested in on-line booking systems to ensure that they don’t miss out on the floating golfing pound, and ensure that they are run as efficiently and professionally as is possible. ESP is at the forefront of developing the software which enables golf clubs,

not only to offer sophisticated, but userfriendly on-line booking systems, but also computerised systems which can assist in the running of just about every other aspect of a modern day golf club. “We’ve seen clubs changing their ways. Golf isn’t growing at the moment and golf clubs are having to change their habits in how that they are managed,” said Carolyn O’Connor, managing director of ESP. “People now are coming around to the fact that they need to make golf more accessible and golf clubs need to become more flexible and offer more flexible memberships and playing opportunities,” said O’Connor. “For example mobile phones and tablets allow people to make a booking from anywhere – on the train on their way to work or just sitting on their sofa at home, and golf clubs must be in a position to take advantage of this. ESP was founded in 1989 by David Ross, an IT specialist and keen golfer, who was asked by a golf professional friend of his to develop a stock control system for the pro shop. The success of that initial work has seen different modules added at the behest of customers demands and requests, and as software has be come more and more sophisticated.

LEARNING NEW SKILLS Like a PGA professional teaching a golfer how to improve their game, ESP can help your club improve its customer relations management

“Prior to that very first system, everything had been done manually so it was a significant step forward in what could be achieved,” said O’Connor, who returned to the company as managing director in November, 2013. “I had previously worked for ESP in various guises but left to work for some of the large IT companies. I kept in touch with David and he persuaded me to rejoin the company as md while he stepped up to become chief executive.” ESP has identified two very different markets within the golf sector and have adapted their offerings to suit. “We have the traditional members golf club which are run by the members and a committee, as well as the profit making proprietary-owned clubs which are looking to drive revenue,” explained O’Connor, who added that two of ESP’s major customers are the Burhill Group and Crown Golf. The Elite Management solution is aimed primarily at the proprietary owned sector and manages everything involved in the running of a golf business. We also have our Aero product which is a cost

effective solution aimed at the members clubs, and concentrates on offering the online solution with the added benefit of membership management and point of sale. “It is all about providing efficiencies in the way clubs run their golf establishments. We are looking to help clubs increase revenue and cut back costs. We implement stock control systems to enable the monitoring of stock, with the additional benefits of the point of sale solution to manage and monitor the revenue which is coming in through the front of house.” ESP is also aware that members’ clubs may not have the same needs but that there are options which could assist them to run better and provide a better service to its members and visitors. “For the members’ clubs we have our Aero product, which is a hosted solution aimed at those members clubs which don’t necessarily have a large budget to invest in technology, but do see the benefits of operating such a system,” said O’Connor, who manages a staff of 27, including a sales team, software

developers and a service centre which is managed 24-7. “We have seen a significant uptake on that side for those traditionally run clubs. “Aero enables our customers to manage their bookings, take the cash online and at the clubhouse, manage the memberships and provide a handicapping solution. We’ve begun to see golf clubs changing their ways. “Golf isn’t growing at the moment, clubs are closing, and those which survive have got to change their habits in the way they are managed. Golfers are not so inclined to stay loyal to one club and will happily move around from golf club to golf club. “Clubs now are coming around to the fact that they need to make golf more accessible to people, need to be more flexible, and offer more flexible memberships and subscriptions.” A few years ago it would have been hard to imagine making tee reservations at the touch of a button, but the technology is only going to go one way, and ESP has proven that it is at the forefront of this particular industry sector. GMé | 17



the rory foundation

Rory building the foundations for his Irish Open Trust When Rory Mcllroy puts his mind to something, it usually happens – including revitalising the Irish Open. As Mark Alexander finds out, the world’s biggest golfing star turned to the CEO of his charitable foundation to realise his plans.

18 | GMé December 2014 DAISY CHAIN Main picture (left-right) Rory McIlroy, Gillian Creevy chief executive of the Cancer Fund for Children and Barry Funston, chief Executive of the Rory Foundation, and right, pictured with some patients at Daisy Lodge

You get a sense that Rory Mcllroy is looking forward to 2015. After an incredible season that saw him win the Race to Dubai, the BMW and Open Championships and the USPGA, he seems to be finding the swoosh in his game. But when he tees it up on May 28, you could well see the Ulsterman puff out his chest a little further than usual. After all he’ll be about to play one of his favourite courses in front of a home crowd a week after defending the BMW Championship at Wentworth. He will also have the demons of Fota Island to put to rest a year after he failed to make the cut in his country’s headline event. But the Irish Open will mean so much more to the four-times Major winner than simply providing an opportunity to showboat to his home fans on a course where he played his last amateur event. The 2015 Irish Open at Royal County Down will be special because Mcllroy will not only compete for a title he has never won, but he will host the event through the charitable organisation he set up in 2013 after signing to Nike. The Rory Foundation will be the tournament’s official charity with its branding being splashed across every ticket and poster.

This will be Rory’s day in the sun if he wins or not. In a move that only the world’s best golfer could pull off, Mcllroy has set about reinvigorating Ireland’s headline golfing tournament while at the same time raising the profile of children’s charities across the world. It’s a coup that began life in the aftermath of his win at the BMW Championship; a victory he said at the time felt like it was “meant to be.” For Barry Funston, CEO of The Rory Foundation, Mcllroy’s triumph kickstarted a series of events that led to the front door of the European Tour’s headquarters. “When Rory won at Wentworth, he was thrilled because he had won a European Tour event on European soil which he hadn’t done before,” he says. “That got him thinking about days of old with the Irish Open. He started reminiscing about the Ballesteros days and the Langer days when he was a child. He suggested that it might be a good idea to restore the Irish Open to its former glory by getting a lot of high-profile tour players to the event. So we put our thinking caps on to find a way we might do that.” With his thinking cap fully engaged, Funston came up with a plan to approach the European Tour to pitch the idea of

“He suggested that it might be a good idea to restore the Irish Open to its former glory by getting a lot of high-profile tour players to the event” | 19



the rory foundation

“He is asking some of his high-profile golfing friends to play at the event as a favour to him and then somewhere down the line he will reciprocate”

PLAY TIME Rory McIlroy spending some time with a couple of children at Daisy Lodge

The Rory Foundation hosting the event. The initiative would give the organisation a profile boost and in return Mcllroy would open his contacts book. “He is asking some of his high-profile golfing friends to play at the event as a favour to him and then somewhere down the line he will reciprocate,” says Funston. “The terminology of hosting the event is to enable him to extend the invitation to a number of high-profile golfers. “We’re not going to be able to cater for everyone who wants to play because there are complexities around European Tour events and we can’t have a bunch of Americans playing to the exclusion of the Europeans. But we are anticipating a stellar field. We would like to think there would be more than ten confirmations. We want big names and having Ricky confirmed is a massive boost.” Rickie Fowler was recently announced as the first headline star to sign up for Mcllroy’s bash. If nothing else, it will provide an opportunity for the pair to put to bed their last meeting as amateurs at the 2007 Walker Cup when the US team edged to victory by 12½-11½. It also signifies Mcllroy’s determination to hold up his side of the bargain to deliver the very best players to Northern Ireland in May. It’s the kind of steely determination that bagged him €6,883,784 during the 2014 Race to Dubai and established the 25 year old as the biggest name in golf. “Rory hasn’t become the number one golfer in the world without having extraordinary drive and ambition,” says

