GMé | January 2020

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On the cover...

Bernhard and Company gears-up for BTME with news that Fife Golf Trust has become the first user of the Express Dual 5500


ÂŁ7.50 Issue 129 | January 2020

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

Chief executive of the newly re-branded Confederation of Professional Golf, Ian Randell, discusses the reasons behind the name change and new direction


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On the agenda january 2020 20


Don’t let WHS handicap you

Later this year sees a major overhaul of the golf handicap, with the implementation of the World Handicap System as Jamie Abbott of intelligentgolf explains.


All-Exclusive on Saadiyat Island

Abu Dhabi’s first all-inclusive, all-exclusive luxury beachfront resort, the Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island, recently celebrated its first anniversary.


In conversation with Jed Moore

One of the founding partners of Performance54, Jed Moore shares his thoughts on the business of golf, and how he believes the industry will evolve in the years ahead.


The Italian Job... Post 2022

With the 2022 Ryder Cup in Italy less than three years away, Stefano Boni takes an in-depth look at golf in his country, and the foundations that are being put in place for its legacy.



The Sunningdale Boys

Two enterprising PGA professionals, Kristian Baker and Tom Reid have led a consortium to purchase Sunningdale Heath, and are set to transform the 120-year-old venue.

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 Contributors

Michael Lenihan Stefano Boni, David Bowers, Mark Bushell, Karl Hansell, Andy Hiseman, Aidan Patrick, Ian Randell, Scott MacCullum, Jed Moore


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from the publisher

“Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has been described as ‘heinous’ by Amnesty International”

Rory’s stance morally correct regarding golf in Saudi Arabia When I was younger, I was always hearing people spouting about keeping politics out of sport. As I got older I realised politicians are actually quite keen to do exactly the opposite. Domestically, sport can be a vote winner; further afield it may be viewed as a panacea for all the ills of a host nation, putting to the back of the mind political turmoil, human rights’ abuses, apartheid, oppression and many other evils which have no place in the 21st century. Yet we all know, it’s not a panacea, it’s not even a screen – it’s transparent. Too often down the years, professional sportsmen and women have cited ‘keeping politics out of sport’ as justification for pocketing substantial sums of money as repressive regimes try to add a veneer of respectability through tacit endorsement. So it was hugely refreshing – and quite surprising – to learn that Rory McIlroy had put morals ahead of his bank balance in choosing not to participate in the second Saudi International event, despite the lure of a reported $2.5m appearance fee. Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has been described as ‘heinous’ by Amnesty International and this has clearly not been lost on the Irishman, despite the fact he did not refer to it directly when announcing he would not take part in the tournament. He told the Golf Channel: “It’s just not something that would excite me. You could say that about so many coun-

4 | GMé January 2020

A TOUR TOO FAR Tour officials at the signing of the Saudi International European Tour event

tries, not just Saudi Arabia, but a lot of countries that we play in that there’s a reason not to go, but for me, I just don’t want to go. “One hundred percent, there’s a morality to it as well. I think the atmosphere looks better at the events on the west coast (of the USA) and I’d much rather play in front of big golf fans and play in a tournament that really excites me.” Last month, boxer Anthony Joshua was criticised by Amnesty International for staging a fight in Riyadh, warning that the heavyweight was being duped by the Saudi authorities, who it claims are launching a crackdown on human rights by repressing free speech and dissent.

Sport chases Middle Eastern cash – but I’m yet to be convinced that the oftquoted excuse of “showcasing <insert sport here> to a new nation” stands up to close scrutiny with some regimes. We should not fall into the trap of believing that everything that glisters is gold. GMé

Michael Lenihan

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Hold the front page Fife Golf Trust have choosen innovation, becoming the first user of the Express Dual 5500 from Bernhard and Company that will benefit the seven courses the trust maintains.

“The level of finesse you can get with these new grinders are second to none... more precision; better finish and more control which all adds to the effect out on the course”

Cover sponsored by Bernhard and Company (44) 01788 811600

6 | GMé January 2020

The Fife Trust, which is a specialist trust responsible for maintaining seven golf courses in the Fife region of Scotland, recently turned to Bernhard and Company to help improve the quality of its courses. Keen to improve the quality of cut on their sites, the trust opted to purchase their own grinder with Bernhard and Company the perfect solution and an obvious choice. Outsourcing all of their sharpening needs was taking up a large proportion of Fife Trust’s maintenance budget, so cost savings was a key element in the decision making process, coupled with the ability to control when and how they sharpened their cutting units. The expertise and reputation of Bernhard and Company was also a contributing factor which in-turn led to the outcome of acquiring the new Express Dual 5500 as well as an Anglemaster 4500. The latest technology appealed to Fife Trust as they know it will constantly be updated and improved. The specialist trust co-ordinates the council’s golfing interests hence why the safety features were another major benefit as the machines are extremely quiet and the operator can be totally removed from the working part of the machine.

These were all vital elements that led to the Fife Trust choosing Bernhard’s newest and most innovative machines. Paul Murphy, golf course manager for Fife Golf Trust said: “We knew that the whole set up was something new and improved on a product that was already good anyway. “I think the new laser set up will improve the precision and accuracy in what we do and this was another important factor. Everything we have seen about the machine relates to the reason why we went down this route.” Tom Johnston, mechanic at Fife Golf Trust added: “The level of finesse you can get with these new grinders are second to none... more precision; better finish and more control which all adds to the effect out on the course.” The Fife Trust, which also co-ordinates the council’s wider golfing interests, is made up of representation from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, St. Andrews Links Trust, Elmwood College and BTS Solutions. Scott Purdy, sales manager for Bernhard said: “We are very proud to be supporting Fife, and with the added value of technology and remote support, we will be able to help Fife and other courses to improve their playability, turf quality and consistency.” GMé

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The R&A and European Tour to help Drive new LPGA-LET Joint Venture The R&A and the men’s European Tour have committed to help the newly formed joint venture between the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the Ladies European Tour (LET) in its efforts to significantly grow playing opportunities, financial incentives and television exposure for women’s professional golf in Europe and around the world. As well as providing financial support and leveraging other assets they manage, the bodies will each have one seat on the new LPGA-LET Joint Venture Board of Directors. Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said: “Building a strong and sustainable Ladies European Tour is fully consistent with the aims of The R&A Women in Golf Charter. “We support the vision of the LPGALET joint venture to create significantly more opportunities for women and girls to pursue their dreams in golf here in Europe and to inspire future generations to take up the sport. We look forward to working with the LPGA-LET team as a board member of this important venture.” Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, said: “The European Tour has already had the opportunity to host events involving LET members and we’ve seen their talent and drive first-hand. “Looking ahead to our 2020 schedule, we have added another new and excit-

ing co-sanctioned event with the LET in Sweden and are pursuing similar opportunities in other markets. The women professionals bring a different dynamic and fan base to the game – all of which improves our sport – and we look forward to building a strong women’s professional presence through this new collaborative approach.” While the LPGA might have been the first organisation to reach out to the LET in an effort to create an even stronger entity, LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan

