GMé | December 2016

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On the cover...

EcoBunker is setting the standard when it comes to bunker renovation, with a wide range of solutions to enhance your course


ÂŁ6.50 Issue 111 | December 2016

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

Gary Silcock must be one of only a few directors of golf who has worked at two Ryder Cup host venues... The Belfry, and now, Gleneagles


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Built on Innovation



On the agenda december 2016 30


London Calling for Follett

New CEO of the London Golf Club, Stephen Follett, talks about his time at Marriott and Troon, and his plans to build on the reputation of his new employer.


Pelley on a European Tour

A little over a year ago, Canadian-born Keith Pelley took over as CEO of The European Tour, and during his short tenure, has already made some significant changes.


Brexit and Beyond


Home from Home for Silcock

In a year of shocks and revelations, Mark Alexander looks back over the events that shocked the world in 2016 and finds out what Brexit means for golf.

As CV’s go, there can’t be too many individuals within the industry who have a better pedigree than director of golf at Gleneagles, Gary Silcock.



Creating a buzz at Burhill

Employers who engage with and look after their workforce, are, more likely than not, going to reap the long-term benefits as Burhill Golf & Leisure have discovered.

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


Publisher Executive editor Contributors

Michael Lenihan David Bowers Mark Alexander, John Ashworth, Ian Bailey, Andy Campbell, Neil Gray, Andy Hiseman, Scott MacCallum, Aidan Patrick, Keith Pelley


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from the publisher

“What’s more, why is the golf industry not recycling money, and why is it putting money into cricket?”

Golf awards at Lord’s? It’s just not cricket Now call me naïve – it’s actually one of the nicer things I might get called – but I see absolutely no reason why the England Golf awards ceremony should be held at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Last month, England Golf sent out a press release announcing that nominations were open for eight award categories – awards which would be made at a black-tie event at Lord’s in March. The press release stated that the ceremony was “a must-attend event on the sporting calendar.” Even allowing for the marketing hyperbole, I find it absurd that such an event should be taking place at a cricket ground – albeit one of the most famous in the world. There must be, literally, hundreds of suitable venues within the golf industry; and, if the organisers really wanted to focus on the efforts of grass-roots golf, why not give it to a nice little golf club which doesn’t have a massive profile or PR budget. What’s more, why is the golf industry not recycling money, and why is it putting money into cricket? With a note of irony which not be lost even on Alanis Morissette, the release continues: “Influential guests from the sport and golf community will join England Golf to recognise all that’s great about English golf, including achievements in the professional and amateur game and in grass roots development.” The italicised emphasis is mine – even they wouldn’t be daft enough to highlight where their own rhetoric shoots

4 | GMé December 2016

IT’S NOT CRICKET Lord’s may well be the home of cricket, but it’s not a golf venue

itself in the foot. Grass-roots development? Surely that would be helped at one club by holding the awards there. And, with a ticket price of £75 per person it might be quite beneficial to ‘grass roots’. I’m sure the lure of a grand venue like Lord’s is difficult to ignore, which may explain why the recent Club Leadership Summit was held at the same venue. Yet, that particular event attracts delegates from all sports – not just golf – and is more of a networking event. But when you are championing an individual sport – and England Golf does some very good work, let’s not forget – such a move sends out the wrong mes-

sage to the clubs, many of which have exceptional conference and banqueting facilities. How can they sell their facility as ‘one of the very best’ if people in their own sport can’t be persuaded to use it? Hopefully, 2018 will see a change of heart. GMé

Michael Lenihan

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Hold the front page As specialists in bunker renovation and drainage, EcoBunker is rapidly forging a reputation as the global leader in the art of bunker edging with a reputation, second to none.

“We wanted to do the work just once, and not have to be coming back every five years or so to re-construct the bunkers time and time again”

Cover sponsored by EcoBunker (44) 029 2039 7472

6 | GMé December 2016

The autumn of 2016 has seen a rapid increase in orders for EcoBunker and Permaedge, with managing director, Richard Allen’s invention of synthetic turf walls already becoming common practice for bunker construction across the world. EcoBunker has already completed bunker renovations on three full courses, with another ten due to complete before spring 2017, the most recent of these being Fleesensee G&CC in Germany, which is on track to complete the re-styling of all its 70 bunkers by the end of March 2017, using the EcoBunker construction method. Introduced to the club in late 2014, three trial ecobunkers – installed during the spring of 2015 – demonstrated to the management that there was a sustainable, cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing alternative to their existing bunkers. So why the need for change? With extensive experience of preparing courses for European Tour events, course manager Stephen Monk said: “The Schloss course, which can be described as an ‘inland links’ was always intended as a venue for major tournaments, however the European Tour prefers to host their Qualifying School on the sister Schloss Torgelow course.

“Following new investment by Kai Richter and Joerg Lindner, and discussions with the new directors of golf & business development, Alexs White and Michael Hayes, there is now a clear strategy in place with the aim of re-introducing the Schloss course as a tournament venue. A bunker re-style is one of the most important elements of that strategy. “We looked at many options, but two in great detail – the revetted option with EcoBunker, and a sand-faced, irregular edged option described to us as ‘1920s in style’ – and EcoBunker finally became our preferred option. “It was a big decision; we considered our paying customers, European Tour aspirations, short-term installation costs and very importantly, the longer term maintenance liabilities,” added Monk. “We wanted to do the work just once, and not have to be coming back every five years or so to re-construct the bunkers time and time again, which is the case when using natural turf. “EcoBunker demonstrated how they could successfully deliver fast track projects on time and within budget such as Medalist (featured on the front cover) and the fact that the three trial bunkers had performed superbly well was also an important factor.” GMé

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Grandson of founder, John K. Solheim named new president of PING John Karsten Solheim, the oldest son of John A. Solheim and the grandson of PING founder Karsten Solheim, will take over as president of PING, effective January 1, 2017. He succeeds Doug Hawken as president, who is retiring after a distinguished 45-year career with the company that saw him rise from assistant to the production manager to president and chief operating officer, a position he’s held since 1999. “It fills me with great pride to name my oldest son, John K., to the role of president of our family-owned company,” said John A. Solheim, PING chairman and CEO, who officially announced the promotion at a gathering of the company’s employees. “He’s been preparing for this role for the last several years and he’s ready to take the next step. Together with the other third-generation family members and our strong teams throughout the organisation, I’m confident John K. will continue to advance our primary goal of engineering innovative, performancebased products of the highest quality while providing unmatched levels of service.” John K. served as an executive vice president for the last two years after a four-year assignment as president of PING Golf Japan, where he led a successful effort to re-position the PING brand throughout Japan and Asia.

Prior to his time in Japan, he oversaw PING’s new product development efforts as vice president of engineering. As a high-school student he worked summers in the engineering department, including one shadowing his grandfather, an experience that gave him an education unlike any other as he observed and absorbed Karsten’s passion for the brand he created in his garage in 1959. “I am grateful for this opportunity,” said John K., 42, who is married and the father of four. “I have aspired to this for most of my career.

Toro set to acquire Perrot

Industry figureheads gather at Club Leadership Summit

The Toro Company has announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Regnerbau Calw GmbH, a privately held manufacturer of professional irrigation equipment sold under the Perrot brand. Headquartered in Althengstett, Germany, Regnerbau Calw products are well known throughout Europe, and particularly among sports field professionals around the world. As part of the agreement, Toro will gain manufacturing facilities in Althengstett, Germany, and Ustron, Poland, where the company expects to continue to produce these products. Toro will also benefit from an experienced Perrot management team and dedicated employee base that has built a strong reputation among sports field professionals. Following the close, which is expected to occur in the fiscal 2017 first quarter, the Perrot team will become part of Toro, reporting to Darren Redetzke, vice president, International.

8 | GMé December 2016

New president of PING, John K. Solheim

The dinner at this years summit

The fifth annual Club Leadership Summit took place at Lord’s, the Home of Cricket, earlier this month, with more than 50 of the world’s top CEOs and general managers in attendance. Since the inaugural event was held back in 2012, the evening has established itself as one of the best networking and educational events within the golf club world. Attendees this year included delegates from the likes of Valderamma, The

“Such responsibility is something I don’t believe you can ever be completely ready for, but I am certainly prepared. We all know a lot has changed since my grandfather entered the golf industry more than five decades ago. But what hasn’t changed is the foundation Karsten built here at PING. “We are committed to making the best golf products in the world to help golfers play better and enjoy the game more. I look forward to working even more closely with my dad and the rest of the third-generation family members.”

Wisley, Queenwood, Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. Held in the famous Long Room at the iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground, the 2016 Summit was again supported by several industry-leading partners, including Toro, Wheels Up, EZGO, Castiglion del Bosco and Golf Genius Software. Several industry leaders were invited to address the attendees at this year’s event, with the keynote speakers highlighted by European Tour CEO Keith Pelley, Quail Hollow Golf Club general manager Tom Delozier, Billy Casper Golf director of talent management Tom Reilly, and Wheels Up executive VP and founding partner John Colucci. Another highlight of the evening was the live ‘Money Can’t Buy’ auction, with seven lots raising in excess of £20,000 for official charity partner Golfing4Life. The money will contribute to bursaries awarded to elite, under privileged young golfers, to support their development as they strive to reach the top of the game.


Jacobsen president and CEO, David Withers to move on

In brief... The European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) Golf Business Conference 2016 took place last month in Amsterdam and left delegates inspired by the Big Opportunities available to attract, retain and utilise new members. The conference saw highly innovative professionals from across Europe descend on Amsterdam to compete for the prestigious EGCOA Awards, that highlight the latest trends in European golf whilst recognising and rewarding those who have done the most for the industry. The Club Managers Association of Europe’s executive education programme on Food and Beverage Management was recently completed in Marbella, Spain in conjunction with Asociacion Espanola de Gerentes de Golf. Twenty six club industry professionals all of whom have F&B related responsibilities at their clubs took part in a five-day residential programme that covered a broad food and beverage based curriculum.

After a long career at Jacobsen, president and CEO, David Withers, has announced that he will leave the company at the end of December. Following Jacobsen’s integration into Textron Specialised Vehicles, Withers decided it was time to pursue the next chapter in his career. In a statement issued by Textron, chairman, president and CEO, Scott C. Donnelly commented: “David leaves a sizable legacy behind, and his mark is found across Jacobsen’s brands, products and people. I am appreciative of his many contributions to Jacobsen and Textron during his 24 years of service to us, including the last five as Jacobsen president and CEO. “As part of the business integration, we will transfer Jacobsen’s golf sales organization into the TSV Golf business, led by Mike Parkhurst, vice president, Golf. This structure enables us to be a single-source solution to golf-course owners and operators for their varied equipment needs, from fleet golf cars to turf-utility vehicles to turf-care and mowing equipment, and will allow us to continue to win new customers and expand our share in the golf sector. “Please join me in thanking David for his many years of service and leadership at Jacobsen and Textron.”