20 | GMé December 2014

Funston. “When he puts his mind to something, he doesn’t see any barriers in his way. “So if he says to you the Monday after Wentworth; ‘let’s explore the possibilities of having the Irish Open hosted by my foundation’, you need to move pretty quickly to ensure you can deliver that vision because he doesn’t see obstacles in his way in any aspect of his life. It’s been a lot of hard work, but we’ve done it.” No-one could accuse Mcllroy of being anything other than driven, but he also has a sentimental side which is borne out in his decision to locate his foundation’s first foray into tournament golf at a course where he has so much history. “From our perspective, the synergies were just extraordinary,” Funston explains. “Royal County Down hosted Rory’s last amateur tournament when he played in the Walker Cup. It’s in Newcastle, County Down, so it’s in Northern Ireland where he is from and also the cancer charity he supports has its therapeutic centre nestled in the Mourne Mountains. It brought together so many components that all pointed towards this being the place Rory needed to be associated with, so he was very keen to do something.” McIlroy officially opened Cancer Fund for Children’s short-break centre in Newcastle in October. Daisy Lodge is the first of its kind in the UK and Ireland, and will provide short breaks for up to 500 families a year affected by cancer. He first visited the project on Christmas Eve 2013 and shortly after made a personal

donation of £1 million to help fund the venture. With his typically understated approach, McIlroy was on hand to open the centre describing it as “remarkable” and spending time with the children who will benefit most at the new facility. Measured, sincere and approachable, McIlroy was every inch the accomplished ambassador. For Funston, it marked an important stage in the development of the Rory Foundation. As a long-standing family friend, Funston has been a constant in Rory’s life watching him grow up and emerge as a professional golfer and consummate philanthropist. “I can’t remember ever not knowing him,” he says thoughtfully. “Because I know his parents so well, he’s just always been in my life since he was born.” Funston gave up a 25-year career in the oil industry to head up McIlroy’s charitable organisation – as he points out, opportunities like that don’t come along twice. But if onlookers thought he was trading the cut and thrust of heavy industry for a cosy life looking after the whims of one of the world’s most recognisable sports stars, they would be wrong. “He is a terrific boss, but he’s very engaged in everything he does, so there’s no flippancy, no superficiality. When you speak to him about a subject matter relating to his charity, you need to be well briefed because he drills down into every detail. He is very focussed on every aspect of his life, so you have to be on top of your game as well.” GMé


vision 2020

“When people are financially invested they want to return, when people are emotionally invested they want to contribute”

Look into the future with VISION 2020 John King reports from Barcelona, where the EGCOA launched their VISION 2020 project designed to help golf clubs across Europe plan for the future. EAST MEETS WEST (L-R) Lodewijk Klootwijk and Alexander Baron von Spoercken of the EGCOA, with Tenniel Chu from Mission Hills in China

22 | GMé December 2014

The European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) VISION 2020 project, which was developed to provide a roadmap for the sustainable development of the European golf industry, has been received with open arms by the industry. Unveiled at the 9th European Golf Business Conference in Barcelona last month, the message from the USA, from China, from all over Europe was the same: ‘yes, there are problems but there are also answers.’ The project provided the platform for what was truly three days of inspirational solutions for the European golf business. Day one opened at Real Club de Golf El Prat in Barcelona, with the 6th edition of the European Multi-Course Owners meeting.

The meeting played host to representatives of Europe’s leading multi-course owning organisations who gathered to discuss and collaborate on solutions to run more profitable and sustainable golf facilities. Day two was opened by EGCOA president Alexander Baron von Spoercken who gave delegates an insight into the latest developments in the European golf industry, laying the foundation for the unveiling of the VISION 2020 project results. Sander Allegro, the projects lead consultant opened the session with an animation video developed by the EGCOA which summarises the results into the key opportunities for the future of European Golf. With communication being an essential factor in sharing the

RAISING A GLASS (L-R) Ross McMurray, European Institute of Golf Course Architects; Ian Randell, PGAs of Europe; Guy Moran, PGA and Nick Brown, Ransomes Jacobsen

projects outcomes, the EGCOA along with their national owners associations launched the website to provide an interactive platform for the industry to get inspired and interact. The site is full of useful tools, best practices, initiatives and statistics, and explores the key opportunities for the future of European golf; Friendship, Flexibility, Family & Fun. Each opportunity is detailed within the site with underpinning research and real life examples of organisations and golf facilities that are leading the way. FRIENDSHIP People are loyal to people and the basic human need to connect and be part of a peer group or tribe is one that will be fundamental not only in attracting new

players to the game but also to keep them in the game. Printed in large text on the conference book was a quote from Simon Sinek that summed up the importance of friendship and human connection: “When people are financially invested they want to return, when people are emotionally invested they want to contribute.” Lodewijk Klootwijk, EGCOA director, shared real life examples of tribal marketing from leading organisations around the world highlighting the power of this basic human need and the immense power it has to engage. FUN The message delivered in this session was clear... golf needs to spice up the game, lose some of the entry hurdles

and focus on the promotion of the many existing and possibly new fun factors that golf can offer. While in Europe there are quiet a few initiatives to make the game more fun and appealing, the USA is without a doubt leading the way. Mike Hughes, CEO of the NGCOA (USA) shared with delegates some of the perception changing, fun initiatives and programmes developed by the NGCOA and its partners to drive participation and engage youth golfers and families. Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation outlined how they are changing the perception of the game in the US, from one that is often perceived to be slow, boring expensive and difficult. He shared with delegates the importance of engaging the participation of | 23



vision 2020

SHARING THE VISION Delegates on day one of the conference learn about the goals for VISION 2020

the media in refining the message of golf to promote the social, health and fun factors that can be enjoyed by all ages.

“Our goal is to inspire our members and the European golf industry to make good, strategic decisions for their facilities or associations”

FLEXIBILITY With loyalty on the decline and the speed of change on the increase, the modern consumer wants to keep their options open. Membership packages, playing formats, dress codes, etc., should all be adapted to players’ needs and expectations. Tenniel Chu, vice-chairman of Mission Hills China, gave some vibrant illustrations of how this parameter had helped his father succeed where so many had forecasted failure. He insists that golf needs to be less exclusive and more inclusive. Mission Hills have been so successful with this approach in China that they forecast 26 million golfers by 2020. The day was closed with the conference dinner reception and EGCOA Awards Ceremony. FAMILY & FEMALE Day three opened with the big discussion on family and females in golf. Scilla Hokholt, EGCOA board member and chairman of the Norwegian Golf Course Owners associations opened a panel session with the question ‘Is golf really female & family friendly?’ A leading panel of golf course owners and industry partners agreed that special attention needs to be paid to the female sector. When consulted, the ladies say their prime concern, especially for newcomers, is to ‘feel comfortable.’ In general, they are less competitive than the men and control the vast majority of budgetary decision making in the household making them a key market to focus on.

24 | GMé December 2014

Now, as sustainability concerns and expectations rise across all aspects of life, the golf community is well positioned to prove environmental and social benefits. Golf course owners are the gatekeepers to millions of acres of land and view this responsibility as one that should be managed with care and respect. Kelli Jerome, director of operations for the Golf Environment Organisation summed up where sustainability can fit into all four key opportunities of the VISION 2020 project, which is intended to act as a guide for golf clubs across Europe to help increase not only participation, but also, profitability. Summing up at the close of the conference, Lodewijk Klootwijk concluded: “With the VISION 2020 project we hope to make the connection between the changes in society and the effect on the golf business. “Our goal is to inspire our members and the European golf industry to make good, strategic decisions for their facilities or associations. “See the VISION 2020 project as a compass: the VISION shows you where the ‘North’ is. With this information you are free to choose your own direction based on the characteristics and needs of your market. Use the material on the VISION 2020 website as a trigger for discussion with the team at your course and within your national owners association. “Use the tools and best practices as examples to create your own better idea to improve your business,” added Klootwijk. “Learn from others and share your experience. We are in this together. It is our joint responsibility and interest to improve the golf business. Together we are stronger.” GMé

