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On the cover...

Japansese manufacturer ISEKI announces the launch of a new subsidiary headed-up by former Jacobsen CEO, David Withers



£7.50 Issue 117 | January 2018

The essential business magazine for every golf course owner, director of golf, CEO and general manager operating a golf facility

Constructor, turned general manager, Stuart McColm is the man responsible for the day-to-day running of one of Europe’s finest links... Castle Stuart


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On the agenda january 2018 24


A Masterclass from Spink

PGA Fellow, Alastair Spink is the man behind the programme, which has been instrumental in attracting more women into the game of golf.


Kirk’s new Enterprise

On a mission to seek out new frontiers for golf club operators, Graeme Kirk is the captain of the forthcoming Golf Business Innovation Show at Celtic Manor next month.


No Black Ball for Griffiths

The son of snooker legend, Terry Griffiths, Darren has worked his way up through the ranks as a PGA professional, and is currently the director of golf at Monte Rei in Portugal.


A Warm Bajan Welcome

The Caribbean island of Barbados is famed for the warmth of its Bajan welcome, but it is also home to some world-class golf courses.



Best yet for Kingsbarns

Last year was one of the best ever years for Kingsbarns, with the Scottish links welcoming a record number of visitors, and also hosting the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

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


Publisher Executive editor Advertising Contributors

Michael Lenihan David Bowers Ken Anderson Yvonne Alexander, Aidan Patrick, Alastair Spink


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ISSN 1368-7727. Printed by The Manson Group. © 2018 Portman Publishing and Communications Limited. 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 is taken to ensure content in 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. If copyrighted material has ended up being treated as in the public domain due to the original source not being able to be tracked and correctly identified, please contact the publisher.

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from the publisher

“Resort courses should not lose sight of who their target audience actually is, especially when the average handicap is around 18”

When the Going Gets Tough... the tough go somewhere else Occasionally, when sitting down with somebody for a feature, the individual may say something with which one disagrees. But, readers do not want to know about the views of the interviewer and one generally stays quiet, for the feature is about the personality of the interviewee. However, two features in this edition contain comments from the interviewee which chimed exactly with my own views and were consequently greeted with a nod of approval. For some time I have had a real bee in my bonnet about resort course set-up. I’m really lucky doing this job. I get to travel a lot and play golf on some genuinely outstanding courses. I’m no Rory McIlroy, but, playing off 13, I’m no novice either. What frustrates me is how some resorts seem to delight in making their course unplayable for all but the very best – and then wear that exclusivity like a badge of pride. Resort courses should not lose sight of who their target audience actually is, especially when the average handicap is around 18. Recently, for example, I visited West Cliffs in Portugal – voted the world’s best new golf course – only to be told in the clubhouse by a single-figure handicapper before teeing-off, that the course was probably too tough for me. And, sure enough, I lost around eight Pro V1s during the round, when, under normal circumstances I would, perhaps, lose only one or two.

4 | GMé January 2018

EDGE OF THE CLIFF West Cliffs in Portugal, although visually stunning, is ‘challenging’ for the average golfer

So Stuart McColm’s comments – see page 24 – on the course set-up at Castle Stuart echoed my own views on the subject, as too did Darren Griffiths – see page 36 – who recalled visiting Monte Mayor as an ambitious, young pro. “It was just a fantastic golf course,” he said. “It was one of those places – like West Cliffs – where you could lose five, six balls as a scratch player. It was a feast or famine type of course.” That’s great if you’re hosting a Tour event – but not on a resort course. Golf courses can and should be designed to cater for all handicaps; but aesthetically pleasing penal rough, with no run-off areas, coupled with really challenging

greenside bunkering, is not much fun, and, at a resort course, is unlikely to win favour with somebody whose reason for visiting is to have fun. Chances are that individual won’t be encouraged to return for a second visit. Course managers and course architects should bear this in mind. GMé

Michael Lenihan

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Hold the front page A world leader in the design and manufacture of tractors and mowers, Japanese manufacturer ISEKI is set to transform its operation in the UK & Ireland with the opening of a new division.

“This is an exciting time for ISEKI. We will be investing more in marketing and promotions of the ISEKI brand”

Cover sponsored by ISEKI UK & Ireland (44) 01473 599266

UK & IRELAND 6 | GMé January 2018

Japanese machinery manufacturer, ISEKI, has announced the launch of ISEKI UK & Ireland – a company formed with investment from ISEKI for the sole purpose of distributing the ISEKI range of products, and growing market share in the UK & Ireland. For a number of years, the ISEKI product line has been distributed in the UK and Ireland by Ransomes Jacobsen in Ipswich, Suffolk, and former Jacobsen CEO, David Withers, will head-up the new operation as managing director. Withers is well known in the industry having served for many years at Ransomes and Jacobsen, and more recently working as a business consultant in the golf industry. “On behalf of ISEKI, I would like to sincerely thank Ransomes Jacobsen for all their hard work and dedication over this period and look forward to building on this foundation,” said Withers. “I started working with ISEKI when the franchise came to Jacobsen in 1996, and have always enjoyed being involved with such an exciting and reliable product line. “When ISEKI outlined their strategic vision of getting closer to the customers by investing in their own distribution in the UK it made sense to me – I am really looking forward to joining ISEKI UK in the

new year to head up this exciting new venture.” Based out of new premises, also in Ipswich, Withers has plans to double the size of the business over the coming years. To help him with this goal he has been joined by John Clifford, sales manager; Matthew Whyte, customer support manager; Graham Hooper, commercial manager and Richard Tyrrell as product and marketing manager. “This team has a tremendous amount of industry experience and contacts, and having worked with them over many years, I know how competent and hard working they are. “This core group shares my vision for ISEKI, and we are all extremely excited about the challenges and opportunities that await us in 2018.” Kazuya Tani the European managing director of ISEKI added: “This is an exciting time for ISEKI. We will be investing more in marketing and promotions of the ISEKI brand and want to see a wider acceptance of our products through expanding our markets served and getting more share from existing customers. “The commitment of ISEKI to the UK market will be significant, and we trust that the market will react positively to this approach. GMé

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RSPB Scotland voices objection to proposed Coul Links development in Scotland Last month, RSPB Scotland submitted its objection to proposals to build a golf course on a globally important wildlife site at Coul Links in East Sutherland. In a statement, RSPB Scotland stated that local wildlife groups have also expressed their desire to see the site saved from the plans put forward by developers American multi-millionaires Mike Keiser and Todd Warnock. Throughout the year Coul Links is home to many species of birds, which the RSPB claim would be destroyed should the proposals be given the go ahead. Alison Searl, conservation officer at RSPB Scotland said: “There’s a reason why Coul Links is so heavily protected through national and European designations – it’s an outstanding place for nature and an incredibly rare habitat. “It cannot be moved or replicated elsewhere; should these proposals be given the go ahead the amazing place would be lost forever and the impact on the birds currently found here throughout the year would be serious. “The number of objections to these plans shows just how widespread concerns about them are, not only from conservation organisations, including one from SEPA this week, but also local people who are worried about the impact the golf course would have.” David McAllister of Tain and District Field Club added: “Coul Links is alive with

nature all year round and draws many people here to see it. “It’s a wonderful place to enjoy being outside and you can see some of the amazing birds, butterflies, amphibians and plants Scotland is home to – it’s one of our club’s favourite places in the area,” said McAllister. “We are very worried about what impact the golf course would have here, not only with the loss of the Coul Links, but also how much disturbance would be created once the golf course is up and running.” In a strongly worded response, Chris Haspell, project manager for Coul Links,

CMAE delight in Marbella

Dubai scoops Golf Destination of the Year at IAGTO Awards

The board of the CMAE were ‘delighted’ at the success of the recent European Club Management conference which was held in Marbella toward the end of November. Attracting over 100 delegates from 22 different countries, delegates enjoyed presentations from leaders in the club management industry including Javier Reviriego of Real Club Valderamma, Marc Newey CCM, CCE of Roehampton Club and Paul Armitage of Le Golf National, all who shared their secrets to successful leadership. Other speakers on the conference programme were Susan Stevenson, Trevor Coughlan, Bill McFarlan, Lodewijk Klootwijk, Darshan Singh and Kevin Fish CCM who all provided their observations on characteristics of a successful manager and high performing team. During the conference the CMAE held their AGM where outgoing president, Marc Newey CCM, CCE handed over the baton to new president David Roy CCM.

8 | GMé January 2018

The proposed site at Coul Links

Christian Roemer with the award

Dubai has been recognised by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) at its annual Awards ceremony, collecting the Golf Destination of the Year for Africa, Gulf States & Indian Ocean 2018 title. This award, which was chosen by IAGTO members and presented during a glitzy ceremony at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, France, is testament to the vision of Dubai, which has shaped the develop-

said: “Detailed studies have taken place at Coul Links in relation to the potential impacts of the proposed development. SNH and our team agree on this and these have simply been ignored by the RSPB in their latest inaccurate and inexplicable comments. The development touches on less than two per cent of the overall site. “Far from destroying this important habitat, the Coul Links proposal represents the only funded management plan to prevent the site being lost. Their comments are so laced with inaccuracies that we have decided to write to the RSPB Council to register our concern.”

ment of Dubai’s golfing landscape over a period of more than 30 years. This acknowledgement of golf as a key tourism driver has seen Dubai establish one of the most advanced golf tourism programmes, servicing operators and customers with its renowned high standards. One of the most significant recent steps in reaffirming Dubai’s commitment to attracting visitors has been the creation of, a new website which has been designed to enhance awareness of the golf destination that convenes – for the first time in one place – everything visitors and tour operators need to know about golf in the city. Christian Roemer, Golf Tourism manager of Falcon Golf, said of the award: “Dubai continues to show impressive growth in its stature as a world-leading golf destination and must now be considered amongst the very best provisioned regions globally when it comes to attracting golfing tourists.”


Ingersoll-Rand set to acquire GPSi Holdings

In brief... Justin Rose has been announced as the tournament host for the 2018 British Masters supported by Sky Sports, with the Olympic Champion choosing Walton Heath, in Surrey, as the venue from October 11-14. “Walton Heath is a golf course I really, really enjoy playing, in fact I love it,” said Rose. “I went back to Walton Heath in the summer just to ensure I wanted to take the tournament there and I had forgotten how good a golf course it is.” The European Tour has partnered with Tata Communications to build a global technology platform that will help to underpin the digital transformation of golf and help attract new, younger fans to the sport. As the Official Global Connectivity Supplier of the European Tour, Tata Communications will distribute the video feeds from 47 European Tour tournaments in 30 countries and across five continents to 40 broadcasters using its global network and Media Ecosystem, reaching close to half a billion golf fans. Finca Cortesin Hotel, Golf & Spa has received global acclaim from the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) after being unveiled as the winner of the 2018 IAGTO Sustainability Award for Resource Efficiency. The resort in Andalucia, Spain, claimed the coveted award for the first time after being singled out for special praise by the judging panel for its commitment to water conservation. Troon International, the upscale golf course management, development and marketing company, has announced its latest appointment; to provide golf club operations and marketing services to Victoria Golf and Country Resort, a Donald Steeldesigned 18-hole masterpiece in Digana, Sri Lanka, which opened for play in 1998.