David Withers

Japanese course operator Accordia Golf sold for $760m

The R&A and the USGA have announced the introduction of a new Local Rule that eliminates the penalty when a ball is accidentally moved on the putting green. The Local Rule will be available for any committee in charge of a competition to use starting January 1, 2017, and will be adopted by The R&A and the USGA in all of their championships, qualifying competitions and international matches. The Golf Club Manager’s Association is celebrating 25 years of running its Introduction to Golf Club Management training course – a period that has seen at least 1200 delegates attend the week-long residential course, which is delivered by serving managers with many years’ experience and industry specialists from outside the association.

Withers, who plans to return to his home in Suffolk in the new year, added: “After an amazing 24 years with Jacobsen, the last five of which it has been my privilege to serve as president and CEO, I am leaving the company at the end of this year. “It has been great to get to know so many people in this industry and many are now friends as well as colleagues or business partners. I will probably head back to the UK and see what the next chapter in my career may bring, and look forward to seeing my European industry friends when I get back.”

Yoshiaki Murakami

South Korea-founded private equity group MBK Partners has stated it will acquire Japanese course operator Accordia Golf for $760 million. The deal has been agreed by the company’s three largest external shareholders – funds and individuals linked to Yoshiaki Murakami, Japan’s best-known activist investor.

The sale of Accordia, which was first mooted in July but appeared to have been scrapped a month later as the share price see-sawed, leaves the private equity investor with five per cent of the golf courses in Japan, a country where shrinking corporate expense accounts and stagnant wages are putting courses out of business. The deal puts MBK at the forefront of the Japanese golf industry at a potentially transformative time – the retirement years of the ‘baby boomer’ generation. MBK cites figures suggesting that golfers who retire from work around the age of 62 will continue playing until their early 70s — the age band in which the nation’s biggest generation now occupies. MBK said that by taking Accordia private it could increase investment on efforts to acquire courses and seek ways to offset the long-term decline in the Japanese population, such as attracting golf tourism from overseas. The company is expected to continue purchasing courses, but at slower rate. | 9




Jacobsen turns-up the heat with Dubai Golf in the Middle East Dubai Golf, which manages Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club in Dubai, as well as Almouj Golf in Muscat, selected Jacobsen to supply golf course maintenance equipment and golf cars this year, in addition to the existing five-year preferred supplier agreement between Dubai Golf and local Jacobsen dealer, Luxury Carts Arabia. More than 85 per cent of the machinery used by Dubai Golf across all three golf courses is supplied by Jacobsen, and Craig Haldane, director of golf course maintenance at Dubai Golf, is pleased with the results. “Our partnership with Jacobsen goes back many years,” said Haldane. “with Dubai Golf and Jacobsen sharing the same values on customer care, quality and reliability. The partnership between the two companies is going from strength to strength, because we share a mutual understanding of each other’s needs. “The Jacobsen equipment we use on the Dubai Golf courses are able to cope with the conditions in the Middle East, and they do a superb job for us. “Dubai Golf prides itself on providing golfers with the best possible golfing experience available in the region, and a huge part of that, is making sure that the playing conditions are constantly improving year on year.

“We have been able to achieve this due to a number of reasons, and I believe that the equipment we have selected goes a long way in helping us.” Commenting on the relationship with Dubai Golf, Scott Forrest, Jacobsen’s International business development manager, said: “Jacobsen is delighted to have been successful in retaining the contract with Dubai Golf.

Race against time in Wales

Air2G2 wins prestigious HSBC Innovation Award

A town’s golfers are in a race against time to buy their club and stop it being turned into grazing land for animals. Dolgellau Golf Club, in Snowdonia, Wales, opened in 1910, and has been on the market for the past 18 months with its asking price slashed from £900,000 to £790,000. The members of the nine-hole course are looking to buy the club, but if they fail to raise enough money by April 1 next year, it could be sold on the open market and closed as a golf club. Owner Richard Stockdale informed the committee that he would honour the membership until March 31, 2017, but after that date annual membership would not be renewed – with fears the golf course may be turned over to use as grazing land. President of the club David Clay said he was concerned about the effect the course’s closure would have on the town. He said: “It would be a great loss to the town. Once a sports facility is lost to a small, rural community, it is never replaced.”

Campey Turf Care Systems and GT Air Injection Air2G2 have jointly won the prestigious HSBC Golf Business Forum Innovation Award for the revolutionary Air2G2. The machine made it into the final five with the winner announced at the Forum’s Gala Dinner which was held at the Marriott, TPC Sawgrass Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The category saw applications from all over the world before going to a judging panel, with the award giving the industry the opportunity to recognise the great talent that’s driving the game forward. It has been the aim of Campey Turf Care Systems since its inception 30 years ago to provide turf professionals the world over with the most innovative technology available so they can produce the best surfaces possible. This nomination goes some way to recognising that commitment, but also the fantastic work that Glen Black, owner, president and developer at Air2G2, and his team have done in America to bring this product to the market.

10 | GMé December 2016

The Jacobsen fleet in action at the Emirates Golf Club

“They own three prestigious golf courses in the area which we have had the privilege of supplying Jacobsen equipment to over the years,” continued Forrest. “We appreciate the continued support from Dubai Golf, and look forward to building upon our strong relationship with the company moving forward, now, and in the years ahead.”

Speaking on the achievement Richard Campey said: “It is a massive honour for ourselves and everyone at Air2G2 to receive this award from the Golf Business Forum. Just to be in the top five is testament to the product and all it has done for those that have used it so far, so to actually take the top prize is fantastic. “Since the company started 30 years ago the aim has been to provide groundsman, greenkeepers and sports turf managers at all levels with the technology they need to further their maintenance programmes and take the industry forward.”

Glen Black receives the Award for Innovation

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GOLFBIC RETURNS TO HARROGATE Take your golf club to the next level as GolfBIC returns to Europe’s largest gathering of golf course professionals. BTME 2017 will once again host the latest innovations and professional development workshops offered by GolfBIC, the premier conference for golf club owners, operators and managers. 17 and 18 January 2017 at The Royal Hall, Harrogate International Centre. Register now to book your place. | 11



Sergio Garcia marks fifth anniversary of Junior Golf Academy at PGA Catalunya Sergio Garcia returned to PGA Catalunya Resort, near Barcelona, to mark the fifth anniversary of the opening of his hugely successful Junior Golf Academy. Since its launch, when the Ryder Cup star opened his first-ever coaching school in collaboration with Fundación Sergio Garcia, the Academy has consistently empowered the next generation of Spanish golfers, with as many as 35 juniors, some as young as five-years-old, now regularly attending its Saturday morning sessions. The Academy continues to cater for a wide range of ages and abilities and uses the globally recognised TPI teaching programme, which centres on long-term athletic development as its guiding principle, to coach potential Spanish golfing stars of the future. Speaking at the anniversary event, Sergio Garcia commented: “Every year I come back to PGA Catalunya Resort and every year there are more kids from all walks of life going through my Academy

and having fun. They are starting to get better and these are the people that are going to carry the game for the next 20-30 years.” Fundación Sergio Garcia supports a large variety of associations, contributing to the social inclusion of economically deprived youngsters.

R&A opens up Asia-Pacific

Golf’s $35 billion opportunity according to new report

The R&A has opened its new AsiaPacific office at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore which will help further the organisation’s commitment to the growth and development of golf in the region. The captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Keith Macintosh, officially opened the new office at a reception for guests from the Singapore golf industry and other bodies that work with The R&A. A traditional lion dance was held to mark the opening of the new office and Macintosh performed the ‘eyedotting’ ceremony to begin the dance. “I’m delighted to officially open the new Asia-Pacific office for The R&A in Singapore,” said Macintosh. “Singapore is a hugely important centre in the region and is an ideal location for the new office. It will be central to The R&A’s efforts to support the development of golf throughout Asia-Pacific.” Dominic Wall, director – Asia-Pacific at The R&A, added: “The R&A holds a long association with the Sentosa Golf Club, and was a logical choice for the location of the new office given its close proximity to the headquarters of the Asian Tour and the European Tour and other sporting organisations based in Singapore.” Andrew Johnston, general manager of Sentosa Golf Club, added: “We are privileged and honoured that The R&A has chosen Sentosa as the location of its new office in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Women account for just 24 per cent of golfers worldwide, yet the number of prospective female players could add US $35 billion to the global golf economy. These are the findings of a groundbreaking global study into female golf participation commissioned by Syngenta and conducted by an independent international market research company. The new report, The Global Economic Value of Increased Female Participation in Golf, surveyed 14,000 people in eight markets in North America, Europe and Asia. It found that 29 per cent of nongolfing females and lapsed players were either interested or very interested in taking up golf in the next two years. Being outdoors, relaxation and spending time with family and friends are the primary appeal factors to non-golfers. It also found that women are 38 per cent more likely than men to bring children to golf, indicating that increasing female participation would significantly boost the number of juniors taking up the game. Syngenta global head of lawn & garden Jeff Cox said: “For the first time, we have been able to assess worldwide latent demand for golf among women and estimate the potential economic value to the global golf industry. As our survey shows, millions of women worldwide could be interested in taking up golf within the next two years.

12 | GMé December 2016

Sergio Garcia marks the fifth anniversary of his Junior Golf Academy at PGA Catalunya Resort

“I have been very fortunate in both golf and in my life – and I wanted to give something back,” Garcia continued. “With the support of my family, I decided to start a foundation that helped kids and adults in need, through social assistance benefits and making the sport accessible for all.”

“This is a huge opportunity for the golf industry. However, realising this opportunity, engaging and then converting prospects, requires golf to listen to and address the specific needs of its different customers.” Carin Koch, the 2015 European Solheim Cup captain and Syngenta Golf Ambassador said: “As a professional golfer who has been fortunate to travel around the world, I know that golf is a game with global appeal to both men and women. I also know, as a mother of two children, that golf is a wonderful way to share time with family.”

Carin Koch and Jeff Cox

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Keep ahead of the crowd with the new BTME smartphone app The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) has kicked its preparations for Europe’s leading turf management exhibition into top gear with the launch of a brand new smartphone application. The exclusive BTME 2017 event app has been created by leading designers Avodigy and is available on both Android and Apple devices. The smartphone app for BTME 2016 was a huge success, and this year’s app is even bigger and better, with the introduction of new features such as a map of exhibition halls and tailored alerts, ensuring delegates don’t miss out on any of the major events or sessions that are taking place across the entire event. The app will also allow delegates to plan their own schedule and keep BTME attendees up to date with information about Continue to Learn sessions, accommodation and where to eat. This year’s BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition is set to be the largest ever, with BTME spanning four huge halls at the Harrogate International Centre. Also held throughout the week will be the Continue to Learn education programme, featuring 250 hours of education for BIGGA members, as well as GolfBIC and the Turf Managers’ Conference.

BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: “BTME is a diverse event, featuring a comprehensive exhibition and filling four halls at the Harrogate International Centre, along with an educational conference, various special events and networking opportunities. So it is important to bring all the information together into one easy-tounderstand location.

ClearWater ready for BTME

Terrain Aeration stands the test of time 15 years later

Highspeed Group is focusing on their number one product ClearWater and sees BTME 2017 as the ideal platform to build on the last twelve months success. Highspeed Group’s joint MD David Mears commented: “BTME is always an excellent show for us and 2016 exceeded expectations with us taking a record number of ClearWater enquiries. “For 2017 we have made ClearWater even better, with some specification changes, free upgrades and an exceptionally attractive price! The time to buy and comply could not be better, particularly for those that have been fortunate enough to receive VAT refunds.” Highspeed’s stand (C12) will feature a mini ClearWater display unit to demonstrate some of the new features and a show offer, so if you are interested in bringing your washpad up to legal requirements, make sure you visit the stand. Highspeed Group’s show offers not only cover ClearWater but also a superb deal on diesel refuelling tanks and an attractive waste management package; WasteAway.

Terrain Aeration has been receiving a marked increase in the number of golf courses requesting their specialist soil compaction and aeration service. Normal aeration on fairways such as verti-draining is a fast, short term solution but for many courses, recent weather patterns have resulted in the need for much deeper aeration than the usual six to eight inches vertical draining. Such has been the experience at over 50 golf clubs both private and municipal, including Newport Golf Club, Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club, Portsmouth City Council and Sherwood Forest to name but a few. Sittingbourne and Milton Regis Golf Club was the first club to receive the Terrain Aeration treatment and it wasn’t until 15 years later they again had four greens treated for a little waterlogging. Good testament to the fact the system of deep penetration aeration works in relieving compaction, panning and waterlogging without any disruption. Terrain Aeration offers a deep drill service. Used principally on golf greens and tees, the Terralift machinery drills

14 | GMé December 2016

BIGGA has launched the BTME 2017 smartphone app

“Everyone has a smartphone in their pocket these days and so the BTME app is the perfect guide to the premier turf care event in the European greenkeeping calendar. With details of events, a calendar and information about exhibitors and sponsors, you can download the app now and start planning your visit to Harrogate in advance.”

Terrain Aeration at Stowmarket Golf Club

16mm diameter, 250mm deep holes on a grid pattern, removing the spoil and facilitating a degree of soil replacement. The Terralift machinery used by Terrain Aeration, is purpose-built to ensure excellent results without surface disruption or any loss of availability for play. This specialist treatment improves drainage, cures anaerobic conditions and results in improved firmness and rapid drying, ensuring the surface is always available for use, and typically lasts between ten and 12 years.

picture gallery

In words & Pictures A brief pictorial round-up of events from around the industry, including news of a change of career for former director of golf at The Belfry, Ian Knox.







In brief... A spectacular dawn image of a greenkeeper preparing his course at a modest North Wales golf club has claimed first prize in the prestigious annual BIGGA photographic competition. Wrexham Golf Club’s acting deputy head greenkeeper John Parry, used his eye for a photograph to capture the winning image, with the photograph – taken on his Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone – showing a silhouetted greenkeeper installing a hole on the club’s sixth green at dawn one morning. The Toro Company is now an official corporate sponsor of 59club, a company that offers analysis, benchmarking, training and management tools to help golf courses enhance their operations. The new partnership is part of Toro’s ongoing efforts to support golf courses and their players beyond the traditional role of a manufacturer of turf and irrigation products. PlayMoreGolf has delivered significant membership growth at Dore and Totley Golf Club, following the venue’s integration of the online points-based membership programme in May. The innovative and flexible programme, which sits alongside clubs’ existing membership packages, has helped the private members’ golf club add 33 new members, many of which are younger golfers, as well as creating over 142 new member leads thanks to its targeted digital marketing campaigns. Bom Sucesso, one of the latest additions to the European Tour Properties network, has engaged European Golf Design to renovate the Guardian Bom Sucesso championship course, with the course undergoing a redesign to the highest standards which aims to incorporate the area’s striking scenery and undulating landscape.


Former director of golf at The Belfry, Ian Knox, has joined European Tour Properties as operations manager. Knox, who has also worked for Marriott, took up his new position prior to IGTM in November.


After 12 years of carrying a bag on the world’s top courses, European Tour caddy Steve Brotherhood is offering regular club golfers the kind of advice he gives Tour star David Howell, with his new Tour Caddy Experience service.


The revitalised Padraig Harrington has signed a new multi-year deal with Wilson Golf that will see him reach a milestone of 20 consecutive seasons playing Wilson Staff clubs on Tours around the world.


Henrik Stenson has become the latest player to join the exclusive group of Honorary Life Members of the European Tour, and was presented with the award by Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour.


Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent hailed the changes to Stoke Park’s golf course as he completed his honorary presidency at the prestigious Buckinghamshire club earlier this month.


Leading European coach Tom Foster is preparing to embark on a new chapter in his golf career after being named as the new director of instruction at Verdura Resort in Sicily, and will take up his new position in the new year. | 15



company profile ALL OUR FUTURES Children need to embrace the game if we are to ensure that the next generation of golfers is not to be the last

A different approach to Junior Coaching Introducing juniors to golf should be child’s play, yet far too many golf clubs simply aren’t investing time, or money, in the right way. Aidan Patrick talks to the Junior Golf Alliance, and discovers that there is an alternative way forward...

Company Profile sponsored by Junior Golf Alliance (44) 01444 657050

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Much is spoken in the golf industry about the number of junior golfers – how many juniors are members of a club; how many participate in coaching and how juniors are actively ‘engaged’ in the sport. Success and failure is measured by a head count with the primary aim being to increase this volume. Yet very little is ever spoken of the experience those juniors are receiving, either at a club or through their golf coach. It’s this different approach that the Junior Golf Alliance (JGA), launched in September 2016, are focusing on – and it’s already caught the attention of some leading sports coaching experts. The concept behind the Junior Golf Alliance was born from JOLF – the popular children’s coaching programme designed by Neil Plimmer, Fellow of the PGA, and Jonathan Shipstone, a school teacher with a Masters degree in education – with JOLF still operated under license by ten coaches, in addition to Plimmer and fellow JGA director Nevil Perryman-Best. The fourth director, Matthew Orwin, joined Plimmer, Shipstone and PerrymanBest last summer with the specific aim to broaden the reach of the JOLF programme.

“Initially, we explored a number of different avenues in which we could grow JOLF, but it was in late 2015 that we started coming round to the view that the programme is only half the equation,” commented Orwin. “The truth is that a poor coach of children, operating a good children’s coaching programme, will still result in a poor experience for the child. We really wanted to make a positive impact on that experience, which we believe can only be done through the effective education of the coach themselves.” The idea bought into question what key skills and knowledge the coach needed to possess in order to teach children effectively – that of swing technique or children’s educational theory. “Our primary school teachers don’t just teach in the subject they themselves studied at university, they teach more or less everything – from maths through to english, ICT to PE,” said Perryman-Best. “They can do this because they’re trained in education – not the specifics of each subject. Yet most golf coaches focus on golf technique. We’ve all seen it – rows of children on the driving range, each with their own bay, hitting ball after ball, with the coach walking up and down

TABLE MANNERS Pupils at the end of a JOLF session

TINY TOT It’s never to young to learn to play golf

GROUP FUN Parents involved in a JOLF session

the line telling them how to grip the club, how they should stand at the ball. That’s just completely inappropriate for juniors.” In addition to focusing on how children best learn and engage with the sport, the Junior Golf Alliance are also focusing on the business aspect and how coaches and clubs can earn meaningful revenues from junior tuition. “You can’t divorce the experience children are getting from learning to play golf from the business perspective,” added Plimmor. “Free sessions all the time isn’t the answer. “How motivated are coaches going to be to offer their services for, at best, a modest fee – and at worse, for free? “As a consequence, the job of coaching children is often given to the assistant

pro, as it’s seen as a good starting point for them to experience the teaching of golf, but the result is that we have the most inexperienced coaches coaching the most inexperienced newcomers to the game. There’s nothing about that that’s right,” stated Plimmer. Next year will also see the JGA roll out a series of workshop events to be staged at various locations throughout the UK, as well as the start of an advanced series of eLearning courses. Beyond that, the organisation is currently researching a number of opportunities that it believes will help support golf coaches of children and young people. “There’s an awful lot of hard work going on behind the scenes,” continued Plimmer.

“We’re exploring how we can engage with the parents and guardians of children, and in doing so support the coach. We’re also looking at a ‘CoachMark’ concept as our ‘stamp’ of excellence for the coach, demonstrating that they’re a professional and effective deliverer of children’s golfing education.” So how many members and successful graduates to their courses is the longterm target for the Junior Golf Alliance? “We’re really focused on the experience of our members and how we can add value to their junior coaching business, so if we can get that element right, the volumes will follow,” concluded Plimmer. Not dissimilar to junior golf participation, it’s a mantra the industry could do well to learn from. GMé | 17



london golf club

London Calling for new CEO Follett Scott MacCallum talks to Stephen Follett, the new CEO of The London Golf Club, about his time at Marriott and Troon, and his plans to build on the reputation of his new employer.

“I had been involved in the 23 venues Troon Golf operated, and now I look after just one”

IMPOSING The entrance to the clubhouse at The London Golf Club

Stephen Follett was familiar with the London Club. He regularly drove past the impressive gates. He knew the staff and was welcomed whenever he wanted to play the course or use the facilities. So when the London Club’s, Austen Gravestock left to become general manager of the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda, Follett decided to throw his hat in the ring. As operations director of Troon Golf, with a CV appearing to fit the London Golf Club like a glove, it came as no surprise to anyone when Follett was appointed CEO and he took up the position in August. “I travelled a lot in my last job, so if I had some spare time, and was looking for somewhere to play golf, because I knew Austen and the team I’d play here,” explained Follett. “I was always made welcome here and felt very comfortable in the environment.

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“It is one of the premier jobs in the country, and I felt that it was an opportunity which wouldn’t come along all that often, so I decided that I had to take a serious look at it.” Since taking up post, Follett has brought his ‘hands-on’ approach to the role and has enjoyed walking the property on a regular basis whilst looking at whatever opportunities there may be for improving the 700-acre facility, which features two Jack Nicklaus designed courses – The International and The Heritage. “From a cultural perspective the staff are still getting used to me being everywhere and walking around each morning,” he revealed, and having come from a group role with Troon Golf, Follett is appreciating the increased satisfaction levels he is getting from his new job. “I had been involved in the 23 venues Troon Golf operated, and now I look

after just one, so I’m enjoying being able to put my arms around something and see it through to the end. I get the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve actually achieved something,” continued Follett, with a hint of contentment. “Previously, I’d come in like a butterfly, flit around and then be off again and people might perhaps think that, as we are not going to see him again for a couple of months, we can do what he has asked later.” Follett’s career has been a model of progression, and touches some of the most high profile, and revered, golf resorts in the country. Starting with a degree in Hotel and Catering Management from Queen’s College, Glasgow, he took a year out to work at Hawkestone Park, around the time the Shropshire club’s most famous son, Sandy Lyle, was donning his Green Jacket.