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world golf awards

Eyes on the prize at the World Golf Awards The inaugural World Golf Awards took place at Quinta do Lago last month, with golf resorts from around the world picking up awards as Dan Chidley reports. The arrival of December will see the annual round of golf award ceremonies take place across the world to pay homage to and recognise the achievements of those who have performed outstandingly in the game over the last 12 months. Having claimed two of 2014’s four Majors and cemented his place at the top of the world rankings, Rory McIlroy’s mantelpiece is sure to be groaning with accolades after the most successful year yet in his still relatively young career. And deservedly so. Paul McGinley’s triumphant European Ryder Cup team is sure to receive prominent mention, too, as the end-of-season silverware is handed out after their heroics at Gleneagles this autumn. But it’s not just the leading professional figures in the game whose roast turkey will taste extra special this Christmas,

26 | GMé December 2014

with the golf travel and tourism industry also having been given extra cause to celebrate following the launch of the new World Golf Awards. Part of the long-established World Travel Awards – the ‘Oscars of the Travel Industry’ – the new event has been designed to recognise and reward excellence in golf tourism, world-class courses and golf destinations. The inaugural World Golf Awards were held last month at Quinta do Lago in Portugal, and involved the leading 130 nations which are at the forefront of golf’s future, with the long-term aim of raising customer experience and generating further growth in domestic and international golf travel markets. Chris Frost, managing director for the World Golf Awards, said: “Golf tourism constitutes a vital segment in the global travel and tourism marketplace and the

World Golf Awards serve to celebrate and reward excellence in golf tourism, world class courses and golf destinations. An estimated 600 million golfer visits will take place in 2014 to the 32,000 golf courses and resorts worldwide. “The 1st World Golf Awards focus on the leading 130 nations who are shaping the future of this dynamic industry. While celebrating and rewarding excellence across golf resorts, courses and the golfing destinations throughout the world, World Golf Awards will strive to ultimately raise the golf tourist customer experience and stimulate both the domestic and international golf tourism market.” Worldwide voting for the awards, the only global initiative to recognise, reward and celebrate excellence in the golf hospitality industry, opened back in AND THE WINNER IS... Peter Alliss (left) speaking after being awarded with his Lifetime Achievement Award, David Scott, (right) director of operations at The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews who collected, on behalf of the Links Trust, the award of World’s Best Golf Course and (below) the revamped North Course at Quinta do Lago

“The 1st World Golf Awards focus on the leading 130 nations who are shaping the future of this dynamic industry”

May with everyone from senior executives, travel buyers and tour operators to agents, the media and the general public invited to vote for their favourites. Hosted by sports presenter Steve Rider, the event saw industry leaders from 37 countries converge on Quinta do Lago to acclaim the winners in a number of categories across the world’s continents including Best Golf Destination, Best Golf Hotel, Best Golf Course, Best Golf Tour Operator, and Best New Golf Course. Popular winners included established favourites St Andrews Old Course recognised as the World’s Best Golf Course, Portugal be named as the World’s Best Golf Destination, PGA Catalunya – host venue for the European Tour Final Qualifying Stage – take the title of Spain’s Best Golf Course and La Manga Club win the award for Spain’s Best Golf Hotel. The lavish gala ceremony at the Conrad Algarve – the climax of the threeday event – was also keen to acknowledge some of golf’s newest and oldest star names with, among others, The Els Club Teluk Datai in Malaysia named as the World’s Best New Golf Course, Quinta do Lago’s radically revamped North Course taking the European equiv-

alent of the award and golfing legend Peter Alliss receiving a lifetime achievement award for his services to the golf industry. Launching a new event is never easy on the domestic front, let alone an international stage but, like its much older brother, the World Gold Awards look like they’re here to stay judging by the initial encouraging feedback the organisers have received. “To come away with this award gives us great confidence in what has been created and the experience we offer our guests at The Els Club Teluk Datai,” said David Townend, senior vice-president at The Els Club Malaysia. Bruce Glasco, chief operating officer and managing director for international division of Troon Golf, who manage The Els Club, added: “This achievement will certainly help drive awareness and grow confidence amongst consumers and the trade. “The addition of a world-class golf experience to the island of Langkawi will enhance the economic impact from golf tourism, improving hotel and airline bookings, as well as local leisure and F&B revenue.” John Dwyer, chief executive at Quinta do Lago, said: “It was a real thrill for us

to play a leading role in the inaugural World Golf Awards and we feel tremendously honoured to win some of its main awards. “We’re particularly excited at the potential and prospects for the new North Course. The reaction we’ve received from the golf industry since it reopened has been phenomenal and the course is set to herald an exciting new era for the resort.” Frost and his team will also have been given extra encouragement by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators recent figures that revealed golf holiday sales have grown by more than 20 per cent worldwide in the last two years. No surprise, then, that a date has already been booked for the 2015 awards. Frost added: “The event has been a tremendous success and it was an honour to welcome so many key players from the global golf hospitality industry to the inaugural gala ceremony. “This is just the start of the journey for World Golf Awards. We will return to Conrad Algarve next year for the Gala Ceremony 2015 and I look forward to greeting many of our nominees from this year in 12 months’ time once again at Quinta do Lago.” GMé | 27


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skycaddie touch With golfers of all abilities using Distance Measuring Devices these days, SkyCaddie has just released its newest and most powerful device... the TOUCH. Andy Hiseman takes a closer look at the GPS device.

SkyCaddie TOUCH; Feel the Difference “With a 21st-century glove-friendly touch screen offering unrivalled pre-shot planning and course management, the TOUCH is the most powerful on-course technology ever offered to golfers”

GLOVE-FRIENDLY The new SkyCaddie TOUCH is compact and glove-friendly

Now available to buy in the UK, the SkyCaddie TOUCH (RRP £329.95) is the new flagship GPS product for golf’s most-trusted distance measuring device (DMD) brand. Adding over £75 in value in an incredible launch promotion are not one but two free gifts: a 12-month Birdie Membership, giving TOUCH buyers a year’s free and unlimited access to SkyGolf’s unparalleled TrueGround Course Maps in the UK and Republic of Ireland; plus a box (one dozen) of Bridgestone’s advanced four-piece B330-RX golf balls, which give maximum distance plus Tour-level high-spin feel and control around the greens. A new feature on the TOUCH makes the pre-loaded course maps on all other golf GPS devices obsolete.

Whenever they want to refresh the maps on their TOUCH, golfers use its built-in Bluetooth technology to link with the free SkyGolf 360 App on their iPhone or Android smartphone to download the very latest alterations to the 35,000 ready-to-play, exclusive and errorcorrected global HoleVue golf course maps – inspired by Tour yardage books – which are pre-loaded on their TOUCH. Having the option to download maps in this way, thereby ensuring that they play that day with the very latest and most accurate course information, gives TOUCH users a key competitive advantage over other golfers. Golfers can also use its Bluetooth capability to sync their TOUCH postgolf to the online SkyGolf 360 Member Community, to see instant stats and

graphs of the round they have just played. The SkyCaddie TOUCH next-generation GPS rangefinder is therefore a true step forwards for the DMD market. Now, simply by connecting to the SkyGolf 360 App, every TOUCH owner can step onto the first tee knowing that they will be playing with the most accurate and up-to-date golf course information, and they can also analyse their game quickly and easily in the comfort of the clubhouse afterwards. Another leap ahead for the DMD market, found only in the SkyCaddie TOUCH, is the ability to download new, onDemand Vivid HD course graphics for up to 100 of your favourite golf courses, which give incredible and previouslyunobtainable visual detail for each hole. | 29



“Like all SkyCaddie GPS products, TOUCH works when lasers go blind”

AUTOVIEW The many screens of the new TOUCH

STUNNING GRAPHICS A view of the three-inch HD LCD display

The addition of HD graphics is just one highlight in a market-leading featuresset, giving TOUCH owners the ultimate ability to use SkyCaddie’s giant and exclusive golf course information database to plot their way around the course. “Having all 35,000 TrueGround Courses pre-loaded in HoleVue quality on the TOUCH, with the addition of the free year’s Birdie Membership and one dozen top-of-the-range Bridgestone B330-RX golf balls, makes the TOUCH an extraordinarily attractive GPS product for golfers” said Jacqui Surman, SkyCaddie vice-president of international sales and marketing. “With a 21st-century glove-friendly touch screen offering unrivalled pre-shot planning and course management, the TOUCH is the most powerful on-course technology ever offered to golfers. Like all SkyCaddie GPS products, TOUCH works when lasers go blind,” she added, indicating that it is aimed at serious, competitive golfers. “If you have ever tried to laser to a green target on an uphill hole, or from behind a tree, or from the countless other places on a golf course where line of sight is compromised, you’re at a disadvantage to anyone with a SkyCaddie.