Ramac buys Chart Hills

CMAE continues to break records and add more CCMs in Europe

Prince’s Golf Club, in Sandwich Bay, Kent, has announced the acquisition of Chart Hills Golf Club by its owner and operator, Ramac Holdings Ltd, for an undisclosed fee. Chart Hills, in Biddenden, Kent, sits in the county’s High Weald area and has been lauded nationwide as one of Nick Faldo’s finest designs since opening in 1993. The club is well-known and loved by the senior management team and owners of Prince’s due to its fine reputation and relatively close proximity to Sandwich Bay. Rob McGuirk, general manager at Prince’s Golf Club, was Chart Hills’ club champion as a member in 1996. A spokesperson for Ramac Holdings Ltd, said: “We’re delighted to announce this acquisition and see a very bright future ahead for Chart Hills and its members. It’s a club and course that holds a fine modern history and upholds a strong reputation - not just in Kent, but nationally.”

8 | GMé January 2020

Mike Whan of the LPGA with Marta Figuera-Dotti of the LET

CMAE delegates at Dubai Creek

The Club Managers Association of Europe (CMAE) is heading into 2020 on a high after a successful last 12 months continuing to grow and developing their education programme. The Management Development Programme has gone from strength to strength during the 2018/19 term in which CMAE delivered 15 MDPs – their highest number in one term, including two new territories which saw a record high 308 MDP delegates.

always knew he could count on the support of others. “It’s exciting to see so many stakeholders in the game give their attention and their support to rebuilding a stronger women’s professional tour in Europe,” said Whan. “This significant commitment by The R&A and the European Tour is an immediate, important endorsement of the vision for the new LPGA-LET partnership.” LET Board Chair Marta Figueras-Dotti added: “Great businesses typically start with great leadership teams.”

In addition, six more members attained their Certified Club Manager (CCM) status bringing the number of CCMs in Europe to 51, with a satisfaction rate for the MDPs in 2018/19 of 93 per cent. CMAE’s director of education Torbjorn Johansson said: “Our figures speak for themselves and we are now watching some of courses become fully booked months in advance. CMAE’s training provides the competitive advantage that clubs require to ensure that they thrive in an ever-changing society. We offer education and networking that lasts you a lifetime.” CMAE’s newly elected president James Burns CCM added: “What CMAE has achieved is quite admirable and there are several people and organisations involved who have helped make this happen, including staff, the Board and EPB, CMAA and all who have volunteered their time to the association, but not least our corporate partners, and for that, we all owe them our appreciation.”


PGA Recognition Award for Sandy Lyle

In brief... Modry Las Golf Resort has concluded an “unforgettable year” by signing its first-ever reciprocal agreement in Asia with one of the continent’s leading golf destinations. The announcement follows a remarkable season in which Poland’s top golf resort became a PGA National property, celebrated its 10th anniversary and opened a stunning new clubhouse. Dreamland in Azerbaijan has launched a brand-new website dedicated to the recently opened four-star Golf Hotel. On the website, visitors will be able to find more information about the new hotel, but also about different areas of the resort such as the golf course, academy and real estate. Littlestone Golf Club has again proved itself to be one of the most forward-thinking golf clubs in England following the announcement that it has become one of the first clubs to support England Golf’s Women in Golf Charter. Littlestone has already bucked the trend of most member-owned clubs and modernised the running of the club by dispensing with the role of secretary/general manager and bringing in a number of departmental heads and introducing a structure more akin to those operating in the commercial world. A group of historic Fife golf clubs is looking forward to a new decade after celebrating a remarkable year in which some of its best-ever figures were recorded. Links with History, which features a selection of the finest courses in Scotland, confirmed it had seen some of its best year-on-year booking figures during 2019 with some months witnessing five-fold increases. The group was formed around four clubs and five courses that shared a golfing legacy stretching back 700 years.

Two-time Major winner and one of the greatest Scottish golfers of all time, Sandy Lyle, is the 2019 recipient of the PGA Recognition Award for his outstanding contribution to golf. Shrewsbury-born Lyle picked up the accolade as guest of honour during the PGA’s annual fundraising lunch in Scotland this month. The 61-year-old follows in the footsteps of some of golf’s greatest names to have been recipients of the award including Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and current Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington. Lyle turned professional in 1977 and was one of the key players responsible for the resurgence of European Golf in the 1980s. He went on to claim no fewer than 18 European Tour titles and won his first Major at the 1985 Open Championship at Royal St George’s Golf Club, becoming the first British player to lift the famous Claret Jug since Tony Jacklin in 1969. Three years later, Lyle famously put his name in the history books by becoming the first British player to win The Masters in 1988. Lyle was instrumental in two European Ryder Cup victories, including Europe’s first win on American soil at Muirfield Village, Ohio, in 1987.

In total Lyle played in five Ryder Cups and was a vice-captain to Ian Woosnam when Europe recorded an emphatic victory over the United States at the K Club in Ireland in 2006. “This award is for my achievements over the years and I’ll hopefully be ready to go for more awards in years to come,” said Lyle. “This is a nice one to start with and it is nice to be recognised when I am still around and kicking. “I still have my dad’s old PGA badge that used to go on the front bumper of the car next to the AA badge. When my dad was a PGA man, that was the only thing that was around as the PGA Tour hadn’t started. Once you joined The PGA, you were in the syndicate of what was going on in golf.”

Sandy Lyle with his PGA Recognition Award

Noemi Jiménez commits to new role at Finca Cortesin

Noemi Jiménez

Finca Cortesin Hotel, Golf & Spa has underlined its long-term commitment to growing women’s golf in Spain by extending its sponsorship contract with Ladies European Tour star Noemi Jiménez. The 2020 season will be the fifth year running that Spanish ace Jiménez has represented Finca Cortesin as its touring professional after first teaming up with the exclusive Andalucian resort shortly after turning professional in 2015.