LEAN ON ME Stephen Follett, new CEO of The London Golf Club

“After graduating, my first job was at Tewkesbury Park before moving onto what is now the Preston Marriott. From there I went to The Belfry for a period of around five years, which covered the 1993 Ryder Cup – I was in charge of the US and European team rooms, looking after the players which was a wonderful privilege.” That experience has been permanently embossed on the Follett family through their son, Joakim, who was named after one of the European players – Sweden’s Joakim Haeggman – whom Follett got to know well during the week. From The Belfry, Follett moved to Hanbury Manor, which was then part of the Whitbread Estate – which was in the process of becoming a Marriott venue – and he was involved in a couple of English Opens and a Ladies’ Tour events. From there it was to St Pierre before going on to the Forest of Arden.

“I finished up as director of operations for Marriott in the UK looking after their ten properties and then, in 2008, I was approached to work for Troon Golf. “At Marriott I was the golf guy in a hotel company and I was very comfortable with that. It meant that as a hotel group, we were very much looking at profit and loss, sales forecasts, retail spend etc, and I couldn’t turn around and say that we didn’t make any revenue that day because it was raining. “It would be a case of what are you forecasting for the next three weeks, how are you going to recoup that money – how have you flexed your payroll so that you are not overspent? “When Troon came in for me it meant that I would be working for a golf company, and that was simply too good an opportunity for me to miss, as the hotel experience I’d gained could be brought into the golf-driven environment.”

And it is that experience that he will bring to the London Golf Club. “I really want to work with the team here to ensure that budgets are in place, that there is a business plan created and that we have a media plan going forward. We will have departmental plans to drive the business forward.” Follett sees social media – pre-arrival and post-golf – as key in ensuring that members and visitors to the London Golf Club experience the maximum possible enjoyment from their time at the club. “Marriott had the concept whereby there was the ‘wow’ factor, but the ‘wow’ factor soon became the ‘norm’ and it was a case, then, of how you reinvented the ‘wow’ factor. “We know here that the golf component is good,” stated Follett, “and that the golf courses are great. You know when you walk onto the tee that it is going to be fantastic. | 19



london golf club

INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION The 12th green on the International

“The London Club is a fantastic, iconic name to have. There will never be another London Club”

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“That is almost a given. For me however, it was what we can do outside of that which can separate us apart. “I liken it to airlines. They have stopped giving us bigger and bigger seats – they are now trying to tie us in before we arrive and retain our loyalty once we’ve finished the flight. It is a similar concept here. We know what we are, product wise, so what else can we do? “It is no longer a case of ‘build it and they will come’... we have to create our own audience and our own customer base. We need the outside world to be saying ‘I need to go to the London Golf Club because look at what they are doing there.’ “That’s a huge mantra for me at the moment,” added Follett, who equates the club to a high quality resort, just without the bedrooms. The club, which hosted the 2014 Volvo World Matchplay Championships, is situated in Kent, not far from Brands Hatch, and is just 17 miles from the City of London, with views of Canary Wharf and The Shard. It was originally opened in 1994 to offer city traders a golfing bolthole, but in recent times corporate memberships have come from other industries which

have been faring well despite the uncertain economic position. “The London Club is a fantastic, iconic name to have. There will never be another London Club,” said Follett. “Membership is strong. We command a good rate and membership has held up with our corporate members making excellent use of the club. “They support the events we put on for them whether they be Christmas parties, competitions or demo days,” said Follett, who did reveal that, having had discussions with suppliers, he was aware that costs which had previously been pegged would now be coming down the line – perhaps by as much as eight to ten per cent. “We will be trying to protect our members as much as we can, but we are a business and we will have to tactically look at our pricing, while always trying to add value. For example we may have to put up the cost of a cup of coffee, but we would perhaps look to put a biscuit on the side as an extra.” With the passion, drive and industry experience which Follett will undoubtedly bring to his new role, you can be assured that the future of the London Club is in a safe pair of hands. GMé



“The thought of combining business with a sport I have played since a young age was enticing”

© Getty Images

In conversation with Keith Pelley A little over a year ago, Canadian-born, Keith Pelley took over as CEO of The European Tour, and during his short tenure, has already made some significant changes. OLD GUARD The former chief executive of the European Tour, and Pelley’s predecessor, George O’Grady, who is now president of The Centurion Club

GMé After graduating from Ryerson University in Canada, you became an assistant editor working for The Sports Network, so what attracted you to this role – journalism or sport per se? KP To be honest, it was a bit of both. I’m a huge sports fan and was very keen to have an opportunity to get close to the action. Over the years, I’ve been privileged to work across a whole range of sports, from curling to tennis, football to hockey (or ice hockey as you call it over here) and now, of course, in golf. I actually started out on-air at OMNI Television a few years before joining TSN – that was a lot of fun – but I’ve very much enjoyed building a career on the other side of the camera. GMé Following numerous roles covering North American Sports – not to mention a spell as CEO of an American Football franchise – you led the consortium behind the broadcast rights for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, so how did this differ to your previous roles, and how challenging were the IOC to work with?

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KP You know, I’ve had the great privilege to have attended eight Olympic Games. I understand the movement and I understand how different it is to any other sporting body. There were many similarities with my previous roles – I was responsible for building the organisation, overseeing day-to-day operations, sales and marketing initiatives, and creating the multiplatform coverage plan. The main difference was the breadth of the coverage we were involved in, and the huge challenge of bringing so many different sporting events over multiple platforms to the public over a short period of time. We delivered coverage in both English and French 24 hours a day on multiple TV channels, mobile platforms and online, amounting to about 4,000 hours of coverage. It was an exciting period and we achieved some real milestones, including delivering the top five most-watched events in Canadian television history. GMé In late 2010 you became president of Rogers Media and helped negotiate the largest ever TV rights deal for

© Getty Images

FLYING HIGH Keith Pelley pictured at the recent Turkish Airlines Open

the NHL worth over $5.2 billion over 12 years. Do you still feel this was a good deal for the wider sport in general? KP I do. I thought it was a great deal at the time and I still believe that to be the case. As I said at the time, it would bring hockey night to Canadian fans like they would never have had it before. Concluding the deal was a magical day, a transformational day for our industry, and a game changer for the way Canadians will watch this great game of ours. GMé Throughout your career, you’ve had a close association with Ice Hockey and American Football, but did you ever play – or watch – golf on a regular basis? KP I’m a passionate sports fan, and I’ve loved golf my whole life. Before coming over to the UK, I was a member of Lambton Golf and Country Club, and Goodwood Golf Club in Canada. My handicap then was five, although I haven’t played in any competitive matches recently so I would say that it has gone up. I probably played less this summer than I’ve played before, but I play nine holes a lot with my 13 year old son Jason. It hasn’t been a priority right now but it’s going to drive me crazy if I don’t play better going forward.

My first experience of the European Tour was as a golf fan, when the Golf Channel became common place in Canada and they started carrying it. You’d wake up in the morning on the weekends and watch the European Tour. It was the perfect way to watch some golf at the weekend. GMé Last year, you were approached to take over from George O’Grady as CEO of The European Tour, so what attracted you to the position, and since joining, what has surprised you most about the golf industry? KP When I was first approached about the chief executive role I was immediately intrigued. The thought of combining business with a sport I have played since a young age was enticing. As I became more familiar with the European Tour, I was energised by the potential and the opportunity of three multi-national tours playing across five continents of the world, a global footprint already in place, and one of the strongest brands in professional sport that keeps getting stronger – The Ryder Cup. Then, of course, there was the opportunity to work with the real magic of the European Tour – the players. Our players are special. In my first year, the diversity and the cultural differences of all the places we play have been an incred-

ible learning experience for me. The European Tour alone played in 27 different countries in 2016, and understanding the dynamics of working in all of those has been a fascinating experience. This is a different organisation in that it’s a members’ organisation, so developing a players’ first philosophy based on the fact that we all work for the players is critical. To have those kind of athletes – professional golfers – on your side; to be able to actually work with them to put together a strategic vision and take it into an execution stage is great fun. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. GMé You’ve been quite outspoken about the need for change within the game, but given the history of the sport, do you genuinely believe that you can change the public’s perception of golf? KP Absolutely. People have changed – how they consume content has changed – and we have to change with them. I still remember the Harvard Business School study undertaken in 2012 that said less than ten per cent of people who had bypass surgery or a heart attack made a major modification to their diet. Then it said in big bold letters – change is hard. It’s hard, change is hard, but at the European Tour we’re embracing the philosophy that we are in the entertain- | 23




© Getty Images

ment content business where golf is our platform. If we can serve up entertaining events, in the formats and on the platforms that the audience wants, I believe we truly can get more and more people to feel excited by our sport. In terms of the actual tournament experience, that has to change too. It has to become more of an event, whether you’re there in person, watching on TV or following on social media. And that’s what we’re working really hard on right now. GMé As an industry, golf has tried to be more open and welcoming to newcomers, but there is a real feeling that golf is becoming elitist once again, with only the wealthiest clubs prospering, so does this resonate with you? KP We need to respect and nurture the traditions of the sport, but across the game we have to be a little more open to letting young people actually participate, as well as attracting them as viewers and spectators. I believe that is happening, and there is a recognition that it has to happen. The tradition, the integrity of the game, the 72-hole tournament, will always be there in some form. But if you catapult ahead ten or 15 years, the game of golf will be consumed completely differently

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and there will be different formats that will be successful as content entertainment makers. GMé Do the leading tour pros have an obligation to help increase participation? KP Obviously we are a members’ organisation and we are the gatekeeper of the professional game, but anybody that is involved in the game of golf needs to be interested in the direction the sport is headed, and has to share the responsibility of growing the game. I say this to the players constantly, I do believe that it’s part of our mission to grow the game, to showcase it and to adapt it to the modern world. I also believe the players understand that and want to be part of what we are doing here. After something like the Hero Challenge at the British Masters – a one hole knock-out challenge under the lights – so many of them commented that they loved taking part, or wanted to take part in future, but also that they saw it as a great opportunity to get extra exposure for themselves, sponsors, and the sport in general. Our players are a huge part of what attracts people to the game, and right now we’re in the very fortunate position that we have a lot of young superstars that have great character, and are great role models.