“The wealth of highly-accurate information provided instantly by the TOUCH, with up to 40 target points per hole, gives serious golfers both speed and performance advantages over laser users, with zero blind spots. Also, unlike laser users, SkyCaddie owners have no difficulty getting a good yardage in bad weather.” With several hundred exclusive TrueGround targets per course, all created by SkyCaddie’s professional mapping team, the TOUCH is pre-loaded with a staggering amount of golf course data. SkyCaddie’s industry-leading groundmapping process sees its enablers creating and regularly correcting each golf course map on foot using professional survey-grade GPS equipment. The rapidity with which clubs tinker with their golf courses means that, each year, SkyCaddie updates over 300 golf course maps in the UK alone. Only SkyCaddie maps golf courses in this way, eliminating the errors which are known to be found in other map libraries. To enable total access to its highly accurate and interactive course maps the IPX-7 water-resistant TOUCH offers “glove-friendly” touch-sensitive easyto-use navigation with a high-resolution, sunlight-readable, glare-resistant bril-

30 | GMé December 2014

liant colour three-inch HD LCD display. Its rechargeable, lithium-ion polymer battery gives up to 14 hours of play on a single charge. With in-play views such as the visually-stunning Dynamic RangeVue and Interactive HoleVue giving TOUCH owners different viewing options, including the ability to zoom into the map, golfers can closely examine TrueGround yardages throughout the hole and set their own target points including quick layups with a touch of the finger. When golfers with the TOUCH are shooting for the green, SkyCaddie’s patented IntelliGreen technology gives them dynamic green information from their angle of attack. With SkyCaddie mappers having walked the circumference of every green, only SkyCaddie owners have such accurate data about the all-important approach shot. With other top-of-the-range HandsFree Automation features including Auto-Course Recognition, Auto-Hole Advance and Auto-Distance Display, plus the ability to store up to 20 rounds’ data between syncs, plus Stat Tracking, Shot Distance Measurement and Pace-ofPlay Timer, the SkyCaddie TOUCH is the ultimate GPS rangefinder for all serious golfers. GMé




Huxley Golf All-Weather Practice Tees

Castle Course, St Andrews Links

GolfAdvert_Andrew_180x127mm.indd 1

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

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“Our main remit is Europe, and setting and advancing standards for membership and education for PGAs across Europe”

In conversation with Ian Randell It’s been a busy year for Ian Randell, chief executive of the PGAs of Europe, with the association last month recognised by the EGCOA for its outstanding contribution to golf. TIGHT LIPPED Main picture, Ian Randell pictured at a Ryder Cup press conference, and above, with John Daly at the recent Beko Classic

GMé You began your golf career working for the PGA, before taking on the role of chief executive of the Ladies European Tour in 1999. Do you feel that the ladies game gets the recognition that it deserves? IR No, but the situation is certainly improving. I have been really impressed with the job that Mike Whan and his team are doing with the LPGA in marketing the Tour, the players and internationalising their schedule. The LET also seems to be starting to get some improved exposure again as well, and there is also no doubt that golf in the Olympics provides a fantastic opportunity for the ladies game to share the same stage as the men and also gain a stronger voice at the top table of golf. GMé After a one-year role outside of golf, you returned in 2007 to become the first chief executive of the PGAs of Europe. What was it about the position that tempted you to return to golf? IR I love the game and I missed being involved in the business. Once Sandy

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Jones (chairman of the PGAs of Europe) had outlined the plans for the development of the PGAs of Europe and the faith that he, and the Board, had in me it was an easy decision to return. The PGAs of Europe was entering a new chapter in its development with greater business emphasis and an involvement in Ryder Cup Europe, and the opportunity to continue to use my international experience and drive the Association forward was, and continues to be, a very enjoyable task. GMé What exactly is the role of the PGAs of Europe, and who are your members? IR The PGAs of Europe is an Association of 36 National PGAs – 31 European and five International – with a collective membership in excess of 21,000 golf professionals. We are committed to the advancement of golf, golfers and the golf profession across Europe. The Association is also a partner in Ryder Cup Europe as the sole member of the Ryder Cup European Development Trust, and is widely acknowledged as

DRESSED TO IMPRESS A studio image of Ian Randell

INDUSTRY RECOGNITION EGCOA president, Alexander Baron von Spoercken presents an award to Ian Randell

a leading body in the delivery of golf development expertise on a global basis through its collaboration with The R&A in its “Working for Golf” programme.

provides us with a great deal of support including the provision of a financial management service. The PGA has nearly 8,000 members, around 20 per cent of who are working internationally around the globe, so we can help in providing a voice and guidance to them.

GMé How closely does the PGAs of Europe work with the PGA of America, the European Tour and the PGA? IR Our mantra for many years has been “Working Together” and we work closely with each in different ways. For the past ten years or so we have been members of the PGA World Alliance alongside nine of the world’s leading PGAs, and obviously the PGA of America are a major part of this. The World Alliance provides a vehicle to share knowledge and good practice in coaching and the profession and also protect and promote the PGA brand. Furthermore, we obviously work with them on the Ryder Cup. Our work with the European Tour is increasing all the time. Ryder Cup Europe is made up of three partners; the European Tour, the PGA of Great Britain & Ireland and the PGAs of Europe through the vehicle of the Ryder Cup European Development Trust, which provides funds to assist the development of the game across Europe. We are also working more closely with them on golf development and the promotion of the positive health, social, economic and environmental benefits of golf. The PGA of GB&I, across the four home nations, is our biggest member and

GMé Where do you see the growth potential for golf in Europe, and geographically, how far afield does the PGAs of Europe cover? IR Our main remit is Europe, and setting and advancing standards for membership and education for PGAs across Europe, so that they and their members are equipped to assist the development of the game in each country. However, we are happy to welcome International Members who meet these standards, and as such our membership comes from far and wide, including South Africa and Canada for example. Most of Europe has great potential for growth. If we take Sweden as the base level for example with a participation rate of over five per cent, then most countries have quite an opportunity to raise their participation to this level as the European average is around 0.75 per cent of the population! If I were to pick one country at present then it would have to be France. The 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris provides an excellent catalyst for them to grow the game and the Federation are doing an excellent job in doing so. They recognised that they have many great golf

courses but most of these are not close to the population, and their commitment to their bid to become hosts in 2018 included the development of at least 100 short courses in or close to urban areas, whilst doubling the number of registered golfers from around 450,000 to 900,000. They are well on the way with the development of the short courses and once completed will no doubt result in increased number of players. GMé Historically, the PGA professional and the owner/manager have worked on different sides of the industry, but with more PGA professionals taking the title ‘director of golf’ and moving into management roles, how equipped, do you feel, is the PGAs of Europe to support these pro’s? IR Very well equipped. Business skills are an integral part of PGA education, and furthermore, several PGAs are offering the opportunity to take further education to obtain a ‘director of golf’ qualification. Increasingly we are seeing people entering the profession wishing to follow a specific route, should it be coaching or management for example, and I certainly think that golf will benefit from this. GMé With more and more club owners taking over the management of the club shop – a role previously the domain of the club pro – do you fear for the future of the PGA professional? | 33




IN GOOD COMPANY (L-R) Richard Hills, European Ryder Cup director; George O’Grady, chief executive of The European Tour; Jose Maria Olazabal; Sandy Jones, chief executive of The PGA and Ian Randell

IR Not at all. PGA professionals have been at the heart of golf for well over a century and as the industry changes it seems that they have evolved. The club professional has changed from teacher, club-maker, keeper of the greens back in the day of the Great Triumverate and the founding of the original PGA in 1901, and there is no doubt they will continue to change. The PGA professional increasingly needs to be able to show how they add value to clubs and I see their role increasingly as “Business Development” – bringing in new golfers – and “Player Development” – assisting golfers to improve and have fun. GMé There has been talk of a breakaway Professional Golfers Union being formed by disillusioned members of the PGA. What advice would you offer to a PGA pro who is trying to justify his annual subs? IR It really isn’t my place to answer this as this relates to a specific PGA and that is not the role of the PGAs of Europe. GMé Participation of golf is the biggest single issue facing our industry today, so what part can the PGA play in bringing through new golfers across Europe?