As well as representing the resort worldwide, the 26-year-old from Marbella will also play a leading role in helping to promote ladies golf in the Andalucia region, including hosting an exclusive clinic at Finca Cortesin on Global Women’s Golf Day 2020. Jiménez will be on hand to lead a funpacked morning on and off the course on Tuesday, June 2, with players of all abilities set to enjoy nine holes on the resort’s 18-hole championship course followed by a golf clinic before having the chance to relax in style with a lunchtime cocktail at the golf clubhouse. Jiménez said: “Finca Cortesin has given me some wonderful backing since I turned professional, and I’m very proud to have extended our partnership. With an outstanding golf course and worldclass practice facilities, the resort is one of the best golfing venues I’ve played at anywhere in the world.” Vicente Rubio, president of Finca Cortesin, said: “We’re delighted to have finalised a new sponsorship agreement with Noemi.” | 9




BGL scoops host of accolades in 2019 Member Experience Awards Burhill Golf and Leisure (BGL) has been awarded several honours in the 2019 Member Experience Awards, run by TRP (The Retention People). Now in its second year (previously known as the Customer Engagement Academy Customer Experience Awards), the Member Experience Awards has been created to recognise and reward leisure, health and fitness club operators consistently delivering a high standard of member experience in their facilities. Based on their overall Net Promoter Score (NPS), calculated from member feedback received via TRP’s Insight software for the 12-month assessment period, Medals and Awards are given on an operator and site basis. BGL was awarded the Most Improved Member Experience - Golf Club Group title in addition to being recognised as providing the overall Best Member Experience - Golf Club Group, recording the highest NPS score for the sector in 2019. Across its ten-venue portfolio, BGL Golf venues earned a Silver Medal Award meaning they consistently achieved above the industry average performance

Thornbury Golf Centre

in member experience, based on NPS over the past 12 months. Individually, both Wycombe Heights Golf Centre and Ramsdale Park Golf Centre were awarded the Platinum Medal Award, which requires the highest NPS score, while two other BGL Golf venues earned a Gold Medal Award.

“I’d like to congratulate all our venues for maintaining the highest standards of customer service; in particular, Tim Good and his team at Thornbury,” commented BGL operations director, Guy Riggott. “Ensuring our members and guests receive a great experience is always a top priority.”

59club heads to Justin Rose predicts bright the US of A future for Quinta do Lago American golf and leisure clubs, can now benefit from an in-depth vision into their operational successes and areas in need of improvement thanks to 59club USA, the latest addition to the customer service specialists – currently operating across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Since opening, 59club USA has already engaged with more than 30 well-known golf clubs and resorts in America, including 14 TPC properties and Bobby Jones Links – one of the world’s largest golf management companies. 59club’s online dashboard allows these managers to compare results to the industry benchmark, elite-performing properties and even direct competitor venues of their choice, making it one of the only ways for venues to measure how well they are performing within their market. Following the launch of 59club USA, 59club CEO, Simon Wordsworth, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to extend our scope of service into America and hit the ground running. We couldn’t ask for a better partner to lead this division than Mike Kelly who will drive our expansion into America. We have the utmost confidence in him and his team.”

10 | GMé January 2020

Justin Rose believes Quinta do Lago can play a leading role in helping to develop golf’s new generation of stars following a visit to the Algarve resort. The former world number one was on hand to give a personal welcome to the finalists at the Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship – the first year that he has sponsored the tournament regarded as junior golf’s unofficial Major. Quinta do Lago has hosted the event five times in the last six years and Rose was impressed by the resort’s combination of golf and lifestyle facilities that have made it a firm favourite with golfers and families across Europe. As well as three 18-hole championship golf courses – the North, South and Laranjal – and practice facilities, guests can stay in shape at the state-of-theart performance centre, The Campus, a sports hub designed for professionals and amateurs alike to keep fit. “I think Quinta do Lago hosting this championship is the perfect venue, the whole resort is very family-focused and family-friendly,” said Rose. “Quinta do Lago and certainly the North Course is such a great venue for these kids. It’s generally always beautiful weather here, you can see the golf

courses in perfect conditions, with lovely tree lines and the North Course has nice bunkering. (It’s) just a really pleasant golf course to play and a lot of fun.” Rose used victory at the tournament in 1997 as the platform to go on and enjoy worldwide golfing success, and he revealed that this was the primary motivating factor in his decision to take on headline sponsorship of the event this year. He added: “I just wanted to get involved with the championship because I have wonderful memories and I think it was a very formative part of my career. Winning the Daily Telegraph Junior Championship gave me a lot of confidence.”

Justin Rose

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Club Car launches new personal vehicle range called the Onward Passenger Club Car has introduced the Onward Passenger, a new line of two and fourseater personal transportation vehicles designed to transform the way you travel around your property and community. Onward features extensive integrated custom options, and can be easily designed to individual specifications using the Club Car online configurator. With completely customisable options – including colour, seats, storage, wheels and even drive modes to maximize performance – consumer style and comfort will be elevated whether on or off the golf course. Pierre Lhernould, head of marketing EMEA at Club Car, said: “Onward is the future of personal transportation. Club Car has been leading the field of golf and utility vehicles for years, but this is an exciting opportunity to go straight to consumers with a vehicle that can enhance their personal lifestyle, on and off the golf course.” The Onward Passenger vehicles come with a 4.7hp motor and 375 Amp controller as standard which deliver outstanding hill-climbing power and acceleration. In addition to market-leading performance, Onward comes with the option of three programmable drive modes at the time of purchase; dealers can set eco,

normal, or sport modes to maximize the performance characteristic most important to the owner. Lhernould continued: “Onward is already proving incredibly popular in the USA, and we know that our European customers will be just as thrilled by it. “Each vehicle is bespoke to its owner, thanks to the wealth of customisation

Fire & Sand pit in Golf Lounge

Alcanada gets a kick out of new additions

One of the most unusual and innovative golf projects in the world is taking shape in Mexico City, and EcoBunker technology is playing a critical role. Architect Agustin Piza was commissioned by his client, a leading Mexican executive, to build a golf practice facility in the grounds of the client’s new house. “I think my client had a regular putting and chipping green in mind, but I don’t do regular things,” says Piza. The architect conceived something he calls the ‘Golf Lounge’, a large, freeform putting green and surrounds that enables users to practice any golf shot they like from up to 70 yards. At the centre of the construction is a large revetted sand bunker, which is where the EcoBunker solution is deployed. And, in the heart of that bunker is to be found the centrepiece of the whole ‘Golf Lounge’ concept – a fire pit. “The central bunker is key to the entire composition,” says Piza. “During the day you can practice all types of shots from 70 yards in, and in the evenings, you turn on the music, turn on the lights, turn on the firepit and relax.”