Supporting our players and making them bigger stars is a critical part of our game going forward. We want to grow our Tour with them, and that’s the critical point. GMé The European Tour has always been regarded as the poor relation to the PGA Tour, which attracts bigger audiences with bigger prize money, so is there a plan to rectify this, whilst growing player participation and TV audiences? KP We took a significant step in that direction during our 2016 season finale in Dubai with the announcement of the Rolex Series in 2017. It’s an innovative new concept – I would say one of the most significant developments ever on the Tour – that will make some of our key events even more competitive and enhance the experience for fans. We’ll have a minimum of seven tournaments in some iconic locations, all with a minimum prize purse of US $7 million. We start in May with the BMW PGA Championship, followed by the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation; the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open; the Italian Open; Turkish Airlines Open; Nedbank Golf Challenge and the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai – the Rolex Series is more than just about money. ON TIME (Left): Keith Pelley is flanked by players at the announcement of the Rolex Series for 2017; (Right) Carya Golf Club in Turkey which will play host to the Turkish Airlines Open next year, and (below-right), Tiger Woods and his band of adoring fans

“Our players are a huge part of what attracts people to the game”

We will have significantly enhanced content, a commitment to high-end content, and more television production resources. We’re going to invest heavily in our production and our digital team will be working around the clock to produce creative content. Each Rolex Series tournament will have a robust marketing and promotional plan. On-site there will be interactive creativity. There will be more for the players, more for their families; the experience will be different. There are three reasons why we are doing this. First, we believe the success and growth of a high-profile series like the Rolex Series will elevate our Tour, its brand, and all other events. Secondly, we need a stronger content offering to enable us to reach larger audiences across multiple platforms, and finally, we need a product that can grow and grow over time, that provides a strong financial offering for our young players so they don’t have to go to the United States. GMé For golf to grow in popularity, does the game need more exposure on free-to-air terrestrial TV as well as paidfor subscription networks? KP That is one argument, but I think it’s important to recognise that content consumption is no longer linear.

TV, whether terrestrial or paid-for, is still very important. It’s not growing at the feverish pace that it was in the 80s and 90s, but it is holding its own, so as a result all the extra content is being consumed on different platforms. People are consuming more content now than they ever did before, often because it’s easier to do. A few years ago you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be on a train and watch a live sporting event on your phone. There are only three types of fans or consumers. The diehards will watch whether their team wins or loses, and if you’re a golf fan, you’re watching every single event. The second group will watch if it’s fashionable or will go to an event if it’s the place to be, they don’t necessarily care who wins or loses. And the third type of fan is the bandwagon jumper – the only time we’ve ever seen that in our sport is in the early years with Arnold and Jack, and the Tiger era. The interesting thing in golf is that it’s not a team sport, so the critical component for us is group two, and for golf to be fashionable I believe we need to be more entertaining in everything we do, whether it be the game day, the television product, the accessibility of the players, the way that we actually shoot the game, or the speed of the game.

In terms of coverage, people want immediate, instant gratification and they want immediate instant content, and that’s were our sport will need to go. GMé Although many welcomed golf’s return the Olympics, what’s your take on the four-day format, and do you agree with many industry pundits that a matchplay format would have been more exciting to watch? KP There’s no doubt that the matchplay format works incredibly well in events like The Ryder Cup. It helps to create real drama, and it is arguably easier for a non-golf audience to follow. While I am passionate about innovation, I also appreciate the traditions – for example the Majors will always be 72 hole stroke play tournaments, and the Olympic golf tournament is definitely in that bracket. The main takeaways are that we were treated to a fantastic tournament, and that the players had a wonderful experience. I think the way it ended, with a thrilling final round tussle between two of our celebrated members – Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson – which produced a champion in Justin who has embraced the experience and been a terrific ambassador, was a great testament to our sport. GMé | 25



post brexit

AND THE WINNER IS... The inaugural Scottish Golf Tourism Awards hosted by Dougie Donnelly

MR PRESIDENT This year has been full of shocks, none more so than Donald Trump winning the US Presidential election

Brexit & Beyond In a year of shocks and revelations, Mark Alexander looks back over the events that shocked the world in 2016 and finds out what Brexit means for golf. No one could have predicted the events that shaped 2016. Amid a torrent of historic moments, the last 12 months was defined by unprecedented revelations that shocked the world. Donald Trump’s miraculous accession to power in the US will undoubtedly grab the headlines, but this was merely one of many. Closer to home and no less momentous, was the decision by the UK to leave Europe. Like Trump, the Brexit result cast politics into the unknown with the implications of the outcome reaching far and wide. Golf will not be spared, although the long-term consequences of these changes may not be clear for quite some time. While the outcome of the referendum isn’t in doubt, the ramifications of the result are still being debated, especially on the conference floor at the inaugural Scottish Golf Tourism Week which took place in St Andrews in October. The event attracted around 50 global golf tour operators and some of the finest golf clubs and resorts in Scotland. Where better then to find out how Brexit might influence the golf tourism sector?

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“The obvious and instant effect has been on the pound,” says Russell Gray, managing director of Muirfield Executive Travel; a golf tour operator based in North Berwick. “The upshot on our business is people want to travel – they see an opportunity to buy cheap money. Our stuff is high end and we deal in fairly large invoices. So the percentage decrease brought about by the weak pound is big enough to sway people to travel right now.” Muirfield Executive Travel, which caters for in-bound golfers from the US (75%), Europe, Australia, China and New Zealand, has seen a boost in its sales following Brexit. “We’re up 25 per cent,” says Gray. “These are people we have been talking to for six months and they have just decided to go for it.” And it’s not just the high-end operators riding the Brexit wave. According to, US sales between July and September increased by 238 per cent on the previous three months, prompting its chief executive Andrew Stanley to describe the acceleration as “phenomenal”. And it doesn’t stop there.

MISSING PIECE The post-Brexit future remains unclear for the golf industry, as well as for the UK and the EU

post brexit

The upsurge has resulted in record tourist spending across the board. Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics show international tourist spending in Scotland soared to more than £500 million between April and June resulting in the highest second quarter figures ever recorded. Although the increase has been linked to the perceived safety of Scotland following terrorist attacks elsewhere in Europe and better connectivity through its airports, the improved exchange rate

position has also been identified as a factor. “The currency at the moment; the exchange rates on the euro and the dollar are making the UK and Scotland more economical for visitors,” says Professor John Lennon, director of Glasgow Caledonian University’s Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development. “Scotland is also seen as a relatively secure destination.” While Scotland and its golf industry enjoy unexpected gains following Brexit,

there are warnings that the record levels won’t last. A reported slump in London’s hotel occupancy and rates since the EU referendum are, for instance, sounding alarm bells. Preliminary figures from the global hotel data firm STR show the number of empty hotel beds in the capital increased by more than one-third in October compared with a year earlier. Of course, the number of rooms in London is growing and at least some of this decline could be attributed to a | 27



post brexit

“Our tour operator business for next year is already up nearly 50 per cent.”

KING OF THE CASTLE Stuart McColm, general manager at Castle Stuart

dip in business travel. However, these concerning results were echoed at this year’s World Travel Market expo where Caroline Bremner, Euromonitor’s head of travel, said the UK could expect to see two million fewer visitors by 2020 if the government were to opt for a “hard” Brexit. Other experts on the panel forecast that a messy Brexit could also mean fewer UK citizens visiting other countries. While the short-term gains experienced by the domestic golf tourism market following Brexit have been welcome, predictions about how this could pan out in the long term are less clear. It’s a “crystal ball” situation, says Stuart McColm, the general manager at Castle Stuart Golf Links. “Our tour operator business for next year is already up nearly 50 per cent. And these figures were in the system before the pound started to fall, so the general feeling is good. “We had our busiest ever August and September in total volume. And whether that’s because we’re gaining awareness or if it’s the pound, I’m not sure but there is a big mix.” After hosting the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in 2016 and all the exposure that goes with it, Castle Stuart would perhaps expect an upsurge

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in interest, but the strength of the forecasted figures suggest other forces may be at play. More crucially, the uncertainty caused by Brexit and Trump’s election has created a potent air of doubt, which could have a severe impact on the tourism sector. “The flip side of the volatility in the markets and the exchange rates means there is risk,” says McColm. “It’s a risky time. There is a deal to be had by visiting Scotland, but in terms of investment, it is shaky times and that might cause some nervousness. You’d like to think it will level out at some point.” Despite the record tourism numbers, the implication here is investment in Scotland could be harmed by an extended period of uncertainty. But like every twist and turn we have endured during 2016, nothing is certain. In fact, if we have learned anything from the events of this year it is to expect the unexpected. Indeed, in October details were finally released of the plagued Ury Estate venture near Stonehaven, featuring a recently-approved Jack Nicklausdesigned 18-hole golf course. The project had been on ice for as long as anyone can remember, but rather than downplaying the restoration of the B-listed Ury House following Brexit, the announcement did the opposite

confirming the planned opening for the project as 2020. It also confirmed the hotel management company behind tennis star Andy Murray’s Cromlix Hotel in Dunblane, as well as Greywalls Hotel at Muirfield, would run the venture. No signs of nerves there then. And in November, the 600-acre Piperdam resort near Dundee was sold for £25 million to holiday park operator Coppergreen Developments. The new owners also were showing no signs of nerves when they confirmed they were ready to invest in the property by adding an additional 28 lodges and creating mountain bike trails and quad biking facilities. It seems convention and all the sensibilities that went with it flew out the window on June 23. For instance, who could have predicted that the team leading the exit campaign would dissolve following their success? Equally, forecasting Trump’s victory a year ago would surely have been rash. In fact, the bookmakers Ladbrokes confirmed that if someone had made a £1 accumulator bet on Brexit, Trump and Leicester City winning the Premier League at their longest odds, they would have walked away with £4,530,906. The pollsters have been dumbfounded and the experts silenced. What happens next is anyone’s guess. GMé


Stand C12

Booth #3414 | 29



Crocodiles at Dawn... A photographer’s tale

Photographing life at a golf club can be a rewarding, yet risky business. Andy Hiseman shares his thoughts – and his images – on the merits of using a professional photographer. So it’s 05:25 at Harrogate Golf Club, North Yorkshire, and I swear I’m looking at two crocodiles on the 7th fairway. It’s a peaceful dawn in late June 2016, and it’s a beauty. Just me, the sunrise, some mist and a lovely golf course. Too early for greenkeepers or golfers. It’s perfect. Not a breath of wind, so nothing’s moving. And yet, 200 yards away in the shadow of a fairway mound, something is moving. And beside it, something else. Both creeping, deliberately, very, very slowly. Long, large, dark shapes, crawling, hugging the dewy grass. They look just like crocodiles. But seriously, what are they?