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IR The PGAs play an essential role in bringing in new golfers and increasing participation of existing golfers. PGA professionals provide the skilled workforce to introduce newcomers to the game in the correct way so that they have fun, improve and assist in their integration into the club. If people are to keep playing they need to be able to see some improvement in their game and also enjoy the social aspects of the sport and the PGA professional has to be at the heart of this. GMé How often do you get the chance to play golf, and if so, what is your handicap, and do you hold a club membership anywhere? IR I try to play once a week. I once heard Joe Steranka (former CEO of the PGA of America) say that it would be very hypocritical of us to keep telling people what a wonderful sport golf is and then not play ourselves – so I keep using that as my excuse to get out on a Saturday morning! I still love playing, and am an enthusiastic member of Little Aston Golf Club with a handicap that tends to deviate between five and six (as it has for the past 20 odd years!) GMé

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Dryden challenges traditional approach

IN CONTROL Marc Dryden, general manager at Hockley Golf Club

With a background in investment banking, Marc Dryden is transforming Hockley Golf Club from a stereotypical and stuffy members-only club, into a progressive and modern club, fit for purpose. Scott MacCallum speaks with the forward-thinking general manager. For many years the letters “Rtd” appearing after the name of a golf club secretary was so commonplace it almost looked like the acronym for the qualification required to carry out the role. Usually preceded by the title “Major”, “Wing Commander” or “Colonel”, it demonstrated just where many of the better quality golf clubs in the country chose to conduct their recruitment drives when the incumbent retired. Nowadays, however, many of the more enlightened golf clubs appreciate that they are operating in a fiercely competitive market and that someone with business acumen would be better suited to steer the club’s future.

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“Retired high ranking military men generally have very good administrative skills and are excellent at running golf clubs,” said Marc Dryden, general manager of Hockley Golf Club, in Twyford, in Hampshire, “but only if you didn’t want to change anything.” Dryden has been at Hockley for the past two years having enjoyed a previous career as an Investment Banker in the City. He arrived at Hockley without any of the baggage associated with golf club management, and has instilled a more professional and commercial approach to the running of the golf club. “As part of the negotiations which took place prior to my appointment, I stipu-

lated that I would not take on the role if I was to be handcuffed by a committee structure which in my view was unworkable,” explained Dryden. And having secured the executive power which would enable Dryden the ability to carry out the role, a much more professional approach to golf club management has been put in place at Hockley. “I don’t go near a committee for probably 80 per cent of the decisions I make here,” Dryden revealed. “What I want from a management committee is for them to come up with the strategic direction for the club to go in, and then it is my job to implement that strategy. ON THE TEE General manager, Marc Dryden on the first tee at Hockley, and below, a view of the James Braid designed course

“I don’t go near a committee for probably 80 per cent of the decisions I make here”

“The detail involved in that implementation shouldn’t go near the committee,” he explained. Dryden was initially a tennis player – of county standard – more than a golfer, but he got a flavour for the frustrations of running a sports club when he was chairman of his tennis club. “I worked with an ex-Military man who was club manager, but he wouldn’t action anything unless he was told to by the committee. “It drove me nuts. I wanted to recruit someone with a hotel background as we were weak from a business perspective. Initially I was told by the membership that we needed someone who understood tennis, but we had five tennis professionals who knew about tennis and who ran their side of the club excellently. “What we needed was someone with the expertise to run and maintain the estate and run a bar and restaurant etc.

“I eventually won the battle and got a guy in who transformed the club. Everyone thought it was marvellous and wondered why we hadn’t done it before. I told them it was because they’d employed the wrong person.” So what does Dryden believe is the ideal skill set for a modern day golf club manager? “Anyone with general business acumen could identify the problems, but you need to be pretty thick skinned and quite astute at playing the political game to manage change, because managing change is not easy. Golf clubs are more steeped in tradition than anything I’ve ever come across previously, which does make change implementation additionally tough.” One of the major changes that Dryden put in place in his first year was the appointment of Glen Kirby as course manager. “I deliberated advertising for a course manager rather than a head

greenkeeper, as I wanted someone who would manage the course and Glen, who came to us from The London Club, is responsible for everything to do with the course – he will determine whether we close the course. “That is his decision and I won’t attempt to influence him,” said Dryden, who also explained that members can’t go directly to Kirby if they have an issue to raise. “They can’t email him or contact him directly. We protect, or ring fence him, from any of that. And we don’t have a Greens Committee. We have one course member, who is also on the Management Committee who we meet with once a month, together with the golf professional. “That’s at a high level and the member can feed into the meeting any gossip around the membership while we can feed in any message, which we feel is important. The meeting with the course | 37




100 NOT OUT The Centenary Clubhouse extension was opened this May

“We don’t say people can wear denim jeans but we don’t say you can’t”

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member is a conduit between management and membership.” They do, however, take options to the Golf Committee and ask members to talk to their fellow members about them, and ask that they take a look at the relevant part of the course on the next occasion they are playing. “We might ask them to take a look at some trees on the second as we were considering removing them. That way, we can build a consensus and you get members buying into the decision but in a way we’ve led them to the decision.” The job which Kirby has done during his time at Hockley has ensured that any murmurings within the membership are generally of the contented variety and he, in keeping with the approach of his general manager, is keen to see a more professional approach taken. “Glen suggested that we retain the services of a golf course architect so we brought in Guy Hockley, who worked with Nick Faldo. The fact that his name is Hockley was also nice,” said Dryden. When I arrived the club had just spent £30,000 rebuilding two tees which had been the work of the then Greens Committee. We had to rip them up and start again as they were not done correctly,” revealed Dryden, with another example of how a more professional approach can save the club money as well as produce a much better result. Another of the existing issues which Dryden has managed to change is the age old “Dress Code” which has made golf, and golf clubs, the laughing stock among many non-golfers for decades.

“When I arrived here, we had a three page dress code and on one of the first occasions I walked onto the first tee, I was wearing some very nice tailored beige shorts and beige FootJoy socks. Someone came up and said ‘You’re actually going to play like that, are you?” “When I asked what was wrong I was told that you could only wear white socks, so I had to run to the Pro Shop and get a pair. “The Dress Code at Hockley is now a single paragraph which states ‘golf attire’ is acceptable, which is taken to mean anything you can buy in the Pro Shop. We don’t say people can wear denim jeans but we don’t say you can’t. “A nice pair of Armani designer jeans is fine, but we wouldn’t want a builder to come in what he’s worn to work. It is down to myself and my staff to tell people politely if they are not dressed correctly, but in the main it is common sense.” Dryden is comfortable taking decisions in the best interests of the golf club, and has shown that he can do so without having to go through a committee before they are made or implemented. In doing so, the progress that has been made at Hockley is impressive, and demonstrates what can be achieved with a professional, competent and confident manager in place. “We must all have accountability and operate a challenge culture, and I’ve tried to instill into the staff at Hockley to think how we can do things to give a better service, not only for ourselves, but for our members.” GMé

Interested to see how a Golf Academy can accelerate your facility’s income and deliver a course record for your balance sheet? • Established proven success formula and track record • Strong golf media relationships • Win/Win partnerships


All contact treated in strictest confidence. All facilities/ destination/location considered.