Two new staff members have been tasked with stepping up the ecological groundwork at Club de Golf Alcanada. Little donkeys by the name of Estrella and Tomás turned up just in time for Christmas at the Mallorcan club after making their way along the not-so dusty road to Alcudia, in the north of the island. Although there was no room at the inn upon arrival, they have taken up residence in their own purpose-built shelter in an area of unused woodland near the 13th hole. Aside from adding two interested spectators to watch golfers on the downhill par-five towards the sea, they have plenty to chew on with an important job to do, according to director of golf, Kristoff Both. Both said: “That area was our property but not part of the course. It was overgrown and was becoming a potential fire hazard so it needed to be cleared. We actually cleared the area ourselves but it needs to be maintained, so now Estrella and Tomás will be doing that for us. “They are great – two staff members who are no trouble at all!

12 | GMé January 2020

The Onward Passenger has a host of options

options, and we are seeing people use them for an incredible range of activities and purposes.” Onward is built to meet or exceed the strictest safety standards, which means details like front LED headlights with a focused field of view, highly conspicuous signals, and fail-proof armrests come as standard.

Estrella and Tomás

“The only issue we have had is when members bring along carrots and feed them with a few nice treats, which means they are not as hungry as they should be! “It all adds up to an extra element of environmental sustainability. I think it’s a good option as we don’t require any chemicals, since the application of herbicides is eliminated. “We take our environmental responsibility very seriously and this is another contributory factor. We’ve eliminated plastic cups and bottles – all water is now in Tetra Brik packaging.”

people news

Movers & Shakers A brief pictorial round-up of some of the individuals shaping the golf business, including news that James Ibbetson has returned from Abu Dhabi to assume a role at Farleigh GC.







In brief... PING has announced the signing of European Tour player Eddie Pepperell on a multi-year agreement. As part of the deal, the 28-year-old Englishman will compete wearing a PING hat and carry a PING staff bag. “Eddie is one of the most popular players on the European Tour and we are very pleased that he has chosen to represent PING,” said PING president, John K. Solheim. The CMAE has announced that two more of its members have gained the coveted Certified Club Manager (CCM) status. Mohammed Attallah from Egypt and Nathanael PietrzakSwirc from France are the latest to gain the globally recognized certification after several years of study and an exhaustive seven-hour examination. Golfers heading to Lisbon in 2020 can look forward to an impressive new ‘stay and play’ resort venue following the opening of the Aroeira Lisbon Hotel at the beginning of December. The Aroeira estate – 25km south of the Portuguese capital – already has a reputation for quality, with two widely-acclaimed 18-hole golf courses nestled amid tranquil natural pine forest, and the opening of the new hotel will only further enhance the golfing allure of the resort. The R&A and the USGA are conducting a review of the Rules of Amateur Status to make them easier to understand and apply. The comprehensive evaluation is part of the continued joint effort to modernise the Rules by reducing complexity and ensuring the Rules effectively guide how the game is played today. As part of a review process the governing bodies will seek the perspectives of golf’s stakeholders as an integral component of the review process, with the aim to provide a modernised set of Amateur Status Rules by late 2021.


Farleigh Golf Club’s new general manager, James Ibbetson, overcame stiff competition to be appointed to the top job at the Surrey club, fresh from his role as director of golf at Yas Links in Abu Dhabi.


The R&A’s executive director of golf development and amateur championships, Duncan Weir, has been presented the 2019 CPG Special Recognition Award for his dedication to the development of golf around the world.


Specialist sports and tourism agency Azalea has snapped up social media sensation the Average Golfer in a deal that will see the company maximise his exposure and manage his commercial rights and partnerships.


Jeremy Tomlinson will join England Golf as its new CEO this month. Tomlinson was previously vice president and managing director of Acushnet Europe where he was responsible for Titleist and FootJoy.


Sir Nick Faldo, the most successful British golfer of all time with six Major titles, is celebrating a decade of knighthood by giving his Faldo Enterprises brand a complete facelift, including a new logo and modernised branding.


Former Confederation of Professional Golf chairman, Sandy Jones, has been recognised for his incredible impact on global golf and the Association itself with the 2019 Christer Lindberg Bowl. | 13


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EDUCATE EXHIBIT EVOLVE BTME 2020 | 21-23 January 2020 Harrogate Convention Centre |

The turf industry is rapidly changing and if golf courses and greenkeepers are to thrive in a highly-competitive environment, we need to embrace new ideas and ways of thinking, evolving our methods to suit modern needs. For almost 30 years BTME has been at the forefront of that change and the 2020 exhibition will feature product launches, major industry announcements and everything you’d expect from Europe’s premier turf industry event.

14 | GMé January 2020

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merchandising news

Pro Shop & Retail A brief pictorial round-up of events from the retail side of the industry, including news that TaylorMade Golf have launched an innovative range of new metals for 2020.







In brief... A sparkling new golf experience will await golfers visiting Quinta do Lago from next spring with the exclusive Portuguese resort giving a modern and sophisticated makeover to its main golf clubhouse ahead of the 2020 season. Sean Moriarty, chief executive at Quinta do Lago, said: “In many ways, the clubhouse is the focal point for golfers at Quinta do Lago and it’s essential that we have the right image to reflect this.” Clear Golf has announced that major champion Charl Schwartzel will open his 2020 season with the Clear Golf ball in his bag. The former Masters Champion will make his US debut with Clear on the PGA Tour in February, using the Clear ball and representing the Clear Golf brand. “I’m truly excited to be playing the Clear ball this season,” noted Schwartzel, who has 24 worldwide wins to his credit. Wilson Golf is introducing a new range of super game-improvement clubs incorporating ground-breaking technology and contemporary design to inspire confidence in high handicap golfers, whether looking to improve or new to the game. The new Wilson Staff Launch Pad family of clubs includes forgiving irons, slice-combatting woods and a new FYbrid club – all crafted to ensure that clubface contact gets the ball airborne consistently for greater distance carry. intelligentgolf, a leading webbased provider of golf club and competition management software, has announced a deal to acquire the assets of Open Solutions International (OSI), a business solutions and club management software provider. OSI’s operations will be folded into intelligentgolf, including its customers, software and all related IP. The acquisition has been supported by ClearCourse.


TaylorMade Golf builds on its history of metalwood innovation and groundbreaking technologies with the all-new SIM family, highlighted by drivers, fairways and hybrids all of which have been launched this month.


Golfers are expected to fall in love with some of the most exclusive clubs on the market this year as Clubs to Hire will launch its stock of PXG clubs from Valentine’s Day, adding to the range of the latest clubs available to rent.


