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GMĂŠ

On the cover...

With Wentworth as one of their many clients, MJ Abbott marks 50 years in business, with a reputation in golf built on family values

Inside...

ÂŁ6.50 golfmanagement.eu.com Issue 100 | February 2015

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

Tenniel Chu, group vice chairman of Mission Hills in China, is arguably one of the most influential individuals in world golf today


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contents

On the agenda february 2015 46

18

Tenniel Chu on a Mission

Tenniel Chu, vice-chairman of Mission Hills in China, takes his social and sporting responsibility as seriously as he does his balance sheet.

22

The Belfry Rejuvenated

The Belfry is enjoying a long-overdue revival under the watchful eye of its progressive and commercially-minded director of golf, Ian Knox.

26

GMé marks its centenary

33

On Course Foundation

With this issue of GMé marking our 100th edition, executive editor David Bowers takes a nostalgic look back at the early years of the magazine.

The On Course Foundation is an organisation set up to help wounded and injured service personnel get their loves back on track, with a little help from the golf industry.

22

36

Game, Set and Match

A unique golf facility, combining both golf and tennis, is set to open later this year in Hong Kong which will be designed by Nicklaus Design using entirely synthetic turf.

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

30

Publisher Executive editor Contributors Subscriptions

Michael Lenihan David Bowers Mark Alexander, Peter Dawson, Scott MacCallum, Aidan Patrick, Nicole Wheatley To ensure your regular printed copy of GMé, delivered six times per year, subscribe online at www.golfmanagement.eu.com View our library online at issuu.com/portman

ISSN 1368-7727. Printed by The Manson Group.

39 twitter.com/gme

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

It is assumed that any images taken from sources which are widely distributed, such as on the Internet, are in the public domain and are not subject to copyright. © 2015 Portman Publishing and Communications Limited.

portman publishing and communications

golfmanagement.eu.com | 3

GMé


GMé

from the publisher

“So to celebrate our 100th edition, I’m going to offer a controversial view: leave golf alone. Stop messing with it. It’s fine as it is.”

My conclusion after 100 issues... Stop messing with golf This issue of GMé marks a particular milestone for yours truly, as it’s the 100th edition of the magazine, originally entitled Golf Management Europe, that I first published in September 1997. I shall be raising a small glass of champagne in celebration, and my colleague, David Bowers – who worked on the very first issue 18 years ago – has taken a nostalgic look back at some of our earliest editions in a special feature which starts on page 26. One of the interesting topics he touches upon is the seemingly endless desire in golf to find a successful alternative to the game – in other words ‘shorter’ – so that people without the requisite attention span or available time can still get into the sport. Golf’s equivalent to Twenty20 cricket, or five-a-side football if you will. Golf Courts, PowerPlay Golf, Disc Golf, Golf Cross, Speed Golf and now Footgolf – they’ve all been tried with limited success. Some were gimmicks, ubiquitous for a couple of months and then never heard of again, others have, at least, maintained some form of longevity. So to celebrate our 100th edition, I’m going to offer a controversial view: leave golf alone. Stop messing with it. It’s fine as it is. There are plenty of nine-hole golf courses around, so if you can’t spare the time or just want a quick fix, play nine holes or head to the local driving range. If you’re lucky enough to live near one, head to a Top Golf centre.

4 | GMé February 2015

ON YOUR MARKS A Speed Golfer, complete with streamlined carry bag, gets ready for the off

I’m not convinced by the doom-mongers in golf. There may be fewer members around but the number of transient – or nomadic – golfers still seems to be rising. When I first started this magazine, those golfers I knew tended to be members at a club. Now, despite being a club member myself, most of the golfers I know do not play at one club. They move around; whether as the guest of a member somewhere or as a casual day visitor. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, why don’t we maximise the sport’s strengths: the etiquette, the sociability factor and the fact that golf can be played by young and old alike.

Elsewhere in the magazine you will read an interview I carried out with Mission Hills’ Tenniel Chu, who said: “Chinese parents like their children to learn discipline, respect, honesty and skills – and golf gives you that.” Maybe we need to target European parents who feel the same. GMé

Michael Lenihan lenihan@portman.uk.com


Setting the right course of action. That’s intelligent.

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GMé

mjabbott.co.uk

Hold the front page As MJ Abbott celebrates half a century in business this year, the company, which has a rich golfing heritage, can lay claim to working on some of the world’s finest golf courses.

“it was the start of the 1990s before the company ventured into golf, carrying out drainage work for the late Dave Thomas”

Cover sponsored by MJ Abbott (44) 01722 716361 enquiries@mjabbott.co.uk

6 | GMé February 2015

When Michael John Abbott started his business in 1965, he could not have imagined in his wildest dreams that it would grow into one of Europe’s leading golf contractors, fifty years hence. Nonetheless the company, which employs more than a hundred staff, now has an enviable reputation and a rich golfing heritage to back it up. Still very much a family-run business, son Jonathan Abbott, the current-day managing director said: “The early years were mainly about agriculture and drainage, and it was the start of the 1990s before the company ventured into golf, carrying out drainage work for the late Dave Thomas at Bowood in Wiltshire and Donnington Grove in Berkshire. “Further projects followed, including early ventures into Europe to carry out irrigation at Killarney in the Irish Republic and drainage at Gut Lärchenhof in Germany, eventually leading to a major golf construction project to complete the PGA Course at The Belfry, again working with Dave Thomas.” With a Ryder Cup venue on its cv, MJ Abbott was well placed to bid for more high profile projects, and a string of major construction projects followed throughout the next two decades, including Burhill New (Simon Gidman), The Grove (Kyle Phillips), The Carrick on Loch

Lomond (Doug Carrick), The Twenty Ten at Celtic Manor (European Golf Design), Rockliffe Hall (Hawtree), and Close House (Scott Macpherson). Significant remodelling and renovation projects completed during the same period include the Duke’s at St Andrews (Tim Liddy), the Torrance Course at Fairmont St Andrews (Gary Stephenson), Les Aisses near Orleans in France (Hawtree), and the West Course at Wentworth (Ernie Els Design), pictured above. MJ Abbott is also renowned for carrying out smaller projects for private and proprietary golf clubs, including bunker renovation, greens and tees reconstruction, and associated services such as drainage, water management and landscaping. The company has unsurpassed expertise in golf irrigation too, and has now installed well over a hundred irrigation systems across the UK and Europe, including six of the courses on the current Open rota and more than a quarter of the top 100 courses in Britain and Ireland. Michael Abbott can be very proud of what his company has achieved in its first fifty years, and its success looks well set to continue this year, and over the next fifty. GMé


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GMé

news

R&A’s decision to sell broadcast rights to Sky is met with widespread condemnation The R&A’s decision to agree a five-year deal with Sky to exclusively broadcast live the Open Championship from 2017 has seen both the game’s governing body and the BBC come in for stinging criticism from some of the game’s biggest names. The BBC, which has previously broadcast the tournament live, will now show a two-hour daily highlights package between 8 and 10pm, meaning that next year’s tournament will signal the end of what will have been a 61-year association between the BBC and the R&A. And that decision has provoked an angry response. Among those expressing their disappointment was the BBC’s Voice of Golf, veteran commentator Peter Alliss. He said: “Hand on heart, I can’t not criticise the BBC. They are far and away the R&A’s biggest television client, so why haven’t they said to them: ‘You know, we’re struggling against the financial might of Sky but why don’t we also cover some of the other events you run, like the Amateur Championship and the Boys Championship and the Walker Cup?’ “I don’t think there will be a golfer that won’t be bitterly disappointed at the news.” World number one Rory McIlroy said: “I guess it’s just the way it’s gone – money talks, you know,” and his Ryder Cup team-mate Lee Westwood was unequivocal in his reaction branding the move a ‘disgrace’.

He said: “I cannot believe the Open isn’t protected as one of the crown jewels – that is an absolute disgrace. If you look at the viewing figures for Sky compared to the BBC and you have to question it when the number of golfers are dwindling. “I wouldn’t have got into golf if it wasn’t for watching Nick Faldo win the Open in 1987. I would watch every minute of the coverage, and you want today’s kids to have the same opportunity. The BBC is doing golf no favours at all by letting the Open go.”

Full-time CEO for UKGCOA

Bush expands key role at Crown Golf

The UK Golf Course Owners Association (UKGCOA), the representative organisation for commercially run golf facilities in the UK, has appointed Andrew Lloyd-Skinner as its full-time chief executive officer. Having been the part-time chief executive of the UKGCOA for the past year and a half, Lloyd-Skinner officially took up his role on a full-time basis on January 1, 2015. Speaking of his appointment LloydSkinner said: “The UKGCOA is now recognised by golf’s governing bodies as the body that represents the interests of golf facility owners and operators, so is regularly consulted on all projects that may have an impact on the commercial interests of golf course operators. “I am delighted that I have been offered the opportunity to lead the UKGCOA through the exciting and changing times ahead for the golf industry and especially that I can now dedicate myself to the role on a full-time basis.”

8 | GMé February 2015

Rory McIlroy holds aloft the Claret Jug at Hoylake last summer

Mike Bush

Crown Golf, the UK’s largest golf club owner and operator, has appointed Mike Bush as group course manager across its portfolio of 38 golf courses at 25 separate facilities. The 39-year old master greenkeeper was previously course manager at the company’s flagship property, St Mellion International Resort; a role he took up in 2003. He will remain based at the Cornwall resort and will continue to manage the two European Tour courses there, although his new job will also see him regularly visit all of the group’s clubs.

Peter Dawson , chief executive of the R&A, defended the move and said: “Importantly, the new agreement will enable us to increase substantially our support for golf in the UK and Ireland. That our increased commitment to golf in both countries is to be supported by both Sky Sports and the BBC is a hugely positive step for our sport. “The postbag’s certainly been slightly fuller than normal, confirming what we already knew, that there’s a proportion of the population who would see this negatively.”