Ingersoll-Rand plc has announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire GPSi Holdings, LLC from Falconhead Capital, LLC. GPSi is a leading technology provider of cloud-based technology solutions for fleet managers in various transportation markets including education, golf and resorts. Its custom software solutions, combined with a high level of customer support, address diverse needs and are designed to increase productivity and maximize revenue opportunities for fleet owners. It is headquartered in Sarasota, Fla. and has offices in Austin, Texas and East Sussex, England. “As a leader in telematics, we are pleased to deepen our capabilities in delivering exceptional customer value and end user experience for Ingersoll Rand customers,” said Dave Regnery, executive vice president of Ingersoll Rand. “With GPSi, we are well positioned to help customers maximise the value of their fleets, and to capitalise on the multi-billion dollar market for intelligent mobile assets across trucking, resort, golf, education, rental and other industries.” David S. Moross, chairman and chief executive officer of Falconhead Capital added: “We are proud of the growth and development of GPSi under our

ownership, and have executed on a wide range of initiatives designed to make the company’s technology and service offerings increasingly valuable to customers in a variety of end markets. “In particular, our long relationship with Ingersoll Rand is a clear illustration of the value of GPSi and a critical element of our success. Ingersoll Rand’s decision to now acquire GPSi is a strong endorsement of what has been achieved and we are confident that GPSi will continue to reach new heights as part of a leading global company.” For nearly a decade, Ingersoll Rand has been successfully integrating GPSi connectivity offerings with Club Car vehicles, and have connected over 70,000 vehicles in 50 countries through the Visage platform.

Visage, a GPSi and Club Car partnership

Video review protocols introduced for televised events

Broadcasting golf

A working group led by The R&A and the USGA has unanimously agreed to adopt a new set of protocols for video review when applying the Rules of Golf. The group, consisting of the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA European Tour, Ladies European Tour and The PGA of America, as well as the governing bodies, will assign one or more officials to monitor the video broadcast of a competition to help identify and resolve Rules issues as they arise, and discontinue any steps to

facilitate or consider viewer call-ins as part of the Rules decision process. In addition, The R&A and the USGA have approved the adoption of a Local Rule, available from January 1, to eliminate the additional two-stroke penalty for failing to include a penalty on the score card when the player was unaware of the penalty. All of the organisations will introduce the Local Rule for 2018 and this score card penalty will be permanently removed when the modernised Rules of Golf take effect on January 1, 2019. David Rickman, executive director – Governance at The R&A, said: “This has clearly become an important issue in the sport that we felt we should address at this stage ahead of the implementation of the updated Rules of Golf in 2019. “We have concluded that whilst players should continue to be penalised for all breaches of the Rules during a competition, including any that come to light after the score card is returned, an additional penalty for the score card error is not required.” | 9




Royal Wellington in New Zealand achieve GEO Certification Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand has been awarded GEO Certification, the international marque of recognition for sustainability in golf. Royal Wellington’s chief executive, Kurt Greve, said: “Environmental and social responsibility is a big part of our club’s philosophy and vision, which was shown this year hosting New Zealand’s biggest ever golf event – the 2017 AAC Tournament – which was broadcast in 160 countries around the world. “Achieving GEO Certification is an enormous milestone for us and confirms from an internationally recognised body that we are doing the right things for the environment and our club.’’ To ensure the preservation of natural habitats, Royal Wellington collaborated with leading New Zealand environmental agencies on stream, wetland and woodland management including buffer zones to protect sensitive areas. Solar powered sensors were also installed to monitor the flow of the course’s waterways. Furthermore, a tree advisory group supports the club in caring for its valuable forest areas, which include unique New Zealand species, such as a 500-year-old Kahikatea. A significant effort has also been made to increase resource efficiency. In 2015, an energy audit led to LED light-

Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand

ing upgrades and other energy efficient resource management. Petrol powered golf carts have been replaced by models fitted with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, and an investment schedule has been put in place for replacing maintenance machinery and irrigation hardware with new, more resource efficient technology.

After receiving notification that the club would be granted CEO Certification, John Spraggs, director of agronomy at Royal Wellington Golf Club said: “We have always put a lot of effort into being a sustainable golf course in all areas and now it is very satisfying to receive recognition through such an internationally respected certification.”

New coaches at Al Hamra appoints Troon to Scandinavian bolster presence in key markets The Scandinavian, located near Copenhagen, Denmark, has reached an agreement to become a base for the Dansk Golf Akademi. As part of the arrangement, coaches Peter Thomsen, Andreas Kali and Nicolai Cetti Engstrøm – who already operate out of other locations in Denmark including Royal Golf Club, Golf I Lunden, Lyngbygaard Golf Club and Frederikssund Golf Club – will join The Scandinavian as part of the coaching team, and will join existing coach Camilla Brok at the Danish club. David Shepherd, CEO at The Scandinavian commented: “I am delighted that Peter and his team have agreed to become part of the coaching team at The Scandinavian. “Since arriving in Denmark, I have been incredibly impressed with the work that Peter and his team have done developing players in the region, and I believe that together with Camilla, Peter, Andreas and Nicolai will give our members the very best coaching options in the region.”

10 | GMé January 2018

Troon has announced their appointment to provide full management services to Al Hamra Golf Club in Ras Al Khaimah – the northern most Emirate in the UAE. Part of Ras Al Khaimah’s largest realestate developer Al Hamra Group (AHG), the golf course has risen to prominence since opening ten years ago. The course attracts visitors from around the world, providing the perfect blend of first-class conditions, service and climate. “Al Hamra is one of the central attractions in Ras Al Khaimah and the Emirates as a whole,” said Mark Chapleski, president, Troon International Division. “The property is the perfect fit for the Troon International portfolio. “When you factor in the quality of Peter Harradine’s design and the Al Hamra clubhouse, along with the proximity of thousands of hotel rooms, you have the makings for a very successful and sustainable golf destination.” As well as the 7,325-yard par 72 layout, Al Hamra Village offers a host of off course pursuits, attracting guests

from all corners of the globe from the golf academy, to a wealth of F&B outlets, including the Bay Sports Bar and Pesto Restaurant, to first-class shopping opportunities within Al Hamra Mall and Manar Mall – the first and largest shopping mall in Ras Al Khimah, to the Marine and Sailing Club. “The introduction of Troon’s International Division will help Al Hamra enhance its leisure products offering and evolve its global appeal in key feeder markets,” commented Benoy Kurien, general manager of Al Hamra Group.

Mark Chapleski (right) with Benoy Kurien

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German golfers spend the most on their golf holidays, new research reveals German golfers spent more on their ‘non-domestic’ golf holidays in the last 12 months than their counterparts from the UK, France and Sweden, with an average spend of €2,041, a new survey has revealed. The report produced by Sports Marketing Surveys Inc. – the official research partner of International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) – highlighted the average spend by German golfers has increased by 25 per cent when compared with survey results from 2012. Based on responses from more than 9,500 core golfers (those playing at least 12 times per year) across Europe’s four largest golf markets, the report also shows that German golfers booked longer golf breaks, with an average stay of 6.9 days. French golfers spent the second most on their golf holidays, with an average spend of €1,777, an increase of 13 per cent from 2012, and stayed 5.7 days, while Swedish golfers spent €1,080 with a stay of 6.6 days. UK golfers spent the least with an average spend of €946 per golf holiday, down 12 per cent from 2012, and a length of stay of 5.8 days. Commenting on the research, Peter Grimster, exhibition manager at Reed

Travel Exhibitions, said: “As with the survey we commissioned in 2012, this 2017 report sheds a light on the behaviours of golfers from Europe’s largest golf markets. “While golfers from the UK and Sweden have reduced their average spend slightly over the last five years, the results clearly demonstrate the ongoing opportunities for tour operators to sell to

New disability event launched

#WomenOnCourse campaign continues at Saadiyat Beach

England Golf will launch a disability championship for the first time in 2019, as part of its calendar of events. Over the past two years, England Golf has worked with the charity BALASA Golf to shape a national championship and it has now been confirmed that England Golf will take sole responsibility for this event from 2019. This will be the first time that the England Golf championship programme has included a disability event and it underlines the organisation’s commitment to being customer focussed. The championship will offer a competitive opportunity to golfers who are an important part of the game – and their views are being sought to shape the event. Jamie Blair, disability manager for England Golf, said: “This a fantastic step forward and shows our commitment to providing for disabled people at all levels within our game. Offering an event that will be shaped by disabled golfers will allow us to ensure we provide a great experience and will cement this event within our championship programme.”

With the help of the world’s best female golfers, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, continued its mission to inspire more women to take up the great game of golf by rolling out its #WomenOnCourse campaign for the second year running during the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open (FBMLO). With 2016’s defending champion, Beth Allen, and Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth, who finished in third place this year, at the front of the campaign, #WomenOnCourse has already reached tens of thousands of people worldwide. Championing the club’s position as a pioneer of women’s golf, in line with the FBMLO, the club ran a host of activities celebrating both the great game of golf and the lessons it teaches – all with #WomenOnCourse at its heart. Beth Allen, said: “One of the most important parts of being a professional golfer is to grow the game and to see women starting golf here in the UAE is really special.” Ed Edwards, general manager at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, said: “We are overwhelmed at the support our

12 | GMé January 2018

Richard Payne of Sports Marketing Surveys Inc.

an audience of core golfers, particularly in Germany and France, who continue to spend a considerable amount of money when they book their golf holidays,” said Grimster. The research also indicated that Spain remains the first choice of golf destination, with at least 14 per cent of all golfers from each market visiting the country for a golf break in the last 12 months.

Camilla Lennarth during a coaching session

#WomenOnCourse campaign has received from the Ladies European Tour players and spectators that have visited our course throughout the tournament week. “#WomenOnCourse, as a campaign, exists to encourage more girls and ladies, especially here in the UAE but also worldwide, to participate in this great game, and we have some amazing examples of how it has already helped us to achieve this goal.”

people news

Movers & Shakers A brief pictorial round-up of some of the individuals shaping the golf business, including news of an award for Amy Yeates, director of golf, spa and leisure at Fairmont St Andrews.







