On the cover...
HSBC has been announced as the new title sponsor of the Golf Business Forum which will take place this April in Abu Dhabi
ÂŁ6.50 golfmanagement.eu.com Issue 94 | February 2014
Golf Management ĂŠurope is the essential business magazine for golf course owners, operators, managers and directors of golf
Calle Carlsson, general manager of Lumine Golf & Beach Club talks about increasing roundage at the Troon managed, Spanish golf facility
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On the agenda february 2014 22
Prickett returning to base
After three years heading-up the Asia Pacific operation for Jacobsen, Alan Prickett returns to base headquarters in Ipswich to take up his new position as managing director.
How La Cala kept their nerve
An Andalusian resort which resisted cutting its prices despite fiere competition from other Spanish resorts, is now well placed for better times ahead.
VAT... More taxing than ever
HMRC has lost its long-running VAT appeal in the European Court of Justice against Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club, clearing the way for clubs to potentially reclaim VAT.
Carlsson making his mark
Its been an interesting year for the general manager of Lumine Golf & Beach Club in Spain, Calle Carlsson, who this time last year was busy preparing to host IGTM.
Gallacher backs defib campaign
After suffering a cardiac arrest last year, former Ryder Cup captain, Bernard Gallacher, is fronting a media campaign to install a defibrillator at every golf club in the UK.
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from the publisher
“HMRC will be looking closely at the extent to which golf clubs are going to reimburse the players who paid the green fees.”
VAT cash windfall for private clubs could be ‘unjust enrichment’ Welcome to a new year, and a newlook Golf Management éurope – or GMé – which contains a story about an old chestnut: VAT. Firstly however, I hope you like the new appearance to our 17-year-old magazine. Everything needs freshening up now and then, but sadly I’m unable to do anything about our executive editor David Bowers who has been with us since our first edition. As part of our re-launch, we also have a new website which includes unlimited access to all 94 editions of GMé, and whilst uploading them to our new site, I stumbled across a leader that I wrote way back in July 1998 – in just our sixth edition – which I could very easily have written last week. It was headlined: ‘VAT for all, a fair and just solution’. It concentrated on proposed UK Government legislation that determined that proprietary clubs would continue to pay VAT as business-rated companies, while private members clubs would avoid payment as so-called, ‘non-profit-making’ enterprises. Daft, of course, but as we know it went through – and it’s been a bone of contention for the sport in the UK ever since. Recently, as we’re sure you are already aware, HMRC lost its test case against Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club which has suggested that private-member clubs may now enjoy cash windfalls. However, on page 30 of this edition you can read how HMRC believes that the money is not actually owed to the
4 | GMé February 2014
A TAXING ISSUE Clubs anticipating a VAT windfall may need to be patient
clubs, but to the golfer who ‘overpaid’ the VAT on their green fees. It’s an interesting viewpoint, and Scott MacCallum’s article is well worth a read. Michel Rubini, a press officer for HMRC, explained: “HMRC will be looking closely at the extent to which golf clubs are going to reimburse the players who paid the green fees and the extent to which repayments might be restricted to avoid unjust enrichment.” This may mean the anticipated ‘cash windfalls’ for private clubs may be refused on the grounds that to make the repayment would result in the taxpayer being ‘unjustly enriched’. So, it’s still as clear as mud.
This magazine, however, maintains the stance it took nearly 16 years ago, in July 1998: we suggested a return to the pre1995 status where all clubs paid VAT. Nothing has happened to make us change our mind and we reiterate it here – the main difference now is that we’re saying it in full colour. GMé
Michael Lenihan firstname.lastname@example.org
Hold the front page HSBC is set to open up the world of golf as the title sponsor of the Golf Business Forum, which will be staged at the end of April in Abu Dhabi.
“Linking HSBC with the Golf Business Forum is exactly the type of initiative we had hoped for”
Cover sponsored by HSBC (44) 020 8233 6669 email@example.com
6 | GMé February 2014
HSBC has been announced as the new title sponsor of the Golf Business Forum which will be staged at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi, from April 28-30, 2014. HSBC see the Golf Business Forum as the perfect vehicle to complement its current global sponsorship portfolio. The event, which has been running since 2004, attracts more than 250 golf industry delegates each year ranging from industry leaders to developers, investors and journalists from more than 40 countries. HSBC has a holistic approach to its global sponsorship program supporting golf at all levels of the game from grassroots to elite professional golf. Sponsorships include the WGC-HSBC Champions, the HSBC Women’s Champions, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, the HSBC China Junior Golf Programme as well as being a patron of The Open Championship. The partnership with the Forum and Community will see HSBC extend its commitment to the golf industry, building on the 2020 HSBC Vision Report published in 2012, as well as further establishing its position as a thought leader in the business of sport. Commenting on the Golf Business Forum, HSBC global head of sponsor-
ship and events Giles Morgan said: “The Golf Business Forum and Golf Business Community are a natural fit and extension of our current golf properties and our sponsorship programme. “HSBC continues to open up the world of golf and we believe the unique platform of the Golf Business Forum and the Golf Business Community will play an important part in developing and shaping the golf industry as well as showcasing our business assets to key golf industry sectors.” Guy Kinnings, global head of Golf, IMG, added: “We are delighted to be partnering HSBC on the Golf Business Forum and Golf Business Community. Having worked together on numerous projects, we know that their innovative approach and vast experience in the game will add much to this premium event for the golf industry. We are looking forward to working with them in Abu Dhabi and beyond.” Nick Oakley, IMG Golf added: “Linking HSBC with the Golf Business Forum is exactly the type of initiative we had hoped for and I am extremely excited by the opportunity this presents. “HSBC is obviously a fantastic brand to have on board and we are looking forward to taking the Forum to another fantastic golf destination in Abu Dhabi later this year.” GMé
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golfmanagement.eu.com | 7 11/02/2014 13:49:38
JCB unveils plans for a £30m ‘showcase’ golf course JCB has announced a new wave of investment in Staffordshire with plans for a £30 million golf course next to its World HQ to help boost sales and build global awareness of its brand. The proposals for a spectacular 18-hole, 7,150 yards, par 72 golf course centre on 240 acres of rolling countryside to the south of its headquarters. When completed in 2018, it is expected that up to 100 people will be employed in groundscare and hospitality roles. At the heart of the development is Woodseat Hall, an 18th Century mansion currently in ruins, but which will have a new lease of life under plans to renovate it as the clubhouse, complete with a new luxury spa, leisure facility and five-star hotel-style accommodation for visiting JCB guests from across the world. Lord Bamford said: “JCB is a global manufacturer with a successful track record in growing sales in overseas markets. As part of our plans to increase manufacturing capacity and grow sales, we need to build an even stronger awareness of the JCB brand around the world. “Golf is a truly global sport and is a perfect fit for JCB as a global manufacturer as we look to develop strong relationships with customers and dealers worldwide. I’m not a golfer myself but I’m excited by the opportunity it presents us in driving our future plans for business growth.” JCB chief executive officer Graeme Macdonald said: “The golf course will be the biggest marketing tool available to JCB in its history, helping grow sales and
Graeme Macdonald of JCB (left) and architect Robin Hiseman survey the proposed course layout
create jobs. If the course were to host a major tournament, the television coverage would certainly put the JCB brand firmly on the world stage. It would also help to raise the profile of Staffordshire and promote the county as a tourist destination to millions of people around the world.” Robin Hiseman of European Golf Design, the architects responsible for the layout, added: “We were asked to create a premier tour-proven golf course to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the very best contemporary golf course designs in the UK. “The course design, which is burgeoning with imaginative design concepts, will twist and turn around the natural
contours of the site, dipping in and out of the woodlands and involving the existing water features in a range of exciting ways, including the spectacular and unique par 3, 17th hole, which plays onto an existing wooded island in the South Lake. “We are looking forward to building this JCB course, and as you might expect, JCB machines will be doing all of the work in what will be a 240-acre shop window for its product range.” The new golf course, which is subject to planning consent, will become a feature of the wider JCB visitor experience which already includes factory visits, the ‘Story of JCB’ exhibition and machine demonstrations.
Poll casts doubt Weller Designs aiming to improve on Major boost practice facilities at West Hill A survey by satellite broadcaster Sky Sports News has shown that 64 per cent of UK golf clubs saw no commercial boost following British successes in major championships, such as Justin Rose’s 2013 US Open success and Rory McIlroy’s 2011 US Open. The poll of 254 clubs showed nearly two thirds of clubs said the British victories had no impact whatsoever on their businesses, challenging the commonly held perception that professional success can boost participation at domestic venues. The poll also revealed that just one per cent of UK golf clubs believe the key 31-40 age group is the dominant section at their club, with more than 80 per cent of clubs’ dominant membership categories consisting of people aged 51 or more.
8 | GMé February 2014
An artists impression of the range at West Hill
West Hill Golf Club’s standing as a top 100 course and one of the finest heathland courses in the UK has been further enhanced following the commencement of construction of a new practice facility. The project includes the enlargement, re-profiling and draining of the entire practice ground outfield and the construction of a new, puropse-built covered practice range.
Surrey based golf course architects Weller Designs were employed by West Hill from the start of the project, acting as designers, planning consultants and agents as well as project managers. Commenting on the project, Bruce Weller said: “The need for high quality practice facilities that look good and can be well maintained even through the wettest of winters is very important to the standing of a golf course, so the development that is currently under construction at West Hill will be a superb asset to the golf club.” Weller Designs have also recently gained planning permission for a new driving range at Oadby Golf Club for the owners of Leicester Race Course and construction works are also underway to improve the driving range and course at Beacon Park Golf Club in Lancashire.
Chantelle Lighting & PING light up The Belfry
In brief... Chris Knowles, course manager of Golf Club Hanau-Wilhelmsbad near Frankfurt, recently placed an order with Highspeed Group for a ClearWater recycling system. David Mears director of Highspeed said: “We are delighted to sign our first contract with a German golf club. Chris is a proactive course manager and this future proof system means that the club has conformed to stringent and ever-changing law.” This year marks the 125th anniversary of the first grinder patent. The brainchild of English engineer John Atterton, his specification for an “apparatus for grinding the cylinder blades and bottom blades of lawnmowers and similar machines,” was accepted in 1889. Thereafter, he established Atterton & Ellis Ltd, in Haverhill, Suffolk, before Stephen Bernhard purchased a controlling interest in the 1980s and re-branded it as Bernhard and Company.