Bush, whose appointment became official on January 1, 2015, has been caretaking the role since Paul Copsey’s departure in late September 2014. He will manage the group’s course managers, including setting strategy and maintenance plans for each club, plus will head up the group’s national accounts and machinery purchasing activities. “I am excited to start 2015 with this new role,” said Bush, who in 2011 became one of only 60 people in the world to achieve BIGGA’s coveted master greenkeeper accolade. “My overriding priorities are to develop our large team of greens staff and to continue to improve golf course quality across the Crown Golf estate.” Stephen Towers, Crown Golf’s chief operating officer, commented: “This is a well-deserved and entirely natural career progression for Mike, who has been doing stellar work at our most highprofile venue for over a decade now.”


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golfmanagement.eu.com | 9


GMé

news

John Deere selects five delegates for TPC Sawgrass volunteer programme The Delegates for the first ever John Deere TPC Sawgrass volunteer programme in May joined forces on the company’s stand at BTME 2015. The latest excellent educational offering from BIGGA involved members filling in an online application form via the BIGGA website, then completing a video application outlining their greenkeeping knowledge, career aspirations and why they wanted to join the Programme. A shortlist was then drawn up, and candidates successful after the video stage then underwent interviews with BIGGA’s five Regional Administrators, BIGGA officials and a representative from John Deere. The successful five are Michael Burgin from Normanby Golf Club, Chris McArthur from Portstewart Golf Club in County Londonderry in Northern Ireland, Graham Down from Aldwickbury Park Golf Club, James Bledge from Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club and Mike Ellis from The Point at Polzeath. Four of the Delegates met on the John Deere stand – unfortunately McArthur’s attempts to join them were thwarted by poor weather on the Wednesday which led to the cancellation of his flight. However, in the week after BTME Chris Meacock, John Deere Turf Division sales manager, made the journey to Northern Ireland to chat to McArthur, welcome him to the team and answer any questions.

McArthur said: “I’m really excited about joining the team and looking forward to the process and experience to better myself as a person. Since I entered in the summer I thought about little else, so winning is a dream come true. “Of course being the only member of the team from Northern Ireland is a real honour. With its famous golfing history, not least set by the golfers from Ulster in the world game at the moment, I have a lot to live up to! “I’m really grateful to BIGGA and John Deere for providing me with this

Scotland to get degree course

Contracts Matter at Worplesdon says Lomas

Scotland’s first degree course for aspiring golf professionals will be made available later this year. The BA honours qualification is a joint initiative by the Royal Dornoch Golf Club and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). The four-year degree will teach students about performance, coaching and equipment and veteran Jack Nicklaus has praised the creation of the new qualification. He said: “Royal Dornoch has such a rich history in the landscape of golf, but it also has a legacy in the development of the game, shaping both the next generation of golfers and the next generation of designers. “I fully support the University of the Highlands and Islands, in association with Royal Dornoch, in their efforts to provide education within the golf industry and beyond.” Available from September, the course will be based at the Dornoch campus of UHI, next to Royal Dornoch.

Contract Matters is now being used by over 100 golf clubs that work with Material Matters for their club’s procurement, according to business development manager, Neil Danton. “Following its pilot in the last quarter of 2013, the feedback and take-up has been extremely pleasing,” said Danton, “and the goal now, is to role this out to all of our 300 member clubs.” The feedback from those clubs that already use the Contract Matters software has been nothing short of exemplary, as Chris Lomas from Worplesdon Golf Club explained: “We now have all of our contract information in one place – held securely in the cloud – and we receive an email from the system to remind us of the next action, meaning we put ourselves in the strongest negotiating position with every contract.” With Contract Matters now forming a part of the membership offering with Material Matters, whether it is set up remotely or on site depending on your

10 | GMé February 2015

Delegates with John Deere’s Chris Meacock (far left) and BIGGA chairman Les Howkins MG (far right)

opportunity. To work and learn on such a fantastic stage such as TPC Sawgrass with a great team will give me the opportunity to connect with some of the best sports turf staff in the industry and no doubt enhance my level as a greenkeeper,” said McArthur. The final five will now join the maintenance team at the legendary venue for the entire duration of the Players Championship on the PGA Tour with travel, accommodation, subsistence and uniform all provided courtesy of BIGGA Partner John Deere.

level of membership, it would seem a very important additional tool to help in the administration of any golf club. “I am absolutely convinced that technology will leap forward again in golf over the next two years,” said Paul Mould of Material Matters. “We created Contract Matters to solve a costly issue that we saw in virtually every golf club that we work with, and are delighted to have saved tens of thousands of pounds so far, for golf clubs using it.”

Chris Lomas from Worplesdon Golf Club


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golfmanagement.eu.com | 11


GMé

news

Foresight upbeat after best-ever PGA Merchandise Show Foresight Sports Europe’s (FSE) preparations for what, ultimately, was the company’s best PGA Merchandise Show, were given a major boost before the event, with the world’s leading golf instructor, Butch Harmon, stating its technology is “the best we’ve ever used”. It was revealed pre-show that Harmon, whose former pupils include Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, is installing the company’s marketleading Game Changer 2 (GC2) and Head Measurement Technology (HMT) in his academies. And the man himself even popped on to the Foresight stand during the show to say ‘hello!’ to the team. It was a hugely successful show for FSE, with sales director Ed Doling explaining: “I met with dozens of existing customers and there was nothing but praise and positive feedback for the technology. And everybody had an exciting personal story to tell about what a difference it had made to their business.

“Visitors to the stand also told us how they were becoming increasingly aware of the benefits our camera-based approach of imaging the ball and club provide compared with older-style radar systems.

Beaverbrook opt for Toro

Ernie Els and First & Foremost in new hotel partnership

Toro irrigation and turf maintenance machinery have been chosen by Beaverbrook Golf Club for its brand new course, currently under construction as part of a new £90m luxury hotel and private members club at Cherkley Court in Leatherhead, Surrey. The site will see the grade II-listed building, famous for being the former residence of press baron Lord Beaverbrook, converted into a luxury hotel, along with a health club and spa. This will be complemented by a private members club 18-hole golf course co-designed by David McLay and Tom Watson, opening in the summer of 2016. Development is moving apace at the 400-acre site, where a new, state-of-theart Toro irrigation system is currently being installed. Tim Edwards, a director of developers for Longshot Cherkley Court, said: “We aim to become the most exclusive private golf club in the UK and have chosen Toro to be a big part of our future plans. Everything about this project is about finding and using the best of the best - and that includes Toro. In my opinion, they are the best in the industry; the highest quality.” Andrew Brown, corporate accounts manager for Toro, added: “Beaverbrook Golf Club is a prestigious new enterprise and Toro and Lely are delighted to be chosen as its preferred supplier for both irrigation and machinery.”

First & Foremost Hotels and Resorts, a bespoke hotel asset, development and operations company, has joined forces with four-time Major Champion, Ernie Els to launch First & Foremost Family Hotels in partnership with Leading Family Hotels & Resorts. “I am delighted to partner First & Foremost to launch Family Hotels,” commented Els. “Family holiday time has always been a priority for me and I have experienced a lot of five-star hotels worldwide that do not really offer a complete family holiday experience. “You want a fun and relaxing environment for everyone, and we are going to

12 | GMé February 2015

The demand for Foresight simulators is increasing

“The market is definitely also taking on more and more of our simulators, which is not surprising when you consider how they provide much higher accuracy at half the price of the competition. 2015 is going to be a very, very busy year.”

provide that with First & Foremost Family Hotels,” added Els. “In addition, we are going to ensure a safe environment for families on the spectrum and also create substantial employment opportunities for adults with autism. Hopefully our lead will encourage other organisations to follow suit.” First and Foremost Family hotels with their partners have a database of over 350,000 active users all offering direct bookings to the hotels, thus reducing commission fees of up to 25 per cent making the group one of the highest profit generating brands in the industry.

Ernie Els outlines his involvement in the project


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GMé

news

Toro is flying high as Goodwood accelerates fleet expansion Goodwood’s two highly acclaimed golf courses are already reaping the benefits of new Toro equipment following the delivery of four Reelmaster 3550-D fairway mowers; two allotted for each course. As the lightest fairway mower on the market, the new additions to the Golf at Goodwood fleet have been floating effortlessly over the contours of both the Downs Course – often referred to as ‘the best downland course in the UK’ – and the Park Course. Together, the two West Sussex-based courses offer 36 holes of unrivalled golf, each demanding the very best equipment to maintain the high quality levels they’re known for. “With Toro equipment you not only have a wide choice of mowers and ancillary machinery to choose from, but you also know that you are buying quality,” says course manager Phil Helmn. “And that goes beyond just the ability to do a good job; it includes the support necessary to ensure the equipment delivers throughout its working life.” As a long-time user of Toro at Golf at Goodwood, Helmn not only hopes to continue employing Toro equipment on Downs and Park, but also hopes to use Toro to address responsibilities that

go well beyond the golf courses. This includes taking care of the parkland, race circuits and gardens across the entire Goodwood estate. While at present Goodwood operates a diverse range of mowers and ancillary equipment from multiple suppliers, Helmn suggests that the fleet will benefit from a more structured approach in the future.

Safety pays off at Exeter

Monte Rei becomes first European client for 59Club

Exeter Golf and Country Club has secured funding from a housebuilding firm to redesign its golf course. The deal comes after two years of negotiations between the club and developer Charles Church, part of the Persimmon Group, over how to ensure the safety of residents of Great Woodcote Park, a new housing development being built next to the golf course. The club had been advised that the houses were sited too close to the boundary – increasing the risk of golf balls leaving the course – but, the redesign will overcome this problem by repositioning three holes of the 18-hole course, with work being overseen by architects Mackenzie & Ebert. The building work is expected to start in September 2015 and will be completed by spring 2016. Will Gannon, chairman of Exeter Golf and Country Club, said: “This new agreement with Persimmon is excellent news as it secures the future of the golf club, which has a 120 year-long history in the city and is very much part of the community here.”