In brief... Having played its part in the ‘Year to Go’ celebrations at Le Golf National in France, preparations are now underway for Club Car to provide a 500-strong fleet of vehicles to the 2018 Ryder Cup. “Seeing both captains in their team cars at Le Golf National for the first time was a very proud moment for everyone at Club Car,” said Marco Natale, vice president of Club Car in EMEA. A new survey has revealed that Italy is the number one destination for travellers and things are looking just as promising for Italian golf, with latest figures showing that the number of international green fees booked has risen by 40 per cent in the last three years. Recent research for the 2017 World Travel Market has found that six out of ten UK people would prefer to visit Italy rather than the likes of the US, Greece and Spain, and the country’s golf courses are experiencing a boom with players eager to experience the new star of European golf tourism. Kent County Golf Union have appointed Sarah McDonald as their first female county secretary – and reorganised her job so that the union can be more supportive of the 85 clubs it represents. Kent county chairman Peter Long commented: “It’s going to be quite different. We are trying to get away from the old style approach and the view that golf is just a male led sport – it isn’t.” 59club and Players 1st have joined England Golf’s network of Preferred Partners, with the customer service specialists offering preferential rates to affiliated clubs. Iain Lancaster, England Golf Club engagement manager said: “We are excited to extend our partnership with 59club, with whom we have worked for three years, and we welcome Players 1st as a new partner in this key area of customer service and experience.”


Director of Golf, Spa and Leisure at Fairmont St Andrews, Amy Yeates, who was described by her nominee as being at the forefront of the evolution of golf in Scotland, has been named the GCMA Manager of the Year.


Mottram Hall has appointed Lee Marshall, 37, as the club’s new golf operations manager. Apart from a stint at a golf club in Estonia, Marshall has spent his career as a PGA professional in the Far East, working in China and Vietnam.


Former captain and Ryder Cup player Tommy Horton has passed away at the age of 76 after a long illness. Horton, who was PGA captain in 1978 and played in two Ryder Cups, won four Tour events during his career.


Castle Stuart golf operations team member, Sean Gunn, who has a Diploma in Sports Coaching and a BA in Sports Management from Inverness College, has started an internship at The Emirates Golf Club in Dubai during the winter period.


Belgium’s most decorated female golfer, Florence Descampe, has joined forces with Las Colinas Golf & Country Club in a partnership that sees the sixtime Ladies European Tour champion become an Official Ambassador.


Chris King has landed the job of head greenkeeper at Dunston Hall, in Norwich, straight from school – but he is certainly the right man for the job having left a second stint as head of grounds at nearby Town Close School. | 13


merchandising news

Pro Shop & Retail A brief pictorial round-up of events from the retail side of the industry, including news of an extended three-year deal between The PGA and Power Tee manufacturer, Golf-Tech.







In brief... Eaton has announced that its Golf Pride Grips Division plans to develop a new purpose-built facility in Pinehurst, North Carolina. The new facility will create a unique space to accelerate new product development and manage the global fulfilment of product around the world. In addition to its global management and professional teams, the site will include an R&D lab with rapid prototyping capabilities, as well as a new consumer grip fitting studio. Golf Pride plans to move to this new facility in early 2019. Frilford Heath member and Tour pro, Eddie Pepperell flew straight from the Dubai World Championships to officially open a brand new, stateof-the-art performance centre and golf shop, at the South Oxfordshire golf club. The new state-of-the-art Performance Centre will offer visitors the opportunity to practice and play on some of the world’s leading courses with the help of an innovative brand-new golf simulator. As winter starts to set in, post-golf visitors to Slaley Hall’s bars will be able to warm themselves with locally made spirits after the resort partnered with craft distiller Durham Distillery. The Langley Park-based distillery produces spirits sold under the Durham Gin and Durham Vodka brands, which are now available at Slaley Hall’s 19th conservatory bar and Claret Jug pub and clubhouse. Anemoi Sport Limited, exclusive distributor for revolutionary clubmaker Vertical Groove Golf in the UK, Ireland, Spain, France and Germany, has appointed specialist golf marketing agency Magic Hour Media to handle its PR, advertising and media relations for 2018. Vertical Groove has changed the face of golf simply by rotating the grooves on the clubface 90 degrees, using its patented VGT Technology.


Golf-Tech, the manufacturer of automated teeing system, Power Tee, has strengthened its relationship with The PGA by upgrading its partnership status to become a PGA Partner in a new threeyear deal.


The use of Nippon Shaft products increased by 42 per cent on the men’s PGA and European tours in the 2017 season, with the company recording 27 victories worldwide according to data that was released last month.


ECCO Golf, have unveiled their latest innovation... the ECCO Biom Hybrid 3 featuring the groundbreaking new Tri-Fi-Grip outsole, which is the latest evolution of the brand’s multi-awardwinning ECCO Bion Hybrid franchise.


PING once again took home product and service awards at Foremost’s annual Golf Industry Awards, winning both Iron Model of the Year and Supplier of the Year, the tenth year in a row that the brand has won Supplier of the Year.


Volvik, brand leader in multicoloured golf balls, is now stepping up its search for more top-ranked players on the world’s leading Tours to play its S4 ball after ending its relationship with Bubba Watson by mutual agreement.


G/FORE’s new special edition Transporter II carry bag is ready to see some serious action in 2018. The latest version of the popular Transporter oozes G/FORE’s trademark class with an edgy style, which is sure to prove popular. | 15


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In the drain game we are winners


greenkeeping news

Machinery & Turf A brief pictorial round-up of course management related events including news of a major investment in John Deere equipment at Quinta do Lago in Portugal.







In brief... The European Institute of Golf Course Architects has announced that BIGGA are to become an EIGCA Patron. Commenting on the new partnership, EIGCA president, Ross McMurray, said: “It is vital that the EIGCA continues to develop closer ties with other important golf organisations, and I am delighted to welcome the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association as a new Patron.” Two London Golf Club greenkeepers were given the opportunity to ply their trade at Le Golf National in France recently, helping prepare the Albatros course ahead of the European Senior Tour’s Paris Legends Championship. Mark Allard and Chris Kibble, both Senior greenkeepers at London Golf Club, spent six days at the 2018 Ryder Cup venue in September, working alongside golf courses and estate manager, Alejandro Reyes, and his team. The programme of events for BTME 2018 is quickly taking shape, with the latest announcement seeing the return of a popular comedian. Ian Moore will be returning to the BIGGA Welcome Celebration sponsored by Textron Golf, where he will join television presenter and event host Naga Munchetty. Taking place on Tuesday January 23, 2018, the free-to-attend event begins at 5pm with attendees receiving a free drink upon arrival courtesy of BIGGA. DBS Energy, one of the UK’s leading battery distributors, has appointed Alex Beesley as its new golf sales manager. Beesley brings over ten years’ experience to his new role and will be responsible for growing business for the company’s range of lead acid and lithium batteries for the golf sector. Beesley said: “This is an exciting opportunity for me to bring my experience and golf industry contacts to DBS Energy.”


A major investment in John Deere equipment has been made by Quinta do Lago, for use on the Portuguese resort’s three courses in the Algarve. A similar deal has also been signed with sister resort PGA Catalunya in Spain.


Acumen Waste Services, with ClearWater and other Highspeed Group brands is investing in development and growth of these important facets of their expanding organisation, with BTME 2018 being a major priority.


Ahead of the forthcoming 2018 SMBC Singapore Open, Sentosa Golf Club is launching its Singapore Open Agronomy Volunteer Programme; a joint initiative supported by The R&A and GEO.


Yay Tagon Taung Golf Resort, located about 30 minutes’ drive east of Mandalay in Myanmar (formerly Burma), has taken delivery of yet more Jacobsen machinery after serving as a loyal customer for more than 20 years.


Knighton Heath Golf Club in Dorset have upgraded their existing Wiedenmann Terra Spike with course manager, Alan Magee saying: “We’re very pleased indeed. The machine is quiet, smooth and exceptionally balanced.”


Otterbine’s High Volume aerator has been installed in the golf practice area in The R&A’s Equipment Testing Centre at Kingsbarns, Scotland, to keep the water well-aerated and the build-up of algae to a minimum. | 17



max golf protein

Max & Cat’s vow to Max Golf Protein When Max Colman first met Cat Vickers, little did the couple realise that they’d one day share a business as well as their lives together. Aidan Patrick spoke to the newly-weds. When Max & Cat Colman launched Max Golf Protein onto an unsuspecting golfing public at Stoke Park in 2015, little did they realise that they were about to create a brand that would rapidly become widely recognised worldwide. The idea for a range of golf specific protein drinks first materialised when Max was a young professional golfer, and took centre-stage after Max met Cat Vickers – now Mrs Colman – when she was working in the media with an online sports channel. “I had been overweight as a young adult, which led to health problems, so decided to lose the weight and get fitter to improve my health and my career prospects,” explained Max. “However, I found that whenever I went to my golf club to practice, the only refreshments available were unhealthy, and high in both fat and sugar – such as fizzy drinks, chocolate bars and crisps – so I began making my own protein shakes, taking along powdered protein and mixing it with water and milk in a plastic shaker whilst on the course. “As you can imagine this was time consuming, messy, and when I left the shaker in my bag it smelt awful,” he recalls. Years later, and after a break from competing on the EuroPro Tour, Max met Cat in 2013 and told her about the idea to create a ready-to-drink protein drink for golfers. A former professional dancer as well as a fitness and nutritional enthusiast, Cat loved the idea and the couple set about producing a recipe that delivered on health, convenience, and, above all else, taste.

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Finally, in May 2015, after two years of market research; exploring routes to market and working on brand identity and packaging, the couple launched their first Max Golf Protein drink – a vanilla flavoured shake. “It was revolutionary concept in the golf world, and took the industry by surprise,” recollects Cat. “It was the first of its kind, and both Max and I were delighted that it was embraced by the market.” The brand quickly gained momentum with more and more golf clubs beginning to stock Max Golf Protein. Furthermore, many professional golfers also began to take the drink on Tour with them, which gave the brand a degree of credibility and exposure. Stoke Park was the first club to stock Max Golf Protein, and as retail manager Tim Harris explained, the partnership has been a success since the outset. “First impressions were very positive – clean and stylish graphics on the bottle to catch the customers eye combined with a flavour that turned this drink into my new favourite in the shop,” said Harris. “Max Golf Protein has built up its fan base within our membership quickly. They enjoy the flavour and benefits and we now have regular custom from both golf members and other customers who recognise the brand from their own clubs.” In August 2016, Max & Cat decided to extend the range to include a snack bar, and after extensive research into the market created the MGP Natural Peanut Energy Bar, which is made with organic ingredients and is vegan friendly.

“stylish graphics on the bottle to catch the customers eye combined with a flavour that turned this drink into my new favourite”

BRAND VALUES The Max Golf Protein family

A BAR IS BORN The MGP Natural Peanut Energy bar

SHAKEN NOT STIRRED The original shake

With such a small range, Max & Cat were able to introduce the products to a wide range of golf clubs, and have personally visited over 90 per cent of their stockists, which include Ryder Cup host venue, Celtic Manor. Director of golf, Will Hewitt said: “With two health clubs at the resort in addition to our three pro shops, we are pretty familiar with the products available in the market. “We were attracted by the opportunity presented by a simple range which would be easy to present to our guests.