The Belfry’s New Day renovation has continued with the installation of a unique and eye catching new lighting feature. With the world famous Ryder Cup venue being transformed and enhanced by owners KSL Capital Partners LLC, Chantelle Lighting were asked to manufacture a bespoke lighting feature which would be the first thing people see as they enter the historic Belfry Hotel. Working in partnership with PING and designers Greyline, Chantelle Lighting produced a chandelier made from 140 brand new PING putters and irons. Anthony Holly, Chantelle Lighting managing director, a keen golfer himself, said: “The Belfry is a special venue for amateur and professional golfers alike and the New Day transformations will help to make it even more iconic. “We were delighted to be asked to be involved in the renovations and are really pleased that the hard work of our design and manufacturing teams has produced this unique chandelier. We are sure the PING chandelier will become an iconic part of The Belfry Hotel, welcoming amateur and professional golfers to the venue for many years to come.” Dave Fanning, PING European marketing manager, added: “We have a long history of working with The Belfry and were really pleased to be asked
The unique chandelier at The Belfry
Donald Trump buys Doonbeg in €15m deal
A record breaking BTME 2014 has energised the turf management industry with over 8,500 visitors from across the globe packing into the Harrogate International Centre last month. Exhibitors were deluged with customers with some calling the show the “best ever”. Richard Fry, marketing director for Rigby Taylor, summarised the mood when he said: “This has been the best show for many years in terms of numbers and quality of visitors.” Greenmakers by Nelson & Vecchio has signed a contract with Golf Club Föhr in Germany for construction of 12 new holes to replace some of the older holes on the course. The golf course is a 27-hole facility situated on the island of Föhr in the North Sea close to the border of Denmark, and the remodelling of the course has been designed by Christian Althaus of Althaus Golfdesign.
to supply some of our top of the range clubs to Chantelle Lighting for this innovative chandelier. It will provide a fantastic welcome to golfers staying at The Belfry Hotel and hopefully inspire them to play some excellent rounds of golf.” Linda Matlin, head of FF&E at De Vere Hotels and De Vere Village Urban Resorts which runs The Belfry, said: “We have worked alongside Chantelle Lighting on various projects, and, known for their expertise in bespoke lighting, we felt they were exactly the right people to create our golf club chandelier. “The artwork was very impressive and we are delighted with the end result. We are confident it will prove a hit with the many golf fans visiting The Belfry.”
Donald Trump’s latest acquisition, Doonbeg
Donald Trump has bought the troubled Doonbeg Lodge and Golf Club, in Co Clare, Ireland, for around €15 million. Developer Kiawah Partners appointed Ernst & Young’s Luke Charleton and David Hughes as receivers to the property in January, saying they were confident a buyer would be found within six weeks. Trump already owns 15 golf resorts around the world and, in a statement,
said the Co Clare resort would be renamed Trump International Golf Links, Ireland. He said: “I am thrilled to announce that we have purchased yet another incredible golf resort. “From Trump National Doral, Miami to Trump International Golf Links, Scotland, known as “the greatest golf course in the world,” we only have the best. Doonbeg is an already terrific property that we will make even better – it will soon be an unparalleled resort destination with the highest standards of luxury.” Luke Charleton of Ernst & Young added: “There was a tremendous level of interest from domestic and international investors in this property, so it is particularly pleasing to have sold this prestigious property to The Trump Organisation who have the vision and resources to take what is an internationally renowned tourism resort to its next stage.” Doonbeg Golf Club was designed by Greg Norman, and opened for play in July, 2002 following a two-year construction programme.
golfmanagement.eu.com | 9
Carlton wins top prize at TGI Golf Awards Paisley Golf Club head professional Andy Carlton walked off with the top award at an emotional TGI Golf Awards Night at Marriott Worsley Park. On an evening that saw tears from a number of award winners it was Carlton who claimed the Partner of the Year award, while PING took home the supplier of the year gong. The 29-year-old, who has been head pro at Paisley for four years, topped a vote by his fellow partners of TGI Golf, seeing off the challenge of fellow nominees Carl Bianco (Woking) and Nathan Stead (Shipley). Carlton said: “I’m truly overwhelmed to pick up this award, I must be one of the youngest pros within TGI Golf, so to be recognised by guys with far more knowledge and experience than me is amazing. “When I first became a PGA professional four years ago I joined the group, but didn’t know too much about it. However, it has proved to be the best business decision I ever made. In a difficult industry it’s amazing to have their support, we simply couldn’t do what we do without it.” PING walked away with the top supplier award of the evening, pipping Galvin Green and FootJoy to supplier of the year. John Clark, PING’s managing director, said: “It says something about the whole company and everyone in it to win this award.
“As a brand, PING is about product, service and quality – that’s what you have to touch to win awards like this, we’re great supporters of green grass pros, that’s where our roots started and that’s where they’ll stay, so we thank every TGI partner for their support.” Eddie Reid, TGI Golf managing director, added: “Congratulations to all of our award winners. There were some emotional guys on the stage collecting awards and that goes to show just how
Welsh club closes its doors
FootJoy teams up with Ryder Cup Europe
Members of a South Wales golf club were left shell-shocked after their course closed suddenly. Garnant Golf Club, near the Brecon Beacons Nationals Park, had been taken on by Clay’s Golf from previous operators Carmarthenshire Council in 2011, with a 25-year lease to run and manage the course and clubhouse. The original takeover created ten new jobs and under the agreement of the lease Carmarthenshire Council provided a £160,000 subsidy over two years with rent free of charge until 2018, but Garnant closed just weeks after the taxpayer subsidy ended. A spokeswoman for Carmarthenshire Council said the authority had concerns about the closure situation. She said: “We have not yet been able to contact them to establish exactly what is happening. To that end, it would be premature to speculate, although clearly we have concerns regarding the situation.”
FootJoy has announced that it has signed an agreement with Ryder Cup Europe to become an Official Licensee of the biennial tournament that sees Europe and the United States compete for the iconic Samuel Ryder trophy. The deal, which runs up to The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September 2014, enables FJ to incorporate the official Ryder Cup logo on its gloves, socks and apparel. Russell Lawes, FJ’s marketing manager commented: “The Ryder Cup is the biggest spectacle in golf and we are proud to provide our retail partners with an essential pack of must-have garments, packaged and crested with one of the most iconic logos in sport. “We have enjoyed a long and proud relationship with The European Tour and this license agreement only serves to enhance the all-round appeal and credibility of the FJ brand.” To celebrate the announcement, the company whose sole mantra is golf, has
10 | GMé February 2014
Andy Carlton (right) is presented with his award by senior retail consultant Ian Martin (left)
much it means to our partners and the high esteem in which the suppliers hold TGI Golf. “Congratulations to our main winner Andy Carlton, who has had a tremendous 2013, throwing himself full tilt at everything we have to offer, helping him to increase his turnover and margin. “Like all our partners he strives to make himself a better businessman, actively promoting his brand every day,” added Reid.
launched a capsule 2014 Ryder Cup collection that is available for loyal FJ stockists across Europe to purchase with immediate effect. “Not only does the FJ collection provide exceptional sell-through potential for retailers, but those who prebook the complete package will also be entered into a draw to win two, one-day tickets to The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles,” added Lawes.
Russell Lawes (left) with José María Olazábal
W “Blinder Eco Path has exceeded all our expectations. I have been extremely happy with the feel, look and durability, and I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Blinder Eco Path.”
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golfmanagement.eu.com | 11
Members vote to purchase the freehold at Burnham Beeches Burnham Beeches Golf Club, the oldest club in Buckinghamshire, are now the proud owners of the land they play their golf upon. Having leased the land for 122 years from the Burnham Trust – set up by Lord Burnham – the club has now acquired the freehold covering their course, clubhouse and practice facilities. The club was originally founded in 1891 on land owned by the Corporation of the City of London. The first lease with Lord Burnham was set up in 1908 and although the current lease still has 45 years to run the opportunity to control its own destiny was too good to miss for the club. Being a members club, the decision to buy the freehold went to an EGM in November 2013 at which the members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposal. Commenting on the deal, general manager, Patrick Dawson, said: “With the freehold secured the future of the club looks very positive.
“A bunker renovation programme is on-going, as is an upgrade to the practice facilities and refurbishment of the locker rooms and other clubhouse areas, and the continued investment in both the course and the clubhouse facilities has ensured membership is strong.
Royal Norwich in land deal
PGA recognise McGinley for his contribution to golf
The 120-year-old Royal Norwich Golf Club, in Norfolk, is set to relocate after a deal was agreed with a home-builder. Royal Norwich, Persimmon Homes Limited and Goymour Properties Limited have reached an agreement and initial heads of terms that is likely to result in the club relocating to Weston Park, seven miles away. The move is subject to approval by members and satisfactory planning consents being obtained at both courses. During the transition period of up to three years before final relocation, Royal Norwich will invest a substantial sum in creating an ‘outstanding course and facilities’. Persimmon Homes will seek planning consent for up to 1,000 houses on the existing 120-acre site and will also enter into a conditional purchase agreement to acquire Weston Park from Goymour Properties. Subject to satisfactory planning consents being obtained for the development of the golf club and course it will then be transferred to Royal Norwich Golf Club. Adrian Myhill, captain of Royal Norwich, said: “This is a fantastic one-off opportunity for our members to develop a club fit for the 21st century. We intend to produce a club and course of which the members will be justly proud. Selling our land at Hellesdon will give us a unique opportunity to produce facilities of the highest order.”
Paul McGinley has followed in the footsteps of some illustrious past Ryder Cup captains by receiving the PGA Recognition Award for his outstanding contribution to golf. Europe’s skipper for the 2014 matches at Gleneagles received the accolade at The PGA’s annual fundraising lunch at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London just before Christmas. McGinley has been a stalwart on the course since winning the Irish Amateur Championship in 1989, going on to become a four-time European Tour winner and member of three successive
12 | GMé February 2014
The clubhouse at Burnham Beeches Golf Club
“In difficult economic times with increased pressure on golf clubs, Burnham Beeches is bucking the trend and the membership is looking forward to the next 122 years, safe in the knowledge that this part of Buckinghamshire will always be a golf course.”
victorious Ryder Cup teams including sinking the decisive putt at The Belfry in 2002. The popular Irishman joins fellow Ryder Cup captains Sam Torrance, Sir Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Colin Montgomerie and José Maria Olazábal who have all received the PGA award. “I am very humbled to be honoured in this way, particularly as it’s from my peers, PGA professionals,” said McGinley. “I will endeavour to represent the European Tour and PGA to the best of my abilities, both in terms of the Ryder Cup next year and onwards.”
Paul McGinley (right) receives his Recognition Award trophy from PGA captain Neil Selwyn-Smith
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golfmanagement.eu.com | 13
Foresight technology in-demand at PGA Merchandise Show Callaway, Titleist, PING and the PGA of America were just four of the many big names in golf utilising Foresight Sports technology at last month’s PGA Show in Orlando. Foresight’s GC2 and HMT, currently the most in-demand technology in golf, dominated the annual golfing extravaganza – and even benefited from the hugely well attended, weather-affected demo day, which saw its afternoon session disrupted because of high winds and torrential rain. Foresight Sports Europe’s sales director Ed Doling, who led a large contingent of staff from this side of the Atlantic, explained: “It was really windy on the demo day but the great thing about the data on our machine is that it is always pure, accurate and not affected by the weather. It’s unique in that attribute. “Our customers confirm this time and again. When working on windy days, or in bad weather, our data is unaffected by down-range conditions. If you hit a gentle fade into a right to left wind, then the GC2 reports that gentle fade perfectly. “Our data is always pure as we directly measure the movement and spin of the ball. And that was certainly the feedback we got from the many visitors who came to our stand at the outdoor day.