Golf Genius, a provider of cloudbased golf tournament management systems, has announced that users will now be able to integrate their handicaps through HandicapMaster into their Golf Genius events, leagues or trips.


Glenmuir, the Scottish golf clothing brand, launches its Spring Summer 2020 collection with fresh colours Magenta, Spring Green and Ascot Blue with a focus on sustainable performance fabrics and natural performance.


Wilson Golf has added supercharged Velociticor™ technology to the new Wilson Staff DUO Soft+ golf ball that replaces the original DX2 Soft version – making it the world’s softest and longest, 35 compression two-piece golf ball.


HONMA Golf, the Japanese brand that crafts the world’s most exclusive golf clubs, has set the gold standard with the introduction of its new BERES range of clubs, which have been designed for golfers with slow swing speeds. | 15



Versatile, class leading compact tractors, designed for unbeatable quality that lasts. Exceptional quality and reliable manufacturing, lightweight and manoeuvrable, the ISEKI compact tractors range from 16hp to 65hp with a lift capacity up to 1600kg. ISEKI tractors are ideal for maintaining fine sports surfaces. Add scarifiers, aerators or other implements for complete turf maintenance. Contact your local dealer to book a demonstration today.

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


946-Golf-Management-Europe-Advert-180x127-HLSGC.indd 1

16 | GMĂŠ January 2020

07/03/2019 10:23

greenkeeping news

Machinery & Turf A brief pictorial round-up of course management related events including news that Reesink Turfcare will be launching a new all-electric Toro Greensmaster at BTME.







In brief... BIGGA has revealed the 20 ambitious greenkeepers who will participate in the Future Turf Managers Initiative 2020. Each year Jacobsen opens the doors of its headquarters in Ipswich to 20 BIGGA members who have earned a place on the ground breaking course by demonstrating their commitment to the profession and eagerness to learn. Will Carr, Jacobsen UK sales director, said: “We are fully committed to supporting the golf industry at every level and are delighted to help with this investment in the industry’s talent of the future.” Mach 1, the newest and fastest ultradwarf bermudagrass available for golf course greens, recently received its plant patent (PP31139). Developed by Certified golf course superintendent Rod Lingle, Mach 1 sets itself apart from previous ultradwarf releases with super fine texture for superior ball roll, excellent response to growth regulators, and incredible visible purity. John Deere has announced two new additions to the economical 6000A Series fairway mower line-up, which will be previewed at BTME 2020. “We’re excited to bring the E-Cut hybrid mowing system to the 6000A Series fairway mowers,” commented John Deere’s current European turf sales & marketing manager, Carlos Aragones. The pioneering world-first Syngenta Application Academy will give turf managers and sprayer operators the chance to delve into the world of precision application. Launching the Application Academy at BTME, Syngenta technical manager and application specialist, Glenn Kirby, highlighted it will give a select group the chance to become an industry leader in accurate application – and get the very best from every turf treatment.


Reesink Turfcare is launching Toro’s most eagerly anticipated technology, the most advanced on the market, at BTME – the all-new all-electric Greensmaster eTriFlex 3370 ride-on mower with the industry’s first lithium-ion battery.


Through ProSports UK, Foley Company has exceeded UK market expectations heading into BTME 2020 after impressing greenkeepers with the speed and versatility of the Foley range of spin and relief grinders.


After greenkeepers and members became frustrated with the quality of cut and condition of the fairways at Lochemse Golf Club, head greenkeeper, Geert Olthuis, decided to switch brands to Jacobsen.


The Club Company, which owns and operates 14 Country Clubs across the United Kingdom, has taken delivery of a further Ventrac 4500 compact tractor with Contour mowing deck and blower attachments.


Campey Turf Care Systems is bringing the 100 per cent electric AllTrec Tool Carrier to BTME 2020 to introduce the future of zero CO2-emissions golf course maintenance. The Tool Carrier will be in Red Hall North, Stand 276.


With its third Toro package deal, Brett Vale Golf Club in Suffolk and their newly-appointed head greenkeeper, Tony Barker, has invested in both purchase and lease Toro machines due to their exceptional durability. | 17



btme 2020

“BTME is about providing BIGGA members and the entire golf industry with the tools it needs to overcome any of the problems we face”

Continue to Learn at BTME 2020 As turf’s greatest heroes assemble once again in Harrogate for BTME, Karl Hansell takes a look at what’s on offer this year, and suggests a few ‘must-see’ attractions.

LEARNING ON THE JOB Continue to Learn is BIGGA’s industry-leading education programme

18 | GMé January 2020

The biggest names in turf management will come together in the historic North Yorkshire town of Harrogate later this month for Europe’s premier exhibition and educational conference. BTME 2020 and the Continue to Learn education programme for turf professionals is due to return to the Harrogate Convention Centre from January 19-23, 2020. The landscape is rapidly changing in the sports turf sector and for a facility to become a success, it’s important to have an awareness of what tools are on offer to overcome any challenges that may be faced, whether due to restrictions of chemical products or the latest technology and innovation that’s available. Staff are a golf club’s biggest asset and attendance at BTME enables both the greenkeeping team and their managers to have all the latest knowledge to ensure the golf course stays ahead of the game. BIGGA chief executive Jim Croxton said: “The golf industry is changing faster than ever with new rules, new technology and new challenges posed by the economy and our changing climate. “At its heart BTME is about providing BIGGA members and the entire golf industry with the tools it needs to overcome any of the problems we face, to

create a strong and more vibrant sport for generations to come. “I look forward to welcoming people from all over the UK and further afield, from all levels of the sports turf management industry, to Harrogate in January for what promises to be another fantastic exhibition.” Last year’s exhibition saw nearly 9,000 BIGGA members, turf managers, golf club owners, managers and industry decision makers pack into the centre to discover the latest products and innovations plus unrivalled networking opportunities. Simon Freeman is course manager at The Machrie on Islay in Scotland. He was a first-time visitor to BTME in 2019 and said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Harrogate and found it a really worthwhile experience. I live and work in a very remote area and it is all too easy to become detached and isolated from the rest of the industry. “Spending two days at the show allowed me the opportunity to not only catch up on advancements in machinery and agronomic technology, but also to meet a lot of professional people who I had either never had the opportunity to speak with before or who I had not seen for a long time. “I came back to Machrie with renewed enthusiasm and increased product