Golf resorts can now benefit from specific, in-depth, statistical customer experience analysis after a new ‘Stay & Play’ product was launched by 59Club, Europe’s leading golf-specific mystery shopper service. The ‘Stay & Play’ analysis covers all aspects of a golf break, from the initial booking and payment process through to the departure from the resort. It will also include transfers, check-in and-out, plus all the standard mystery shopper categories, such as the golf, pro-shop experience and F&B, plus, where relevant, fine dining and custom-fitting experiences. 59Club has launched the new product in response to enquiries from European venues, and the first resort to apply the new offering is Monte Rei Golf & Country Club in Portugal. David Shepherd, director of golf at Monte Rei, explained: “It was a natural progression for Monte Rei to be the first venue to work with this new product from 59Club, as we had been part of the action group determining the required elements alongside Simon Wordsworth and his team.”

14 | GMé February 2015

The expanding Toro fleet at Goodwood

“It makes good business sense to try and use equipment from as few suppliers as possible,” he says. “We currently have two in-house mechanics, one full-time and one part-time, and sub-contract out servicing and other repairs. “Going forwards, however, I want to increase our workshop staff numbers and have three full-time in-house mechanics – and I would like them all Toro-trained.”

David Shepherd of Monte Rei

Simon Wordsworth, chief executive at 59Club said: “Auxiliary products have always been available to add to our generic mystery shopper services, but, in discussion with Monte Rei and several other large resorts in Europe, it quickly became apparent that there was room for a more focussed, niche product, which would lend itself more to this type of destination. “And we are delighted that Monte Rei has taken it and that Portugal’s top venue is our flagship.”


picture gallery

In words & Pictures A brief pictorial round-up of events from around the industry, including news of a return home to the US for Gina Putnam, former marketing director of Ransomes Jacobsen.

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In brief... TGI Golf Partners picked up ‘invaluable skills’ to enhance their retail outlets at the group’s annual Business Conference held at Marriott Worsley Park. The free two-day event saw Partners travelling the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland to come together and pick up new skills for their businesses from a range of speakers on a whole host of subjects. The UK mainland’s most westerly golf course, Traigh, near Arisaig, in the Highlands of Scotland, is recovering from the appearance of a large sinkhole. The three-metre deep, seven-metre long hole was caused by heavy rain, washing away a drain running under the fairway by the seventh green. The club now needs to find money to help it pay the estimated £16,000 cost of the repairs needed, with around 200 tonnes of sand required to fill the hole. Highland Council is to seek planning permission for a £7.4 million golf course, clubhouse and practice area it proposes to build in Inverness. The facilities are to be created for Torvean Golf Club, where parts of the existing course lie on the route of the city’s new West Link road. Highland councillors granted full planning permission for the Inverness West Link and permission in principle for associated facilities, such as the golf course and sports hub, in April last year. Experienced golf course architect Howard Swan was unanimously re-elected chairman of the Golf Consultants Association at its recent annual general meeting. The senior consultant at the family owned Swan Golf Designs, will lead the association for a further two years, and said: “It has been a great privilege for me to chair the association for the last two years and I am delighted to have the chance to do so for another two.”

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1

Gina Putnam, Ransomes Jacobsen’s former director – marketing and communications, International has returned to the USA to manage Jacobsen’s new direct distribution facility serving customers in North & Central Florida.

3

Direct Golf has added respected golf industry executive Rob Andrew – who used to work for rival American Golf – to its senior management team as it seeks to confirm its position as Europe’s leading golf retailer in 2015.

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One of the world’s longest serving head PGA pros has called time on his career after more than half a century at the heart of his club. Long-standing Oxford Golf Club pro Tony Rees hung up his clubs for the final time last month.

2

Burhill Golf and Leisure has appointed Jess Moore as group sales manager, who will oversee the sales of all the BGL venues, having ended nine years working at the Club Company prior to joining BGL.

4

Ian Poulter’s IJP Design brand has revealed its futurist 80s-inspired Spring/ Summer Menswear 2015 collection. “Our new range is sporty, contemporary and bold and nods towards cartoon classics of the era,” said Poulter.

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Heythrop Park Resort, on the edge of the Cotswolds, has added another attraction to its already impressive list of amenities with the announcement that the new John Cook School of Golf will be based there.

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company profile PERFECTION AWAITS A computer generated image of the seventh hole at Hainan Golf Course in China

How to become the Course of Choice Choice. Most of us are spoilt for it – from where to play golf to what to invest in, and as a golf club, you’re just one of many options to choose from. Aidan Patrick talks to Andrew Harris about how your club can become the chosen one.

Company Profile sponsored by Harris Kalinka (44) 01273 541111 andrew@harriskalinka.com

16 | GMé February 2015

When you opened this page did you first look at the words or the images? Chances are you looked at the images first. Had they been out-of-focus or badly framed, you may have made a judgement on the quality of this article and flipped to the next page. And what if there had been no pictures at all? Why do golfers choose one club over another? Why do you make a specific choice in a restaurant? If it’s a restaurant where there are photographs of the food, there is a better chance you’ll choose the steak if you see a picture of it. Research has shown that photographs of food on a menu are one of the strongest persuaders, and are proven to increase sales. Of course you may also see the person at the next table being served a juicy steak. Either way, you are influenced by seeing the steak, which makes it easier for you to imagine yourself eating it. The same principle holds true for golf courses. As Andrew Harris, director of golf course visualisation company Harris Kalinka (previously HK Golf) puts it: “We are all selling something – whether you’re a club selling memberships and tee times, a course architect selling a

design, or a developer selling houses or a big idea to investors. “Images make our jobs that much easier. I know that as a potential buyer I always prefer to see what I’m buying. That’s why we’ve seen such an increase in our business at Harris Kalinka. People are realising that to compete, they need to show what they’ve got to offer, and they need it to reflect quality.” When Harris started playing golf, his experience in choosing between local courses reinforced this: “Where I live in the UK, there are 18 courses within a 20-minute drive of my home. When I’m looking for a course to play, my first stop is the course website. I decide where to play largely based on what I see. If there’s nothing to see, I look elsewhere.” Originally, when Harris Kalinka started creating computer-generated images for golf courses in 2008, their target market was golf course architects. They thought their work would serve the same purpose it did for building architects. However, they soon realised that the potential for their images to be repurposed in the golf industry was far greater. With new buildings, animations are generally useful for selling the original idea, refining designs, getting


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CHINA BECKONS Andrew Harris who will be at the China Golf Show

GARDEN VIEW The 17th at Garden City, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

NOODLE BOWL The Mission Hills Fantasy Course in China

planning permission and then selling the properties. In golf, animations continue to be a sales tool for years. Their return is potentially far greater. Take a project the company is currently working on with architects Thomas Perret & Lobb in Port Harcourt, Nigeria – the Garden City Golf Estate. ARM Properties are not just telling people they’re building a championship golf course with over 700 homes, they’re using images and animations to show people what it will be like to live and play there. And they’re doing it before the estate is due to open later this year, which gives them plenty of time to use the images in local and international marketing.

For a new course like Garden City that costs millions to build, the cost of their animations is tiny given the significant returns. And after the launch, Garden City can use the imagery on their own website, for email marketing, smartphone apps, press releases, blog posts and social media. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. But the cliché fails to add that if that picture is poor quality, then those thousand words are going to be negative. It’s a classic example of the halo effect: when we see a poor quality image of a course and we assume the course itself is of equal quality.

See a professional photo or a highquality golf course animation and we assume the best. Harris is by no means advocating that every golf club needs to invest in animations. He believes professional photographs can be as effective. “Too many clubs seem to forget about the course, and show only a photo or two on their website,” he said. “They include plenty of information about the clubhouse, club etiquette and what’s on the menu, but they fall down when it comes to presenting the course. “The golf course is, after all, what you’re selling. And buyers always want to see what they can get for their money. It needs to look good.” GMé

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GMé

profile

“We have been invited to many parts of the world, but once we can satisfy the 1.3 billion people here then maybe we can move outside China”

Tenniel on a Mission to develop China golf Michael Lenihan meets Tenniel Chu, and discovers that the Mission Hills vice-chairman takes his social and sporting responsibility as seriously as he does his balance sheet. MUTUAL RESPECT Ian Poulter is grateful for the support shown to him by the Chu family

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If you want to be the best, if you want to beat the rest, dedication’s what you need! So sang the much-missed Roy Castle on his emblematic kids TV show of the 70s, Record Breakers. If you wanted to make it into the Guinness Book of Records, then the show, hosted by Roy with the McWhirter twins acting as official judges, was where you went. It’s a shame it’s no longer on the box, because Mission Hills would be a sure-fire regular. Officially the world’s largest golf club – at least according to the Guinness World Records, which is, after all, the authority on such things – it has set the standard for golf in the Far East, describing itself as ‘the cradle of golf in China’. With seven courses in Shenzhen, five in Dongguan, and ten in Haikou, it’s hard

to take issue with the gatekeepers at Guinness, even if one wanted to. Mission Hills has been such an outstanding success story that there has been talk that it might expand outside of China… even, it has been suggested, outside of Asia. But that’s not on the cards; there’s still work to be done at home. At least according to Tenniel Chu, vice-chairman of the Mission Hills Group and son of Dr David Chu, who founded the golfing behemoth, before passing away in 2011. He explained: “We have been invited to many parts of the world, but once we can satisfy the 1.3 billion people here then maybe we can move outside China. “There are only 600 courses in China and the number of golfers is growing annually – there is plenty of room to


missionhillschina.com

SERVICE WITH A SMILE Golf reception at the impressive clubhouse at Mission Hills Shenzhen

grow the game. There is still a lot to do in China. The avid golfers in China are playing a minimum of three rounds a week. “They are very keen, and the best consumers and golfers you can think of, with the latest fashions and travelling on private jets around the world. They are big movers. “When they go to St Andrews, they’ll clear out the whole shop! They have so many relatives and friends that they have to,” he laughed. “We try to save 15-20 per cent (of teetimes) for visitors and ex-pats, for business and leisure. I could easily fit 100 per cent Chinese but we have a global responsibility to showcase the golf to visitors.” The 20km2 complex, which, in addition to 12 courses, comprises shopping and

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conference centres, tennis courts, spas and luxury residencies, was opened in 2002 and created something of a stir in golfing circles immediately. Overseen by Chu senior, contractors built ten courses in just 13 months. There were 60,000 workers on the site: 40,000 during the daytime and 20,000 at night, working three shifts non-stop. Chu added: “My father was very patriotic and had a great love for the country. He was in the packaging industry and started with three employees before becoming Hong Kong’s largest, and then moving to China and becoming China’s largest. “He didn’t feel that could really connect China with the world, and he felt golf was the most neutral medium to connect it with the world.