“The drink and the bars taste great and have a smoother consistency than a number of similar products in the market.” Max & Cat’s dedication to such a high level of customer service has really benefitted the brand, and just two years after launching Max Golf Protein are now affiliated with Cobra Puma, and are also the Official Nutrition Partner of The couple, who were recently married, launched their third product in July– the MGP Roller Bottle – which is a

unique foam roller and water bottle in one. “The bottle can be used to warm up pre-round, hydrate mid-round, stretch out post-round, and can also be used at home or in the gym to help improve mobility, flexibility and muscle recovery,” explained Max. With new products currently in testing, the future for Max Golf Protein looks promising, and as the brand begins to expand around the world, golfers can be assured of a great tasting product that has the personal touch. GMé | 19




“when I fell in love with golf it was by playing the actual game, not standing on a range”

In conversation with Alastair Spink PGA Fellow, Alastair Spink is the man behind the programme, which has been instrumental in attracting more women into the game of golf.

MASTER OF HIS TRADE Alastair Spink, founder of, was awarded a Master of Science in Sports Coaching from the University of Birmingham last year

GMé Growing-up in Suffolk, what was your first introduction to golf, and at what point did you realise that you were good enough to become a pro? AS Despite no one else in the family playing golf, we lived close to Rushmere Golf Club in Ipswich. So, my first introduction was simply wandering along a fairway hitting a golf ball whilst my Dad walked the dog! I joined Ipswich Golf Club when I was ten and was lucky to be part of a very active junior section. I progressed reasonably quickly and was single figures by the time I was around 14. When I finished school, I completed a National Diploma in Business Studies at College and then joined GRE, an Insurance Company. I started to study again intending to sit my Professional Insurance exams. However, I found I was spending more time on the golf course than behind my desk, so at the age of 19 I made the decision to turn professional and became the assistant at Ipswich Golf Club. GMé Your first management role was as director of golf at Hintlesham Golf Club in Suffolk – the home club of GMé

20 | GMé January 2018

publisher, Michael Lenihan – so were you involved with the construction and opening of the facility? AS I actually started at Hintlesham Golf Club in 1990 as head professional. At that time the golf course was open, the clubhouse was built and we were recruiting members. My management role evolved after a number of years and I was very fortunate to work alongside an inspirational team. I reported directly to the general manager (who was also responsible for Hintlesham Hall, a small luxury hotel) so I was able to see first hand how he successfully managed a large and diverse workforce. Our owner also ran a large shipping company so again I was lucky to gain insights from outside of the golf industry and in particular how to plan, action and evaluate complex business plans and strategy. GMé After spending 18 years at Hintlesham, you left to take-up the reigns as County Development Officer for Suffolk, so did you have a burning desire to return to coaching and golf development?

VALLEY PARADE A coaching session with Carin Koch at Fynn Valley Golf Club, Suffolk

AS Luckily, even with my management duties I was always able to continue coaching whilst at HIntlesham. Initially this new role with England Golf was part-time so I was able to continue to build that side of my business whilst having the opportunity to gain experience in the golf development world. I was also starting to become more and more interested in growing the game; enjoyed the opportunities to work alongside other coaches and helping other clubs in Suffolk to develop partnerships to design and deliver initiatives for increasing participation and engagement in their local communities. GMé In 2011, you devised the Here Come the Girls campaign, in an effort to encourage more women to play golf. Where did the inspiration for the idea come from, and how successful has it been? AS Here Come the Girls was a culmination of my coaching at Fynn Valley Golf Club and my development role with England Golf, as I was becoming very aware of the gender disparity in golf club membership. In addition, I also saw that the female sections of most clubs were in decline – the average age of female

members was increasing whilst the level of participation was decreasing. Clearly an unsustainable business model! I also started to observe, and spoke with, women visiting our range and started to see a regular pattern; men just couldn’t stop telling women what to do! One minute they were hitting range balls all over the field, yet as soon as their wife/partner/daughter asked to just have a go, these same men turned into the next tour coach! They just had to relay all the information they knew about the golf swing and before this poor person had even had the chance to have a go! Having seen this scenario repeated on numerous occasions, two thoughts worryingly occurred to me. Firstly, that initial experience wasn’t that different to how I was coaching and secondly, when I fell in love with golf it was by playing the actual game, not standing on a range – these women didn’t even get to see the golf course! So, I created Here Come the Girls to tackle those issues head on. I changed from giving lots of unnecessary technical information to a facilitator of learning, and delivered that coaching and learning experience (whenever possible) out on the golf course, and from the very first coaching session.

To date 350 women have been involved in projects at Fynn Valley Golf Club, so I think the project and its philosophy has resonated with a lots of women! GMé Syngenta have been a proud and vocal supporter of – which evolved out of Here Come the Girls – so how did they get involved? AS As a leading supplier of innovative turfcare solutions to courses, Syngenta invests in golf from the ground up. It realises the importance of a healthy industry and as such began exploring participation in the game several years ago. Since then they have developed some ground-breaking research, including the Global Economic Impact report which identified a US $35 billion global latent demand in female golf. Syngenta’s approach centres very much around turning research and insights into action, so whilst publishing the research it was looking to put the female participation research into practice. Fortunately, that’s when they became aware of the academic research I had conducted and together we developed the concept and programme. | 21




“As well as building a community of female golfers, also builds a community of coaches”

FORWARD THINKING Nicola Stroud (left) and Linzi Allan discuss coaching plans for 2018

GMé To date, what would you say has been the biggest success of AS It’s really difficult to pinpoint just one. But I would say the impact love. golf has had – both for coaches and customers. The way coaches have taken to a different way of coaching and approaching the game has been so refreshing to see and has positively challenged the way they coach individuals and other group sessions too. As well as building a community of female golfers, also builds a community of coaches that are willing to share best practice and experiences but most importantly support other coaches. It is great to see these coaches working together and actually making the time to listen to each other. Sadly not that common in our industry! On an individual customer level, we have heard so many, at times touching, stories from women where has made such a positive difference to their lives. It’s given them renewed confidence, a sense of belonging and new friends. When you hear those stories, which I do frequently, it brings a very real, tangible sense of the impact love. golf is making across the country. GMé Currently, how many venues are registered with, and geographically, do you have plans to expand outside of the UK? AS We currently have 28 coaches registered at venues across England, Wales & Scotland. In 2018, we’d like to grow that out to at least 50 coaches in the UK.

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So far outside of the UK we have run pilots in Sweden and Germany; taken to Switzerland and attracted interest from a number of other countries too including Japan and Canada. The fact that has been so well received and thought of further afield speaks to the universality of the research and approach to coaching. So although our immediate growth plans are focused in the UK, we would like to explore opportunities overseas when the time is right. GMé Why do you think so many clubs have an aversion to welcoming female golfers? AS I think it might be a little unfair to suggest it’s an aversion! I think most clubs try to be more inclusive but many have simply just run out of ideas. They are not aligned to current culture and the wants and needs of potential new female golfers. GMé In your opinion, what’s the single biggest obstacle that the industry faces, when trying to increase participation in the game? AS I feel a golf club should simply be an environment where people come together to play sport and socialise, without judgement and irrespective of gender. We are definitely seeing some forward-thinking golf clubs making changes to be more inclusive and family friendly yet it still appears many other golf clubs continue to operate as they

always have done, forcing new golfers to make sacrifices to conform to traditional golf club practices and culture. With females only making up 15 per cent of membership in the UK, golf clubs are and continue to be male-dominated environments. So for new women entering that environment it can be (and has been found to be through our research) something they find intimidating, even terrifying. Sometimes of course, it’s not all about the club. Members can, (both men and women) be the ones who are reluctant to welcome newcomers, so it’s important the club gains the buy-in of the members so they realise the importance of welcoming new golfers. That will help create an environment on which to build new generations of players – something crucial to the longterm prosperity of clubs and the wider industry. We might think perceptions are changing but I’m not so sure; I think we have to try a lot, lot harder to change those views. GMé Do you still get the chance to play and coach? AS I still enjoy coaching and always look forward to my groups! I value that time and feel that it is really important to have an ‘on the ground’ presence and not to become too theoretical without any practical application! Sadly, I very rarely play these days. I do enjoy the odd social game and hope that perhaps one day I will have the time to fall back in love with my game! GMé

Unlocking Golf’s True Potential Syngenta is a global agriculture company, employing more than 28,000 people in 90 countries. For more than 30 years we have also been a market leader in the global golf industry creating innovative turf management solutions for golf courses in 43 countries. However, Syngenta is much more than turf management products and services. As an industry leader, we care not only for the health, quality and consistency of your fairways and greens, we care about the health of the game itself and the industry’s long-term business sustainability. That’s why Syngenta is investing in golf from the ground up with the aim of Unlocking Golf’s True Potential. Our objectives are focused on:

Sustainability Productivity Playability Working with golf course superintendents around the world to deliver the best playing conditions for their customers

Supporting our customers and stakeholders with new knowledge, skills and tools to create strong, dynamic, customer-centric golf businesses

Syngenta UK Ltd. Registered in England No. 849037. CPC4 Capital Park, Fulbourn, Cambridge CB21 5XE.

Enhancing the environment, increasing biodiversity, and engaging with customers and stakeholders

Working together, we can Unlock Golf’s True Potential To find out more, join Syngenta Golf Ambassador Carin Koch for a special on-course video presentation at:



ART DECO Stuart McColm pictured in front of the Art Deco clubhouse at Castle Stuart

HEAVEN SENT A view of the par four, fifth hole taken from behind the green at sunset

Stuart’s Castle built on solid foundations With a background in construction, Castle Stuart’s general manager, Stuart McColm is used to building lasting legacies as Michael Lenihan discovered when they met recently. “I’m a great believer that if something feels right, it usually is right…” Those were the words of Stuart McColm, reflecting on his move from Kingsbarns to Castle Stuart, 11 years ago. That move was the culmination, thus far at least, of a career which started in course construction and now sees him as general manager at one of Scotland’s most highly rated golf courses – quite a ‘journey’ as they would say on reality TV. McColm, 53, who was born in Edinburgh before moving to Inverness at the age of ten, spent eight years working in golf course construction for Southern Golf in Germany – after starting as a member of the greenkeeping team at St Andrews – where he began to work his way up in the course construction industry. “I ended up having eight glorious years with Southern Golf,” said McColm. “They gave me a huge break and saw the potential in me in terms of management, and I ended up managing quite a lot of contracts for them, which was great.” But it was the prospect of constructing a new links course near St Andrews which captured McColm’s imagination.