A Foresight GC2K being put through its paces on an outdoor range
“They appreciated that their data was spot on and unaffected by the gusts. Even though the second half of the day was a wash-out, the morning was great. There were GC2s and Foresight technology everywhere.” Back inside the Orange County Convention Center, the Foresight stand was the largest of all the technology companies at the show this year and the most impressive in the sector.
But it wasn’t just on the company’s stand where the technology was in action. Foresight technology was ubiquitous across the show’s million squarefeet floorspace: the adjacent Callaway stand had four simulators all running GC2 and HMT, and all incorporating Foresight’s fitting software; PING utilised a GC2 for its skills competition and club testing, as did the PGA of America to drive its daily nearest-the-pin event.
Starwood set to Flanders see participation buy De Vere figures rocket in Belgium The sale of De Vere Venues to Starwood Capital Group could be finalised soon according to various media reports – for a price believed to be £65m less than the £300m asking price. The De Vere Venues 29-strong portfolio includes such well-known golf resorts as Wychwood Park, Staverton Park and Wokefield Park. Accounts filed in September for De Vere Venues showed a pre-tax loss of £6.5m for the year ended December 31, 2012 – down from £28.6m in 2011 – on a turnover of £96m. Starwood Capital Group acquired rival conference venue brand Principal Hayley from Lloyds Banking Group in February 2013, and speculation is rife within the industry that the two portfolios could be merged under one leadership team and central head office, with poorer performing venues being jettisoned. It is also believed Lloyds Banking Group is looking to sell De Vere’s Hotels – a portfolio worth an estimated £600m. GMé invited CEO of De Vere, Robert Cook to clarify the current speculation, but he declined to comment.
14 | GMé February 2014
Last year proved to be a fantastic 12 months for i-KAN GC with its SNAG –Starting New At Golf – system, and for development of the game of golf in general. One of the best examples of this, and perhaps the jewel in the crown, was the successes achieved in just a year within the Flanders region of Belgium. The Golf Federation of Flanders declared golf the ‘sport of the year’ for 2013, resulting in the regions minister of sport advertising golf throughout the entire year, with the support of the Flemish government. The Golf Federation and the Department of Sport jointly scheduled a series of activities for people of all ages, gender and cultures in a bid to spread the word about the game of golf and grow participation levels, resulting in over 350,000 non-golfers hitting their first golf ball last year, 150,000 of whom were children. “In this special year, when golf was elected as ‘sport of the year’ in Flanders, SNAG was crucial to our success in the activities within the promotion campaign,” stated Marc Verneirt, secre-
SNAG on the beach
tary general of the Golf Federation of Flanders. “SNAG is also a key factor in the long term, because it will help us to achieve our goal to reach 100,000 children every year via the ‘Golf at school-project’.”
In words & Pictures A brief pictorial round-up of events from around the industry, including news of a significant promotion for Richard Comely of Ransomes Jacobsen.
In brief... Swan Golf Designs is returning to The Karnataka Golf Association, Bangalore, five years after completing the comprehensive redesign and renovation of its championship golf course. The original project was centred upon solving an annual flooding issue which caused the course to be closed for several weeks every year, however, as the engineering solution was identified, it became apparent that this was a unique opportunity to improve all facets of the course. Golfers thought there was something decidedly fishy about the unusual hazard at Royal Porthcrawl Golf Club, South Wales – after a large cod landed where they were playing. The three foot, fully grown fish was hurled out of the sea during a storm, leaving golfers stunned when it was found among debris at the third hole, as torrential weather hammered the coast. Club pro Peter Evans explained to The Sun: “We went to clear up and saw this huge fish lying there. We didn’t weigh it but it looked at least 12lbs. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Club Car introduced the first golf car with built-in connected technology, a new electrical charging system and a re-engineered and restyled line of Carryall utility vehicles at the Golf Industry Show earlier this month. Club Car’s new Precedent i3 connects the golf car fleet to the golf operation via computer, smartphone or tablet, as well as with golfers throughout their round. Tillers 25th Anniversary prize give away went with a real ‘pop’ at BTME with a bottle of champagne being given away every 25 minutes. The main prize of two full hospitality tickets to the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool was won by Ian Beech, head greenkeeper at Newcastle-under-Lyme Golf Club.
Ransomes Jacobsen have promoted Richard Comely to director of global product management, responsible for a team of product management specialists in both Ipswich and at the company’s head office in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The TGI Golf Partnership has enhanced its presence in Ireland by merging with the country’s largest independent buying group EurPro, with the group’s 32 PGA professionals becoming TGI Golf Partners on January 1, 2014,
Huxley Golf Andalucía has installed an all-weather short game practice area at Club La Santa, situated on the north west coast of Lanzarote, comprising an 18 hole putting green that is approximately 600 sq yards.
Tom Hurst, technical specialist at Bernhard and Company, is the 2013 winner of the International Golf Course Equipment Managers Association (IGCEMA) Edwin Budding Award, which is sponsored by Ransomes Jacobsen.
One of the golf industry’s longestrunning PR and marketing agencies is to change its name. Magic Hour Media is the new identity of Hiseman Limited, which has represented many of the sport’s best-known brands since 2002.
Redditch Golf Club has appointed Sue McDevitt as its new general manager, who becomes the first female general manager at the Lower Grinsty Lane golf club which celebrated its centenary in 2013.
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company profile DIGGING IN A JUB under-grass planting machine places bulbs in the ground to add a splash of colour to any golf course
JUB planting colours around the green JUB may not be a name that many golf course owners and course managers are familiar with, but the Dutch company, who recently exhibited at BTME, have plans to add colour to your golf course this season as Aidan Patrick discovers.
Company Profile sponsored by JUB (31) 0252 373762 email@example.com
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Golf courses have typically been green for many decades, but the growing awareness of biodiversity and environment also allows for more colourful plantings nowadays. Flowerbulbs are very suitable to enhance biodiversity by providing an excellent source of nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects to feed on during a time of year when it is not so readily available. Flower bulb specialists JUB from the Netherlands have developed special bee and butterfly bulb mixes which flower from early spring until July. JUB (Jac. Uittenbogaard & Zonen BV) is one of the leading suppliers of quality flowerbulbs in Europe. The traditional family business, based in the heart of the Dutch bulb area, has grown and exported bulbs since 1910. Many millions of hyacinths, tulips and daffodils have been produced since, and JUB have also introduced new varieties to the trade. The environment has always been very important to the Uittenbogaard family, who have always tried to find the right balance between growing and the environment. For many years the family has been working together with environmental organisations to reduce the use of chemicals, and have been active members of ‘Milieu Project Sierteelt’ (MPS) for years achieving the ‘A’ status in this organisation.
All MPS activities focus on encouraging sustainable enterprise in the international horticultural sector by developing products and services for their clients in the areas of quality assurance, the environment and social aspects. In addition, they also provide the horticultural sector with tools for implementing sustainable enterprise. JUB celebrated it’s centenary in 2010, and the highlight of the celebration was the announcement that the company had been awarded the Dutch Royal Warrant, as a reward for excellence, quality and service. JUB supplies bulbs to local authorities, parks and gardens, landscapers, nurseries and the retail industry, with Europe as the main market. However, selling bulbs is one thing, but just as important is the fact that all these bulbs need to be in the ground at the right time in the autumn. With this in mind JUB developed a special under-grass planting machine for large scale projects which can plant up to 25,000 bulbs per hour. Most bulbs will perform very well for many years and some will even naturalise. After decades of experience the JUB specialists can advise sustainable plantings for every location and condition, and over the years specific mixtures have been developed with a prolonged flowering period.
TIME FOR A REST Allium tuberosum, also known as Chinese chives
STRIKING COLOURS OUT ON COURSE Butterflies pollinating allium tuberosum
BUSY BEES Bees hard at work on a crocus
Recent introductions are the special mixtures to enhance biodiversity, which attract bees, butterflies and other insects. To get the right varieties and balance in the mixtures, JUB has worked in close co-operation with the Dutch Beekeepers Association and The Dutch Butterfly Foundation. Nature is constantly under threat, with the natural habitats of bees and butterflies becoming smaller in recent years, but golf clubs can help reduce the negative effects of habitat loss on bees and butterflies in your area by planting the right plants or bulbs. Butterflies play an important role in the natural ecosystem as pollinators and as food in the food chain, and they have high standards for their habitat – they will only appear in places where the conditions are right – which is why the special JUB butterfly mixture will attract butterflies to the course in late spring and early summer.
Bulbs are quite often the first flowers to appear in spring, and are therefore very important for bees. From February until June the flowers of the JUB bee mixture will attract bees and bumblebees, whilst crocuses and anemones are especially popular at this time of the season due to the early nectar that they produce. Ideal areas to plant the flower bulb mixtures, including the bee and butterfly mixtures, are areas with rough grass which allows the bulbs to die down naturally and build up sufficient energy to re-appear in the following spring. It also allows them to set seed, which is important to achieve perennial flowering for many years to come. The special under-grass planting machine is a combination of planting machine and tractor. Manned by one person, a large hopper holds the bulbs, with at the bottom two belts delivering the bulbs to the ‘plant feet’.
Two vertical rotating knives cut the turf open, just before the plant feet, and then dive into the soil and fold the turf open. At the same time the two belts release the bulbs, which fall into the soil, before the machine then puts the turf back in position with minimal damage. For a good result it is important that the turf is in good condition, well rooted and firm, and the grass must be cut short to achieve the optimum result with minimal damage. To achieve the best results it is not only important to look at the condition of the soil and turf, but also the location of the sun and the shade play an important role. The choice of varieties depends greatly on these factors, but with more than 800 varieties to choose from it is always possible to make the right choice. With this in mind the JUB specialists usually make site visits to discuss the possibilities, followed by a free quotation. GMé
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“it’s always heartening to see so many old friends at the various trade shows, who have also enjoyed lifelong careers in the fine turf sector – very few people leave it.”
In conversation with Alan Prickett Following a three-year placement in Singapore, Alan Prickett is returning to Ipswich to take over as the company’s new managing director. WELCOME BACK Alan Prickett addresses the audience at BIGGA’s Welcome Celebration
GMé You joined Jacobsen UK – as it was back then – as a regional sales manager in 1997, but prior to joining the company, where did you begin your career in turf care? AP I grew up in rural Oxfordshire and developed an interest in agricultural engineering while working on a local farm in my teens, and subsequently studied this at college. In 1981 I began my career in the turfcare industry with Ransomes dealer PA Turney, where my great friend and mentor, Mick Miller, gradually introduced me to the Ransomes commercial and golf ranges, and their associated customers. In 1993 I moved to fellow Ransomes dealer ET Breakwell when they took over part of my old territory from PA Turney. I had four good years working with Len Breakwell and the team before being offered the post of regional sales manager with Jacobsen UK, then based in Kettering. GMé So what was the attraction to turf care, rather than say the agricultural sector?