“In Europe and the USA golf was seen as a popular sport from everybody to leaders… he felt that China needed a platform for people to mingle and network. That’s why he wanted to bring golf to China. “This is the 30th year of golf in China, so when he started there was only a few years of golf in China and fewer than 1,000 golfers. He felt it was the right thing as a business tool, entertainment tool and a lifestyle tool. Golf is essential for growth. “Now golf is part of the Olympics it puts it as a common sport. It’s no longer seen as elitist, but then again an elite sport has a sexiness and is an attraction for people. “When you’re an emerging middleclass family with a single-child policy, as

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GMé

profile

PICTURE PERFECT An aerial view of the stunning Dongguan Resort and Clubhouse at Mission Hills

“Chinese parents like their children to learn discipline, respect, honesty and skills – and golf gives you that. Learning the etiquette is a big part of golf in China”

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we have in China, you want to equip your children with the best life skills. “It’s great they can kick a soccer ball or play tennis but this is the only sport you can play from two years old through to 99. It can be a life-skill tool, a business tool. “A lot of parents are choosing to pick up golf for their children. Every summer (we have) tens of thousands of summer camp kids just learning the game or getting involved. We make it very affordable. “Three of our golf courses have free access for juniors aged 16 and under. When juniors come their parents come as well… but primarily we want to grow the next generation of golfers to let them fall in love with the game. “With the one-child policy a lot of children are getting obese; they’re eating too much and are too well fed and, with electronics, not going outdoors. There are a lot of big issues, but making golf accessible, available and affordable, it’s very easy for them to come and pick up the game.” He continued: “Chinese parents like their children to learn discipline, respect, honesty and skills – and golf gives you that. Learning the etiquette is a big part of golf in China. “There aren’t strict dress codes but there are safety rules; we have etiquette – they can come and dress in a relaxed style, but the parents will be stricter than we are.” Justin Rose and Ian Poulter co-designed a course at Mission Hills and, when they visited, staff at Mission Hills arranged for them to play with the China junior team.

“Justin was most impressed with their golf etiquette; at the end of the round they came over took off their hats and shook hands with Justin, looked him in the eye and spoke fluent English,” said Chu, proudly. “We are opening the first golf museum in China; there will be free admission and it will showcase the world history of golf, whilst also making it relevant to China with the evolution of it here. I think we are on the right track. “All our junior programmes are R&A recognised and sanctioned. They are keen and supportive of what we are doing. You don’t make much out of it, but in the end it’s not about making financial benefit, it’s about contributing and social responsibility to the industry.” It’s certainly a responsibility they take seriously at Mission Hills, not least to the other courses in China. There is a British PGA office at Mission Hills, with a lot of members working in the resort’s academies, while local pros have to join the CGA. The resort is currently looking to enter into a golf programme with a university so people can train in China for their degree in golf management. “Mission Hills has been appointed by the national golf course association in China to write the operation manual for the industry here, to act as a template,” added Chu. “This is all about giving back to the community. Most of the golf staff in China will have worked at some stage of their career at Mission Hills.” That’s not the sort of thing that makes it into the record books, but it is yet another element of the history of Mission Hills of which the Chu family can be justly proud. GMé


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in profile

COUNTER SERVICE The main reception area within the new pro-shop at The Belfry which opened last year

THE GREAT OUTDOORS The outdoor seating area, adjacent to Sam’s Club House overlooking the PGA National Course

The Belfry Rejuvenated The Belfry is enjoying a long-overdue revival under the guidance of its progressive and commercially-minded director of golf, Ian Knox, as Mark Alexander reports. “It’s a big name. If you look at commercial golf, there is no where bigger in the UK. The Belfry, with four Ryder Cups and its relationship with the PGA; I don’t think there is anywhere that can compare.” You get the impression that Ian Knox is enjoying his time at The Belfry. He has been in his role as director of golf for two years during which time he has played a key role in the resort’s thorough and expansive revamp. The 319 refurbished bedrooms have been a key to this project and a good indication of where the majority of the £26 million has been spent. “In the past you had a first-rate offering on the courses while the off-course was, let’s say, tired and in need of improving. Now, we’ve brought the off-course facilities up to match with what you’ve got out on the courses,” Knox says enthusiastically. “The investment in the past has always been on the course so it never needed a major overhaul just tinkering, whereas the off-course needed to be lifted an awful lot.” Knox has come a long way since growing up in Portrush, Northern Ireland. Reassuringly confident, he completed an accountancy degree in Scotland and travelled around Australia and New Zealand before beginning a career in golf travel and events. His efforts paid off when he landed a role at St Andrews Bay [now the

22 | GMé February 2015

Fairmont] eventually becoming the golf operations manager. He followed that up with a six-year stint at Breadsall Priory as director of golf before travelling 40 miles south down the A38 to The Belfry. As part of the executive team, Knox has been responsible for overseeing the sweeping changes at the resort while ensuring business as usual for the paying guests. “The owners were looking to reinvest in the property and had started with gradual change, then they decided to accelerate it,” he explains. “Since I arrived, we’ve completed the £26 million refurbishment of the whole resort.” First up was Sam’s Club House – formerly Sam’s Bar – which now boasts huge TV screens and a dining area overlooking the PGA National course. “We closed it for a month in May 2013 which was pretty daunting with the prospect of 5,000 golfers coming through and the main bar area being closed,” says Knox wryly. “There were a lot of false dawns with people planning to invest and spend money on the place, so there were a lot of Doubting Thomases. When we reopened Sam’s at the start of June 2013, people realised we were serious about changing the place. That got us off and running. People were able to see what the plan was.” Sam’s Club House has been reinvigorated with Ryder Cup images adorning

KNOX ON GUARD Director of golf at The Belfry, Ian Knox, pictured outside the modern, and re-designed pro shop


thebelfry.co.uk

the walls giving it a retrospective feel to the otherwise contemporary sports bar. This is now a place to enjoy a post-round debrief while being watched over by golfing legends. To add to the pressure of the expansive face lift and perhaps give an unwitting group of bargain hunters something to talk about, prices were cut to encourage golfers through the door. “We went with a volume strategy because there was such a lot of change going on. And

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we did an awful lot of golf. In August 2013, we did 16,000 rounds over the three courses. It was busy.” He continues: “It was very much aimed at the hotel resident market with very discounted rates – you were almost coming into that £99, one-night, two-rounds thing and that was including the Brabazon, so the discounts were substantial.” Add to that a blazing hot summer and you have the ideal recipe for a season

that Knox says he has never seen the likes of before. But the changes at the resort had only just begun. Things were about to get even more interesting at the retail end of the scale. “The Golf Shop was really the final piece of the jigsaw,” says Knox. “Previously there wasn’t much natural daylight and the layout was a little cluttered, especially after we had completed the work on the rest of the resort. We needed to match that, so we created

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in profile

THE BELL TOLLS The iconic view of the Manor House, complete with the Belfry bell tower

“what might work in a local pro shop with stuff piled high in a corner is not going to work here”

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more of an identity and a shopping experience. We put in five new bay windows and created more of a sense of arrival. “Before it was fairly non-descript and understated – I think that’s being polite. We created an entrance area and lobby and there’s now a turning circle outside for a bag drop area. You also check in at the golf shop so that gives you the ability to get spend out of them when they are coming in and going out of the shop.” The store also features five dedicated hardware sections covering Titleist, Callaway, Nike, TaylorMade-adidas and PING. Each brand is provided with an equally-sized retail space complete with its own TV to deliver key brand information. “It keeps it clean,” says Knox. “You don’t want lots of point of sale information cluttered all over the place. From a visual point of view, it is fantastic.” As well as having a fresh, uncluttered look, the revamped pro shop symbolizes a more commercial approach embodied by the appointment of Alan Soutar, the new head of golf retail operations. Bringing with him “a more strategic business focus” as well as a teaching background, Knox says the new placement highlights the significance of retail at The Belfry. “Iconic golfing venues need focus in the shop,” he says sternly. “From the presentation point of view, what might work in a local pro shop with stuff piled high in a corner is not going to work here. You need that additional focus on items per basket, for instance; the type

of knowledge a normal club pro just doesn’t have.” That knowledge, according to Knox, boils down to metrics and the ability to assess and reward performance against clearly defined daily objectives. “Based on the number of golfers coming through, we can set the target we are looking for,” he explains. “Measure that and if they hit the target, reward them, and if they don’t, have a conversation about how we get there. It’s what gets measured, gets done. “If you do that, you get focus and people know what their job is and what is expected of them. That’s one of the big things Alan is bringing in, and it’s great to see.” The shift in emphasis should surprise no-one. The Belfry has been in need of some TLC for some time, and its iconic status means it probably shouldn’t have had to wait so long. But a new colour scheme and a revamped clubhouse, does not a revolution make. More telling and more important for the future of this cornerstone resort, is the commercial approach being spearheaded by Soutar and driven by Knox. Getting The Belfry back in the leading pack is the objective and with his tail up, Knox doesn’t seem to be taking his foot off the gas. “Tournament golf is something we would like to have back here again, and perhaps a high-profile player tied in with us as well – all this stuff is up for discussion. I wouldn’t rule anything out.” GMé


GMé

centenary review

“A Golf Court allows you to squeeze in a round of golf in an hour, instead of the four or five hours it normally takes for a full round. That’s a big plus for busy people”