CELEBRATION Broadcast journalist Naga Munchetty will return to present the BIGGA Welcome Celebration

knowledge and I have no doubt that my employers and the members of the Islay Golf Club will benefit from this experience.” With so many attendees from all over the globe, BTME is a hugely-important event for the golf industry in the UK and across Europe. Exhibitors to the event are often surprised by the engagement and expert knowledge of the greenkeepers and turf professionals who attend and there is a strong case to be made that golf clubs that engage with the wider industry including BIGGA through staff membership are better run and more successful. In addition to the three-day trade show which runs from Tuesday-Thursday, BIGGA’s free-to-attend welcome events features two drinks receptions and will celebrate all the finest achievements of BIGGA members and milestones from this year. There’s a lot of bad news surrounding the golf industry each year, but the Welcome Celebration is an opportunity to celebrate everything that’s good about the greenkeeping industry, and we know that’s key to growing a thriving sport for years to come. During the event the winners of the BIGGA Awards will be announced, as will the winner of the inaugural BIGGA

Excellence in Communications Award – sponsored by Campey Turf Care Systems – with the winner receiving an all-expenses-paid trip to Jacksonville, Florida, where they will visit the Air2G2 factory, TPC Sawgrass, TIAA Bank Field and Daytona International Speedway. There’s also a £750 cash prize for the winner. The Green Room Golf Course Podcast is BIGGA’s popular new audio offering, with host Karl Hansell bringing regular stories from around the industry. At BTME, former Ryder Cup superintendent Curtis Tyrrell MG CGCS – himself host of The Course Reports podcast – will be hosting a series of discussions in BTME’s Blue Zone. Topics for discussion on Tuesday are The Solheim Cup and the importance of volunteer support teams, The Open at Royal Portrush and advice on working overseas. Then on Wednesday, Tyrrell and his expert guests will discuss water and its effects on golf operations, what it’s like working with the European Tour, meet BIGGA’s new president Colin Webber and the future role of automated machinery in the greenkeeping industry. Returning for BTME 2020 on Wednesday morning is the hugely popular BTME Breakfast Club, which will this

year take a closer look at what happens when things go wrong out on the course. Hosted by BIGGA’s favourite golf nut, Naga Munchetty, this entertaining session will hear the true stories of greenkeepers who jumped in and saved the day, making it a great way to continue your BTME experience on the second day of the exhibition. Once again, running alongside BTME will be BIGGA’s Continue to Learn education programme, which is the most comprehensive education programme for those in the turf industry. Attracting more than 3,000 delegates, the programme features almost 80 individual education events and is held over four days. Continue to Learn 2020 will feature more than 250 hours of education delivered by over 90 speakers. The Golf Course Architecture and Management Forum will showcase collaborations between architects, course managers and their greenkeeping teams at some of the biggest projects in golf, including Royal Portrush, Royal Dornoch and The JCB Golf & Country Club. Regular favourites such as the Turf Managers’ Conference, the Deputies’ Conference and the Young Greenkeepers’ Conference will also return. GMé | 19



ian randell

OPEN FOR BUSINESS The Centurion Club, the new home of the CPG

NEW BEGINNINGS Ian Randell at the launch of CPG

In conversation with Ian Randell In September 2019, the PGAs of Europe took the decision to rebrand as the Confederation of Professional Golf. Chief executive, Ian Randell, discusses the change in name, and the direction it aims to take heading into the future.

GMé What were the main motivations for this name change and rebrand and how has this been received amongst your membership and network? IR We started a process during 2018 that examined how our PGAs could benefit both organisationally and financially through increased collaboration and by embracing various digital opportunities to have greater engagement with us and with one another, enabling an international community of PGA members, and an improved interaction with golfers. Recognising the importance of our national PGAs retaining their independence, we began a consultation process with them through a project simply titled Collaboration & Digitalisation. At the end of 2018 the PGA of GB&I took the decision to leave membership of the PGAs of Europe and this, coupled with restrictions within a PGA trademark licence agreement prompted us to review our situation.

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If we were to achieve the goals of the project, provide a valuable service to our membership, and be in control of our own destiny, we took the decision that we would be better placed to do so operating under a revised name and new brand. The discussions went beyond merely a change in name but also a review of our strategic direction and an exploration into the new opportunities that were presenting themselves in a rapidly evolving golf industry. We officially revealed the new name and visual identity at our brand launch event on September 26, 2019, at our new UK headquarters – the Centurion Club in St. Albans, on the outskirts of London. The new visual identity and direction were greeted with overwhelming optimism, and we have been delighted with the way the name and brand has been embraced, both within our membership and beyond.

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF Ian Randell, chief executive of the Confederation of Professional Golf

The engagement and excitement during our flagship event – the 2019 CPG Annual Congress, that was held recently at Penina Hotel & Golf Resort in the Algarve, provided further evidence that the membership was as excited by our new direction as we were internally. GMé The process of undergoing a name and identity change of any organisation doesn’t happen overnight. Can you describe the process you undertook to be able to successfully change from the PGAs of Europe into the CPG. IR We engaged a professional branding agency, Whitestone International, and spent a significant amount of time exploring various name combinations

locked in a room, putting words on a wall, and narrowing down to a small number of those that we felt were of importance. Ultimately, we reached a unanimous conclusion that the name and its acronym ‘CPG’ suitably depicted what and who we represent and delivered a clear message as to what we are trying to achieve. In creating the brand’s visual elements, we placed importance on having a refreshed identity that recognised the significant progress and position that the association had achieved in its first 30 years, whilst portraying the new direction of the organisation. The other important part of our identity was having visual representation for our members

on all materials and platforms, to show the collective strength and influence of the association. From there, the CPG team have worked tirelessly throughout the year to execute the visual identity that we all see today and implement it across our own internal channels, across our external network’s channels and throughout the public eye. Now that the foundations are in place, we are extremely excited to be implementing our new strategy in 2020, centred around the mission, strategic pillars and values that provide the focus of advancing the organisation. Building the value of CPG not only enhances our influence as an organisation but also the influence of the PGAs that we represent. | 21



ian randell

GMé You have mentioned a new strategic direction, does this mean that the organisation has fundamentally changed? IR In short, no. The CPG remains the same organisational entity that it was previously under the PGAs of Europe brand but with a new name. We continue to strive with our mission of developing golf on a global scale, bettering and increasing the opportunities for professional golf and enabling more people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy our sport. We also continue to be a proud partner with Ryder Cup Europe, through the vehicle of the Ryder Cup European Development Trust. Whilst it is important to emphasise this continuation, what I think has been changed considerably under the new CPG brand is the way we are aiming to achieve these objectives. At the core of the CPG’s new strategic direction are the three pillars of Togetherness, Collaboration and Development between the organisation and our membership.