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AP I think it’s the diversity of customers you meet, and the privileged access that is given to places that the general public never get to see. Additionally this industry is populated by generally very pleasant people and it’s always heartening to see so many old friends at the various trade shows, who have also enjoyed lifelong careers in the fine turf sector – very few people leave it. GMé In November 2004, you were promoted to sales director, a position you held for seven years before being appointed managing director of the new Asia Pacific operation in 2011. Heading up a new region, must have been both exciting and daunting at the same time, so was the move to Singapore an easy decision to make? AP That’s a very long and interesting question and I’ll begin by explaining the background to our APAC operation. For the previous 12 years Asia Pacific had been managed through our US operation, with the previous managing director based in Australia and reporting to the vice president of sales in the US.
OUT IN THE FIELD Royal Selangor Golf Club, situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur
INDUSTRY CENTRIC Alan Prickett (left), presents the IGCEMA Edwin Budding Award to Tom Hurst watched by Stephen Tucker, CEO of IGCEMA
Due to considerable progress being made in the US since the merger and the consequent draw on limited resources there, it was decided that the international business at Ransomes Jacobsen in the UK should take over control of Asia Pacific and add focus on brand building, dealer expansion and augmentation of the previously small team in APAC. I was lucky enough to be offered this job and after lengthy discussions with my wife and children we agreed it was a wonderful opportunity both professionally and personally. Moving your family to the other side of the world is a big decision to make, however, I can honestly say that my kids have thrived in Singapore and have greatly enjoyed the experience, as too, has my wife Sue. Working in Asia has its challenges, but the overall result has been positive, with an increased dealer network now in-place, more staff on the ground and all the graphs currently heading in the right direction.
Similarly in Australasia we had three distributors in Australia and one in New Zealand; today we have representation across Australia with six distributors and we have an extremely proactive distributor in New Zealand, which under its new ownership has been extremely successful, especially with conquest sales. We have doubled our own staff presence and are much more visible than previously. One facet of our business strategy has been particularly successful and that’s in the area of education. We have partnered with the GCSAA in their China education programmes, and last year sponsored US turfgrass professors and eminent golf architects on speaking tours in Australia, New Zealand, China, Vietnam and Myanmar. This is something that we will build on in 2014 with further initiatives planned.
GMé What infrastructure was in place for the operation in the Far East, and how did you set about building the region? It must have been quite an interesting period in your career!
AP Asia Pacific remains a region with healthy GDP growth in most of the economies and golf continues to grow at a considerably faster pace than in other parts of the world. We are not seeing the levels of new golf development that were enjoyed in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, but nonetheless there is still plenty of new business to go for, plus the re-equipping of existing courses. Development in China is still very much stop-start, depending on government policy, but Myanmar is opening up
AP Interesting, for sure! I’ll give you China as an example. When I went out there, we had one full-time employee in the country and one major distributor. Now we have three full-time people; a regional sales manager, a technical sales manager and a product support manager.
GMé Is Asia still a region where you think golf can continue to grow?
and Vietnam and Cambodia are becoming known as holiday destinations, so it will still be the place to have a significant presence. The APAC region is certainly contributing to our overall profitability and we have honoured our commitments to Textron since David Withers was appointed president of Jacobsen, a couple of years ago. GMé What was life like living in Singapore, and what, above all else will you miss about living in the Far East? AP We have summer all year! Being on the equator the daylight hours and temperatures are uniform 365 days of the year, which means the winter woollies can stay in the wardrobe. The food is excellent and extremely diverse, and the kids have unprecedented freedom due to the virtual lack of crime in the country. It will be an experience that they can look back on with fondness and it will have played a significant part in their young lives. Once accustomed to the average 30 degree + daily temperatures and humidity in the 90’s it is a truly great place to live and we’ll all miss it. GMé With your successor in Asia yet to be appointed, will you be overseeing both regions for the foreseeable future? AP I still have overall responsibility for all our international markets, which now includes Latin America, so I will retain a
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EDUCATING DOWN UNDER Supporting further education in Australia with a sponsorship agreement at North Melbourne Institute of Training & Further Education
keen interest in what happens in APAC along with the other regions. We have already started the recruitment process, so I would hope to have appointed my successor within the next few weeks. GMé Looking at the wider industry in general, do you feel as if golf has ‘turned a corner’ this year?
“the majority of the senior management team have all been promoted from within the business – they are professionals from within the industry who have an intimate understanding of how it works.”
AP Without doubt, the upbeat vibe at BTME was evident and we had an excellent show, both in the exhibition centre and with what we achieved outside of it. Also, the GIS show in Orlando was reassuringly busy this year, and it would also appear that a lot of people will be attending the AGCSA show in Australia and the China Golf Show in Beijing. I am certainly optimistic that sales will be relatively buoyant in 2014, and conversations with other people in the industry do seem to suggest that the confidence levels are slowly rising. We are also hopeful that spending will start to increase again as some of the European economies ease out of their recession-driven austerity measures. GMé Ransomes Jacobsen has always been widely regard as a ‘family’ business, one that promotes from within and builds long-term relationships with customers, so do you feel that this reputation stands you in good stead? AP Experience has very much shown us that higher-level management stability is a very good thing in our business. It allows us to be consistent in our business strategies and approach, and to build lasting relationships with both customers and vendors. Having said that it’s always vitally important to ensure that our good people are given the opportunity to grow and advance their careers within the business, so we spend a lot of time every year formally discussing career road-
20 | GMé February 2014
maps for our high-achievers and ensuring that existing staff are given plenty of new challenges on a regular basis. Here in Ipswich, the majority of the senior management team have all been promoted from within the business – they are professionals from within the industry who have an intimate understanding of how it works. There’s no magic formula to doing business in this industry and I’ll repeat David Wither’s ‘three-B’s’ mantra: Build strong long-term relationships; Build a reliable product and Back-up the product for its life-span. I like your analogy of a family business, but I think we’re more than that; we are an industry-centric business that puts a lot back into the sector, which I believe is the duty of any business that makes its living from the turf industry. From a customer perspective, we like to think we are easy to do business with and have been working hard at this. We have some excellent people in the company, many of them working long hours to make this business a success, and yes, we like to promote from within. The biggest coup was obviously David’s appointment as president of Jacobsen. It’s not often a Brit moves to head an American business, but Textron recognised his ability in the turf care sector and put him into that role. And he hasn’t disappointed. GMé In the 17 years that you have worked for Ransomes Jacobsen, what would you say has been your one, standout memory? AP That is really hard to pin-down with so many good business and personal highlights to draw on, but I think our ’Orange Everywhere’ campaign at the GIS in San Diego 2013 has to take it. It blew me away, and gave me a strong feeling that the next few years for Jacobsen are going to be pretty special. GMé
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ryder cup 2014
Ryder Cup to end a major year for Scottish independence Some would argue that 2014 could be the biggest year in Scotland’s history, with the country set to vote on independence in September and less than a week later, host the Ryder Cup. Scott MacCallum takes a patriotic look at how golf, North of the Border, may benefit.
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rydercup2014.com IRISH EYES European captain Paul McGinley (main picture) with the Ryder Cup that he hopes to defend this September when the 40th instalment of the biennial competition is staged at a hopefully snow-free Gleneagles
The upcoming few months have been eagerly awaited by one section of the United Kingdom for quite a while now. For Scotland, 2014 will go down as a stellar year in its long history with three monumentally important events occurring within the 12 month period. The independence referendum is obviously one, but for sports lovers the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, and Ryder Cup, at Gleneagles, mean that two of the largest sporting events on the world’s calendar take place north of Hadrian’s Wall. They will be a great opportunity to showcase the delights of Scotland – show that there is more to the country than shortbread and bagpipes – although, to be fair, there is some of that; that the country is not simply awash with cousins of drunken Rab C Nesbit… although the enjoyment of drink has always been important with the country’s greatest export being whisky. But more than that it gives the country a chance to show that it does possess some of the loveliest and most dramatic scenery to be found anywhere, as well as more than its fair share of warm hearted people. Visit Scotland have been hard at work ensuring that this magnificent opportunity to show off Scotland to the world is not going to be passed up, while at the same time many of the country’s golf clubs are also looking at ways of maximising the potential windfall that the Ryder Cup may bring.
One man who is well placed on what the Ryder Cup can do for the game of golf in Scotland is David Roy – the secretary manager of Crail Golfing Society, in the East Neuk of Fife, a few miles from the Home of Golf itself – and a leading figure in the Club Managers Association of Europe. “We will hopefully get a little bit of a spin off and we have already taken some tee-time bookings from tour operators for the week of the Ryder Cup,” said Roy, who has been at the Crail Golfing Society – the seventh oldest golf club in the world – for seven years. Roy said that he was sure that courses like Kingsbarns which are already magnets for golfing tourists are already fully booked for the week but that it would be down to the individual clubs to maximise whatever marketing opportunities there are. “How effective is the club at persuading hotel receptionists, tour operators and taxi drivers to tell clients that they should take a look at their club as they would enjoy the experience,” suggested Roy. “Based in Fife, and with Scotland hosting The Open three out of every five years, we are pretty well tuned into this,” continued Roy, who also said that he knew that every hotel in St Andrews was already fully booked. “There is no parking at Gleneagles itself. Ticket holders will drive to either Perth or Stirling and take the Park and Ride to the course, so it will take well
“We will hopefully get a little bit of a spin off and we have already taken some tee-time bookings from tour operators for the week of the Ryder Cup” twitter.com/gme
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ryder cup 2014
“What I really want is weather which is sensational for the three days and, you might find this strange, I sort of want the Americans to win”
VIEW FROM THE FIRST Of the three courses at Gleneagles, the Ryder Cup will be staged on the PGA Centenary course
over an hour for anyone who is staying in St Andrews to get there. Roy has long been a campaigner to bring more golfers to Scotland and is well aware of the three main myths which tend to hold people back. “I was at an exhibition in Denmark recently and it was the same three things which kept coming up. Golf in Scotland is expensive; it always rains in Scotland and it is very difficult to get a tee time. “I kept telling them that it wasn’t expensive but they read about Scotland in their own golf magazines where clubs like Kingsbarns, Turnberry, Muirfield and Carnoustie advertise and rounds are between £150 and £200 but I was able to give them a brochure for First in Fife which offered five games of golf for a total of £70. And these are courses which are not bad at all. “Have you ever played Kinghorn – a really good golf course, in super nick and the views are just sensational.” Coming from a man whose two courses, Balcomie and Craighead, offer some of the finest golf in Fife, along with their own fantastic views, that is indeed an endorsement. With so many fine courses tee times are not generally the issue that they are perceived to be though, admittedly, you would be foolish not to find room for your waterproofs when you come for a golfing holiday. Roy also has his finger on the pulse of the Visit Scotland strategy towards attracting golfers to Scotland. “We know that 250,000 applied for the 20,000 Ryder Cup tickets which were not being sold through tour operators
24 | GMé February 2014
and we know that 80 per cent of those people live in the south east of England. The numbers from continental Europe and the USA were much smaller. “So it is my suspicion that the vast majority will already have visited Scotland to play golf whether it be on business trips or so-called once in a lifetime trips to St Andrews. I say that because I rarely meet someone from the south east who has yet to make their first trip to Scotland.” The experiences of the last two European Ryder Cup matches have shown differing benefits to come to Ireland and Wales respectively. “In Ireland some of the well known clubs really ramped up their prices during the Ryder Cup. I heard of prices of up to €900 for a single round, although, that did include food,” he said with a hint of irony. “So the advice which has come through is not to exploit the visitors because of the legacy that the Irish position left which did far more harm than good. I’ve spoken to a lot of tour operators and a lot of American visitors were very unhappy about it. Even the Irish themselves realise that they got it wrong.” Following the Celtic Manor Ryder Cup four years ago, and despite the awful weather that blighted the matches, Roy has found that Wales, and in particular the fine links courses like Royal Porthcawl and Pyle and Kenfig, are now included on the itineraries of visiting American golfers. “I think the tour operators are conscious of their own reputations and,
of course, if you are carrying a massive premium in terms of price it does put on extra pressure to ensure that you deliver,” added Roy. “If tour operators are charging $3,500 for a 15 day trip the bus which picks them up must be of a high standard; it must be on time every day; the hotels must be of a high quality with all the facilities expected from a luxury trip and the golfers won’t expect to be met by grumpy members, unhappy that they can’t get on their own course.” Roy is very aware that golf club members are often reluctant to embrace visiting parties and is always keen to show the benefits that the incoming revenue brings. “It is good to have a tangible benefit to show for the inconvenience that giving tee times over to visitors brings. It could be a shiny new greens mower, or a new shoe cleaner or ball washer. “If the money is simply sunk into club funds, or goes towards an irrigation system which are big investments but which golfers don’t see any up front benefit, it doesn’t work. You’ve got to have something you can show off in a picture in the Club Newsletter.” But more than just for Crail, Roy is hopeful that a stunning Ryder Cup will produce some excellent long term benefits to golf in Scotland as a whole. “What I really want is weather which is sensational for the three days and, you might find this strange, I sort of want the Americans to win,” said Roy, with an obvious eye on what an American feel good factor would bring to the Home of Golf. GMé
P R E F E R R E D S U P P L I E R
la cala resort
Keeping your nerve in Andalucía Even during the tough times, Marbella has remained a favourite among European golfers. Mark Alexander visits an Andalusian resort which has resisted cutting its prices and is now well placed for better times ahead.