A nostalgic review of our first 100 issues David Bowers was the news editor for the very first edition of Golf Management Europe in September 1997, and he takes a nostalgic look back at the early years of the magazine. DOWN MEMORY LANE Former R&A secretary, Sir Michael Bonallack who was featured in the inaugural edition of GMé (below) receiving the Arnold Palmer Lifetime Service Award, and main image, our editor of 14 years, John Vinicombe

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In an industry sector which sees magazines come and go with the alacrity of football managers, it is great credit to GMé that it celebrates its centenary edition with this issue. The style and appearance may have changed in that time, but the magazine’s ethos remains the same as it ever was: to ensure the sport’s key decision makers are kept informed and abreast of changes, products and developments that will affect their product. Valderrama was the cover star in September 1997 ahead of its successful hosting of the Ryder Cup, and it was the first of many world-renowned venues to grace the pages of the magazine in the 99 editions since. Fast forward 18 years and the need to make golf more attractive and accessible, and less time-consuming is a hot topic for discussion. Yet, in this very first edition of GMé, a possible solution was suggested. The brainchild of a retired systems engineer, a four-green, eighttee, 3,000-yard, par-60 Golf Court could be built on just six acres of land. One big name who’d already installed a Golf Court in her garden was former world number one Laura Davies, who

said: “A Golf Court allows you to squeeze in a round of golf in an hour, instead of the four or five hours it normally takes for a full round. That’s a big plus for busy people.” It still is Laura, but sadly Golf Courts didn’t take off. June 2001, we covered the opening of the world’s first 18-hole Golf Court, at Lensbury, Teddington Lock, on the banks of the River Thames. It was designed by Swan Golf Designs, whose then principal, Howard Swan, advertised in the very first edition of the magazine and still does to this day. More of Howard later... In January 2005, GMé featured a news item about the launch of Golf Cross, the game played into goals with a rugby style oval ‘golf’ ball, and off tees, protecting the fairways and not using greens. The game still exists – at least it does according to a quick Google search – but it hasn’t created the new rush to golf people may have envisaged. Former Walker Cup captain Peter McEvoy tried to address the same issue with a variant of the game called PowerPlay Golf, as reported in March 2007, and it was hailed as golf’s version of Twenty20 cricket.


centenary review

GOLF CROSS The oval-shaped, Golf Cross ball

OUR ROVING REPORTER Former BAGCC chairman, Nigel Ely, being interviewed by David Bowers at BTME in 2000

It features two flags on the same green and is played over nine holes. Players can choose to play to the ‘easy’ white flag or the more difficult black flag. We also reported how Convers Sports Initiatives had acquired a controlling interest and began with a much heralded event at Celtic Manor in 2011, but the financial implosion of the parent company a few years later and the collapse of SAAB – which had agreed an eightfigure sponsorship deal – has stalled the concept’s progress somewhat. However, around 700 clubs in 35 countries were playing the format and Andy Hiseman – a member of the PowerPlay board – believes things are looking up again. He said: “Further investment is on the way and 2015 is set to be an exciting year for the brand which is, at this stage, very much a TV format. There is a need to focus on the inspirational side.” So there’s a very good chance we’ll be hearing more of PowerPlay Golf in the next few editions. In May 1998, our editor, the late – and much missed – John Vinicombe, reported on a speech by the executive director of the Association of Golf Course Owners, which attacked the ‘inequality’ and the ‘discrepancies’ of the existing VAT system when comparing proprietary and member clubs. In the following edition, July 1998, the publisher’s leader called for a fairer VAT system for all. I wonder how that ended up...? Also in that July 1998 issue, we reported on the growth of plastic cleats and

how the product might sound the death knell for the traditional golf spike, and also on the rise of the golf simulator – a concept which thereafter took something of a dip before coming back positively in the last few years. And, in the same – clearly highly prescient – edition we highlighted that portable defibrillators could save lives on the golf course; this, of course, a massive 17 years before the industry responded fully following the near-death experience of former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher. In September 1998, publisher Lenihan used his leader article to persuade people that the thing called the ‘internet’ looked as if it was here to stay and that clubs should embrace it. Some clubs, however, maintained it was a fad, and he declared: “In 20 years’ time, clubs with that attitude will have fallen by the economic wayside, being sold cheaply at the golfing equivalent of a car boot sale.” And he’s not far wrong. There was also a feature on the grey areas of liability when it came to hitting a golf ball and the consequences of doffing somebody on the bonce. Such liabilities have become much clearer since, of course, but once again, GMé was ahead of the game. In November of that year Lenihan’s lead editorial called for golf clubs to exercise equality when it came to lady members. Ahead of the game again, but an issue that still raises hackles in certain areas in 2015.

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The issue also featured an exclusive interview with Celtic Manor owner Terry Matthews, who explained why he was determined to land the Ryder Cup for his home town and nation. In November 1999, we reported in our news pages that “following often strained negotiations, members of the British Institute of Golf Course Architects have approved a proposal to merge with the European Association of Golf Course Architects. The name of the new organisation will be The European Institute of Golf Course Architects.” In the same section we also reported that work had started on the £50m St Andrews Bay resort… now known as the Fairmont St Andrews. Leaping forward to June 2001, John Vinicombe penned the first of a two-part feature on the dangers of coastal erosion – yet another subject matter which is as relevant in 2015 as it was then. In February 2002, we discussed the effect the new euro currency would have when it came to buying land on which to build golf courses, while in June we featured a visit to the first Top Golf complex at Watford. Different ends of the spectrum but still of interest to readers – and, therefore, GMé. Many now-well-known courses and resorts have been featured just after – or in some cases just before – opening, such as Aphrodite Hills, in December 2002. Other spreads down the years have featured the likes of The Grove, The London Club, Monte Rei, the Castle

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GMé

centenary review

DREAMSTIME Terry Matthews in November 1998, discussing his ambitious plan to bring the Ryder Cup to Celtic Manor

“I have always appreciated receiving the magazine – each and every copy of which remains in my library”

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Course at St Andrews, and The Carrick at Cameron House, to name but a few. We also featured dozens of smaller, lesser-known clubs which, for one reason or another, also had a story to tell – such as Brickhampton Golf Club, which used an old fire tender to irrigate its course. GMé has a loyal readership and also receives stalwart support from industry advertisers many of whom have been placing their faith in the magazine since day one – which brings us back, as promised, to golf course architect Howard Swan, who has not only been a regular advertiser but also an avid reader throughout. Swan, now the senior consultant at Swan Golf Designs, said: “Sustainability has been a buzzword in an industry for some time, but few would necessarily translate it and apply it to those of us who have been around for a sizeable period. “I remember well the beginnings of Golf Management Europe almost 20 years ago and at the outset I was pleased to be able to tell Michael Lenihan that we would support the magazine and we find ourselves, 100 editions later, still doing so, in its new guise as GMé. “I have always appreciated receiving the magazine – each and every copy of which remains in my library – and I have little doubt that SGD will continue to support GMé in the years to come. Congratulations to Michael and all his team for their longevity.” Swan is not alone. Richard Campey, managing director of Campey Turf Care Systems, also believed in the concept at the outset and sent a message to the team at GMé.

He said: “Greetings to Mike on reaching this impressive milestone. Campey Turf Care has always found GMé a useful magazine for targeting the club secretary in addition to the course managers. “It is one of the few golf trade journals which has a large circulation in and outside of the UK, which is an important factor for companies like us which operate on a global stage.” In its 100 editions, GMé has featured some of the biggest names in golf – both venues and individuals; it has chronicled the rise of technology within the industry, not just in terms of IT admin systems but also the advance of GPS systems on buggies – and buggies themselves. Members of the magazine’s editorial team have been there at dozens of exhibitions, shows, seminars and workshops, and those same writers have interviewed 100s of people working in the industry, whether well-known or not. The magazine has also covered the rise of golf in ‘new’ areas such as Turkey and Eastern Europe – and sadly, it has also covered the loss of some of the industry’s veteran figures. But, if there was a story to be told, we would be there to cover it. Many of the new firms featured in the regular ‘company focus’ slot have gone on to establish themselves within the industry – some, sadly, have fallen by the wayside, as the golf industry remains as competitive as ever. We’ve seen the boom years – and we’ve also witnessed the slumps. And we’re still here. But whatever happens in the golf industry, you can rely upon GMé to bring you details of it. Let’s raise a glass to the next 100 editions! GMé


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P r e m i e r A l l - We a t h e r S u r f a c e s f o r G o l f

UK and Overseas Enquiries: Tel +44 (0)1962 733222 Email: sales@huxleygolf.co.uk www.huxleygolf.com

13/01/2015 10:19

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interview

OPEN QUESTION Deep in thought at a press conference during last year’s Open Championship

PASSING THE BATON Discussing golf’s return to the Olympics at Rio in 2016

In conversation with Peter Dawson When chief executive of The R&A, Peter Dawson retires later this year, he can look back with pride upon a career which has seen golf re-enter the Olympics whilst on his watch.

GMé With so many credible host venues for The Open Championship, is it still viable for the Championship to return to St Andrews every five years? PD St Andrews is the Home of Golf. It has a special atmosphere and has routinely defined many of golf’s greatest Champions over the years. The players and spectators relish the experience of being at St Andrews and I feel sure we will continue to return regularly in future. GMé You played a pivotal role in golf returning to the Olympic Games, so why the decision to retire a year before Rio 2016, or will you still have some involvement in Brazil? PD Despite the fact that I will be retiring from The R&A, I will continue as president of the International Golf Federation (IGF), the body representing golf for Olympic matters. I will still be very much involved and am looking forward to golf returning to the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

be interactive and not simply the addition of individual scores. In addition, the feedback we received from players and from the broadcasters suggested there was a strong preference for a 72-hole stroke play format. GMé The R&A is obviously jointly responsible with the USGA for the Rules of Golf, but with so many different governing bodies and unions within golf, do you ever see the day when the entire golf industry will unite under one body, responsible for all aspects of our industry? PD Obviously if we were to draw up an organisation chart on a clean sheet of paper we probably wouldn’t come up with the current landscape in golf, but we have many bodies with long histories and great expertise which all work together in close co-operation for the good of the game. We can never be complacent but the governance of golf stands up well compared to other sports in my view.