30 | GMé December 2016

Only one thing for it. On with the long lens, and take a closer look. Ah – not crocodiles. Men with long-barrelled shotguns, not aiming at me, but across the fairway into a stand of trees. Hunting something, probably deer, or rabbits. My first thought: okay, I’m not going mad. But my second thought was a little more chilling: I’m not a deer, I’m a photographer, and you’re not expecting me to be here… So, golf photographers. Let’s cut to the chase – are we worth it? Most golf clubs seem to think not. That’s if they think of photography at all. So let’s list the main reasons why clubs don’t invest in professional photography:

1. What does it cost – a couple of thousand? We don’t have the money spare. 2. The members and greenkeepers take nice enough pictures on their phones these days. 3. Our golf club isn’t beautiful enough (for that matter, nor are our members). 4. Photos? Don’t need them. (PS: and marketing? We don’t need that either). There’s no point trying to construct cogent arguments against the above. I have them, but it would be boring, and anyway it’s easier to just let the images do the talking – although I will say that I don’t personally buy the ‘ugly golf course’ argument. PICTURE PERFECT Some very happy golfers enjoying a round at Ramsdale Park (left); a customer enjoying a glass of wine at Wildernesse Golf Club (right) and below, the clubhouse at Moor Allerton Golf Club

“With the right weather, and some patience and skill, almost any golf course can look beautiful” With the right weather, and some patience and skill, almost any golf course can look beautiful. Some give you more to work with than others, I grant you, but I never, ever walk away from a photoshoot without at least a handful of images which will really sell a golf club to its intended audience. And that’s what it’s all about. Sales. Your tee sheet may be full, people may have to die before more members can join, and you may have golf days coming out of your ears, but you will surely be selling something. People are compelled to act by great images, and not just the glorious ‘magic hour’ photos of golf courses at sunset or dawn. A photogenic fourball having fun on your golf course, being your customers – that can be a great image.

It shows people having a good time, spending hard-earned cash, at your golf club. A function room which your staff work so hard to bring up to scratch – that can be a great image. A single big function booking can pay for the entire photoshoot. A golf pro concentrating on teaching the game – another potentially memorable image. When I’m invited to do a photoshoot, unlike most golf course photographers I spend an intense 48 hours photographing the entirety of life at a golf club. People, facilities, food, atmosphere – as well as the beautiful open spaces out on the golf course. And for weeks afterwards, I carefully produce beautiful, brochure-ready images, minus blemishes, yellow marker posts. I have a personal vendetta against bunker rakes.

Take a look at any photographer’s portfolio, and you’ll see that we take photos which look different from phone snaps, or Instagram moments. Are they worth it? Does a great image compel a customer to act? I hear the answer all the time from my own customers: Yes, it does. And those dawn hunters at Harrogate Golf Club? Simple – I made noise. I climbed onto my golf cart, and bumbled up the 12th letting them know that I was around. I nodded my head, they nodded back, but I have no idea if they were supposed to be there. I trundled on up the 13th, tripod and ladder clanking as normal. I turned my head, and behind me, the hunters were opening a flask. I sipped an Oasis and carried on towards the rising sun. GMé | 31


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better billy bunker

PLAYABILITY The Better Billy Bunker method increases playability and (below) the fifth hole at Pannal during renovation

Making bunkers better with Better Billy With many clubs currently renovating their bunkers this winter, Andy Campbell discusses the Better Billy Bunker method of construction at Pannal Golf Club. As anyone even remotely connected with golf the last eight or nine years will attest, it has been a painful period: job losses, pay cuts, reduction in customers and their spending, cuts to operating budgets and little or no capital funds. However, there is now a growing realisation, that to attract new members and visitors, clubs must come up with an attractive proposition to remain competitive – and this is applicable to all clubs no matter their standing or rating. Recently there has been an upsurge in work being undertaken to improve

course conditions in the hopes that this will bring in new customers and give improved value to existing customers. The big conundrum is how do you achieve this with limited funds, with the answer obvious to some – vision and planning! What are the areas that need improving? For most, it’s probably greens drainage followed by improved bunker conditions, and as we can all testify, golfers love to moan about bunkers, don’t they? Better Billy Bunker and its European partner, Campbell Golf Associates have

seen an increasing order book, and are currently working with several clients to help improve playing characteristics of bunkers whilst reducing future maintenance costs. Amongst these are Pannal Golf Club in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, which hosts many top amateur events and is generally recognised as one of the premier golf courses in the North of England. The Better Billy Bunker (BBB) method is an engineered solution to prevent wash outs, pollution of sand and poor internal drainage. | 33



It was originally developed in the early 1980s by Billy Fuller, the then superintendent at Augusta National

HANDS-ON The gravel phase of the construction

SANDY PAR The finished bunker, ready for sand to be added

It was originally developed in the early 1980s by Billy Fuller, the then superintendent at Augusta National. The process involved using a fabric material over a 50mm depth of stone and quickly became known as ‘The Billy Bunker.’ Jerry Lemons further developed the process with the use of a special Polymer that eradicated the need for a liner – always seen as the weak point due to the potential for sealing up and snagging by maintenance equipment. The process is carried out by certified personnel who are fully trained to apply the method at exactly the correct rate and in accordance with BBB practices. Once installed, the application is covered by a ten-year warranty and course maintenance personnel are issued a comprehensive maintenance manual. The use of locally sourced stone keeps the costs at a very competitive level and the process is such that the time taken to install it is substantially quicker than most competitor products. Bunkers can be back in play 24 hours after installation, minimising disruption to the golfer.

With evidence from a significant number of clients – many of whom are amongst the world’s finest golf courses – return on investment is commonly seen as being as quick as just three-to-four years, with savings on future bunker maintenance costs being as high as 80 per cent. The product drains in excess of 1,500 inches per hour and offers a significantly superior playing performance no matter the weather. Pannal Golf Club is currently working through a programme of greens drainage improvements in a phased approach, and following a successful demonstration of the Better Billy Bunker method earlier this year, the decision was made to proceed with installation on those holes where greens drainage was taking place this winter. Holes four and five on the layout originally had six bunkers which typically had suffered from poor drainage and erosion issues over recent years, whilst there was also extensive sand build up on the entrances and on bunker faces with some loss of original shaping.

34 | GMé December 2016

Jerry Lemons, president of Better Billy Bunker Inc, and a member of the ASGCA Board of Governors, visited the site in April together with Andy Campbell to discuss options with the club leadership team. Some minor re-shaping was agreed and Lemons provided, as part of the BBB service, draft illustrations to show how the strategy would work. Working with head greenkeeper, Kevin Wroe, and his team alongside the clubs chosen contractor, Campbell made several site visits to assist with the work, including edge detailing, finished heights and contouring. Campbell also assisted the club in sourcing the correct sand and stone ensuring proper bridging, which is critical to a successful installation. Campbell Golf Associates, a licenced Better Billy Bunker installer, undertook the application of BBB this month, and this collaborative approach has proven to be extremely successful, with the club and its greenstaff, now looking forward to a reduced maintenance burden and happier golfers. GMé

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gary silcock

Home from home for Silcock at Gleneagles As CV’s go, there can’t be too many individuals within the industry who have a better pedigree than director of golf at Gleneagles, Gary Silcock. Michael Lenihan met up with the 47-year-old for a round on the King’s Course and an informal chat in the Dormy clubhouse afterwards.

36 | GMé December 2016 DORMY TWO Director of golf at Gleneagles, Gary Silcock, and right, the brand new bar, Auchterarder 70, in the Dormy clubhouse

Gary Silcock’s CV reads like a travelling golfer’s itinerary – and, like a golf tourist, he would argue he’s saved the best for last: Gleneagles. Coming up for two years in his job as director of golf for the world-renowned Perthshire resort, Silcock, 47, is able to reflect on a career which has already surpassed anything many of his contemporaries might achieve. He is also in the enviable position of having two Ryder Cup venues on that aforementioned CV, though he wasn’t at either venue when they hosted the event. Having qualified as a PGA pro in 1996 he secured his first position at the Home of Golf, St Andrews, working at the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa, as a pro at the Duke’s Course. But he was always ambitious and, within a year, his head was turned by the offer of a head professional role in Portugal, at Parque da Floresta, where he was also golf operations manager. He gained enormous experience during his five years on the Algarve, from designing and building a new golf academy to project managing the redevelopment of the golf course. That success made him a wanted man, particularly coveted by developers, and his next

stop was India, at the Aamby Valley City gated resort, where he oversaw the preopening and then managed the floodlit course and PGA-branded academy. His next port of call was a little closer to home, in Ireland, where, once again, he pre-opened a course: this time the PGA National Ireland at Palmerstown House. While undertaking a complete branding and development of the golf course and clubhouse, he also took on the responsibility of managing the sister property, the 36-hole Citywest Hotel, in Dublin. In February 2006, he returned to the UK, as director of golf at four-time Ryder Cup venue The Belfry, where he stayed for almost seven years, before being lured to the sunshine at La Manga Club. There, as at The Belfry and in Ireland previously, he was responsible for three golf courses – plus two clubhouses and a Leadbetter Golf Academy. Finally, he returned ‘home’ in March 2015 to the Gleneagles Hotel – again as director of golf, but this time in a position he readily admits is his ‘dream job’. He explained: “When I went to The Belfry a lot of the reps, the people that I would chat with, they would ask me about my future; what did I want to do ultimately.

“I would always say that my dream job was Gleneagles, so I’ve realised my dream” | 37



gary silcock ROUND ROBIN The 16th green on the King’s Course, the 18th on the Queen’s Course and the 17th on the PGA Centenary Course

“It was Gleneagles, though, that I always had on my radar; the career move I had always been waiting for”

“And I would always say that my dream job was Gleneagles, so I’ve realised my dream. And Gleneagles is so big that I can still grow within it.” For some, missing out on the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles might be a regret, but Silcock is phlegmatic about the timing of his appointment – and of that at The Belfry, where he was in a not dissimilar situation. He smiled: “I’ve missed both of them – at Gleneagles and The Belfry. The Ryder Cup was held four times at The Belfry, and what we did there was we managed to keep that legacy going for a long time. “The Belfry is very much a tour venue as well, as is Gleneagles. It’s very much up there and it needs to stay there.” As if to reinforce that point, Silcock points towards the hosting of the inaugural European Golf Championships in 2018, an event which is backed by both the European Tour and the Ladies European Tour which will be played over the PGA Centenary Course. “You’ve got the two man team, you’ve got the two lady team and then you’ve

38 | GMé December 2016

got the male and female four-person team. And then, obviously, we have the 2019 Solheim Cup.” After 20 years in golf, Silcock remains as enthusiastic and hands-on as ever, busying himself in the day-to-day minutiae that less-committed managers might simply overlook. He continued: “I am the director of golf, so I’m involved in every facet of golf, including having an input in the food and beverage operation. “As with sales and marketing, I’m not managing it, I’m not controlling it, but I am an influence in that decision process. Although I have the title director of golf it’s more general management.” And management, and in-particular the business of golf is on the increase since hosting the Ryder Cup, with both turnover and revenue on the up. “Since I’ve been here, our membership has grown ten per cent last year, and about seven per cent this year. “We’ve done that in a different way to everyone else, in as much as we haven’t increased our prices – we’ve invested

in the project and made it better. We’ve made it better value and we’ve also created a lifestyle, so here you’ve got really nice members, not customers.” Gleneagles’ PGA Academy and its three golf courses have seen enormous investment over the last few years – most recently the King’s course which underwent a maintenance programme last winter, including a project to line the bunkers and return the course to Braid’s original design vision. “We’ve invested not only in the courses and the clubhouse, but in the golf team itself, and we have an ever-expanding team, including a new golf operations manager,” said Silcock. The investment in golf facilities is just one element of an ongoing multi-million pound investment programme at the five-star hotel. In 2015, Ennismore – a London-based developer of unique properties and experiences – purchased Gleneagles from Diageo plc, and since then, it has been making substantial investment across the estate to enhance the guest experience.