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“Kingsbarns was being touted as a potential construction site and I said ‘I’d really like to get involved’. Building the first new links course of its kind – a modern links – really excited me. I think we were kind of pioneers in modern links construction and I think we started a bit of a trend. “I was contracts manager at the time and halfway through I realised I really wanted to be involved with this on a more full-time basis. I approached owner Mark Parsinen to potentially go on the payroll as course manager, in 1998, which he was delighted to do. “It was one of those where I knew it was going to hit the world stage and I just felt that I wanted to be a part of that.” A little over seven-and-a-half years later, with Kingsbarns well established as one of the world’s top tracks, McColm took what some people might call a brave decision to up sticks and move to the embryonic Castle Stuart, in Inverness. McColm added: “Having achieved what he had at Kingsbarns, Mark had aspirations; he felt he had another one in him, another links course, and he wanted to

RAISING THE BAR General manager at Castle Stuart, Stuart McColm pictured at the bar at the welcoming Scottish links

go again. And Mark likes the team and he likes people around him. He gets comfortable with them. He likes to keep hold of certain people and I get that. “When it came to him finding another site, he approached me and said, ‘I really want you to be a part of it. I’d like you to come up: you project manage and take on the role of course manager’. “But I said I wasn’t going to give up a world’s top 50 golf course to come north in a similar position. If I was going to go – and justify it in my own mind – then there had to be a progression. If I was going to come north, I would come north as general manager after finishing project managing the build. “I started the whole construction process in 2006. Mark had started the design with Gill Hans and I was hired to get the project started – everything was

subcontracted by me as project manager and ultimately staying on as GM. “Some may have felt I was taking a risk, but I’m a great believer that if something feels right, it usually is right.” During the three-year construction process, the world’s financial situation changed dramatically post 2008, but as McColm explains, the build continued as planned: “It was a concern and we realised that there was going to be some fall out,” he said. “But again, Mark, being true to form said, ‘look, we’re not going to penny pinch.’ The Heathrow flight got pulled from Inverness which was a major lifeline for us, but his mantra was always, ‘you get one chance to open, you get once chance to make your statement.’ “And he said, ‘we’re in it, we’re starting and we’re going to finish. We’re going to

finish what we started. I don’t care what it costs.’ In Mark, you’ve got somebody who is exemplary in his vision and his execution. “And there was no stone being left unturned to make this as good as it could be. I think I would have probably regretted not coming north truth be known. And therefore, it was a fairly straightforward decision for me,” admits McColm. With Castle Stuart sitting more than 160 miles north of Edinburgh and around 100 miles north-west of St Andrews, as the crow flies, McColm and Parsinen knew that just having a great golf course was not enough to persuade people to visit. McColm continued: “We don’t have anything in terms of a handicap critribecause we feel that it’s unlikely that people will be calling up wanting to pay | 25




“We wanted to try to challenge the best, but also be a playable entity for the rest… and that’s hard”

INVITING The third hole at Castle Stuart

£195 and they’ve never really golfed before – price usually dictates the quality of customer. We have centred on enjoyment and fun, and there is a playability and ultimately an enjoyment factor,” continued McColm. “We’ve centred hard on the rough. A lot of people have missed that and are starting to do it now. A lot of course managers are trying to get back to a leaner rough. We were here to build something for the visitor that was going to excite them. “It’s not about slow play per se. Yes, that’s a factor of what we’re designing here but for us, it’s more about enjoyment. Because you find people are beaten up by a golf course and they’ve paid for the privilege, they don’t tend to rave about it to their friends. “It’s really easy to set-up a difficult golf course. What’s really challenging is how to get something that challenges the best players, but absolutely makes it playable for the rest. We wanted to try to challenge the best, but also be a playable entity for the rest… and that’s hard. Ask any architect, ask any course manager.” It may be difficult, but it’s achievable – certainly if you have any faith in the view of five time Major winner Phil Mickelson. “Phil Mickelson did us a huge favour when he won the Scottish Open (in 2013),” smiled McColm.

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“But he’s always loved the design. It was incredible at the time, saying it should be a prerequisite for anybody interest in becoming a golf course architect, that they should play Castle Stuart before they’re allowed to design courses. “That is pretty profound because he saw that Castle Stuart isn’t just a bombers course. This has a unique touch and feel, and you need a repertoire to get around here and you need great course management. “If you’ve got all that, you’re going to score really well and, if you don’t, your score can go north in a heartbeat.” Castle Stuart has played host to the Scottish Open four times, with Alexander Norén winning in 2016, the last time it was staged on the links. “Since hosting the Scottish Open in 2011, we’ve kicked on and from 2012 we’ve grown in awareness, we’ve grown in stature and we’ve built a nice little niche in the market. “I think people do recognise Castle Stuart as a quality product and pleasingly, we have a lot of very happy customers that don’t mind writing and telling us about the experience they’ve had which is lovely.” Castle Stuart’s bright future is intrinsically linked with continued development and from the outset, the master plan has always involved more than just a standalone course.

“The first planning permission that we received was for everything... two courses, 148 lodges of varying sizes – one, two, and three bedrooms – and a 65-bedroom hotel. That’s always been the plan, and that’s what we started out with. “But what Mark very cleverly has always said is, ‘any great resort will take time to develop but it all starts with the golf.’ It’s about giving more people more reason to come north.” Plans for a second course at Castle Stuart were announced shortly after Arnold Palmer visited the site in 2015, and despite a delay, McColm is confident work will commence soon. “I think we have a very, very strong chance of being in the ground next spring and that still doesn’t impair a potential soft opening in 2020. We know a bit more about the grasses and about how to do links, and how to grow them in. “Nothing’s set in stone but the intention is for us is to have a Palmer Tribute Course, because that in its own right gives us the wonderful name, that legacy. Arnold was here in 2015, he saw it – it was probably his last site visit and he gave it the rubber stamp.” And, if it attains the high standard of the first course at Castle Stuart, Arnold Palmer – like Stuart McColm – would be justifiably proud. GMé

WHEN ONLY THE BEST WILL DO “My favourite machine is the Eclipse 322 greens mower. We have 15-blades on our one, and the quality of cut is fantastic. The machine itself is so easy and smooth to use; it is the best greens machine available on the market.”

James Hutchinson, Head Greenkeeper, Castle Stuart Golf Links.

Visit to find your local dealer. ©2017 Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc. GME/CastleStuartTestimonial/01/2018



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@2017 The Toro Company. All rights reserved.


innovation show

“many operators often sell themselves short when it comes to generating new revenue streams”

A SACRED VOW A wedding arch at a golf club

Kirk’s new Enterprise to boldly go where no club has gone before On a mission to seek out new frontiers for golf club operators, Graeme Kirk is the captain of the Golf Business Innovation Show. Article by Aidan Patrick. Is it time to embrace change, innovate and diversify to survive and thrive? The Golf Business Innovation Show certainly believes so, with the inaugural conference set to be staged at the Celtic Manor resort, Wales, on February 1. The conference intends to focus on innovation and diversifying income to support golf clubs become more sustainable and profitable, whilst at the same time ensuring more accessibility to a wider demographic. The brainchild of organiser Graeme Kirk, the Golf Business Innovation Show is aimed at managers and operators from both private member and proprietaryowned golf clubs, and is supported by GMé. “Whilst there is no single solution to the different challenges that the golf industry faces, the conference aims to cover a range of topics, business models, income opportunities and real life case studies that will share insight, and hopefully inspire clubs to incorporate change that is complementary to their club, whilst remaining sympathetic to their members,” commented Kirk.

“Every club has different facilities and constraints, but my research has shown that many operators often sell themselves short when it comes to generating new revenue streams. Let’s take weddings as an example,” said Kirk. “Any couple planning a wedding these days will most probably go online and search for wedding venues in their local vicinity, so it’s essential that golf clubs seeking to attract newly-weds have a strong online presence, and invest in key word searches. “There are also great wedding planning websites out there with directories that also have specific search functions clubs can feature on. And many couples live on these sites to aid them plan their perfect day.” But that’s just the start of the journey, and as Kirk explains, clubs really do have a USP when it comes to competing with other potential local wedding venues... their golf course. “Weddings are incredibly image led, and need to portray idyllic beautiful settings, and every golf club has a manicured piece of landscape as a backdrop.

“Yet it’s staggering the number of golf clubs that appear not to ‘sell’ this aspect when it comes to competing with other venues in their area. The wedding sector is an incredibly lucrative space and marketed correctly, golf clubs can add a significant amount of revenue to their bottom line, and this will be one of the areas that will be covered at the conference.” Another area for growth, is of course, events and conferences, but Kirk questions how proactive some clubs are when it comes to actively seeking out new business. “Typically all golf clubs have a function room available to hire,” he adds, “but how clubs market that space varies so much. Businesses will either book rooms on a Day Delegate Rate (DDR), or a flat room hire rate, and will want to know the capacities of the room for different seating formations, as well as AV facilities and Internet access. “Hotels do this very well and it is a great source of income for them, but sadly, a lot of golf clubs are reactive as opposed to being proactive in this sector. | 29



POSH CAMPING An example of a glamping pod

“It’s not uncommon for rooms with a capacity of 100 to charge between £50-£60 per DDR – including coffee throughout the day and a light lunch – which equates to an extra £6,000 per day income to your facility.” Having the correct approach and learning from the hotel industry, is perhaps not such a bad place to start, but with the added incentive of bolting on a few holes of golf after the working day has concluded – especially in the summer – many golf clubs could certainly pick-up a few pointers at the conference. Another growing area, and one which has been featured within GMé on a number of occasions is the growing appeal of adventure golf, and this will also be discussed in-depth, as to will be the growing popularity of indoor golf simulators. Golf clubs without an hotel on-site may never have considered offering accommodation, but as Kirk argues, stay & play packages are rapidly growing in popularity, even if there is currently no room at The Inn, so-to-speak. “Glamping is becoming popular and fashionable, and with a relatively low investment, can be a real money-spinner,” he said. “Pods take up little space, and although dependent upon planning consent, temporary bell tents, shepherd huts and luxury lodges all offer low-cost, high-yield alternatives to providing on-site accommodation. “Maximising guests spend and enhancing their experience is a fundamental aspect of effective club management these days,” added Kirk.

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“To give you an example, Fynn Valley Golf Club in Suffolk built a small number of log cabins a few years ago, and now provide iPads in each room so as guests can order food and drinks to be delivered to their lodges. “The tablets can also be used to book lunch and dinner in the restaurant, and stream their own music through the wireless speaker systems – not a huge outlay in technology, but a unique way of ensuring that guests are made to feel welcome, whilst at the same time increasing F&B spend for the club.” The Golf Business Innovation Show intends to present solutions to club managers keen to realise the full potential of their facilities, whilst helping clubs adopt new ways of growing their clientbase, within – or outside – golf. “There will certainly be lots of solutions discussed in February, with lots of forward thinking clubs from across the UK discussing different ideas, at all levels of the industry,” added Kirk. “The challenge for clubs is finding the solutions that best compliments their club; add to their guests and members experience; and generate new income streams and increase existing ones to support their core business.” The Golf Business Innovation Show is a networking event for owners and managers of progressive thinking golf clubs, and will feature speakers and industry experts from a diverse range of sectors. Registration is now open, and to view the speakers, conference agenda and for further information, visit the link at the top of the page, or the advertisement overleaf. GMé

Visit us on stand M20 BTME 2018, 23rd-25th January 2018 Official partner of | 31


redefine|bdl hotels

Cameron seeking to Redefine the golf break In September, real-estate investment company Aprirose purchased the QHotels portfolio of hotels for £525 million, and, in an exclusive interview, Andrew Cameron, group golf operations manager, explained the plans for the future to Michael Lenihan.