GMé With a 72-hole stroke play event at The Olympics, which is the same format as most other tour events week in, week out, why not a team event to differentiate Olympic Golf?

GMé The anchored putting stroke ban comes into force at the beginning of the 2016 season… a few months after your leave the R&A. Do you expect the new ruling to be fully enforced both sides of the Atlantic?

PD When we were bidding for golf’s return to the Games the International Olympic Committee made it clear that new team events to the Olympics had to

PD Although it caused some controversy at the time, the new Rule was considered at length and consulted upon widely. I think the players respect the Rules

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SIGNING-OFF Peter Dawson holding the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham & St Annes


Getty Images

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and the roles of the governing bodies in setting them. The players were given plenty of time to adjust to the new Rule, which prohibits the use of the anchored stroke but still allows the use of long and belly putters, and I do expect it to be accepted. GMé The changes to The Old Course have received mixed reviews from many golf course architects, especially some of the purists. Are you happy with the changes, and in particular, the Road Hole bunker? PD The Old Course has changed and evolved throughout its history. The recent changes that were made have received compliments from many players who have experienced them and we look forward to them being in play for the 2015 Open. The Road Bunker has, in fact, changed almost every time it has been re-built over the years and this time it has also

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been digitally mapped so it can be restored to the same dimensions in future. GMé You must have been relieved that The R&A voted in favour of allowing female membership. Was there ever a doubt in your mind that the vote would not be positive? PD The vote to admit women to the Club was always a matter for the members and they have a long history of acting in the best interests of golf. This was an important step for the Club and we look forward to welcoming the first women members. GMé Looking back, if you had to choose one defining moment from your time at The R&A, what would it be? PD I would have to say the experience of working on the Olympic bid. It brought many different bodies involved in golf together and we worked closely

with each other to secure golf’s return to the Olympics. As a result of that team effort, there is now closer co-operation between these bodies than there has ever been. GMé What will you miss most about your role when you retire in September? PD I will miss the people involved in golf most of all. There is a tremendous amount of goodwill in the sport and I have made many friendships over the years. GMé Do you intend to play more golf in your retirement, or do you want a clean break from the sport? PD I have always been able to keep my own golf separate from the job. The demands of the job have not allowed me to play as much as I would have liked, and I am looking forward to getting back at it. GMé

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on course foundation The On Course Foundation is an organisation set up to help wounded and injured service personnel get their lives back on track, with a little help from golf. Nicole Wheatley takes a personal look at the work of the charity.

Wounded servicemen get back On Course

“We want to open doors for our members into the industry. They don’t expect preferential treatment – they just want the chance to develop their skills”

BE THE BEST On Course servicemen pictured during a round at The Royal Automobile Club

Whilst the industry worries about elitism, dwindling memberships and falling revenues, it’s easy to forget about the positive impact that the game of golf can have on people’s lives. I recently came across an organisation called the On Course Foundation, which, since its launch in 2010, has helped hundreds of wounded, sick and injured Service Personnel and Veterans through golf. The Charity’s mission is not just to use golf as a means to physical and mental recovery, but to offer its members routes to meaningful employment in the golf industry. Its members’ stories are incredibly inspirational and reminded me that golf offers a unique platform where players of all skills and backgrounds can compete on a level playing field. Take Stewart Harris for example.

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Harris was severely injured in an explosion whilst serving with the Welsh Guards. He lost an eye and suffered Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). He joined the On Course Foundation in 2014 and since then, golf has become an integral part of his recovery. He describes a round of golf with three other people who have been through similar experiences as “better therapy than any counselling session.” Since joining, as well as becoming a member of Rhyl Golf Club, Harris has also undertaken a work experience placement – organised by the charity – as a greenkeeper at Northop Golf Club. Similarly, retired Warrant Officer Kenny Teasdale joined the greenkeeping team at Brokenhurst Manor. Other members have enjoyed placements in retail, marketing, golf club management,

sales and manufacturing. Expanding this area of support is a priority for the charity as managing director, Steve Holt explains: “We want to open doors for our members into the industry. They don’t expect preferential treatment – they just want the chance to develop their skills. “Our goal is to create a network of golf businesses who will welcome a call from our employment officer if a member expresses an interest in work experience.” Stewart Golf is one such company. Member Rob Hansen was keen to pursue a technical or engineering role, so the On Course Foundation arranged for him to have an interview with Stewart Golf. Hansen served with the Royal Corps of Signals from June 1996 with postings and detachments including the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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“I would definitely encourage more businesses to support the work that the On Course Foundation does.”

ON COURSE ADVICE Tuition at Woburn Golf Club

THE TEAM WORKS Rob Hansen, hard at work at Stewart Golf

His experience there had given him the perfect skill set to work in the company’s manufacturing team as Mark Stewart, managing director of Stewart Golf explains: “Ex-service men and women often don’t realise that the experience that they have is transferable. “Their skill sets and work ethic is exceptional and I would definitely encourage more businesses to support the work that the On Course Foundation does.” The charity came into being when founder John Simpson visited the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in June 2009. Despite suffering a leg injury as a result of childhood polio, Simpson had enjoyed a successful career in the golf industry managing top players including Nick Faldo and Vijay Singh, and also plays to a high standard. He shared his experiences with patients there and it became clear that there was an opportunity to use golf as a means to rehabilitation. The charity does this through its one and three-day events which are free for members to attend. 85 per cent of attendees have never played golf before. As well as receiving golf tuition from its PGA professionals, members receive information on careers in the industry.

The experience of participating in these events is therapeutic in itself as Hansen explains: “My first event was amazing. To be in an environment with people who not only understood what I was going through, but had found a way to make it to the other side was incredible. “The lads are not only friends, but therapists and confidants.” Support across the golf industry is growing with names like Callaway, Titleist and American Golf on its roster. And when it comes to name dropping it doesn’t get much better than having patron Arnold Palmer and the R&A on board. Momentum outside of the golf industry is also building with discussions in place with leading financial institutions to underwrite events. What has been harder to achieve is opening doors at golf club level. “There are so many demands on everyone’s time in this day and age, that often the hardest thing for me is getting an appointment,” explained operations manager Alex Woolston. “Once I do get to speak to people, the response is always really positive.” This was certainly the experience with Peter Hickling, manager at High Post Golf Club, who was introduced to the On Course Foundation a few months ago.

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“Unlike so many of the charities who contact us, all that the On Course Foundation really wants is support,” explained Hickling, who has been so impressed by what he’s learnt so far, that he has had no reservations in introducing Woolston and the charity to as many golf clubs as possible. “Making the transition to civilian life is difficult for anyone, but when there are additional health issues to consider it makes it even more challenging. What is unquestionable is the character, determination and hardworking nature of its members. “We’re looking at an employment placement later this year, but we’ll only recruit on merit, which is all the On Course Foundation asks.” There is no one route from the taster golf skills day to employment, but it’s clear that those that make the journey certainly benefit from the experience, a fact beautifully summed up by double leg amputee Gregg Stevenson. “As a proud and devoted soldier, the British Army was my life,” said Stevenson proudly. “Through the On Course Foundation I have found a new lease of life with a clear sense of direction. “With their help and understanding, I am about to embark on a very different but equally rewarding career.” GMé


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GMé

hybrid sports academy

Game, Set & Match in Hong Kong A unique golf facility, designed by Nicklaus Design, and built by Southwest Greens Construction, is set to open this year in Hong Kong. Article by Scott MacCallum. We’d all like to see into the future, right? Twenty five years ago, standing outside a telephone booth in the rain waiting for someone to finish a call, wouldn’t it have been comforting to know that not too much later we’d all be walking around with mobile phones in our pockets? Not only that, we’d also have access to every single piece of information in the world in that little phone. Mind blowing! Well, those who want to know what golf might be like in the future may have the luxury of seeing it in action now… if they can get themselves to a soon-tobe-opened facility in Hong Kong, set to open before the end of 2015. The Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy, designed by Nicklaus Design and built by Southwest Greens Construction, will boast a state-of-theart three storey driving range and six hole course, including magnificent water features and a short game area all aimed

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at opening the wonderful game of golf up to the young and keen adult beginners. The facility is located in the Sai Kung area which is known for its stunning natural countryside and in addition to its unique golf facilities it will also have overnight accommodation, dining, a fitness centre and other leisure pursuits. But the game changer at the Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy is that it will be built entirely with market-leading synthetic turf systems thus ensuring stunning playing conditions 24/7, 12 months of the year. “We have a complete product range of synthetic turf systems covering every conceivable area on a golf course, whether it be fairways, rough, tees, bunker areas, cart paths, lake bank stabilization and, of course, the core product being our golf green surfaces,” explained Kevin Holinaty, president of Southwest Greens Construction.