22 | GMé January 2020

Togetherness recognises our greatest strength being the collective knowledge, influence and international nature of our membership, and that if we could create a one-organisation mentality within that structure, where each country views the CPG as an extension of themselves whilst maintaining their autonomy, the benefit to everybody will be profound. Collaboration focuses on the opportunities CPG Member Countries can create from a more collaborative relationship with the CPG. This is because as a collective organisation, we are able to work with one another more closely, work across different areas together, create various new and exciting business opportunities, and ultimately benefit from economies of scale as a result. Development focuses on continuing and increasing our work in growing the game of golf, through the PGAs themselves, the education and skills of the overall workforce and the opportunities available to them in various key areas, which in turn will create a significant impact on participation and engage-

ment within the sport, and create new opportunities. GMé As we head into a new decade, what sort of challenges and opportunities do you see as an organisation and more broadly, as an industry, and how are you equipped to be able to overcome and prosper from them? IR The golf industry’s challenges and opportunities are well documented, and I think golf is doing a pretty good job in adapting to these and embracing the needs and wants of today’s society, whilst going through a period of change. The R&A and USGA are following up the comprehensive modernisation of the rules of golf with the new World Handicapping System and a review of Amateur Status, and we congratulate The R&A’s efforts to make the sport more welcoming to women and families and have signed up to their Women & Golf Charter. This is not just about getting more women playing but also addressing the complete imbalance in people working in the game and in positions of influence. PARTNERSHIPS Left, Ian Randell at the launch of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2012; right, the PGA of America’s PGA Junior League, and below right, pictured with Lee Chapman in 2018

“The CPG remains the same organisational entity that it was previously under the PGAs of Europe brand but with a new name”

Furthermore, we have seen a more collaborative approach to promoting golf’s social and health benefits and I have been on the Board of the Golf & Health project since its inception some five years ago. Speaking of collaboration and women’s golf, we are definitely seeing greater global collaboration, with the recent partnership between the LPGA and the LET being a great example, alongside the ongoing collaborative discussions between the PGA Tour and European Tour as well. During 2019, we have also made progress with increased dialogue across the world’s PGAs and as such building the network and resources to grow the game. The European Tour have placed innovation at the centre of their strategy, and they are not alone in this, especially in examining new forms and shorter formats for the game. We have long been admirers of the PGA of America’s PGA Junior League and this, or GolfSixes, provides a perfect tool to roll out across our members. We have been piloting an off-course version of

the GolfSixes format with our Corporate Partners US Kids Golf and SNAG, which we will be expanding upon in 2020. We have also recently recognised the Fédération Française de Golf’s for their fantastic 100 short course initiative with the 2019 President’s Award for Golf Development; we hope this model can be replicated and adapted by other countries in the future. Finally, the embracement of the digital world by golfing bodies and organisations is clear to see, with new technologies, improved information provision and increased engagement through various entertainment mediums being utilised more widely across the industry. Golf as a means to escape a hectic, technologically driven world has also meant more people than ever are enjoying it in its traditional form. Protecting the ethos and values that make the game so special remain, whilst ensuring its relevance and fun-factor continues is of paramount importance. Internally, our continued focus is to ensure the successful activation of our Collaboration & Digitalisation Project, to

increase our revenue streams that will enable us, and our Member Country PGAs to have greater resource capabilities and influence, to develop a new framework for professional education that provides a skilled and appropriate workforce for the game across established and emerging markets, and to continue to provide golf development expertise for the benefit of the game around the world. Whilst change, like in anything, poses issues, it’s the ability to adapt and use that change to your advantage that is important. This is something we are keen to express as an organisation and I think we are well suited, as a collective force of PGAs, to face head on. As we head into the new decade, the CPG is better equipped than it has ever been to overcome any issue faced within the industry and take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself. Utilising our collective strength and increased collaboration is at the heart of that. After all, each and every one of us seek the same goal: the betterment and continued success of the game of golf. GMé | 23


world handicap system

Don’t allow WHS to Handicap your club Later this year sees a major overhaul of the golf handicap, with the implementation of the World Handicap System as Jamie Abbott of intelligentgolf explains. With the coming of the new decade, the world of golf continues to evolve and 2020 will bring with it one of the biggest shake-ups in the sport for many years. Golf is truly global – it is played in almost the same way throughout the world – and the universal nature of the game is one of the real appeals, especially to the travelling golfer in that taking their clubs anywhere in the world, they can have a friendly, competitive game following the same set of rules worldwide. This was possible due to the harmonisation of the Rules of Golf between the USGA and the R&A. While rules and etiquette are considered global, the one area of the game that was lagging behind this was a consistent method of handicapping. The importance of the handicapping system in golf cannot be overstated as it is one of the defining features of the game that allows anyone to play a competitive game with anyone else, regardless of their ability. This allows participation between the scratch golfer and the novice, while preserving the competitive aspect of the sport.

24 | GMé January 2020

At a club level – especially in the UK – competitive golf caters for all levels, and is one of the key factors that golfers love and keeps them coming back for more. Travel internationally though, and direct comparisons of handicaps become harder. The US system is fundamentally very different to the UK system, and even golfers who travel from the UK to the continent find they cannot easily compare handicaps or allow their holiday golf to be used to influence their handicap back home. Globally there are six major systems in use, CONGU (UK & Ireland primarily as well as parts of Africa), USGA (US and most of Asia), EGA (Europe & Russia), SAGA (South Africa), Golf Australia & the Argentine Golf Association. These systems will be replaced in 2020 by a transition to the World Handicap System (WHS) which will be used in more than 80 countries by over 15 million golfers. Jointly developed over the last few years by The R&A and The United States Golf Association, WHS has been a global initiative, and will bring the six current schemes together into a unified system, and is being rolled out globally in 2020.

“WHS will bring a few key changes from a CONGU perspective with handicap changes based on an average of scores”

The WHS will bring a few key changes from a CONGU perspective with handicap changes based on an average of scores, rather than the incremental increases of 0.1 and decreases based on nett differentials. Scores will increasingly be submitted for recreational golf, rather than just as competition and supplementary scores, and all courses will have a course rating and a slope rating, rather than the current SSS. Competition Scratch Score adjustments will be replaced by a Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) that works out any changes based on the conditions

of the day for all golfers who played the course. Over the last few years CONGU has laid much of the groundwork to prepare golfers in the UK & Ireland for some of the changes, such as the increase to a maximum of 54 for handicaps; the ability to play from multiple tees; the ability to submit rounds played over only nine holes and the increasing acceptability of supplementary scorecards. From a golfer’s perspective though, especially from CONGU, the main difference will be understanding that a handicap works differently, with each player having a Handicap Index.