“If we dropped the price, we could not maintain the resort because a golf resort is very expensive to maintain. With all the competitors we have in this area and in other countries, the only possibility was to increase the quality.” SIX OF THE BEST The stunning sixth hole on the Campo America course
Marbella is the spiritual home of Europe’s travelling golfers. With its chic promenades and glistening yachts, this former fishing town has become an icon of luxurious ex-pat living, with a golf course never far away. Golf in Marbella is an eclectic mix of resort and trophy courses spanning every genre and catering to all budgets. The luxury end features some of the country’s best with the likes of Valderrama, Sotogrande and Las Brisas vying for top spot. There are also convenient hotel layouts and lavish routings with stunning sea views. All are playable 12 months of the year and, not surprisingly, competition is fierce. Nestling in the foothills of the Sierra de Ojén, La Cala Resort is only 20 minutes from Marbella and 30 minutes from Malaga International Airport. La Cala’s three 18-hole championship
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courses hug the varied topography creating dramatic golf holes that twist and turn through canyons and gullies. As you drive up through the property towards the clubhouse, glimpses of these compelling holes quicken the golfing pulse. Up close, they are no less impressive with greens meticulously manicured and fairways beautifully cut to emphasise the challenge that lies ahead. The immaculate presentation is a deliberate strategy employed by the resort to offset testing times for the Spanish tourism industry. Unlike other courses in the region, La Cala is putting its money on quality rather than cutbacks. “The industry has dropped a lot,” says Noemí Romăn, the resort’s commercial director. “The last two years have been very difficult for the Costa del Sol and this is
one of the reasons why we changed our strategy.” Romăn arrived at La Cala two years ago initially to work on the property side of the business, but with a background in hotels, tourism and e-commerce, it wasn’t long before she became part of a wider transformation of the resort that included new heads of departments and, more importantly, a focus on quality. No where was this felt more than on the golf courses. “We have competitors in Portugal and Turkey where you can play golf very cheaply,” she explains. “Our strategy has been to maintain the quality of the golf course and increase the quality of the hotel while maintaining the price, and it seems to be working.” She continues: “If we dropped the price, we could not maintain the resort because a golf resort is very expensive
VIEW FROM THE TOP The 16th green on the Campo America course – a short par 3 over the water
to maintain. With all the competitors we have in this area and in other countries, the only possibility was to increase the quality. The decision was taken a year and half ago and we started implementing it last year.” The first course was opened at La Cala in 1991 (Campo Asia, formerly the South Course). Campo America (formerly the North Course) was opened a year later with the 107-bedroom hotel welcoming guests in 1997. A third course (Campo Europa) was opened in 2005 with all 54 holes resulting from the vision of Cabell Robinson. Shortly after, La Cala Resort had the distinction of obtaining a Guinness World Record when it hosted the largest one-day golf competition in 2007 which attracted 614 players. Since then times have been tough, but like the rest of Spain, La Cala enjoyed
a welcome return to form in 2013 with revenues up by ten per cent across the board. Romăn says she wants to better this by five per cent this year and has set targets for repeat business at 30 per cent and 40 per cent by 2015. She says securing business from existing clients is easier than attracting new ones. “It is very difficult to attract new clients,” she says. “You have to spend a lot of money on marketing and commercial activities. It is easier to maintain existing clients by spending money on improving the experience when they are here at the resort.” This emphasis on improving the on-site experience has manifested itself in a new restaurant, revised menus and free bus transfers to the beach. It also resulted in 45 hotel rooms being refurbished last year and a further 25 receiving a facelift this year.
The message is clear – to maintain high standards, there is no substitute for spending some cash. At the heart of this approach is the maintenance of the golf courses. As Romăn explains, around two per cent of the resort’s annual income is invested into the upkeep of the courses and about 15 per cent of the greenkeeping machinery is upgraded every year. Typically 39 greenkeepers look after the place although this tally increases during the high seasons which extends from February to May and September to November. But while La Cala’s commitment to maintaining standards is evident from Romăn’s impassioned views and the immaculate presentation of the courses, it may not be shared by other Spanish courses and resorts. “Some are investing, but not a lot,” she says.
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la cala resort
“My advice is to maintain the quality because it is easier to sell the Costa del Sol to tourists if they know and we know they will have a good time. People who play golf are willing to pay a little bit more to come here”
TIME FOR SOME REFRESHMENTS The clubhouse on the Campo America course
MORE THAN JUST GOLF Experiences such as trekking to the nearby mountains, bike trips and horse riding are also available
“Some can’t because the economy in Spain isn’t very good and some banks aren’t providing finance. So how do they raise funds? They drop their prices, but this is not the way forward because ultimately you devalue your product.” While her views apply to the situation in Spain, they open up a much wider debate about the contradictory pressures of managing a resort or any golf business for that matter during a downturn while investing for the future. She continues: “If they don’t invest soon, it will be a problem in the future because if the prices continue to drop and the product does not improve, the whole of the Costa del Sol will be devaluated,” she warns.
“My advice is to maintain the quality because it is easier to sell the Costa del Sol to tourists if they know and we know they will have a good time. People who play golf are willing to pay a little bit more to come here because they know they will have a good experience. For a region it is easier to do that together,” said Romăn. She sites a number of neighbouring resorts that are equally committed to maintaining quality, but these views are certainly not universally shared. A quick tour of the courses in and around Marbella show varying degrees of attention paid to the upkeep of tees, greens and fairways. In fact, La Cala’s pledge to maintain standards rather than
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slashing prices and compromising on greenkeeping, is the exception rather than the rule. “Some of the courses are realising they have to maintain their prices because if they don’t it is very difficult to maintain a good service and a good quality course,” she says. While this has always been the case, it is especially true as Europe is slowly starting to shows signs of limping out of an extended period of steady growth and austerity. As golfers once again regain the financial confidence to play in the sunshine, the last thing they want to see is pot-marked greens and patchwork fairways. At La Cala, you’ll see neither. GMé
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The Golf Business Forum is the leading annual meeting place for the golf industry. Over 250 delegates from over 40 countries, coming from all sectors of the industry, will join us in Abu Dhabi marking the 11th edition of the annual event and the inaugural event to be sponsored by HSBC, one of the world’s largest financial institutions and a major supporter of golf worldwide. The programme will focus around key industry sectors including Innovation, Performance, Tourism, Communication, Sustainability, Leadership and The Sport of Golf. Speakers, presentations and focus groups will not only be from the leaders of golf’s great businesses, but will also incorporate innovators and respected voices from outside of the industry. Venue: The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa PREMIER PARTNERS
Date: April 28 – 30, 2014 For more information, and to register, please visit www.golfbusinessforum.com SPONSORS
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vat test case
TAXING ISSUES The long-running case of HMRC v Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club came to ahead just before Christmas
VAT... More taxing than ever Last December, HMRC lost its long-running VAT appeal in the European Court of Justice against Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club. Scott MacCallum asks what happens next. Drive into the car parks of a couple of neighbouring golf clubs this week and the chances are that you might not notice much difference between the two. Both might have attractive clubhouses which do mean bacon rolls; both might have well stocked Pro Shops with staff willing to iron out the kinks in your swing; both might have well maintained practice facilities and putting greens, so you can warm up, before heading off to the first tee where, after a nervous cough and succession of practice swings, you give it your best shot. However, there may be a massive difference between those two, on the face of it, very similar golf clubs. A long running appeal to the European Court of Justice by Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club against Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was recently upheld, which means that private members clubs will not be liable
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to pay 20 per cent VAT on visitor green fees. Annual subscriptions had already been exempted from the tax. Bridport & West Dorset, along with tax advisers KPMG, had brought the case against HMRC a number of years ago, arguing that, as not-for-profit organisations, members’ clubs should not be liable for 20 per cent VAT on visitor green fees. EU judges ruled in favour of the club at the end of last year. While many clubs are rejoicing in this victory it has left many questions still unanswered and created a schism between members’ clubs and proprietary owned clubs. The reason for this is that proprietary owned golf clubs must continue to pay VAT on both members’ subscriptions and green fees, which means that the cost to either the club or the golfer are 20 per cent higher for the proprietary club than at the members’ club, which could just
be that club next door and the one in direct competition for green fees. Perhaps the most vocal campaigner on the matter is Vivien Saunders, founder of the Golf Club Owners Association. “The claims that the golf clubs are making should fall under ‘unjust enrichment’,” said Saunders, who owns Abbotsley Golf Club, in Cambridgeshire. “It is the consumer who has paid the VAT and it is the consumer who will not be getting the VAT back, so it clearly falls under ‘unjust enrichment’. There is no way that these golf clubs should be getting this refund,” said Saunders, who has been lobbying AGCO members to write to their MPs in a bid to stop HMRC paying out the claims. Through a Freedom of Information request, Saunders learned that the Bridport & West Dorset case had a further 357 clubs standing behind it and that the total amount of refund could
vat test case HEADQUARTERS Officials based at HM Revenue & Customs will be looking closely at how golf clubs reimburse the golfers who overpaid the VAT
“Some of the bigger clubs could be receiving as much as £2 million back while the average will be around £300,000. Just think what that will do to the proprietary clubs which are competing with them.”