Golf has not been as quick to embrace the synthetic surface as some other sports, and much of that was down to the quality of the product at the time, coupled with the natural conservative nature of golfers, but Holinaty is seeing the rate of progress increasing, particularly over the last five years. “In the early days the quality products were just not there, and golfers are so much more demanding about the surface on which they play than sportsmen and women in other sports. “But we have evolved and developed products which perform exceptionally well. Coupled with that we have worked hard to educate the market, demonstrating what is possible,” explained Holinaty. The Southwest Greens’ alliance with Nicklaus Design brings together two of the premier players in the golf development arena, delivering the vision of the developer – New World Development – whose goal was to produce the ideal


southwestgreens.eu SPORTS HYBRID The masterplan for the Hong Kong Golf & Tennis academy (main picture) and right, construction work in progress. Below, an artists impression of the swimming pool complex

“It is going to be a truly great place for sports lovers to gather, be trained and excel”

golf experience, not to mention one of the finest training facilities, in one of the most iconic venues in the world. “With the variety of synthetic turf surfaces from Southwest Greens, the Nicklaus Academy will be able to simulate the finest conditions possible – without the potential of damaging the environment with fertilisers and pesticides,” said Ted Simons, chief operating officer for Nicklaus Academies, who will be operating their Academy Program at the facility. Southwest Greens International has worked with Nicklaus Design for several years in a marketing alliance for the Southwest Greens residential product channel, but the Hong Kong project is the first whereby Nicklaus Design is providing the design, with Southwest Greens Construction building the facility. Founded in 1996 in the USA, Southwest Greens International is considered to be the global leader in designing and installing synthetic turf for both residential and commercial use, and it now boasts over 75 franchisees in more than 20 countries. Over 35 top PGA golfers, including Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, and Annika Sorenstam have improved their short games thanks to a Southwest Green putting surface in their gardens,

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while there are many, as yet unknown, would-be golfing superstars practising hard on home-based greens, trying to reach the same heights. Southwest Greens Construction is the global construction arm for Southwest Greens International, responsible for executing all major commercial projects for the Southwest Greens brand. “We see it as a very exciting time for both of our companies, and another example of how perceptions are changing to the extent that clients are willing to look at synthetic solutions as real and truly viable options,” said Holinaty. The beauty of the new facility will be its ability to change from driving range to six hole pitch and putt course depending on the need at the time, and it ensures that the needs of the Hong Kong golfers to hone their driving skills at key times in the day can be combined with the new breed of young golfer learning the intricacies of the game under the tutelage of high quality Nicklaus Academy coaches on perfect surfaces. Designed by golf course architect Jim Wagner of Nicklaus Design, the development ensures that the very most is made out of the space available, while at the same time ensuring that new golfers as well as those more experienced are fulfilled by their experience.

“Our client has provided us with an extraordinary opportunity to showcase the relationships that Mr Nicklaus has forged over the years between Nicklaus Design, Nicklaus Academies and Southwest Greens,” said Wagner. “From early on in the project we had a vision to create a product that was not only unique, but pioneering in the development of golf. “The partnerships and relationships that exist within the Nicklaus Companies, as well as our client’s trust in our recommendations, have allowed us to create that product in an innovative and exciting fashion, incorporating a high level of teaching and operations with state of the art synthetic surfaces that eliminate fertilizers and pesticides and preserve an ideal ball reaction.” In addition to its unique golf facilities, the Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy, which is due to open before the end of the year, will also have overnight accommodation, dining, a fitness centre and other leisure pursuits. “It is going to be a truly great place for sports lovers to gather, be trained and excel,” said Jay Liu, Kai Wai, of Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy. So the future of golf... stunning facilities in pristine condition, and not a mower in sight. Mind blowing! GMé

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yamaha golf cars

ALL TERRAIN The Yamaha golf car affords both golfers and club operators a degree of comfort and security

Why Yamaha is Driven to Succeed With a new European directive, Scott MacCallum talks to Will Scotson of Yamaha UK about the plans to drive the golf car business forward, whilst growing market share. Think of Yamaha and you automatically conjure up either an image of super-fast motor cycles, or musical instruments. But there is another image of Yamaha which is developing within a certain sector and which will continue to become ever more familiar – that of super-quiet golf buggies. Yamaha golf buggies arrived in the UK over 15 years ago to compete in one of the toughest golf-related industry sectors, and since then the company has developed its range of high-end buggies, in both petrol and battery versions.

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The buggies have been well received and can be seen at some of the best known golfing venues in the country, including St Andrews Links Trust, Wentworth, and the Crown Golf Group, but the campaign to increase market share recently received additional impetus with the opening of a brand new facility in Woking, Surrey, and the integration of the UK business into a direct branch of Yamaha Motor Europe, based in its Dutch Headquarters. “Our buggies are manufactured in Atlanta, Georgia and shipped over to our

central European warehouse in France before stock is transferred to our UK operation,” explained Will Scotson, the Golf Car sales manager for Yamaha UK. It is the UK-based business which Scotson believes gives Yamaha an advantage over their rivals. “We have a dedicated direct lease operation as well as a network of over 25 dealers, and we know that the aftersales service we provide is second to none. We offer a 48-hour call-out for any carts on lease, with extensive parts support from our European Parts Warehouse also in

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“With time restraints for everyone now so critical, being able to rent a buggy can often make or break the decision to play at a club nowadays”

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Holland, where parts can be sent overnight if required.” With elements in place, Yamaha is strongly positioned to secure new – whilst retaining existing – business with golf clubs who need to explore all the areas of revenue generation in these more frugal times. “With time restraints for everyone now so critical, being able to rent a buggy can often make or break the decision to play at a club nowadays,” explained Scotson. “A club can rent a new buggy from us for just £25 a week – including a full service package – and so it only needs to be hired out at even £15 a round, a couple of times a week, for it to make economic sense. “The larger the fleet then the potential income can start to mount up,” added Scotson, who also pointed out that golf club societies and players on corporate days are increasingly looking to take advantage of buggies if a golf club has them available.

“We offer flexible direct leasing packages covering anything from three to five years, and these are available on both our petrol and battery options,” continued Scotson, who joined Yamaha from the Trojan battery company, which is the preferred supplier for not only Yamaha, but other suppliers in the field too. “Battery technology is improving all the time and concerns about a buggy lasting 18 holes on hilly golf courses are very much a thing of the past, with a quality battery now lasting more than 1,000 rounds. “Increasingly more people are leasing battery powered buggies as they are a lot quieter and much more environmentally friendly,” continued Scotson. “Clubs often start out with a small fleet of four to six vehicles, and there are some of the larger golf and multi-course developments which may have 35-40 buggies in their fleet. A fleet that size, does require a decent sized facility in which to house them securely overnight,

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and in the case of the battery models, provide recharging points.” Yamaha entered the market with its first petrol model in 1979 and this was followed by its first battery model a year later. Since then, developments have continued to be made,and this year has seen integrated battery filling systems fitted as standard on the G29-E electric version. The Yamaha golf car range continues to grow with the arrival, this year, of the YTF-2 electric utility vehicle, which has a load carrying tipper bed, and can be changed to become a range ball collector, or a food and beverage unit. In addition, the company also offers four and six seater cars as well as a range of fully approved refurbished cars. Yamaha is ensuring that it can compete in all buggy-related markets and it won’t be long before the first thought when Yamaha comes to mind, is quiet efficient golf buggies rather than musical instruments. GMé


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insurance

“If trophies haven’t been valued for a number of years, you may find that their value has increased considerably in that time”

PRIZED ASSET Golf club trophies are a value commodity for burglars

Ensure that your club has adequate Insurance Scott MacCallum talks to golf club insurance expert, John Hayes from Marsh, about ensuring that your club has adequate insurance cover. A golf club that has adequate insurance cover for all of its needs will not only give the club manager valuable piece of mind, but it may also help to save the club considerable sums of money. By their very nature, golf clubs are one of the insurance industry’s most complicated customers due to the wide range of risks involved in the day-to-day running of clubs. Out on the course itself, golfers of all abilities are launching 1.68 inch missiles, in some cases with minimal control, into areas populated by their fellow players. In addition to potential claims from errant golf shots, golf clubs need to ensure that every potential risk is assessed and the necessary precaution is taken. There are cases where golf clubs have found themselves on the wrong end of a civil action because there were insufficient signposts highlighting potential hazards. In addition to this, it’s impor-

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tant to make sure that paths, steps and bridges are well maintained, and in good order to help minimise the risk associated with uneven surfaces, which even the very finest golf courses may possess. It is clear there has been a shift in underwriting emphasis. As little as two or three years ago, insurers’ focus was often on stemming the frequency and severity of theft and malicious damage losses. Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of machinery and equipment may be stored in maintenance facilities – often in isolated areas – along with a fleet of expensive buggies being charged overnight. Poorly secured machinery has resulted in numerous thefts or vandalism claims that in some cases, results in the culprits causing considerable damage to the course. However, this has reduced in recent years, and clubs are making tremendous efforts to improve security. Insurers are now finding that there is an increas-

ing demand to help clubs reduce the number of slips, trips and falls claims and improving defensibility of public liability claims. One important area that should not be ignored by a club, is making sure it has accurate and up-to-date valuations of its assets. Head inside the clubhouse, towards the bar and you may be wowed by an array of trophy cabinets, each boasting magnificent cups, quaichs and shields – many dating back to the foundation of the club. “Trophy valuation can sometimes be a job that’s overlooked. If trophies haven’t been valued for a number of years, you may find that their value has increased considerably in that time, and that they are now underinsured,” said John Hayes, commercial development executive for Marsh, one of the world’s leading insurance and risk management companies. “There are other areas that can often be underinsured, in particular, valuations of buildings, plant and machinery, and

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“At Marsh, we work closely with our underwriters and clients to find effective solutions”

ASSESSING RISK John Hayes, commercial development executive for Marsh

cups and trophies can be set too low,” explained Hayes. The consequences of this might be the “application of average”, where insurers reduce the claims settlement by the percentage of underinsurance against the true value. “Additionally, clubs with sizable buildings may choose to arrange business interruption cover with a 12 month indemnity period. However, following a large loss, for example, a fire to the main building, the time it takes to rebuild or repair and recover their pre-loss position can take well in excess of 12 months,” he cautioned. It’s clear that the golf club insurance market has been going through some major changes in the past 12 months, with several golf club schemes switching their insurers, while others are having to increase prices, implement restrictive policy terms or face closure of their scheme. In light of these challenging times, Marsh is ideally placed to identify issues and provide bespoke solutions that offer peace of mind for golf club managers. “At Marsh, we work closely with our underwriters and clients to find effective solutions,” added Hayes. “Without discounting the need to increase premiums for badly performing cases, we will also try to work with the club to improve security and health and safety procedures, which may help persuade insurers

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to continue with the risk while maintaining a competitive premium.” Marsh has over 30 years of experience in arranging insurance for a wide range of golf clubs, including some of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in the UK. The company provides cover in a wide range of areas such as personal accident, public liability, directors and officers liability, Road Traffic Act Cover and services including emergency response planning, strategic risk assessment, safety management and crisis and contingency planning. “Our experienced and expert team delivers risk and insurance solutions that may help clients reduce costs, smooth volatility and improve efficiency. Using the breadth of experience we have in the golf industry, we are able to offer sound advice to our clients to help reduce risk and potential claims,” he added. While in many cases golf clubs are run by full-time professional club managers, there are still a number of members’ clubs which are operated on a voluntary or part-time basis, which creates an excellent spirit and feeling of community within the club. However, this can also mean that resources are stretched, which may result in clubs not having the capacity to dedicate the time and care needed to ensure sufficient insurance cover is in place.