Elite Coaching

Tel +41 79 343 2524 or | 39


academy golf

How an academy can increase your F&B As the founder of the Elite Coaching Golf Academy brand, Jonathan Wallett has built and developed golf academies across Europe, and offers an insight into how an academy can successfully be integrated into your business model.

“a busy academy, equates to a busy course, which in-turn generates a higher F&B return. See it as the ‘shop-window’ to your establishment if you will”

A LENDING HAND A student during a lesson at the Elite Coaching Golf Academy

When building a new facility, much planning and investment goes into the design and construction of the course and clubhouse, and indeed the range and practice facility itself, with the driving range structure and equipment all adding up to a large capital outlay. Then, from an operational standpoint once the infrastructure has been established, much thought and consideration is given to the operation of the course – whether it’s a membership driven club or more resort style where daily green fee revenues are the major source of revenue. The optimal way to maximize the F&B operation is studied, analysed and decided upon. However the operation of the golf academy can often be seen as an irrelevance and a required necessity but nothing more. Why is this so, and what role does the academy play in the golf facility operation? It is clear that golf course operators are focused on the areas of the business that maximize revenue – this is logical

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and very understandable. Club membership, green fees, range ball fees and F&B revenues are the major income generator for most facilities. But what is the best model or best practice for an operator to implement when it comes to golf academy operation? How can its impact within the golf operation framework be maximized, how can revenue be optimised and how can you make money from a golf academy? The best way to optimise the academy is to view it as a marketing tool for your golf facility – see it as your business card and brochure if you like. The basic premise is that a busy academy, equates to a busy course, which in-turn generates a higher F&B return. See it as the ‘shop-window’ to your establishment if you will. A good academy should have a multitude of programs which then act as a ‘spiders-web’ to either create or bring in golfers to your facility. Programs that provide a very clear and easy pathway from total beginner to member such

as junior and school programs act as a powerful PR tool for the facility in the local community. Membership generation is often at the forefront of operator’s minds. Setting the right price and options within that particular market place can be a make or break factor, both in the short and long term. But the golf academy can be the catalyst to bringing new people through the door, and then critically, bringing them into the ‘web’ whereby they receive increasing value to the point where they sign up. Often many golfers became golfers not because they had made a pre-mediated decision to play golf and join a club, but because they tried it inadvertently and then slowly got ‘hooked’. A very affordable, widely advertised ‘taster’ golf morning/afternoon/evening is an essential block in the process. I once sat down with a newspaper marketing executive at one facility in a small country with a small golfing population, where golf was regarded as an

BUCKET LIST A practice bucket of balls is all your clubs needs to start increasing profitability

expensive and elitist sport. Our marketing consultant assured us this newspaper was a bad fit, as the customer profile of the journal was vastly different than that of our prospective club member. Despite this, we decided to broker a deal with this newspaper whereby they would market to their 50,000+ readers each week a series of golf taster days as a reader offer. The result: our 80 bay facility was overflowing every Sunday morning. Our costs were nominal as the balls had to be picked up at the end of each day anyway, and the cost of hiring six coaches for the two-hour sessions was easily paid for through the small fee the reader paid. The take up rate to the next course, a more formal four-week beginner course, was about 20 per cent. From this we had ten per cent sign up for a ‘Year Card’ and then five per cent for membership itself – it’s all about process. Some facilities are so focused on bringing in new members, that they forget their existing customers, so what

are your membership retention rates, and are they increasing or decreasing against the base rate in your region? Value is the buzz word all business people are looking to create for their members. But it comes not from just a good conditioned accessible course and affordably priced membership. A key part of the ‘membership value’ is how the member feels when driving through the gates of the club. An academy program that offers a multitude of different options for club members means that the members start to meet other members and then forge relationships with each other. Their sense of club community is improved and their perceived value of being a member of your club is increased, and the benefits less comparable than of joining another club in the region. One often overlooked aspect of a successful golf academy is that it can provide an invaluable source of customer feedback.

The academy coaches are actually often the people within the golf facility who have the closest customer contact – this an invaluable resource if used and collated correctly. You can have a great product but failure to inform potential customers about it means that product will not sell. Marketing plays a critical role in the success and failure of any product so see your academy as one of your most important marketing tools. The low overheads of an academy means that the perceived value is high, whilst the operational cost low, and ideally suits itself to be the medium for potential customers to taste the golf experience you offer. In summary, the golf academy can be the catalyst and act as the broker for the success of the facility, so do not just ‘leave it on the shelf,’ but instead, be pro-active and work with the head professional to integrate it into your strategic plan to deliver the objectives that your facility desires. GMé | 41



swan golf designs

The Swans are still spreading their wings Samuel Frederick met Swan Golf Designs’ Howard and William Swan, 30 years on from the passing of the instigator of the family design dynasty.

Joe Strummer of The Clash. Pete Townshend of The Who. Singersongwriter Bob Dylan. They’ve all been saddled with the term ‘spokesman for a generation.’ Howard Swan has gone two better: he’s the spokesman for three generations. But he’s now happily sharing the limelight. Swan, who will be 69 next birthday, followed in the footsteps of his late father Alex, who built and designed courses with Sir Henry Cotton. And William Swan, 34, Howard’s son, has followed them both into the family business, as father and son continue to maintain the position of Swan Golf Designs as one of the leading course design practices, 30 years on from Alex’s passing. “Strummer, Townshend, Dylan and me,” laughed Howard. “I never thought I’d hear my name mentioned along with theirs…” It’s interesting to sit for a couple of hours with the two Swans, not least because Howard does laugh. And smile. Quite a bit actually. It’s far removed from his industry persona which sees him regarded – somewhat unfairly it would appear – as a stern, headmasterly figure.

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There’s no doubting that both Howard and William are both very passionate about golf design and golf in general, but Swan senior’s more forceful personality and apparent desire to speak up for what he believes in, irrespective of the audience, has created an image far removed from that of the contented family man – which he undoubtedly is. William explained: “I’m not sure that he’s universally liked, but I think he’s respected by most. If he doesn’t like something he doesn’t mind saying so, and that approach isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. “What is always apparent is that he works in the best interest of his client and their project, even if that means disagreeing with what that client says.” Howard, however, makes no apologies for the industry perception of him. “That’s exactly what it is,” he smiled. “A perception. How many of us are exactly the same in our professional lives as in our personal lives? A lot of things have been said – and written – about me down the years, not all of it fairly. “But if it makes people sit up and take action where it is required then it’s a burden I’m prepared to shoulder.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON William (left) and father, Howard pictured together

“I support a football team that plays in black and white (Newcastle United) – and it has been said that this is the way I often view things, hence I may occasionally ruffle a few feathers. Those closest to me know what I’m really like. And they wouldn’t still be around me if I was as disagreeable as some people believe.” He turns to William for approval, who, teasingly, declines to comment.