The Glorious Playground of Gleneagles

“We’ve already established a worldclass reputation for our golf facilities, but what actually sets us apart as a golfing venue is everything else,” said Silcock. “It’s the culinary offering, the five-star hospitality, the luxury spa and accommodation, and the ‘glorious playground’ of leisure activities and country pursuits we have on the estate – like shooting, off-roading, archery, falconry, fishing – that our golfing visitors are awestruck by when they come.” After leaving La Manga in 2014, an opportunity to return to his homeland presented itself, and having travelled to Portugal, Spain and India, one might imagine, for all that Gleneagles is his dream job, he might pine for the sunshine. But Silcock’s having none of it. He smiled: “I actually love the weather here – it showcases golf in the way it was designed to be played – so it’s good to be home.” With such an impressive CV, Silcock’s name has appeared on many a recruitment consultants short-list when fresh opportunities present themselves.

Yet, despite his considerable experience and knowledge, Silcock has always remained fairly grounded and respectful to each role he has held. “When I worked at The Belfry, I was very fortunate. Every single top job that came up in the country I was interviewed for, and I went through the whole interview process with a lot of them. “It was Gleneagles, though, that I always had on my radar; the career move I had always been waiting for. “I still enjoy playing golf, so it’s my leisure activity and it’s my work; that means on Saturday and Sunday I will come up here with my son, but I’m at work – ultimately, I am a golf pro. “I still tutor in business management with the PGA which I have done for the past 11 years, and I really enjoy passing on my knowledge and experience.” Gleneagles may well be his dream job, but with the possibility of another 20 years employment ahead of him, it’s quite feasible to imagine a few more golfer’s bucket-list venues being added to Silcock’s golfing CV. GMé

When Gleneagles first opened its doors in the 1920s, it was hailed as a fabulous playground and the epitome of modern glamour – or, as it was dubbed by the media of the day, a ‘Palace in the Glens’ and the ‘Riviera in the Highlands’. A winning blend of natural beauty and golfing adventure, the three championship golf courses at Gleneagles have always been regarded among the very best in the world and, for nearly a century, the good, the great and the legends of golf have graced the fairways. This reputation for being a golfer’s paradise was first established in 1919, before the hotel even opened – when the King’s Course hosted the very first match between US and UK professionals, in what is regarded as the precursor to the Ryder Cup. But while Gleneagles is synonymous with golf, its unparalleled range of leisure activities is what really sets it apart from other golf resorts. The iconic hotel’s 850-acre estate epitomises the rugged natural beauty for which Scotland is famed and offers guests a glorious playground of country pursuits and leisure activities to occupy both the body and mind at the five-star resort. Whether they come to golf, fly a Harris’ Hawk, ride horses, play tennis, go off-roading, train gundogs, shoot game, fish, enjoy Michelin-starred dining, or relax in an award-winning spa, Gleneagles offers guests unparalleled opportunities for fun, adventure and relaxation. | 39


rolley golf

“we also have a product that can assist golf clubs in generating revenue”

RIDE-ON TIME The Rolley in ride-on mode

RolleyGolf is Ride-on Time The new RolleyOne, from RolleyGolf helps speed up play and generates extra revenue for clubs, as Aidan Patrick reports. With clubs continually looking to enhance the golfer experience, to put them one step ahead of the competition, the recent launch from RolleyGolf offers another option, but with knock-on benefits. Motorised ride-on golf products are not new – but most have been gimmicky and have disappeared as quickly as they emerged. The benefit to the sport of golf was negligible. Not so with the advent of the RolleyOne, a ride-on trolley with practical benefits for both the golfer and the golf club. Created by the company founder, Arnold Du Toit, the RolleyOne is the result of five years’ meticulous R&D which has improved the original concept – which the inventor created in 2006 – from a personal project to an award-winning piece of British engineering. The RolleyOne gives golfers the choice between walking or riding the golf course as the machined movement creates a seamless transition from a power-assisted walking trolley to a rideon machine – all with one pull of a lever – and changes the way golfers move about the course. And, with a single charge able to last for 36 holes, the RolleyOne lends itself perfectly to the rental market, supple-

40 | GMé December 2016

menting buggy and trolley-hire revenue, while also contributing to improved speed of play on the course. Du Toit was inspired to create RolleyGolf because he could not find the exact product he wanted to add to his golf experience. He wanted a different option to carrying, electric trollies or driving a buggy. They were, in his own words, “old and unimaginative.” His advantage was that he possessed a unique outlook on design, with a natural ability to create situations and products which genuinely improve people’s lives. He explained: “The Rolley had to be completely invented – we couldn’t just strap a golf bag to something that preexisted. Golfers deserve true innovation. The Rolley had to be thrilling and fresh, yet familiar, traditional and, always, subtle. It needed to be a cut-above and focus solely on golf. “Yet it also needed to be practical, sturdy, robust and non-harmful to the golf course. With the RolleyOne, we have achieved that. And, subsequently, we also have a product that can assist golf clubs in generating revenue.” The turf-friendly RolleyOne builds on the traditions of the sport and helps to attract new golfers. It can improve pace of play on the golf course while adding a

DUAL MODE The Rolley is versatile enough to be either pushed or ridden on

different element of fun to a round. And the flexibility to switch between walking and riding at any time during a round, also encourages exercise in those who would otherwise, faced with 18 holes, take a buggy or simply not play at all. Du Toit added: “One senior golfer told us that for his fourball it was ‘giving us back our golf’ – and that’s a great thing to be able to do.” At Stellenbosch Golf Club, in South Africa, the Rolley has significantly improved pace of play. The club reports that, in a buggy, a round takes, on average, more than four hours; using Rolleys, a round takes around two hours 40 minutes. That’s a significant difference when taken over a whole day, increasing the potential number of rounds. “As an alternative metric,” explained Du Toit, “to quantify the sort of pace of play enhancement: if two golfers drive off a tee, and one rides a Rolley to reach their ball, while their partner walks, by the time the Rolley rider reaches their ball, they will be around 70 metres further ahead than their walking partner.” Early anthropometric and biomechanical testing carried out as the Rolley was being designed suggested that, when compared to walking and carrying your clubs, or riding in a buggy, the adaptability of RolleyGolf allows for both an aerobic and core workout.

Unlike some other ‘fun’ options the Rolley design also ensures limited impact on a course and is acknowledged as turf-friendly by some experienced greenkeepers. This comes from the unique Twindrive system, which uses environment-detect sensors, electronic differentials and anti-slip braking profiles. Weighing less than 22kg, the Rolley is designed robustly with a low centre of gravity to provide stability for golfers of all ages and ability, while the unique Single Linkage Steering (SLS) system allows for simple manoeuvring over most undulating terrain commonly found on courses – even at normal speed. And, for 2017, there will be further enhancements to the RolleyOne with its lightest chassis yet, wifi connectivity, refined silent motors and an enhanced braking system. Its seamless transition from walking trolley to a ride-on is particularly beneficial to older players who might become tired after ten or so holes. The RolleyOne is available via a simple leasing agreement and also, naturally, for individual or multi-unit purchase. Indeed one ‘individual’ user is Sir Richard Branson who keeps a RolleyOne on his private Necker Island. The Rolley Bespoke option offers a selection of customisable items – in both construction and colour – for a unique

unit, while there are also a number of accessory options available, such as a multi-dock dashboard to hold a smartphone, GPS, scorecard and tees; and a remote control. The recently announced RolleyOne 2017 range offers four versions to suit every golfer’s needs. The RolleyOne can complete 18 holes with a maximum speed of eight mph, whilst the RolleyOne R boasts an incredible range of 36 holes or an impressive full eight hours of battery life. The top-of-the-range RolleyOne S has a top speed of 12.5 mph and comes ready with mudguards, while the RolleyOne X offers the performance enhancements of the S, the endurance of the R, and comes complete with all performance accessories. RolleyGolf also offers ‘Experience Days’, which form an enjoyable supplement to corporate and society golf days or as a personalised event at a prestigious course – ideal for impressing your important clients or for celebrating a milestone, and all from just £125 for the simple ‘Rolley Bolt-On’ package. Whether as a revenue generator or as an add-on for corporate days, the RolleyOne is a new golfing product which has arrived ride-on time for innovative golf clubs who are looking to distance themselves from the competition. GMé | 41


waste recovery

“No landfill tax is payable, however, in cases where the Environment Agency determines that the permanent deposit of waste on land is waste recovery and not waste disposal”

WHERE THERE’S MUCK Waste management is a growing sector

Waste Recovery a better plan for success Call it what you will, but landfill, inert soil or waste recovery can be a profitable enterprise for many golf course owners, as John Ashworth, of John Ashworth Associates, and Ian Bailey, of Kalex Limited, both members of the Golf Consultants Association, explain. Many golf courses have raised capital to assist in the improvement of their facilities through the importation of inert waste material left over from the development of residential, commercial and industrial building sites. That material is classified as controlled waste, and landfill tax applies to all material disposed of as waste by way of landfill on a licensed or permitted landfill site. The operator of the site is liable for the tax and must first register with HMRC. This means that in any contract between golf course owner and building contractor an allowance for the amount of tax should be included in the disposal price charged to the waste holder disposing of the waste. Tax rates from April 2016 are £2.65 per tonne for lower-rated waste – which is waste described as non-hazardous, with low potential for greenhouse gas emissions, or with low polluting poten-

tial in the landfill environment. Outside these criteria, the standard rate for waste is significantly higher at £84.40 per tonne. The going rate for waste disposal varies depending on location and construction activity in the area, and can vary between £30 and £150 per load. As the golf course owner, you are responsible for accurately declaring the amount of tax due on waste disposed at your site, which necessitates a strict monitoring procedure be put in place to check the content of loads delivered to the site. No landfill tax is payable, however, in cases where the Environment Agency determines that the permanent deposit of waste on land is waste recovery and not waste disposal. The agency declares strong support for waste recovery over disposal, essentially because the waste is being put to a useful purpose in replacing other materi-

als which would have had to be used for that purpose, thereby conserving natural resources. Clearly, this is a better option for golf course owners, because the price they can charge per lorry load of waste delivered to the site does not need to reflect an element for tax. Better still, the agency’s guidance quotes the creation or modification of a golf course as an example of a recovery operation. The Environment Agency requires justification, in the form of a ‘wasterecovery plan’, that an activity is a waste-recovery operation and not waste disposal. For the plan to be accepted, it must respond to a list of criteria, one of which requires the applicant to show that “if you were not able to carry out the activity using recovered waste, you would be able to do the work using non-waste materials.” | 43