32 | GMé January 2018 CAMERON HALL Andrew Cameron (right) group golf operations manager of Redefine|BDL Hotels, and main picture, the 18th green with the clubhouse in the background at Mottram Hall in Cheshire

Unless somebody with deep pockets splashes the cash over Christmas, September’s deal which saw the 26-strong QHotels’ portfolio sold to Aprirose for £525m will be the UK’s largest hotel purchase during 2017. For Redefine|BDL Hotels (RBH), which has been engaged to manage the properties, it was also a re-entry into the golf resort market. It could hardly be referred to as ‘dipping a toe in the water’, for the inclusion of QHotels’ ten four-star golf resorts automatically afforded RBH the title of the UK’s largest golf resort operator. Given the wealth of golf knowledge in the group, it’s small wonder that RBH continues to put faith in senior staff such as Andrew Cameron, group golf operations manager, as it looks to build upon what was already a successful sector. The RBH portfolio includes many wellknown brands – Courtyard by Marriott, Mercure, Holiday Inn Express, Doubletree by Hilton, and Crowne Plaza, to name but a few – though, of course, within the golf sector resorts such as Mottram Hall, Slaley Hall and Forest Pines already have strength in their own identity and brand.

As Cameron explained, while the golf part of the business may have been a trigger, there’s a lot about QHotels which would have made it a viable purchase proposition. He said: “QHotels’ performance as a hotel group has been underwritten over the last few years by the fantastic accolades it has received in various industry awards, across many sectors of the business. “It’s only when one looks beyond that, that one can see the bigger picture. Not only was QHotels extremely successful and profitable, the dedication, loyalty and work ethic of its people played a massive part in that success. “I believe the whole group’s reputation would have been an initial draw, but the quality of the golf resort hotel product would, arguably, make the group a more attractive proposition. “The success in the residential group, corporate golf market, and the overall golf experience that QHotels has consistently provided gives the customer the comfort in knowing if they choose a QHotels golf resort they have made the right choice.

“the quality of the golf resort hotel product would, arguably, make the group a more attractive proposition” | 33



redefine|bdl hotels

“We cannot ever become complacent in our industry. You have to review the offering continuously”

AND SO TO BED... A bedroom at Slaley Hall

“And that goes hand in hand with the award-winning standards of hospitality QHotels delivers, which is reflected time and again by the growth in volume of returning customers we are seeing booking in the early advanced booking window.” But Cameron is shrewd enough to know that however successful the group has been previously, it will benefit from the input of experienced hospitality and hotel management afforded by RBH. He continued: “RBH has personnel within the company who have worked at some of the industry’s most recognisable resorts within the UK and South Africa. “RBH is able to bring a wealth of sales, revenue, finance and operational experience to complement the current management structure. With the variety of brands within the RBH portfolio it gives us a great opportunity to access new markets. “There are many benefits of working within such a diverse portfolio of brands and as such it makes sense for them to work closely. Though, there are opportunities for the non-resort hotels that would have better impact initially.” Now the dust has settled, officials at the ten resorts and management at RBH are working together closely to maximise the potential of the golf product within its own sector and also for the benefit of other venues within the group. Cameron added: “Now the sale has gone through and the transfer to RBH has started to settle down, we can focus on the business at hand. There will be a lot of focus in developing our people in 2018. Clearly the people in any business are the difference between success and

34 | GMé January 2018

failure, so we want to continue to give them the chance to improve, develop and feel rewarded. “Brand-wide, improving the experience received by every golfer – whether as a member or as a visitor – will remain the plan. The ‘how’ will be by continuing to improve the quality of the courses’ playability; to drive the improvement level of retail service within not only our golf stores, but also within the F&B areas; and pushing our event management offering for groups and corporate golf days, and not just providing the same as our competitors. “We cannot ever become complacent in our industry. You have to review the offering continuously. We want to improve on our positions within Golf World’s top 100 as a group – and that has to happen as a collective team at each resort… and I believe we have the people and a product to do that.” Talk of a ‘product’ brings the conversation around to the group’s QFairway points-based membership, which proved successful during the past few years and Cameron is keen to reassure those who have taken out membership or those who may be considering the option. He said: “Membership of golf clubs is an area where we have seen fantastic success in growing the numbers and QFairway membership was instrumental in that growth. “The flexibility this gives the golfer coming back into the game, or the timesensitive player who cannot justify a full traditional membership, is where the flexibility appeals: you play and pay for your membership in the way that best suits you.

“We plan to continue with a flexible membership category, though whether the name, QFairway, changes will depend on if we find ourselves in a position where we are adding clubs – then we may have to reskin it to be brand neutral. “The main aim is to keep that member and to ensure that they feel part of a club. Too often golf clubs have put course over club, in that a member will join and stay because of the course’s reputation. “That cannot be the mentality: it’s the club feel, the social inclusiveness of a club which is what makes a golfer remain loyal to ‘their club’.” When the story initially broke about the group purchase the succinct message released about the golf side of the business was that it was ‘business as usual’. While that is often used as an anodyne holding tactic, it has more than a ring of truth concerning RBH’s management takeover of QHotels. Cameron concluded: “The message had to be business as usual – we are in the crucial booking window for our biggest market. The last thing we wanted was for our internal teams – or our members and visitors – to be distracted by the purchase, so, in truth, there was very little impact change to the properties. “So, in reality, yes it was – and yes it remains – business as usual. And as for any exciting plans moving forward, exciting can only be exciting, if you don’t know about it before it’s announced. So watch this space,” he smiled. It’s fair to assume that both the hospitality and golf sectors will, indeed, be ‘watching this space’ with considerable interest over the next 12 months. GMé

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monte rei

“I’m just one of those people who needs to graft at things. I must have some sort of a talent, but I don’t think it was a God-given talent”

No Black Ball for Griffiths at Monte Rei The son of snooker legend, Terry Griffiths, Darren has worked his way up through the ranks as a professional golfer, and as Michael Lenihan writes, is currently the director of golf at Monte Rei in Portugal. TEAM PLAYER Darren Griffiths pictured outside golf reception at Monte Rei (main image) and above centre, with colleagues shortly after joining the resort in 2016

36 | GMé January 2018

When your father has the title ‘world snooker champion 1979’ on his CV it’s perhaps inevitable that you should find yourself earning a crust in sport – though maybe golf wouldn’t spring immediately to mind. But that’s the shadow from which Darren Griffiths, director of golf at Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, in Portugal, has emerged, to carve something of a reputation for himself in a sport about which his father, Terry, is also extremely passionate. Yet, even with those sporting genes, it’s a long way from South Wales to the Algarve – especially as Griffiths didn’t pick up a golf club until he was in his mid-teens. He explained: “I didn’t start until I was 16. Most of the time I was on motorbikes breaking bones in my body. So I thought I better find another outlet for sport, because if I’d kept going, I think I would’ve been in a wheelchair now,” laughed Griffiths. “I loved it, a fantastic sport to be in – but I wasn’t very good at it, so I kept falling off. My father was a member of a local golf club, Ashburnham, where I was

brought up – a great links course – and said, ‘Do you fancy coming down one day?’ which I did. “I got my first set of lessons and, from there, I got addicted, as people do to golf. I don’t think I had a day off until I was about maybe 25 or 26. I got down to scratch within, probably, a year and a half. As a result of being around the club all the time, I got a summer job in the golf shop under the pro who’d been there for 27 years, Richard Playle. “I was an assistant golf professional at Ashburnham: shopkeeper and assistant golf professional. So then, I started my training. Richard retired and his assistant, Robert Ryder, took over. “I’d done my four years training there, having started when I was about 17½. I didn’t stay amateur for very long. I got down to the required handicap, played a little bit of county golf, and then turned pro virtually straight away. “I’m just one of those people who needs to graft at things. I must have some sort of a talent, but I don’t think it was a God-given talent. It was just one of those things where I put in six, seven, eight hours a day.

GREEN BAIZE The par 3, 11th hole at Monte Rei

“I was brought up in a sporting family. We were used to putting a lot of time and effort in. When you’re that passionate about something, it’s not difficult to do. I just couldn’t stay away from the place.” Such dedication has served Griffiths well – and, as an added bonus, he walks without the aid of crutches. And like nearly all ambitious pros he had dreams of making it on tour… until he visited Monte Mayor, in Benahavís, Spain. Griffiths, now 45, recalled: “I had no intentions of staying in the shop. I just thought that would be a nice way of staying in golf if things didn’t work out. I played for a couple of years after I qualified. I’d done okay in the region and a little bit of Europe. But, I remember my first wakeup call, I think, was a place called Monte Mayor. “It was just a fantastic golf course. It was one of those places – like West Cliffs – where you could lose five, six balls as a scratch player. It was a feast or famine type of course. And if you got aggressive, you were going to lose a lot of balls. “I played there and played quite nicely, shot maybe one or two under.

“And I got in and saw Alexander Čejka’s course record. The German national team used to practise there, and he’d shot 61 round there. I was playing full-time then and it sticks with me. So, it obviously left a little bit of an emotional mark,” he smiled. An opportunity came his way in Newport – back in his native Wales – to take up a head pro’s role, working two or three days a week, allowing him, or so he thought, a degree of independence and the chance to keep playing. But it didn’t work out like that. “Going into a job, I tend to be an all or nothing type of character. And I get in there and next thing I know, I’m working six or seven days a week. So whether unconsciously, by design, or otherwise, it just happened. All of a sudden, I’m teaching a lot. I’m involved in the shop and I’m enjoying the club environment.” Not surprisingly coaching began to take up a lot of his time and, even at a relatively young age, he realised he did not want to be in his 50s and 60s doing the same volume of coaching – “… so I thought I needed to find a different avenue to stay in golf.”

His next jobs were at what he respectfully describes as ‘failing’ clubs – members were at a premium. Having assessed the needs of the clubs he found himself engrossed in golf development. He recalled: “We were using the coaching as a vehicle to bring in members and convert those families, or juniors, or adults into members. So, I was seeing, probably, somewhere in the region of 300 to 400 children a week, going into schools, and then encouraging them to come into the club on the weekends. “I had a very savvy owner who wanted to bring more volume in. But he also had a passion for juniors and his philosophy was, ‘let’s build nice kids first, and if they become good golfers, great’. “We were trying to develop the kids as people, rather than just golfers. That was really a nice part of the coaching, to give them a rounded upbringing. But at that club, it was a numbers game, bringing people in. We went from 256 members, I think, to 556 members in two years.” Griffiths reached Monte Rei via Glyn Abbey Golf Club, in Trimsaran, South Wales, and Carmarthen Golf Club, where, | 37



monte rei

“I took a decision to seek out some of the best places and I managed to get three good interviews in the space of a couple of months”

LOUD AND PROUD Director of golf, Darren Griffiths

during his seven years at the club, it was awarded the title Welsh Golf Club of the Year. In 2006, he decided he needed something “to finish off my CV” and fired it off to a number of high-end, very highly regarded venues. He said: “Because I’d done proprietary clubs, I’d done members’ clubs, operations manager and director of golf, I wasn’t too proud to take a step back and go to a more prestigious resort or club and take a lesser role to try to work my way back up again. “I’d always wanted to be working abroad at a nice resort. So I took a decision to seek out some of the best places and I managed to get three good interviews in the space of a couple of months. Three good opportunities came my way, and I had to make a decision on which one to go for. “The role of golf operations manager at Monte Rei was available. Here, not only did I have a really good mentor in David Shepherd, but it’s the type of resort where you’re dealing with members as well. There were a lot of things I could bring to the table from my background. “Some of the clubs I’d worked at weren’t ready or maybe didn’t have the finances to impart some of the ideas I had. But when I came out here, I could see what was needed and I felt comfortable to be able to do them.”