One senses that the two enjoy working alongside each other. Indeed, Howard confirms: “We have a great time as father and son walking around some of the sites we’re working on and sharing ideas. We’re very lucky to be able to do that. It also makes me immensely proud when people come up to me and say what a nice chap William is – all parents are filled with pride when

that happens. And, invariably, my riposte is ‘he’s just like his mother…’ “From where my father started, his achievement was immense. I can’t express my pride of my father to my father, unfortunately, but I can express pride in my son to William, and I do. William has a different drive but he’s just as much a creator – he’s more intelligent than I am. | 43



swan golf designs TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE Alex Swan (left) with Henry Cotton marking out the new nine-holes at Eaglescliffe Golf Club (1968), opposite, turfing new 12th green at Nefyn & District Golf Club and below right, Howard Swan with Sir Henry Cotton on site during the construction of the course at Gosfield Lake Golf Club (1986)

“We have a great time as father and son walking around some of the sites we’re working on and sharing ideas”

“Much of the work he does is super. I don’t want him to get above himself, but I’d love to see him get above me…,” he smiled, glancing across with fatherly pride. He added: “William will create something different to what I’ve created, the same as I created something different to my father; but Swan Golf Designs is still going to be a company that is looking to pioneer. “I have always looked to be a pioneer in my profession in the game of golf – I’ve been to more places than most golf course architects, such as Libya, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Mongolia, Lebanon… and it has been such a wonderful experience in these frontiers of golf. “I use the term ‘returning’ a lot, because what pleases me is we go back to a lot of places we have worked before. We recently returned to Newbury

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& Crookham, which was great; we’ve returned to Channels – which we worked on 20 years ago; to Sheringham; and to Beirut… all these places.” It’s a theme to which William warms. “It would be naïve to think that the best person to take over a business is always a family member, but in an industry with no formal education, chartered status or all-encompassing association, a familial connection guarantees a continuation of the values that Swan Golf Designs’ success has been built upon. “Most of our clients recognise and appreciate this, and I believe it is the main reason we have forged long working relationships with many of them.” The ‘Swan’ approach has permeated down through the generations from Alex Swan, Howard’s father, who began life as a greenkeeper – on the golf course and on the bowling green – before becom-

ing a budding landscape architect, and progressing to designing recreational and welfare schemes for the National Coal Board in Northumberland. He then designed and constructed golf courses alongside Henry Cotton from the early 60s until he died in 1984. In between, he was one of nearly 340,000 soldiers famously evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940. Cotton’s name is revered when listed as the ‘designer’ of a course, yet the majority of new-builds that carry his name owe much to the skills of the more senior Swan, including, perhaps most famously, Penina, the first golf course on the Algarve. “I think that it is fair to say my father, working alongside the ‘great man’ – a three-time Open champion – was essentially the architect in the laying out of the golf courses designed by Sir Henry

Delegates at BTME to learn Howard’s Way

Cotton,” explained Howard, with much pride. He was the engineer who made possible what Cotton conceived. “Henry – I was fortunate to be able to call him Henry – had no real training in how to build a golf course, so that is what my father brought to the partnership. Henry Cotton could play to a standard that most people will never ever achieve, and he certainly translated the way he played the game to that wonderful standard into each course he ‘designed’ and my old man built.” Golf clubs or corporations which engage SGD – and there are currently more than 20 projects underway with the Essex-based company across three continents – get eponymous personal attention, of at least one Swan, and maybe both. William explained: “We’ve had a team of designers in the past but what we

are able to offer now is much more of a personal touch, much more intensively ‘Swan’. Golf courses are built with a personal touch; you can only do so much with drawings. The design of a golf course is as much an expression of the personality and character of the architect as it is an understanding of driving distances, green speeds, soil profiles and drainage techniques. “Howard (he refers to his father as Howard when on business) always says that great design is nothing more than encouraging the player, no matter how good he or she might be, to make good decisions on the course and not just rely on good swings. And that’s absolutely right. “That’s been the Swan way since my grandfather started and it will continue in that vein all the time the name is in the company title.” GMé

Howard Swan will be presenting a series of workshops at BTME in association with the Greenkeepers Training Committee (GTC). He will front a short series of seminars for employers within the industry – owners, club and course managers, and head greenkeepers – on bunkering and the safety of golf courses, taking place during the two days preceding BTME. He is also keen to participate in a number of regional workshops currently being mooted by GTC. He explained: “We have long held the belief that if anyone is to learn anything about anything in life then it must come from three things: information, communication and education – or as we refer to it, ICE. “That requires the ability to take on information, at whatever level, and retaining it for future benefit. Having a good system of communication facilitates that. “In most projects the team should comprises the client – who has a vision of the long-term project – and who may lead the team, supported by the technical input and expertise of the golf course architect, and those who specialise in irrigation technology, agronomy and, of course, the greenkeeping team. “Good communication between the members of that team is key to the success of the project – understanding each other’s position, appreciating the specialist skills, and using the ‘whole’ to maximum effect. Essentially, therefore, becoming the education process from which we all learn.” | 45


green sleeve AS GOOD AS NEW The Green Sleeve has a unique microfiber cleaning centre to remove loose dirt and dry and polish golf balls and wedges

Green Sleeve putting cash in your pocket Aidan Patrick learns more about a simple, yet revolutionary product, which could increase your profit in the pro shop. The Green Sleeve, a unique pocketsized golf ball and iron cleaner already wowing golfers in the USA, has now launched in the UK and across Europe. Already popular in the United States, the Green Sleeve is both an easy-to-sell, revenue-generating accessory in the pro shop and a product that can change a golfers’ game from tee-to-green – and even help improve their scores. “Most amateur players lose the majority of their shots on the greens, but I noticed that all the better golfers I played with made sure their ball was absolutely spotless when they came to putt,” says owner and inventor Oliver Nimenko. “I decided to follow their example, and I immediately noticed that my ball was running truer, and that I was making more putts. By simply making sure I built cleaning my ball into my pre-shot routine, I found that my short game improved, because I was taking great care, attention and time over my short game. “But I disliked having to take my large golf towel on to the green with me. I found it inconvenient and I kept losing towels too. “As trolleys are not permitted near the greens, I wanted something always to hand as taking my main golf towel was inconvenient, and the only other option was to clean my muddy ball on my clothes, which I certainly did not want to do. “So began a two-year development period, when I invented and developed the Green Sleeve – a pocket golf ball

46 | GMé December 2014

cleaner, with a deep-cleaning microfibre centre that helps remove dirt and keep your clubs and balls in tip top condition.” After the extensive development period, Nimenko decided to test the market by taking his new product to the PGA show in Florida – and the reaction from the crowds of pros and trade-insiders at the prestigious industry show was excellent. The combination of the stylish knitted exteriors and technologically advanced interior was a big hit, and large orders came in immediately from the prestigious Reunion golf resort in Florida and the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). The sleeve – which was designed in the UK, despite the product’s early success in the USA – retails at a very affordable £8.99, including free delivery. Among the wide range of colour options is the ‘Original’ Green Sleeve (in green, obviously), a Union Jack sleeve, and a Scottish saltire. Bright mixed stripes, bold and colourful tartans and simple, elegant block colours complete the Green Sleeve range, with new colours being added all the time. But what is sure to really grab both the UK consumer golf market and trade market’s attention is the myriad ‘customisation’ options available. Customers can simply choose the colour of the external sleeve, and upload their chosen logo – whether it’s their own initials, their company branding or the logo of their golf club or golf society – to the Green Sleeve website at

“I invented and developed the Green Sleeve – a pocket golf ball cleaner, with a deep-cleaning microfibre centre that helps remove dirt and keep your clubs and balls in tip top condition”

MADE IN BRITAIN A branded sleeve with the Union Jack

FAMILY REUNION Clubs can include their logo on the product

HANDY Small enough to fit in your pocket

Within a matter of days, a digital mockup will be produced, demonstrating exactly how the finished article will look. Both Reunion and the LPGA – among a number of other Stateside clients – have taken advantage of Green Sleeve’s bespoke ‘customisation’ service, allowing them to choose the colour of the knitted weave on the outside of the product, and to include their own corporate branding too. “Our personalisation options are very exciting,’ says Nimenko, who has worldwide patents pending for The Green Sleeve. Golf clubs can add their own colours and emblem to a Green Sleeve and sell them in the pro shop.