FAIRWAY SHAPING Inert soil being used to shape a fairway on a golf course

44 | GMé December 2016

Following a Court of Appeal judgment in a case involving Tarmac, at the end of last year, the agency has put greater emphasis on the need for an applicant for a permit to demonstrate that it would be financially viable to carry out the proposed work using non-waste material. The ‘waste-recovery plan’ should demonstrate that there is a real need for the work to take place – that a genuine benefit will be derived; and the benefits outweigh the costs of the development and would do so even with the use of non-waste material. In other words, the development is ‘financially viable’. What is meant by financial viability is not defined, but informal feedback suggests an applicant should be expected to show a payback on capital investment within a five or six-year period. However, ‘financially viable’ cannot have the same interpretation in the case of a private members’ golf club as it would for a commercial organisation. The golf club is not looking to make a profit but rather to remain sustainable as a facility for its members and to continue to provide a facility that reflects its market positioning relative to other golf facilities in the local area. In the case of proprietary courses, more commercial considerations may apply, but, still, viability should be judged in the context of typical returns within the golf business. We have been successful recently in obtaining approval from the agency to ‘waste-recovery plans’ in the case of two private members golf clubs in the southeast of England, demonstrating financial

viability in both cases. Both involved new construction of academy and practice facilities which would encourage new memberships and non-member visits, as well as improving the clubs’ offerings for members. However, in both cases, the amount of imported material needed to complete the work is relatively modest which made the argument for financial viability a credible one. The bigger the project, the harder it is likely to be able to demonstrate financial viability. One final, but significant, point: the Environment Agency may not grant a permit for waste recovery unless planning permission has been granted. Developments of this nature require planning permission either from a district or a county council depending upon the detail of the development. The test of whether a development is a district or county matter depends fundamentally on whether the proposal constitutes a waste disposal activity (change of use) or is an engineering operation (operational development). The County Council would be required to deal with the former as waste planning authority and the relevant District Council with the latter as local planning authority. Therefore, if a club is contemplating a development project using imported inert material, it is important to develop the design with a mind to the financial viability of the ‘waste-recovery plan’ from the outset to give both the planning and environmental permit applications the best chance of success. GMé

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workplace engagement

“We care deeply about every single one of our employees at all of our venues, and our priority is to invest in their development”

Burhill creating a Workplace Buzz Employers who engage with and look after their workforce, are, more likely than not, going to reap the long-term benefits as Neil Gray reports from Burhill Golf & Leisure. GOOD GUY Guy Riggott (main picture) operations director at Burhill Golf & Leisure, and above, Abbey Hill Golf Centre welcomes visitors

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In a difficult market, golf course operators are having to become ever more creative in finding ways to re-energise their venues, and keep staff and customers engaged so as to attract new blood to an old game. It’s sink or swim for a lot of courses in these uncertain financial times, but Burhill Golf and Leisure (BGL), one of the biggest golf course operators in the UK, have chosen to swim by partnering with WorkplaceBuzz to help unlock what really makes their staff tick in delivering growing customer expectations. Workplace surveys have been an annual feature at BGL venues for several years, however the company decided to bring in WorkplaceBuzz in 2014. Both organisations share a driving philosophy of if you look after your employees, they

will look after your business, and BGL were keen to re-energise and gain a new perspective on staff surveying process. BGL operate 22 golf courses across ten venues, and the results of the 2016 BGL staff survey show that on average, workplace engagement has risen across all of their venues, causing a positive knock-on effect on the company’s nett promoter score and placing BGL higher than other organisations in the UK benchmark. “We care deeply about every single one of our employees at all of our venues, and our priority is to invest in their development to ensure a switched on and engaged workforce,” commented Guy Riggott, operations director at Burhill Golf and Leisure. “By partnering with WorkplaceBuzz, we’re able to give voice to our teams

AT YOUR SERVICE Bar staff on-hand to take your drinks order at Abbey Hill

of employees and listen to what they think we could be doing to help them to become more engaged with their working environment,” continued Riggott. The company-wide staff survey run by BGL’s partner is optional – with an impressive 80 per cent of the workforce completing it over the summer months – an increase of five per cent on the participation rate from the previous year. Teams were able to voice their opinions on topics such as engagement, level of satisfaction and communication in the workplace, and availability of day-to-day resources in an easy, online, confidential manner; the anonymous results of which were then collated and presented to BGL’s directors. “The survey measures both the psychological and practical aspects of BGL’s venues as a workplace and the culture from the point of view of its employees,” commented Dr Mark Slaski, senior psychologist and founder of WorkplaceBuzz. “BGL partnered with us so that they could better understand how their employees think and feel about the jobs

that they do, the people that they work with, and the company that they work for. “The results we’ve given to BGL in order to encourage provocative thoughts and critical conversations within the company, providing a roadmap from which Guy and his team can direct positive changes in company culture,” continued Dr Slaski. On the back of the 2015 results, WorkplaceBuzz delivered a Business Development workshop for general managers within BGL to assess the survey results and lay the foundations for a culture change programme throughout the company. Two strategic projects were developed to address areas needing improvement across the company; team clarity, and engagement. In the following 12 months, the general managers have managed to improve clarity and engagement scores at almost all venues and departments, with only a minority remaining static in comparison with the 2016 results. “The aim wasn’t to implement any immediate overhauls, but to focus on marginal gain,” explained Riggott.

“Lots of little changes make a big difference, and this is a long term project that we’re only just beginning. We want to invest in our people now to ensure the future success of the company and all who work within it,” he continued. A prime example of how BGL have absorbed these results and established a successful framework and language of engagement to implement at each of the venues can be seen at Abbey Hill Golf Centre, a BGL venue in Milton Keynes. Andrew Scholey, the general manger at Abbey Hill, has spent the last 12 months spending time with all of his employees and implementing a simple framework of positive engagement techniques to motivate his staff and make them feel more connected with the business and the venue. Scholey’s team at Abbey Hill were middle of the table in the 2015 results, but after attending the Business Development workshop, 12 months later Abbey Hill is now top of the table with overall engagement, and leadership and management effectiveness rates having soared since 2015. | 47



workplace engagement

DR BEHAVIOUR Dr Mark Slaski, senior psychologist and founder of WorkplaceBuzz

“The market is now very much pulled by the consumer therefore success rests upon consumer experience and customer loyalty,” explained Dr Slaski. “Abbey Hill is a perfect example of how a centre can increase the customer experience by ensuring that their workforce is engaged, agile, and innovative,” he continued. BGL has no plans to rest on their laurels after such a positive result from this latest survey, with the company now driving forward with exploring different ways to engage staff at the venues that showed static results, and continuing management and staff training across all venues. “Golf is a difficult market, and some believe that there should be a reduction in supply to increase demand,” commented Riggott. “Here at BGL, we believe that you don’t need to decrease supply, you just need to become much better. “High levels of engagement among the staff push a passive customer to a positive customer, and those are the customers who come back time and time again, and recommend our venues to their friends and family.” BGL is ensuring that they are at the forefront of the market, actively finding solutions to problems before they present an issue, and repeating and building upon the process to become innovative and agile in the field. Their collaboration with WorkplaceBuzz will continue into the foreseeable future, and with established

48 | GMé December 2016

staff training programmes being implemented throughout all levels of the business, focus continues to be held upon the workforce and maintaining a reputation as an advanced employer and an employer of choice. For Dr Slaski, the key is in behaviour, as it is the bottom line of WorkplaceBuzz’s surveys and their work with BGL. “Behaviour can’t and shouldn’t be changed overnight, and by actively encouraging the general managers to feed the frameworks down through the chain at their own venues, we’re implementing small, progressive changes over a longer period that will become second nature to those benefitting from them,” he said. “BGL want their employees to talk to them, they want to listen to their opinions and use them to make the company an even better employer, and therefore further increase customer satisfaction.” Riggott admits that this is a step into the unknown for BGL, and the company are still not sure where the journey with WorkplaceBuzz will take them, but they’re excited to find out. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see that our employees are feeling more engaged with their work and the company, and that this is having a positive effect upon our customers and therefore driving the business forward. “There are a lot of exciting plans in the pipeline for BGL, and we want to be doing all that we can to encourage our talented and dedicated employees to grow with us,” concluded Riggott. GMé




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Topturf Irrigation is a family-run company that has become one of the leading irrigation companies in the UK and Europe. A design, supply and installation service is available for all new irrigation systems; in addition we offer bespoke services to all clients with new and existing systems for private gardens, recreational facilities, golf course and sports stadia. Topturf have now expanded to designing, building, supplying and installing single or multi-pump pump sets. Topturf are the leading agents for the supply and installation of Otterbine Barebo decorative and industrial aerators, providing quality aeration for the water management of all lakes and ponds. | 49


signing off

“wouldn’t it be more fun if we, the golfing public, were able to decide which player walked out to which piece of music?”

I’m a starter, Twisted firestarter... So, the European Tour has decided that there will be walk-on music for players at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship – just like the darts but without the bling and the Morph suits. Which got me thinking, wouldn’t it be more fun if we, the golfing public, were able to decide which player walked out to which piece of music? Oh the fun we could have; indeed, oh the fun we have had... Tiger Woods Mr Loverman (Shabba Ranks) The Wanderer (Status Quo) Danny Willet He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother (The Hollies)

OASIS Oasis features strongly in our mix of walk-on themes

Patrick Reed It’s oh so quiet (Bjork)

John Daly Cigarettes and alcohol (Oasis)

Lee Westwood I missed again (Phil Collins)

Rory McIlroy Mac the knife (Bobby Darin)

Justin Rose Gold (Spandau Ballet)

Jason Day Vertigo (U2)

Jordan Spieth Too much too young (The Specials)

Miguel Angel Jimenez Smoke gets in your eyes (The Platters)

Sir Nick Faldo I am the one and only (Chesney Hawkes)

Rickie Fowler Orange crush (REM)

Gary Player Let’s get physical (Olivia Newton John)

David Duval Where did it all go wrong? (Oasis)

Henrik Stenson Ice, ice baby (Vanilla Ice)

Louis Oosthuizen Louie Louie (The Kingsmen)

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Should Thomas Pieters and Danny Lee be drawn together to play in the same group, how about Welcome Home, by Pieters and Lee? And, for any event played at a Trump owned facility, how about Wonderwall by Oasis? Do you have any great ideas for walkon music? If so, tweet us at @gme or me directly at @bunkybowers. GMé

David Bowers


Pebble Beach Company


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