38 | GMé January 2018

When Shepherd moved on in October 2016 to take up the position of CEO at the Scandinavian, in Copenhagen, Griffiths was surprised, but was ready to take the leap up to director of golf. He smiled: “David is very structured. He knows exactly where he’s going, and he has a reason for doing everything. When I look back now, I can start to see little signs that maybe he was feathering the nest a little bit and getting ready to move on. But he’d been here eight years and achieved a lot, and I think took the resort to a completely different place.” Griffiths says he adheres to the old adage ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’. But like any good director of golf he’s constantly analysing what can be improved at a resort already renowned for its world-class service. He wants to make the customer experience “slicker, easier and even more enjoyable” a task which will become even more all-encompassing when the planned second golf course opens in 2020. “One of the attractions of coming here was that when David Shepherd and I first spoke he was talking about the plans even then, even though we didn’t have any firm dates. That in itself is an attractive thing for anybody to be part of,” added Griffiths. “Just to be part of the early stages has been good.

“We’re already seeing the clubhouse area take shape and the planning that involves.” And the hotel? “It’s going to be probably a few years after the golf course. Maybe only 74 bedrooms is the projection. It’s going to be of that same standard of everything else we offer: the hotel, the villas, the golf course, very much high end.” So that leaves us with just about enough time for a quick frame of snooker, I suggest. “Snooker used to bore me to tears,” admits Griffiths. “I can’t watch golf, and snooker’s even worse: it’s like watching paint dry. “My father always used to say that snooker was much harder than golf, because if you hit a bad shot in golf, you’ve got an opportunity to put it right yourself. If you hit a bad shot in snooker, you sit down for the next 40 minutes and watch somebody else punish you. “I can understand his point of view, that you do get punished for your mistakes. We tend to punish ourselves on the golf course for our mistakes, but we do have the choice not to do that. “And you can put it right with a fantastic shot to the green, or a chip, or a putt. I have to bow to him on that one. I’d say it’s harder… even though I don’t believe it,” he laughed. Well that left me snookered… GMé


Reduce your operating costs by up to 28k per year and enjoy consistent, attractive bunkers that last.

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The Italian Lakes beckon for EcoBunker Established as one of the leading companies specialising in the art of bunker edge protection, EcoBunker is beginning to gain recognition for lake edging, all thanks to Aquaedge, a revolutionary new technique designed for water systems.

“Italy is the latest new country for EcoBunker to appear in, but this time it is not bunker edge work that has been the focus of our attention”

THE WALL Clearing the rotten log wall at Lignano before installing Aquaedge

Problem solving is the passion that drives all the staff at EcoBunker, according to managing director, Richard Allen: “As everyone involved in maintaining and running golf courses knows, running a golf operation these days is not an easy job,” said Allen. “There are many problems to solve on a daily basis, and over the past few years EcoBunker has been committed to finding new methods and systems that aim to make life a little easier for those who take pride in presenting their golf courses in top class condition.” Based in Wales, EcoBunker initially focussed on solving the issue of bunker edge erosion, and has subsequently developed a range of products – starting with EcoBunker Original – and now has an improved patent pending design, EcoBunker Advanced, which the compa-

40 | GMé January 2018

ny claims delivers a stronger and more efficient wall construction. “Bunker products are now being adopted right across the world,” added Allen, “with Europe, Australasia and the Americas all following the UK. “I’m very proud of the fact that you’ll find EcoBunkers on all kinds of golf courses including European Tour Venues, PGA Tour venues such as The Greenbrier and TPC Sugarloaf; and even at one of the world’s most exclusive venues, Kerry Packer’s Ellerston Golf Club in Australia. “Italy is the latest new country for EcoBunker to appear in, but this time it is not bunker edge work that has been the focus of our attention. One of our other products – Aquaedge – has been selected by one of the premier golf courses in north east Italy to solve their problem of eroding lake edges.”

Rarely are features on a golf course built to be ‘of a permanent character’ as Alister MacKenzie once said, and even very sturdy timber lake edgings will have a natural shelf life. Lignano Golf Club, on the Adriatic coast, built in the 1990s, is now faced with the challenge of replacing long lengths of timber retaining walls, which are past their best, and represent a genuine hazard. Rather than replace ‘like for like’, director of golf, Fabrizio Bertoli has found an innovative alternative which is cost effective and will improve the aesthetics of this popular golf course. Bertoli read an article on Aquaedge in GMé, and called in the inventor of the system, Richard Allen, to advise on the feasibility of installing the system at the Italian course.

LASTING PROTECTION A completed Aquaedge project

“The timber edgings, which were over 25 years old, were rotting, and the weak clay/silt soils (which were dredged from a nearby Marina to raise ground levels during construction) exerted considerable pressure, causing the walls to start failing,” explained Allen, adding that they represented a significant safety and aesthetic problem. In response, a team from EcoBunker installed a 50m long trial length of Aquaedge along the front of the 10th green, with results greeted favourably by the golf club: “We now know we made the right decision in choosing Aquaedge,” stated Bertoli. The project was completed, from start to finish in just four days, which is a much quicker construction time frame when compared to all other traditional construction options.

Following this initial success, Allen, who is a civil engineer by profession, is now designing modified versions of Aquaedge which can be adapted for the deeper and more steeply sloping lake beds, and it is anticipated that EcoBunker will become the lead contractor with relation to Aquaedge, whilst sub-contracting some of the specialist earthworks to local companies. Working near water and in less than ideal soil conditions can be a major challenge to any contractor, so does Allen have any concerns about the viability of Aquaedge? “Lignano is the fourth lake edging project that EcoBunker as a company has completed, so we have now developed a good understanding of the key risks involved when undertaking projects of this magnitude,” said Allen.

“The first project that we did was a complex challenge – at one of the most prestigious golf clubs in the UK – and involved temporarily lowering water levels using an innovative coffer dam system. No project runs as smoothly as one would like, and we encountered a few obstacles, including a stubborn leak in the dam at one key position. “However, our team has many years of engineering and construction experience and dealt with the problem efficiently and quickly. The way we handled that pressurised situation has given us a lot of confidence moving forward.” EcoBunker is currently building nearly 300m of lake edging, using Aquaedge, during a winter closure of the course at Lignano, and is also designing a lake edging project for a golf course in the UK. GMé | 41



barbados golf

Barbados. An Elegant Home Away from Home The Caribbean island of Barbados is famed for the warmth of its Bajan welcome, but it is also home to some world-class golf courses, as Michael Lenihan discovered on a recent visit to the island where he played Apes Hill, Barbados Golf Club and Royal Westmoreland.

42 | GMĂŠ January 2018 BAJAN WELCOME The sun sets on Barbados Golf Club (main picture) and right, the entrance to The House, owned and operated by Elegant Hotels

When temperatures begin to plummet across Northern Europe, and courses close down for the winter, or remain open on temporary greens, thoughts understandably turn to playing golf in warmer climes, without the need for winter beanies and handwarmers. While the traditional European winter sun locations of Spain and Portugal will offer some respite from the colder weather further north, for golfers seeking guaranteed sun, coupled with all-year round playability, the Caribbean island of Barbados should feature high on the list of favoured winter-sun destinations. Ask most keen golfers about golf in Barbados and the vast majority will have heard of Sandy Lane, the ultra-exclusive, and ultra-expensive resort which is now owned by Irish businessmen Dermot Desmond and JP McManus. The playground of the rich and famous, Sandy Lane boats two courses – the Country Club and the Green Monkey – both of which were designed by Tom Fazio. The Green Monkey was reputably the most expensive golf course ever built when it opened for play in 2005,

and with green fees in the region of US $4,000, chances are few visitors to the island will ever afford the opportunity to play there. However, start to look a little further afield and for an island covering only 169 sq miles, the former British colony offers a wealth of golfing opportunities with a further three 18-hole courses, and one nine-hole course, which is perhaps more famous for its past association with aviation than golf. For it was on March 29, 1929, that the fifth fairway at Rockley Golf Club witnessed the first landing of a transatlantic flight from Europe. Barbados gained independence from the British 51 years ago, and is one of the wealthiest islands in the Caribbean, although, in recent months, has been overshadowed by the Bahamas and the Paradise Papers scandal. Although golf on the island is affordable, availability is often the defining aspect determining whether visitors will be able to access four of its best courses. Where Sandy Lane tends to cater for residents staying on-site, both Royal

the Caribbean island of Barbados should feature high on the list of favoured wintersun destinations | 43



barbados golf HOUSE STYLE Left, the 12th hole at Apes Hill; below the 7th at Royal Westmoreland; right Barbados Golf Club and bottom-right, night dinning at The House

it’s perhaps easy to understand why it’s not just the rich and famous who return to this island paradise, year after year

Westmorland and Apes Hill offer limited tee-times to visitors at a fraction of the cost of their illustrious neighbour, with green fees typically between the US $200-$250 mark. Both resorts are high-end gated residential communities with golf the focal point, although Royal Westmoreland is a far more established property, with a beautifully-crafted 18-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones. Rumour has it, that a young Kyle Phillips, while still an employee at RTJ, was responsible for the layout, and, if you take a closer look at some of the shaping and run-off areas, there are some similarities with Phillips’ later work at Kingsbarns and Yas Links. Royal Westmoreland is a fair and enjoyable test of golf, with breathtaking views of the Caribbean, thriving greenery and a flourishing tropical landscape. Fairways are generous, and any wayward tee-shot is unlikely to be severely punished, allowing golfers of all abilities the opportunity to shoot some decent scores.