reach £115.4 million, with interest on top of that figure. “Some of the bigger clubs could be receiving as much as £2 million back while the average will be around £300,000. Just think what that will do to the proprietary clubs which are competing with them,” added Saunders, who also stated that the AGCO’s website agco.org.uk carried draft letters so that golfers could write to clubs to reclaim their VAT money. “If this is allowed to go through it would spell financial disaster for many proprietary owned golf clubs. We are currently attempting get an injunction to prevent HMRC paying the repayments,” she revealed. Sheila Nutt, whose family built and run The Oaks Golf Club and Spa, near Bubwith, in East Yorkshire, said that she felt the ruling was particularly unfair to proprietary golf clubs like theirs. However, due to the manner in which they ran the club she felt that any damage would be reduced. “We reinvest everything back into the club, whether that be machinery, the clubhouse and spa, or the course itself, so we are able to reclaim our VAT,” she explained. “We run a committee structure here at The Oaks so there is very little differ-
ence, if any, in the way we run to that of a members’ club, so the ruling to treat one type of golf club differently to another seems strange.” The feeling from the members’ club fraternity was one of understanding that proprietary golf clubs would feel upset by the ruling. However the opinion was that members’ clubs were not for profit organisations, whereas golf club owners had the opportunity to take money out of the business when they had a good year. However, it may not be all over yet as a spokesman for HMRC said that the appeal process had still to be finalised. “While the guidance from the European Court to the Upper Tier Tribunal cannot be appealed by HMRC, there may still be matters for the Tribunal to consider in applying that guidance to the case in question,” said Michel Rubini of HMRC. HMRC does admit that it will be looking closely at the extent to which golf clubs are going to reimburse the players who paid the green fees and the extent to which repayments might be restricted to avoid unjust enrichment. If someone feels that they have been overcharged, they should discuss the matter directly with the club or clubs in question.
That may be easier to say than to prove and the general consensus was that the clubs would retain the reclaimed money and would use it for the betterment of the facility. Advice to members’ clubs was to invest directly into the golf club, rather than pay a dividend to their members. One benefit is that it could well mean an increase in the number of major projects at golf clubs up and down the country which would help kick start the golf industry after a difficult few years. Members’ clubs would also have to remain mindful of the fact that while it may look as though a windfall is coming its way, the change in VAT partial except status would mean the club will not be entitled to reclaim as much VAT as was previously the case. While the European Union ruling has undoubtedly moved the case forward it would take a very brave man, or woman, to claim that the final “i” had been dotted or “t” crossed, but the stakes are high for each interested party. A business boosting bonus to the members’ clubs; a huge financial handicap for proprietary owned clubs, or the chance of reclaiming a fifth of a green fee from rounds of golf played over the last nine years. If, of course, the golfers can prove it! GMé
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Carlsson making his mark at Lumine Golf & Beach Club
Aidan Patrick chats with Lumine Golf & Beach Club general manager, Calle Carlsson about building on the success of IGTM, and looks back at what was a benchmark year in 2013 for the Troon managed Spanish golf facility. In November 2013 international tourism suppliers, buyers and media were witness to the vision and passion of Calle Carlsson, who not only helped mastermind and steward the most successful edition of the IGTM to date, but has also developed Lumine Golf & Beach Club into one of Europe’s fastest growing destinations – accumulating numerous industry awards along the way. A former Challenge Tour professional, Carlsson initially moved across to the management side in 2004 to cut his cloth as director of golf & leisure at Stella di Mare Resort in Egypt.
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Following two and a half years there, followed by a three-year tenure at Mirage City in Cairo, the charismatic Swede was approached by Lumine Golf & Beach Club in 2010 to take over the reins. “I completely bought into the potential of the resort and the owners’ vision to turn it into one of Europe’s most sought after golf destinations,” commented Carlsson. “It was a great challenge on all levels and coupled with the opportunity to work alongside such a respected organisation as Troon, it was a job I couldn’t refuse.”
Carlsson was quick to fit into his new role and immediately set about opening the eyes of tour operators and consumers across Europe to the all-round appeal of Lumine Golf & Beach Club. “With world-class course conditioning, a diverse range of accommodation options in close proximity, accessibility via two international airports and a region blessed with a whole host of cultural and leisure attractions, it was only a matter of getting the word out there.” From the outset Carlsson made his intentions clear, employing a specialist
lumine.com THE HILLS ARE ALIVE An aerial view of the 18th green on the Hills Course, and below, the 10th.
“It was a great challenge on all levels and coupled with the opportunity to work alongside such a respected organisation as Troon, it was a job I couldn’t refuse.”
marketing agency to heighten awareness of Lumine amongst avid golf travellers in key target markets around Europe. This plan, along with showcasing the facility via a series of high-profile international events, including European Tour School and PGAs of Europe Four Ball Championship in addition to creating a friendly, no dress code atmosphere, have been integral to the success of Carlsson’s strategy. Carlsson is quick to point out that Spain still remains the number one travel destination for visitors from the UK, France, Germany and Scandinavian markets – all of which continue to grow year-on-year at Lumine. “We’ve had particular success with the traditionally strong markets in recent years, including growing interest from British golfers and our longer term stays
from Scandinavians during the winter months are absolutely thriving. “We have also become the unofficial winter training base of the Austrian, Danish and Finnish National elite squads. All of this would not have been possible without a lot of hard work and dedication from everyone involved.” In July last year the club announced increased year-on-year international tour operator rounds up by 254 per cent for same period in 2012 (Jan – June), a feat that was even more impressive given the European market was down between ten and 15 per cent, year-on-year. Carlsson, in part, attributes this growth to Lumine’s multidimensionality. “We have such a diverse product to shout about. I have no doubt the reason our packages are gaining traction is the additional leisure experiences available on
top of the 45-holes of championship golf that allow guests to tailor their holiday. “This was certainly evident in October when we recorded a milestone 400 rounds in one day. We are under no illusion that it remains a tough time in the golf travel market, but we are focussed on presenting world-class conditioned courses as well as delivering a memorable experience with great value for money for all those who visit.” After two years of steady growth, Carlsson along with the support of his owners and the region’s tourist boards felt the time was right to shout to the world about the Costa Daurada’s untapped potential as a golfing destination. After a rigorous selection process it was announced in November 2012 that their bid to host IGTM had won over the
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PLAYING TO THE CAMERAS Carlsson (in the red trousers) with industry colleagues at IGTM promoting Costa Daurada
“The man of the moment, Calle Carlsson, and his team have done a tremendous job this week with the support of Costa Daurada, Catalunya and Turespaña.”
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selection panel. “The announcement was a historic moment for the region and couldn’t have been possible without the unwavering support of our owners, Mediterránea and the commitment of all of our partners,” added Carlsson proudly. “What it gave us was a unique platform upon which to showcase our magnificent region to the industry, demonstrate our unrivalled variety of golf, leisure and cultural attractions whilst cementing strategic business relationships.” The 4,000 person capacity PortAventura Convention Centre formed the base for official proceedings during the show whilst region’s contemporary accommodation, PortAventura Theme Park, championship golf courses and Mediterranean cuisine were also showcased to tour operators via a series of extra-curricular activities and a pre-event FAM trip. IAGTO chief executive, Peter Walton was quick to praise the collective efforts of everyone involved: “The man of the moment, Calle Carlsson, and his team have done a tremendous job this week with the support of Costa Daurada, Catalunya and Turespaña. “I have no doubt that the seamless organisation of the largest golf tourism event in history will lead directly to a
dramatic and immediate increase in golf travel to the region.” So what lies ahead for Carlsson and his team in the wake of such a landmark year? Well, only days after I sat down with Carlsson he was up on stage accepting, not one, but two awards at the annual Troon Leadership Conference in Arizona in recognition of his extraordinary efforts across the year, increasing rounds by 13.5 per cent and growing total green fees by 27 per cent. “This accolade is for every single member of my team, whose collective support has been instrumental in us achieving such fantastic results across the board,” he said. “We will certainly be continuing this momentum in 2014. The PGAs of Europe Fourball Championship returns for a third year and from February 21 to March 2 we will host the Nordea Tour’s inaugural Winter Series over the Lumine Hills and Lakes courses.” Beyond 2014, Carlsson’s plan is to continue to diversify in order to be less dependable on traditional markets and grow Lumine’s appeal in emerging markets. The golf industry will certainly be watching the progress closely at this Spanish gem of a golf resort. GMé
OUT OF THE ORDINARY
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golf batteries OUT OF JUICE An all too often sight for golf course owners and operators... a flat battery on a golf car
An Easy way to keep your fleet topped-up Scott MacCallum reports on a new golf battery which is set to revolutionise the way clubs use their trolley and buggy fleets. The regular weekend routine for many golfers includes a shave; followed by a shower; a vigorous two minutes with the electric toothbrush; a quick check of emails on the tablet while listening to the radio over breakfast; a check of the time on the wrist watch; a phone call ahead to check that the golf course is open; a short drive to the club before unloading the powered caddie car and making sure the course is up to date on the distance measuring device. Sound familiar(ish)? Well, outside of the shower every one of those nine actions requires a battery to make it happen and shows just how vital batteries have become in modern life, and how much progress is dependent on the development of battery technology. One man who knows more than most about batteries is Trevor Horner, managing director of Easystart, which specialises in supplying batteries for all applications and, in particular, golf. “Batteries are becoming more and more important in society and in applications which would never have been considered 20 years ago,” explained Horner, who has run the family-owned business, based in Corby, since 1996. “The mobile phone is the classic example, not just with the handsets but with every one of the signalling stations dotted over the countryside, which carry batteries, just in case the station loses its mains power.” When it comes to golf, Horner and his team supply batteries for many different
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applications, including small buggies – which normally use two 80 amp per hour batteries – to the powered trolleys, an area in which one new battery has got him particularly excited. “We have a new battery which should be the ideal solution to what has been a problem with some of the smaller golf trolley batteries. The 18 amp per hour battery, which has traditionally been used on many of the imported trolleys, has, in my opinion, always been too small for the job that it was being asked to do. “A lot of testing is done in laboratory conditions, but take a trolley out and put a bag of clubs on it, over a hilly course, in the hands of a golfer who might be going from one side of a hole to another and the existing battery was simple not man enough,” said Horner, who explained that the standard sized larger battery was a 26 amp per hour battery favoured by many of the larger manufacturers. “Over the last five years our supplier, Haze, has been developing a 26.4 amp per hour battery in the same size case as the old 18 amp per hour version and this should overcome a lot of the problems that the smaller battery has been having. We are very excited about this new battery,” added Horner. The types of batteries now available can be particularly confusing for the uninitiated with AGM (Absorbent Glass Matt); SLA (Sealed Lid Acid); GEL and Lithium batteries offering a range of choice which has never previously been available.
“I don’t believe that club managers or pros would know where to go to get a replacement battery. Some would, no doubt, return to the supplier of the buggies, who would supply them... but at a price.”