“Golf societies can add their own logo and create a unique gift for their next society day. Businesses looking for a high-quality promotional item can also send us their corporate branding and we can produce something truly memorable and different. The options are endless.” While golfers in the Sunshine State of Florida are already using the Green Sleeve owner Nimenko insists it’s during the winter period – when the yearly routine of lifting, cleaning and placing your ball starts – that the Green Sleeve will establish itself as a ‘must-have’ item for Britain’s all-weather golfers. “When winter starts, keeping your ball clean and dry of mud and loose grass

really is essential – both on the green and elsewhere on the golf course. “When the weather begins to turn, the Green Sleeve is going to be an incredible time and labour-saver for UK and European golfers – thanks to its function as both a ball cleaner and an iron cleaner. “The Green Sleeve is something we’re incredibly excited about and we believe fills the gap in the market for a pocketsized ball and iron cleaner, that’s more convenient than a regular golf towel. “We had great success exhibiting the product at the PGA show in Florida, and I’m certain that the Green Sleeve will be a great success here in Europe.” GMé | 47



emirates golf club

Toro conserves water at Emirates Golf Club The Emirates Golf Club in Dubai was recently recognised for its commitment to sustainability, with a little help from Toro. Karine Watne reports on a club which has managed to reduce its water consumption by more than 30 per cent.

“Water savings in this part of the world is a responsibility we take very seriously and, along with other key initiatives, the irrigation system has allowed us to be efficient with every drop that goes out”

STANDING TALL Craig Haldane, director of golf course maintenance at Dubai Golf pictured right with the award

The Dubai-based Emirates Golf Club has received an ‘Efficient Use of Resources Award’ from the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) for the club’s highly focused and sustained approach to water management and irrigation efficiency, where pressure on the vital resource is enormous. Since investing in state-of-the-art Toro golf irrigation technologies, the club has reduced its irrigation water consumption by more than 30 per cent. The award was presented during the 2015 IAGTO Awards Gala Dinner, which took place at Villa Erba on Lake Como in Italy on the final night of the International Golf Travel Market, the golf tourism industry’s annual global trade show.

48 | GMé December 2014

As part of their partnership with Golf Environment Organization (GEO), IAGTO recognised environmental and social excellence at the 15th annual awards ceremony. The sustainability awards have rewarded and raised awareness of the work being done by many of IAGTO’s 800 golf courses and golf resorts around the world. The Emirates Golf Club’s awardwinning achievements are the result of a complete irrigation system renovation completed in late 2012. System upgrades included Toro innovations such as the Lynx Central Control System, Network VP Satellites and Toro golf sprinklers, products which help to ensure that the club’s Majlis Course is properly watered, while making the most

efficient use of precious resources such as water, electricity and labour. The Majlis Course is the flagship course at Emirates Golf Club, located on the edge of Dubai, and is a challenging par 72, 7,301-yard course designed by Karl Litten. The first grass golf course in the Middle East, its landscapes include abundant desert flora along with lush turf grass fairways and greens. The Majlis Course has been the site of numerous European Tour championship events as well as high-profile events on the Ladies European Tour, and it is the first golf course in the Middle East to utilise the Toro Lynx Central Control system. Director of golf course maintenance for Dubai Golf which manages Emirates Golf Club, Craig Haldane commented:

IN THE HEART OF THE CITY A view of the eighth tee on The Majlis Course, with the striking Dubai city landscape in the background

“Our decision to install a Toro system was an easy one. The technologies that Toro continue to innovate gave us the opportunity to really fine tune how we apply water and to quite literally micro manage any area of the course. “With the help of a magnificent software program in Lynx, we have better control to improve our efficiency and therefore meet some of the key performance indicators that are set. “Water savings in this part of the world is a responsibility we take very seriously and, along with other key initiatives, the irrigation system has allowed us to be efficient with every drop that goes out, creating savings that before we had only dreamed of and that today are a reality.” Precise irrigation control has allowed the club to avoid overwatering, which

was a long-term problem due to the area’s extreme humidity. The irrigation system design also implements the use of treated sewage effluent (TSE) for optimized resource efficiency. In addition, the renovated irrigation system includes a new pump station that can provide up to 6,500 gallons of TSE water per minute. This increased pump capacity has resulted in a significant reduction in watering times. Efficient and reliable irrigation is required for successful golf turf maintenance in Dubai, where the climate features extreme heat and humidity. Year-round, Dubai’s average daily high temperature is 33.4˚C (92˚F), and in the summer the average daily high is over 38˚C (100˚F). Rainfall is scarce (only 94.3 mm on average annually), but

conditions are extremely humid in this city on the Persian Gulf. Despite the hot, humid climate, the innovative, easy-to-operate Toro irrigation technology allows the Majlis Course staff to create and maintain championship-quality golf landscapes – and conserve valuable resources, as recognized by the prestigious IAGTO sustainability award. “It is a tremendous honor to receive this award for our work to improve efficiencies at the Majlis Course,” said Christopher May, chief executive officer of Dubai Golf. “Toro’s irrigation technology has been instrumental in helping us conserve precious resources while also maintaining a consistent level of excellence for our members and our visitors.” GMé | 49


signing off

“I can also expect to see, from various members of the extended family, a plethora of small golf gifts that will almost certainly never see the light of day”

Ah Christmas... A time for tacky golf gifts It’s beginning to look a lot like… any other year. Like many blokes I made the schoolboy error in the run-up to Christmas by saying “I fancy one of those” about something in which one is, actually, only vaguely interested. I’ve no doubt that this year’s presents will include a windscreen de-mister; a pair of Portsmouth FC socks (nonfootball style, unused); a Slendertone weightloss belt; small battery-operated food whisk (for putting the froth on a cappuccino) and a can of de-icer. I’ve also dropped into the conversation that I fancy owning a surround-sound system for the TV, and the only thing Portsmouth FC related I’d really like is a 30-goal-a-season striker. I can also expect to see, from various members of the extended family, a plethora of small golf gifts that will almost certainly never see the light of day. Not because they’re no good – though some of them are undoubtedly useless – but merely because since I started working in golf I’ve almost stopped playing the damn game. When I was a sports hack on the local paper, I worked weekends so had time off in the week, when, unencumbered by a spouse demanding we go shopping or visit relatives, I could head off to the local course with a drinking buddy and spend a pleasant afternoon retrieving balls from water hazards and examining the face of my driver for imperfections after slicing yet another ball into the trees. Those days are gone. Now, I’m lucky if I get to visit the driving range once a

50 | GMé December 2014

SURROUNDED BY TAT AT CHRISTMAS You can forget the golf gifts this year... all I really want is a surround-sound system

month. So far this year – admittedly a year in which I’ve had knee problems and a bout of lethargy – I haven’t played golf at all. Not once. Never. Zilch. But I shall still get a golf ball soap on a rope – “ah thanks Joan, I didn’t realise I had a BO problem”; a sleeve of balls so poor that even I wouldn’t tee them up; a ‘humorous’ golf-themed baseball cap; a pair of golf-themed socks – useful, but never in the correct size (I have big feet); some form of new, patented golf ball cleaner – thanks, but I have a towel; a pair of glasses that is supposed to aid in the finding of lost balls but which, in truth, just make me look like the village idiot; and a packet of something snatched up at the last minute from the golf department at Sports Direct as they

ran through picking up advent calendars and football-related stuff for the kids. I don’t mind being an afterthought – I was an afterthought even to my parents – but I really did want that surroundsound system. And don’t get me started on my new year’s resolutions – they will be diet related, they always are... GMé

David Bowers




Nestled on a seaside perch in the Scottish Highlands, Castle Stuart Golf Links is a truly extraordinary golf destination. Home of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Scottish Open, the course debuted at No. 56 on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World list.

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