44 | GMé January 2018

That said, a few tricky greens have been strategically placed to test your short-game; but, overall, Royal Westmoreland has the balance just about right between being a good test and not overly punishing. Apes Hill on the other hand, is a challenging and demanding course located, as the name may suggest, over a series of meandering hills with contoured fairways sculpted from the natural terrain. A buggy is essential, as the elevation changes – although visually stunning – would be near-on impossible to attempt on foot, and, thankfully, all visitors arriving at golf reception are advised accordingly. The par-three fifth is the signature hole at Apes Hill, and is as inviting as it is spectacular. Situated amid the backdrop of an old kiln, the green is located 185 yards from the back tees, and demands skill, daring and a degree of luck to find the putting surface. Apes Hill claims the hole is one of the most photographed in Caribbean golf, and it’s easy to see why – just make sure

you take a deep breath before swinging your chosen club. The so-called Platinum coast in Barbados is the west coast of the island – where Sandy Lane, Royal Westmoreland and Apes Hill are located – and ‘west is best’ is probably a good analogy for choosing where to stay on the island. The west side of Barbados is the Caribbean side of the island, offering calm, warm and inviting seas, with fivestar resorts scattered along the coastline including the Colony Club, Tamarind, the House, Crystal Cove and Waves Hotel & Spa, all operated by Elegant Hotels. In contrast, the south of the island is the Atlantic side, and is home to the only pay-and-play course on the island: Barbados Golf Club. Marketed as ‘affordable’ and the ‘best value championship golf in Barbados’, the 18-hole course certainly fulfils its billing, offering an enjoyable challenge on a well-maintained course. Re-designed by Ron Kirby in 2000, the 6,805 yard track offers golfers of all abilities the opportunity to play in a relaxed

Elegant by design in the Caribbean

environment, and lays claim to being the ‘Home of Golf in Barbados’. Although not quite as prestigious as its richer counterparts on the west coast, Barbados Golf Club is a friendly and inviting club which is an ideal facility to sharpen your game before playing some of the more illustrious courses elsewhere on the island. The opportunity to shoot good scores is afforded to all, although beware the par-five 15th, and short par-three 16th – Barbados’ equivalent to Amen Corner – as, with the latter played to an island green over a reservoir, both can ruin any good scorecard. Barbados Golf Club partners with Turtle Beach, operated also by Elegant Hotels, which is a four-star all-inclusive resort conveniently located a short drive away – the hotel runs a daily free shuttle bus to and from the club – and as part of the ‘Elegant Inclusions’ package, guests booking at Turtle Beach this winter can enjoy complimentary golf at the golf club, with discounted green fees elsewhere on the island.

And, for visiting golfers who prefer to travel without their clubs, complimentary club hire is also included. As Caribbean islands go, Barbados has a wealth of culture, and, in 2011, joined an elite group of nations with world heritage properties when Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. And, with a heritage in offering worldclass golfing facilities, it’s perhaps easy to understand why it’s not just the rich and famous who return to this island paradise, year after year. Barbados has something to offer everyone – irrespective of stature or wealth – and, with a guaranteed all-year round climate, luxurious hotels and only an eight-hour flight from most European destinations, offers golfers and their guests a viable alternative to the more traditional winter-sun destinations of southern Europe. And I’ve not even begun to mention the free-flowing rum or the famous Bajan hospitality. GMé

Elegant Hotels Group owns and operates seven of the finest hotels and resorts on the Caribbean Island of Barbados. Set on the most desirable of the island’s legendary beaches on the west and south coasts, each hotel features unique attributes and a distinctive personality. Together, they offer styles to suit every taste, from classic to contemporary, family-friendly to adults-only, soft adventure to wellness and traditional to all-inclusive. The hotels share a commitment to superb service and fine culinary experiences, and provide the ultimate beach and water sports environment for their guests, including the Elegant ‘Beach Ambassadors’ program. They offer upscale accommodations that remain welcoming and unpretentious, or ‘elegance with a twist,’ – a casual elegance that embodies the best of Barbados. Elegant Hotels in Barbados include The House – a chic adult-only property renowned for its ‘home away from home’ vibe – Colony Club Hotel; Tamarind and Treasure Beach Hotel, as well as the all-inclusive Crystal Cove Hotel, Turtle Beach Resort and Waves Hotel & Spa. The group also includes the acclaimed Daphne’s restaurant on Barbados’ west coast – sister to Daphne’s restaurant in London. Elegant Hotels also owns and operates The Landings Resort and Spa in St Lucia and has recently acquired Hodges Bay Resort and Spa in Antigua, which is set to open in 2018. | 45


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kingsbarns golf links As Yvonne Alexander reports, 2017 has been one of the best years ever for Kingsbarns Golf Links, with the acclaimed links welcoming a record number of visitors, and also hosting the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Kingsbarns marks Record-breaking year

“Welcoming the world’s best players to Scotland was a privilege that all the team at Kingsbarns enjoyed”

COAST-TO-COAST An aerial view of the second hole

In a season that saw Kingsbarns Golf Links host two European Tour events and its first Major, the Fife course has confirmed it welcomed more guests to Scotland’s east coast in 2017 than ever before. The results round off a memorable year for the celebrated links which also won the Best Customer Service accolade at this year’s Scottish Golf Tourism awards. The annual results show a healthy upward curve in rounds played at Kingsbarns in 2017, and follow on from an equally impressive increase recorded last year.

The year-on-year figures indicate a continual positive trend at Kingsbarns which its chief executive, Alan Hogg, believes is underpinned by a commitment to consistent and continual improvement. “The 2017 season has been outstanding for a number of reasons, not least hosting the Ricoh Women’s British Open,” noted Hogg. “Welcoming the world’s best players to Scotland was a privilege that all the team at Kingsbarns enjoyed. “It is, however, an approach we adopt day in, day out with our guests. The standard of service doesn’t alter.

“The fact we recorded more rounds this year than any other is testament to this consistent approach.” The Ricoh Women’s British Open was held at Kingsbarns in August with the 2017 line-up boasting players from 27 different nations, including all 25 of the world’s top golfers in the Rolex Rankings. The course received praise throughout the week, most notably from Michelle Wie, who opened the tournament on the Thursday with a new woman’s course record of 64. “The fact it is a course record is a huge honour for me, especially at a place like Kingsbarns, which is definitely one of the | 47



“Hosting the Ricoh Women’s British Open showcased our ability to meet the high standards expected of a Major venue”

A GOOD YEAR Chief executive, Alan Hogg

ONE DIRECTION Michelle Wie receiving some advice from her caddie during the Ricoh Women’s British Open

most scenic courses I’ve ever played,” she said following her historic round. “You get lost in the views out there and it almost feels like playing back home in Hawaii.” While the players enjoyed views from the elevated tees at Kingsbarns, including new teeing areas at the 3rd and 16th holes, the STRI recorded a remarkable set of performance figures during the tournament, culminating in some of the most unswerving championship statistics ever collated. “The green speeds at Kingsbarns were some of the most consistent we have had during tournament testing,” said Richard Windows, STRI agronomy services manager. “It was a great example of the implementation of good agronomic practices executed by a team of expert greenkeepers.” The STRI confirmed the women’s major was contested over an exceptional course. Windows continued: “Achieving the targets was particularly pleasing because of the challenging weather conditions experienced throughout the championship with heavy rain falling on most afternoons and evenings.

“The results were outstanding,” added Windows. The regular greenkeeping team at Kingsbarns, led by Innes Knight and augmented during the tournament by over 20 volunteer greenkeeping professionals from Scottish, English and international golf courses, worked tirelessly during the tournament to ensure the course was presented to a world-class standard. It is a policy the team adopts throughout the year regardless of whether the tee-sheet is packed with the best players in the world or not. “Our policy is to present Kingsbarns to the highest possible standard throughout the year,” explained Knight. “It could be a mid-week match for local golfers, a fourball of international tourists or the closing Sunday of a Major. It does not matter. “All members of staff at Kingsbarns are committed to delivering a truly unique golf experience for all our guests.” Art Dunkley, director of Kingsbarns Golf Links, agreed: “We continually seek to improve how we present Kingsbarns and welcome our visiting golfers from the UK and from around the world.

48 | GMé January 2018

“Hosting the Ricoh Women’s British Open showcased our ability to meet the high standards expected of a Major venue.” Golf has been played at Kingsbarns since 1793. Dressed in blue coats, the Kingsbarns men met for their spring and autumn meetings to compete for the Kingsbarns Golf Society medals. After the course died out in the 1800s, in 1922 the Kingsbarns Golf Club was re-established with Willie Auchterlonie laying out a nine-hole course on the links. The course again reverted to rough pasture with the onset of World War II, before Kyle Phillips designed the current layout. Kingsbarns is looking forward to an exciting 2018 with another busy tee sheet based on early golf bookings, the Open Championship taking place at nearby Carnoustie Golf Links and the 18th staging of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. In addition and as a follow on to this year’s Women’s British Open, an exciting new ladies-only golf day designed for the enjoyment of amateur golfers is scheduled for Saturday April 14. GMé

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signing off

“when he made his return to action recently, I found myself willing him to do well”

The British love an underdog which is why I’m backing Tiger I’m not sure if golf is a strange game; UK golf fans are strange; or it’s just me. After all, I know I’m strange. A few years back when Tiger Woods was in his pomp, I wanted anybody but him to win – I just felt it wasn’t good for the game to have one individual dominating to that extent. Yet, when he made his return to action recently, I found myself willing him to do well. Indeed, I even voted in one of those extremely pointless Twitter polls, after the second day, which asked where we thought the great man would finish. For the record, I was correct: top ten. I would actually have loved to see him finish higher, to have stuffed the words of all those pundits who said he was finished straight back down their throats. Yet, in the unlikely event he comes back and wins everything, he will once again drop off my Christmas card list. If you’re British, you’re far more likely to understand this mental meandering. It’s because we love an underdog, an outsider, a long shot. I first understood this very British phenomenon as a seven-year-old watching highlights of little Colchester United dump the mighty Leeds United out of the FA Cup in 1971. To put this into context for the nonBrits out there, imagine Barcelona losing to Cultural Leonesa’s reserves in the Copa del Rey; or Bayern Munich being soundly walloped by SV Meppen’s under-12s in the DFB-Pokal. Or, for those of you without an interest in the beautiful game, imagine Roger Federer being whitewashed in the open-

50 | GMé January 2018

ON THE PROWL The one-and-only, Tiger Woods

ing round of the French Open, by, well, me… These are the underdogs – those written off as no-hopers. We British love an underdog. I think it’s probably a 20thcentury occurrence brought about by the fact that we were, seemingly overnight, no longer guaranteed to win all the sports we’d invented down the years. Once Fred Perry stopped playing forehand passes and dedicated himself to producing polo shirts, tennis was lost to us; once Donald Bradman became more of a world-beater than Harold Larwood, cricket was no longer our domain; and, similarly, once the Great Triumvirate of Harry Vardon, JH Taylor and James Braid decided their future lay in the construction of golf courses rather than the destruction of a scorecard, we lost our

dominance in golf. The underdog was born. And so heartily was it embraced that some people would even openly resent any British sportsperson finding success regularly – for example Nick Faldo, or Steve Ovett and Seb Coe in athletics. Bizarre, perhaps, but at least you now know why I’ll be cheering on Tiger at least until he wins again. GMé

David Bowers


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GMé | January 2018  
GMé | January 2018  

Golf Management Europe issuu 117