“We supply all the different varieties and can see the benefits of each,” said Horner, who is the sole importer of both Dyno and Haze batteries. “There has been a big swing towards lithium in recent years, because of their weight and their speed of recharge, but they are expensive and you get no warning when they are ready to cut out. They generally come with five-year limited warranties but, because lithium batteries are so new on the market, these are yet to be proven. “Added to this they are not recyclable. It may be better and more cost effective to replace one of the other types of battery every year.” The main criteria for a battery is how many times you can discharge and recharge it before it reaches the end of its useful life. “A rough guide to a battery’s performace is that if you discharge an AGM battery down to 50 per cent you’ll get 550 recycles, but if you discharge a GEL battery down to 50 per cent you’ll get 650 cycles,” said Horner, who went on to explain that an AGM battery must be recharged as quickly as possible after use otherwise it starts to sulphate which means losing capacity which it will never regain.
One area where Horner sees commercial opportunities is with the replacement of batteries for those golf clubs which have fleets of rental buggies. “There are some clubs which have large fleets of buggies for rent and many of these have looked to extend the length of the lease agreements from three years to four or five. The leases exclude batteries and these are more likely to fail in the fourth or fifth years so the golf clubs will be looking to replace these batteries. “I don’t believe that club managers or pros would know where to go to get a replacement battery. Some would, no doubt, return to the supplier of the buggies, who would supply them... but at a price. “A good analogy would be to compare a battery with a car tyre. Both wear down and eventually need replacing, but you don’t tend to go back to the supplier of the car for new tyres. You go to a specialist tyre company. That should be the same with batteries and we are in that marketplace.” With electric cars becoming more and more prevalent Horner is cautious about how quickly this will develop. “Personally I don’t think the technology is there yet and until you get to the
position where you can drive up to a station and swap your drained battery for a recharged one which will take you another 400 miles, it will not be a feasible proposition. “People will just now wait around for their own batteries to recharge. For it to work all the motor manufacturers would have to get together to produce a uniform battery and that would be extremely difficult.” But Trevor sees no such obstacles in the golf business where battery power will continue to play an increasingly important role. But does he have any advice for golfers, which could reduce the chances of poor old golfers having to push their trolleys up the hill to the final hole as a result of their battery running out on the 16th fairway? “You must let your battery go through the full recharging process and not stop it when you think it’s nearly full. I’ve seen it so many times with golfers who are impatient to get going and stop the recharging process before it’s complete and it really affects the long term life of the battery.” A life without batteries is one which is now pretty difficult to envisage and we all welcome the progress that is being made with regard to battery life. GMé
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• Wet deep cycle Batteries in 6, 8, & 12 volt from Dyno and Yuasa. • Sealed AGM Batteries in 6, 8, & 12 volt from Haze. • Gel filled sealed Batteries in 6, 8, & 12 volt from Haze.
We provide a complete selection of Batteries and Chargers for all Golf Buggies and Trollies We also have a full range of related products including connectors, covers and carry straps for all Buggies and Trollies. Delivery is usually next day to mainland UK. Our trained staff also offer technical backup and professional advice. All our products have full 12 months manufacturers warranty
Tel. 01536 203030 Fax. 01536 203131 www.easystartbatteries.co.uk
Pictures courtesy of Rutland Water Golf Club
golf development The golf construction industry has been through some tough times over the past few years, but as Scott MacCallum writes, a new company has emerged which has big plans to break new ground across Europe.
Nelson expects Vecchio to do his duty
“One of our greatest strengths is our ability to work alongside architects”
STARTING OUT Nelson & Vecchio’s first construction project at Himmerland Golf & Spa in Denmark
At a time when many companies within the golf industry are emerging from the equivalent of a black hole rubbing their eyes and making a head count to see how many are left standing, one company, which launched at the height, or should it be depths, of the recession can look back with satisfaction at what it has achieved, and forward to a very bright future. Greenmakers by Nelson & Vecchio was launched in 2010 as an international golf course construction and development company, working throughout Europe and the Mediterranean countries. Since then they have already built up a portfolio of projects and satisfied customers in Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Germany among others. Launched by David Nelson, a Scot who had spent the previous six years working
for legendary American golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones Jr, and Gaetano Vecchio, a highly regarded Italian entrepreneur with a strong influence in the golf construction sector within Italy, Nelson & Vecchio was born. “Gaetano was looking for a business partner within the industry, while the recession had meant that my future work with Robert Trent Jones was going to be in Asia or South America which didn’t suit my family life, so we got together and set up the company,” explained Nelson. The company’s first contract was an 18-hole renovation at the Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort, in Denmark, working alongside Philip Spogárd, of Spogárd & Vander Vaart, and the success of this work has been such that the course will be hosting the Made in Denmark tour-
nament on the PGA European Tour this August. “One of our greatest strengths is our ability to work alongside architects,” said Nelson, whose work at Himmerland resulted immediately in another contract at a neighbouring course for a 27-hole renovation. There followed an 18-hole construction of a seaside course in Parnu Bay, Estonia, while Nelson was speaking to GMé from the site of another 12-hole project in Germany. “We’ve been extremely busy and most of the work has come via word of mouth,” he revealed. Nelson puts much of the success down to the standards that were drilled into him while working with Robert Trent Jones and what he learned from dealing with other contractors at the time.
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“We’ve actually walked away from a number of projects which we felt hadn’t been thought through well enough and we took the view that we didn’t want our company, or the client to get into trouble.”
ON A BREAK David Nelson taking a break during construction work
“While working with Robert Trent Jones, and a host of different contractors throughout Europe, I could see what was needed from a good contractor and how we could provide a better service to the architect. Our aim, as a company, is to solve problems, be honest and reliable and understand the vision of the architect. “You don’t build good golf courses in an office. Great golf courses are built out in the field; it’s as simple as that. When we sign a contract, every aspect is covered under it and we are committed to fulfilling it in full. “From there on, it is all about putting the best possible product into the ground,” explained Nelson, who knows a thing or two about good golf courses as he is a member of Turnberry. Having the confidence to do this comes from being well prepared and helping the client at as early a stage as possible. “While with Robert Trent Jones, I was involved in many of the pre-planning aspects of a golf course. Our business development manager, Kai Hulkkonen, is the same, and we know that the better prepared we, and our client, can be, the more it reduces the potential for errors come construction time,” said Nelson. “We’ve actually walked away from a number of projects which we felt hadn’t been thought through well enough and we took the view that we didn’t want our company, or the client to get into trouble.”
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Operating a pan-European golf construction company does lend itself to logistical issues, none more so than transporting heavy plant and machinery over many miles. “We have a base in Ayrshire, and also have satellite offices in Italy and Poland but, while we do hire some of the larger equipment on site, we still do have to transport much of our specialist equipment around the continent. “When I make purchases I don’t buy anything which can’t fit inside a Euro trailer, or a 40-foot container. For example all my heavy equipment can be broken down and transported in shipping containers, which we then use for storage in our construction base on site. Everything has to be utilised to the full,” explained Nelson, adding that keeping costs to a manageable level is the only way to compete with more locally based contractors. With a current full-time management staff of four and varying number of key staff contracted to projects, Nelson places great emphasis on staff development, as he appreciates the important role that his team has in ensuring that the philosophy and ethos of the company is always at the forefront, irrespective of who is delivering it. “I am very hands on and spend a lot of time on site but I can’t be at more than one place at a time so we are investing heavily in people – probably as much as we do in machinery – because if you
have the right team and have the core philosophy as a company it should follow through in each aspect of our business. “So far we’ve managed to achieve that by bringing in some really talented young people and then pairing them on jobs with some of the more senior guys. “We’ve done this with site managers and shapers and now we’ve just started taking on more irrigation people as well with the aim of putting them through some courses so that they can develop their careers and we can further improve service to our clients.” Looking to the future, Nelson is keen that within five years they are recognised as one of the bigger contractors in Europe and one which is known for a professional and fact-based approach to technical challenges and honest and reliable construction service. “Like everybody, we love new builds, but we really also like the challenge of renovations and I think that’s where we are at our best, so I believe the next five years will see us focus more on renovation projects.” It would appear that a company which was born during the recession is particularly well placed to thrive as we come out of it. For Nelson & Vecchio, the goal of becoming one of the established players in the very competitive game that is golf course construction within the next five years is very much attainable. GMé
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CAMPAIGN LAUNCH Surrounded by his family, Bernard Gallacher launches his defibrillator campaign at Wentworth
Gallacher breathes life into Defibrillator Campaign After suffering a cardiac arrest last year, Bernard Gallacher has pledged to install a defibrillator at every golf club in the UK as David Bowers reports. A quick Google news search, with just three words – defibrillator, golf and club – before writing this feature, revealed five local newspaper reports of these potentially life-saving devices being installed at UK clubs in the space of just a couple of weeks Members at Brookfield GC, in Nantwich, raised the funds for theirs; in the Peak District, Chapel-en-le-Frith GC’s defibrillator was funded jointly by the captain’s charity and the British Heart Foundation. In the north-east, charity North East Hearts & Goals funded the equipment, as well as providing ambulance service training to Close House; at the opposite end of the country, in Brixham, a golf day raised sufficient funds to provide a machine for Churston GC; and housebuilder Barratt Homes West Midlands funded a defibrillator at Redditch GC, in honour of a former employee and member.
Sadly, it also threw up a couple of stories which mentioned how a defibrillator could have saved the lives of two people who collapsed while out playing their favourite sport. It’s unlikely he would have seen the local media coverage but news that clubs are installing defibrillators will be hailed by former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher OBE, who is fronting a campaign to install a life-saving defibrillator in every UK golf club. The 64-year-old Scot suffered a lifethreatening cardiac arrest as he was about to speak at a dinner reception in Aberdeen, in August, but his life was saved thanks to the prompt actions of other guests, the availability of an automated external defibrillators (AED) and early CPR treatment at the venue. However, one quote in the story from the Redditch Standard, which wouldn’t delight the two-time Dunlop Masters champion, came from club captain
Tom Sheldon who said: “We are one of just three clubs out of 37 in the Worcestershire Union which have a defibrillator.” Just three, in a county the size of Worcestershire. So, be careful where you choose to play your golf... It’s figures like these that persuaded Gallacher to link with Arrhythmia Alliance – the heart rhythm charity – to launch the Bernard Gallacher Defibrillator campaign, which he spearheads with his wife, Lesley. He said: “I consider myself incredibly fortunate that a defibrillator was on hand in Aberdeen to resuscitate me following my sudden cardiac arrest. But for that and the quick thinking and expertise of medical personnel in the room that night, I wouldn’t be here today. “Without early intervention, an individual has just a five per cent chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest, so Lesley and I felt it appropriate to try
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“Currently, just 30 per cent of golf clubs have a defibrillator and our stated aim is to try to raise awareness of the importance of having an AED close by in case of emergency”
THE GOOD WIFE Lesley Gallacher speaking at the launch
FIGHTING FOR HIS LIFE Footballer Fabrice Muamba undergoing emergency treatment on-pitch, after suffering a cardiac arrest
to ensure others are equally fortunate should they collapse in or around a golfing venue. “Currently, just 30 per cent of golf clubs have a defibrillator and our stated aim is to try to raise awareness of the importance of having an AED close by in case of emergency, and to increase that figure considerably by encouraging every club or driving range in the UK and Ireland to have at least one public-access defibrillator by the end of 2014. “Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time, and possibly on the golf course. We want to do whatever it takes to raise the level of awareness of defibrillators and to get them into more clubs around the country.” It’s a hugely worthwhile campaign, yet defibrillators are not a new thing – as long ago as September 1998 Golf Management éurope carried a feature encouraging clubs to invest for the benefit of members, staff and visitors. In the intervening period, very few have followed the advice and it’s taken a brush with death for a high-profile golfer for the subject to hit the headlines again. Nearly 200 such devices have already been installed as part of the Arrhythmia
Alliance’s ‘Hearts and Goals’ campaign, launched by former Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a near-fatal cardiac arrest and collapsed on the pitch during the first half of an FA Cup tie at White Hart Lane in March 2012, when his heart stopped for more than an hour. Gallacher has issued a personal letter to every PGA professional in the country urging them and their clubs to organise fundraising golf tournaments. Money generated will go towards paying the costs of buying a defibrillator which costs, on average, just £1,200. And, to kickstart the campaign, the PGA has donated £10,000. Trudie Lobban MBE, founder and CEO of Arrhythmia Alliance, said: “Bernard’s experience has shown the life-saving difference of early CPR and use of a defibrillator. We are delighted to join him and the PGA in this campaign for every golf club in the UK and Ireland to have their own device. “An estimated 100,000 people in the UK die each year from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). It kills more people than AIDS, breast cancer and lung cancer combined.