Marsh has experience of working with a number of major sporting organisations and associations and has dedicated professionals working on sports-related issues on a full-time basis and are ideally placed to assist such clubs. “Many golf clubs are looking at separate liability policies for their members, but often members are already covered under the existing golf club commercial policy so there is no need to add in extra cover and expense by way of a special individual member policy,” continued Hayes. “It pays to have a chat with your broker and/or your insurance company to identify exactly what is covered by the policy and what is not. It may prevent the club and its members from wasting money, needlessly.” While there are many areas of golf club insurance which are a mystery to officials and members alike, there is one policy which we all like to make a claim on. The odds on a hole-in-one have been calculated at 12,500-1 but you can be sure the odds drop severely on days when the course and clubhouse are full and buying a round would bring a tear to your eye – as opposed to holing out when the only people around are your regular fourball and the club steward, thereby covering your obligations for less than a tenner! Either way, it’s better to be covered. GMé


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manawatu golf club

It’s the age of Enlightenment for Manawatu Golf Club Manawatu Golf Club may be one of New Zealand’s oldest golf clubs, but the man at the helm is wise beyond his years, as Mark Alexander discovered following a trip down-under recently to meet-up with 29-year-old, Michael Williams.

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manawatugolfclub.com WOOD FOR THE TREES A tee box at Manawatu displaying the clubs proud heritage (right) and a scenic view from the rough of the 15th green

The Manawatu Golf Club is proud of its heritage. It is, after all, New Zealand’s oldest golf course on its original site. For such a young country, this is a point of interest to value and cherish, and it shows. Joshua Munn has been a member here since he was 16 and is one of an army of volunteers that heads out onto the course to repair divots and pitchmarks. The fact that he is one of the first to volunteer his time is commendable, but as he is the reigning New Zealand amateur champion, perhaps his commitment illustrates the pride felt by many members about this old layout. “I try and do everything I can for the club, because they’ve done so much for me,” says the 23 year old earnestly. “Around here, you need to hit it straight because all the holes are tree-lined. You don’t need to hit it long as it’s only 6,000m off the back tees, but accuracy is at a premium. It has definitely helped me develop my game.” Munn’s meteoric rise has helped his province win titles such as the SBS Invitational in 2012 and Toro Interprovincial in 2013, but it is his passion for the club that has supported his development and the course that has helped him shape his game that is so compelling. “You’ve got to be a good ball striker around here to shoot good scores,” says

Michael Williams, general manager at Manawatu Golf Club. “If you grow up playing this course, your game would be naturally honed by the environment and the tight fairways. You learn to keep the ball in play, hit low shots and bump and runs. It helps develop your game.” Williams has being running the venerable club for nearly four years and apart from helping Munn on his way to golfing stardom, he’s been doing an impressive job. The club’s flourishing membership has reached a steady 1,000 and the clubhouse is generating a healthy income through its coffee shop/restaurant and function facilities. Unlike many other clubs with a 120-year history, Manawatu is lively and profitable. In fact despite its history, Manawatu isn’t a club that dwells on the past. There are occasional references made to the bygone years but this isn’t a place that values out-of-sync traditions or cordons off its wood-panelled locker rooms. Quite the opposite in fact. Instead of looking back, this provincial club has embraced the future, and not just in the young talented golfers it nurtures. “When I started I was 26,” remembers Williams. “I was the youngest general manager in New Zealand by quite a way. I go to all the conferences and networking events and I haven’t seen anyone around my age at this level.”

“I was the youngest general manager in New Zealand by quite a way. I go to all the conferences and networking events and I haven’t seen anyone around my age” twitter.com/gme

golfmanagement.eu.com | 47

GMé


GMé

manawatu golf club

“When people are in their 20s or 30s, there is a lot happening – mortgages, kids and all that stuff – time is an issue. And then they do the calculation and think it doesn’t stack up”

ON COURSE Michael Williams, general manager at Manawatu Golf Club

Williams has now reached the grand age of 29 and is able to use his advancing years to reflect on his career at the club to date. “I came in a little naively and thought it wouldn’t be an issue. Looking back now I probably had to work a bit harder to earn the club and the committees’ respect. The longer I am here, the less of an issue it becomes. As long as you’re doing a decent job, then it becomes secondary. But I guess you’ve got to get some runs on the board first, otherwise they might think you’re a bit wet behind the ears.” If the club’s busy social calendar, packed function suite and admired course is anything to go by, his run tally is mounting up nicely. But despite his success, Williams is all too aware of the preconceptions surrounding his age. “Looking back, it was probably a big decision on the committee’s behalf to go with me. It would have been easy to say I wasn’t ready for the role. Fortunately for me, they saw I had quite a bit of relevant experience even though I was only 26 and I guess that’s what they focused on.” Although it is almost inconceivable, Williams had clocked up more than four years relative industry experience before arriving at Manawatu. Originally from Hawkes Bay, the ambitious Williams completed a sports business management degree at Massey University before securing the general manager’s role at Palmserton North’s Squash Gym; one of New Zealand’s premier sporting clubs

48 | GMé February 2015

and a venue for a number of world championships. “I already had four or five years behind me,” Williams recalls. “It’s not an issue now, but in the beginning I am sure a few people questioned it.” To his credit, Williams has fitted in well to the golf club environment. As he passes through the busy lobby at Manawatu and out into the hectic dropoff zone, he greets each member by name. There is a calmness about him that belies his years conveying a reassuring confidence that everything is under his control. But his composure isn’t his only attribute. Williams has youth on his side and that means he connects with a vital segment of the golfing market that many golf clubs let slip through their fingers. “We have lots of different age-group categories,” he says. “Juniors up to 19, under 25s, under 30s, student and fiveday-a-week categories – it progresses them through to a full membership. We have lots of options.” A full playing membership at Manawatu is priced at NZ$1,095 while the under 30s get it for NZ$685, the under 25s pay NZ$465 and juniors stump up NZ$320. There are also options to pay by direct debit on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis and all prices are listed in full on the website. This structure gently progresses members through the membership categories giving them an

opportunity to adjust to each pricing level and, more importantly, consolidate their ties with the club. “You hear a lot of people when they are weighing up whether to become a member of a club dividing the membership price by how many games they’ll play in a year. “When people are in their 20s or 30s, there is a lot happening – mortgages, kids and all that stuff – time is an issue. And then they do the calculation and think it doesn’t stack up. But if they get a stepping stone; a discount, financially it makes more sense.” He continues: “From the club’s perspective, if we weren’t doing this, we might have a big generation gap and the fear is they would never come back. When they turn 40, will they come back to golf or are they gone forever? It is a big risk for a club and committee to say they’ll be back when they’re older and wiser. If they don’t, then it’s very hard to reverse.” Providing a staggered progression provides Manawatu’s next generation of full-paying members with an opportunity to entwine the club into their increasingly complicated lives. Persisting with this policy is indicative of the empathy Williams has for his members reaching that critical age when options and finances conspire against full membership. It’s the kind of connection that more clubs would do well to make, whatever their age. GMé


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“the difference between McIlroy and Murray’s mental strength in tough situations is palpable”

McIlroy versus Murray... It’s a matter of mind games I’m writing this the morning after Andy Murray reaffirmed his Scottish credentials – as opposed to his British roots – by losing to Novak Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open tennis. It was the same day, you may recall, that Ulsterman Rory McIlroy – definitely British – closed out successfully in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. It also highlighted the old adage that 90 per cent of sporting success is fought out between the ears. McIlroy has developed – out of adversity no doubt – a strong mental game. Murray was, so we are lead to believe, upset by all manner of things. Murray reminds me of the fictitious Mitchell Holmes, a golfer described in wonderful terms by PG Wodehouse’s Oldest Member... “The least thing upset him on the links. He missed short putts because of the uproar of the butterflies in the adjoining meadows.” Murray, it would appear, despite the vociferous urgings of girlfriend Kim Sears, suffers from the same malady as Mr Holmes, although he has nine years of professional experience behind him. Much has been written in recent years about the proliferation of ‘mind coaches’ – or sports psychologists as I’m sure they’d prefer to be called – in many sports. And most of it, let’s be honest, has been detrimental. But the difference between McIlroy and Murray’s mental strength in tough situations is palpable, giving credence to the psychologists’ claims that they can make the difference between winning and losing at the highest level.

50 | GMé February 2015

MENTAL ‘MELTDOWN’ A distraught Andy Murray during the Australian Open defeat to Novak Djokovic

If you can shut out negative thoughts and maintain concentration on your own game despite the activity of your opponent(s), the only thing holding you back will be a discernible lack of talent. And if you’re in the final of a Grand Slam tennis tournament or leading a top Tour event, chances are you can rest assured you have the talent. You just need to display mental fortitude. I’m not saying Murray would not have lost to Djokovic, who is, undoubtedly, one of the finest players we’ve ever seen. But, he would have given himself a better chance had he not been distracted by the tennis equivalent of butterflies and adjoining meadows. I say this as something of an authority on the subject – not of tennis, or golf for

that matter – but on negative thoughts, which have plagued my life, personally and professionally. Without them who knows what I could have achieved. For example, I might have been the author of the piece on page three, instead of being tucked away at the back of the magazine, like that embarrassing uncle you hide in a corner at Christmas. GMé

David Bowers editorial@golfmanagement.eu.com


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GMé | February 2015  

Golf Management Europe issuu 100

GMé | February 2015  

Golf Management Europe issuu 100

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