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“Golf clubs nationally serve more than four million people each year, but only a third currently have a defibrillator. ” One club quick to sign up was Shanklin & Sandown, on the Isle of Wight, led by captain Brian Porter who suffered a similar fate to Gallacher. He explained: “I was in South Africa on a golf holiday and had a heart attack ten minutes before I was due to go to the course and luckily the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital was just round the corner and I was saved.” Porter has organised a challenge week next month which will see men’s, ladies and seniors’ competitions plus other fundraising events culminating in the joint captains’ dinner at the end of the week. “The campaign is something I was keen to support. I know all of the golf club secretaries on the island and I’ve laid down the challenge to the other clubs to do likewise. “Our local newspaper has picked up on what we are doing and is supporting the event with editorial and hopefully we can raise funds to purchase a defibrillator and ideally get every club on the island to have the same.” GMé
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BAMBOO MOUNTAIN The 15th green with the imposing sight of the Bamboo mountain in the background
DINING IN STYLE Beau Champ, with its idyllic waterside setting, is one of three restaurants at the Four Seasons resort
Island paradise for Mister Blyth Well travelled and still hungry for success, Blyth Reid currently works for Four Seasons at the resorts only EMEA golf complex. Article by Michael Lenihan. Scotsman Blyth Reid looked out across the 18th fairway of the Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius at Anahita, sipped a strong coffee – to which he is very partial – and smiled the smile of a contented man. “I’m lucky that I’ve been able to turn a game I love into my business and career – what can be better than that…,” he smiled. Born in Galashiels, in 1971, the affable Reid has seen his career, like a ball on the links courses of which he is so fond, head off in a variety of directions. He started to learn his trade at Turnberry, where, in 1994, he was part of the team which hosted the Open Championship. “I started there in 1989, straight from school. I was quite interested in learning about the golf industry, and very fortunate that my then golf teacher, Derek Small who was based at Dunbar, suggested that I head over to Turnberry and speak with Bob Jameson. ‘He’ll give you a really good run through of what it takes to be a golf professional,’ he told me. “He arranged for me to see Mr Jameson, and I spent the whole day with him purely just to see what being a PGA professional would entail. “Mr Jamieson and I got on very well, he obviously liked me! He said ‘I’m not looking for anyone at the moment, but I really like you and I want you to start if you’re available next month. If you want
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a position, then it’s yours’. And that was on the bottom rung of nine assistants. “Mr Jamieson was a tough taskmaster. You had to work your way up from the bottom. And that was the best way. It was the responsibility of the assistants above you to teach the ones below. And it was a great way to learn. “Some years you might jump up a couple of rungs, and the odd year you might get slammed down one or two, due to them needing someone more qualified, but it was a good experience, and a great learning environment,” added Reid. “I met a lot of fantastic people and learned a lot of things, from teaching to shop merchandise, to club repairs and of course business in general. I was still obviously very keen on playing golf – I think all golf professionals still have this desire to play on tour. “Perhaps I didn’t have enough money or wasn’t quite good enough to risk it and go it alone right from the start. But I thought that was the best way of getting into the industry and keeping all of my options open.” And so it proved. Just two years after the visit of the Open Championship, he was as far removed from historic Scotland – in golfing terms at least – as was possible, having been seconded to coach business executives and local members of the Awali Golf Club
MISTER BLYTH Well respected by his staff at the Ernie Els designed Four Seasons Resort at Anahita, Blyth Reid is known simply as “Mister Blyth”
in Bahrain, all as part of his Turnberry tenure. After almost ten years at Turnberry, with wanderlust in his nostrils following his stint in Bahrain, Reid headed off to the Western Cape of South Africa where he was appointed head golf professional at the Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate, and was soon promoted to director of golf. But after four years in the sunshine, the lure of damp winters and the call of
waterproof clothing saw him return to the UK in an identical role at The Grove, in Hertfordshire, which was then the new kid on the Home Counties block. He was tasked with setting up the management of the new Kyle Phillips’ course which would open to some acclaim the following year, 2003, and also took on the responsibility for the completion of a Grade II listed clubhouse. Twelve years after playing a part in welcoming the world’s best golfers
to Turnberry, Reid once again found himself hosting a major event as The Grove welcomed the American Express World Golf Championships, won by Tiger Woods. Reid admitted: “Being a part of such major tournaments always gives you such a thrill; knowing that you are sharing in the action as it happens is something very special.” Ever keen to improve his CV and expand his experience, Reid was head-
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PRACTICE IN STYLE The academy complete with practice range, putting green and chipping area, and in the background, the Four Seasons resort adjacent to the Indian Ocean
“Anahita is right up there with the best of them, anywhere in the world – and I’ve visted a lot of good resorts around the world.”
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ing back to the Western Cape in 2006 as managing director for the Pezula Club, where he was responsible for all golf facilities, plus three restaurants and a number of other top sports facilities, including a full-sized cricket oval. And, when it came time to head off again for pastures new, Reid headed to the tropical climes of the Indian Ocean and Mauritius, where he now occupies the position of director of golf at Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius at Anahita, famed for its Ernie Els-designed layout. He explained: “This is the best role I’ve had in my career. Opening The Grove was very special and very exciting – being a unique project, building our golf course inside the M25… we always said that the resort was one of the most important resort openings in the country in the last 100 years or so. “But Anahita is right up there with the best of them, anywhere in the world – and I’ve visited a lot of good resorts around the world. And for a lot of reasons: the location, being on a tropical island helps a lot with all-year round great weather. A huge amount of detail has been put into this project to make it truly superb – the owners had so much vision and there were very few short cuts taken, if any. “The original plan was to be the best, and create a really world-class resort, and they’ve certainly achieved it. And, personally, I’m certainly enjoying the different way of life, the different cultures, and the lifestyle – it’s fantastic. “I don’t miss the UK too much. Obviously I miss my family, but coming from South Africa, it’s a natural stepping stone. I’ve never worked on a tropical island before, which is nice; the novelty hasn’t worn off yet! “There are challenges with it being on a smallish island though,” laughed Reid.
“Things do happen a little bit slower and there might not be the efficiency of life in a big city like London, for instance. “Generally most of the products are all imported, which has its downsides. But there are some local products, which are very special, and we still grow a lot of sugarcane and export the sugar produced. “We also make some of the best rum in the world here in Mauritius, and we’ve got tea and we’ve got manufacturing. The local merchants are very proud of what they do and how they do it.” Reid and I first sat chatting together when he took on his role at The Grove 11 years ago and in that time he has clearly grown, not just personally but also professionally, and in reputation. He still retains his dry sense of humour and now has two young daughters laying claim to his spare time... what there is of it. He explained: “I’m enjoying getting involved in other parts of the resort as well, which adds a different dimension to my day at work.” And when asked what his next step may be, Reid smiles and says: “I am in no rush to move on. I feel that I have a lot of growth opportunity to learn and take on more at Four Seasons. They are a great company to work for. However, if a new world class resort came about requiring involvement from day one, who knows. But it would have to be something exceptionally special. “I’ve been quite fortunate to work in some fantastic places, and you get quite spoilt with nice golf courses and beautiful weather… but never say never,” he smiled. For now, it’s Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius at Anahita which benefits from his skills and experience and, let’s face it, you couldn’t blame him for wanting to stay put for now. GMé
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“And here’s something really radical: why doesn’t somebody, somewhere, limit their course merely to junior golfers?”
Increasing the fun factor in golf has to be to the benefit of us all January’s PGA Show, in Orlando, saw the launch of the latest new idea to bring more people into the game of golf. It’s not a shortened version or the answer to cricket’s T20, as Powerplay Golf was dubbed when it was launched. Hack Golf is merely an initiative to get people’s input and ideas into what ails the sport currently and how it can be improved for generations to come. At the launch it was said that “we need to re-invigorate the golf experience to ensure the game continues to thrive in the 21st century. Designed as an open innovation and collaborative platform, Hack Golf brings together passionate golfers, interested non-golfers, and industry leaders – indeed, anyone with ideas and approaches to increase the fun factor in golf.” Not a solution per se then, merely a forum for sharing ideas, and you know what they say in marketing meetings: there’s no such thing as a bad idea. Well here’s one: make the game cheaper. I’m no Adam Smith, and economics is not my forte, but I work on the basis that one fourball at £200 is less than three fourballs at £100. If it’s half the price more people would participate surely? What’s more, if it was even cheaper for kids more would take up the sport and pay full membership fees later in life. And here’s something really radical: why doesn’t somebody, somewhere, limit their course merely to junior golfers? Do something so left-field that it makes people sit up and take notice. If it fails at least you’ve tried.
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YOUNG GUNS SNAG is an ideal way to introduce junior golfers to the game of golf
I’m no more Whitney Houston than I am Adam Smith, but I really do believe that children are our future. And golf’s future. Nurture them well and we won’t need to have initiatives to determine exactly where golf is, or isn’t, going wrong in the years ahead. GMé Many thanks to Graham Bradley, manager at Blankney GC, in Lincolnshire, who wrote to me after my last column offering ways to cheer me up. He asked: “Was this actually your ‘last word’ for the magazine as it seemed as if you were not in a particularly buoyant mood? Without checking I guess Portsmouth lost at the weekend.” I can’t recall when I wrote the column but I don’t need to check to guess that,
yes, Pompey probably did lose – unless the match was postponed. Graham went on, in a humorous vein, to encourage me to play golf on my own early in the morning. I’m not sure whether he was concerned for my mental wellbeing or merely that he wished to make sure my melancholy was not witnessed by or rubbed off on anybody else...
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