This Handicap Index will then be adjusted based on the slope rating, course rating and par to give a Course Handicap. This is then the basis of what you will use for your Playing Handicap, depending on the format of the competition. The upshot of this is that your course handicap will be different when you play at a variety of courses, which is quite different to how a CONGU handicap travelled. Furthermore, rather than the conscious decision that a golfer would make as to either enter a competition, or to decide in advance to submit a supplementary | 25



world handicap system

NEXT GENERATION WHS will open up submitting scores via mobile apps

score, the other significant change to UK golfers will be that almost all rounds of golf will be deemed to be used towards a player’s handicap calculation, excepting for a number of formats of golf such as Texas scrambles and other team and pairs competitions. So, a casual Sunday morning round of golf with friends should now be recorded and used to update your Handicap Index. In practice this should mean that with more data, handicaps are more accurate and allow for fairer competition. There is even an option to allow scores to count from other team formats, the availability of this is decided at national level. Supplementary scores have also only been allowed to be submitted from a club where the player has a membership, so the week of golf on holiday in Devon, or indeed Spain could not be used to update your handicap. WHS will allow – indeed require –that all golf played at any rated course be included now, providing it fits in the allowable formats. This will be a godsend for those who split their time in the year between say the UK and Spain, or those who play a lot of casual golf away from their home course. The technical challenges of working with these changes are not insignificant, the largest of which is undoubtably getting all of the courses round the world to be rated with their Slope and Course ratings in a fully consistent manner. This has been a significant project and is on target to be completed in 2020. As a handicapping software provider, Intelligentgolf have been working closely

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with The R&A and CONGU for several years now, and in fact will be providing WHS to a number of countries around the world, as well as continuing to develop and support the system for our clients in the UK & Ireland under CONGU. We expect to see a number of exciting developments over the next few months, especially with our mobile app technology which will have all our customers getting WHS ready, and helping golfers and administrators alike to prepare for the migration and deployment of WHS in the UK in the winter. Each of the national unions is also undertaking a significant education programme as well, to help club committees and club members to understand the upcoming changes, so that the transition can be as smooth as possible later in the year. For now, in the UK at least, the best approach will be to get out there and play as much golf as possible, as the more rounds of qualifying golf that you have in your record, the more accurate your conversion to a WHS Handicap Index will be. With the best eight of the last 20 rounds to be used, having at least 20 rounds will give the most accurate results. If you’ve not got that much golf in yet though, don’t worry, the transition should still be quite smooth. Intelligentgolf and all the software providers involved will be doing everything we can to make the switch over to WHS as straightforward as possible, and collaborating closely with the National Associations is key to this. GMé

WHAT The all-new Greensmaster® 1000 Series

walk greensmowers with telescoping handle.

MATTERS Consistent playability on every green, everyday, regardless of who mows!

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What Matters Most to You Matters Most to Us. A new legend is born. The all-new Greensmaster 1000 Series walk-behind greensmowers are designed to bring every operator and greensmower into perfect harmony with one another. With an industry-first telescoping handle, each machine can accommodate operators of different heights and/or skill levels to deliver a consistent, unparalleled quality of cut on each and every green. And… the modular design makes it easier than ever to maintain – saving significant time and money - resulting in a lower cost of ownership.

©2019 The Toro Company. All rights reserved.




Experience all-exclusivity at Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island The Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island – Abu Dhabi’s first all-inclusive, all-exclusive luxury beachfront resort – recently celebrated its first anniversary, and as Aidan Patrick writes, the resort is vowing to guarantee guests a premium experience around the clock.

“We always have our members on our minds, and to the extent that we’ve given up all our executive spaces in the parking lots and handed them over to our customers!”

28 | GMé January 2020 ALL-EXCLUSIVE The impressive grandeur of the Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island is unmistakable

Since opening its doors on October 15, 2018, the Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island has positioned itself as Abu Dhabi’s premier all-inclusive, and ultra-exclusive beachfront property. Owned by award-winning Turkish hospitality brand Rixos Hotels, the Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island is located close to Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, with its Gary Player designed course, and one of the world’s most captivating golfing destinations. The Troon-managed Saadiyat Beach Golf Club harnesses the stunning natural beauty of Saadiyat Island to create an unparalleled experience, made all the more rewarding with spectacular views of the Gulf’s glittering blue waters fringed by pristine white sands. As the Arabian Gulf’s first beachfront course, it provides a breathtaking variety of golf experiences with every hole having its own unique character.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has been designed to accommodate all levels of golfers and offers each golfer a ‘Member for a Day’ experience with the optimum level of genuine customer service, from personalised lockers and bag tags to those personal touches from international staff. And when the Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island opened for business a little over a year ago, discerning golfers were afforded the opportunity to not only play a world-class golf course, but also stay at one of the best hotels in the region, if not the world. With a focus on all things premium, the beachfront luxury resort promises to deliver exceptional experiences around-the-clock, with guests having carte blanche to indulge in it all, from premium accommodations to premium gastronomy, entertainment, spa and wellness facilities.

“We hope to show visitors from around the world how to create a fully integrated resort that delivers ultra-luxury” | 29




The Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island invites guests to experience pure luxury in an opulent setting inspired by the palaces of the Ottoman Empire, with dazzling interiors reflecting stunning gem stone shades of green, blue and turquoise throughout. Situated on the pristine white sands of Saadiyat Island, what really sets it apart is its unique positioning as the most successful fully integrated resort in the Emirates. With panoramic views overlooking a sprawling private beach and out into the endless blue of the Arabian Gulf, the 378-key resort comprises of 366 faultlessly designed rooms and suites, plus 12 three and four-bedroom villas, each boasting either shared or private pools, direct access to the beach and the dedicated services of a butler. Conveniently located less than 30 minutes away from all of Abu Dhabi’s most thrilling attractions, guests can indulge in the feeling of hiding away in an exclu-

30 | GMé January 2020

sive island enclave while having close proximity to city highlights including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi International Airport. Ensuring that guests are taken on a true culinary journey, Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island has a total of ten restaurants and bars delivering flavours from across the globe, all of which are included as part of the All-Inclusive, AllExclusive experience. Highlight culinary offerings include authentic Turkish cuisine at Turquoise – the hotel’s signature all-day dining restaurant – haute seafood dining and exquisite coastal views at Mermaid and comforting Italian classics at L’Olivo. Guests can also head to the far east for Teppanyaki and sushi at Japanese restaurant Aja, step back in time to true Rixos heritage with the tastes of Oriental Turkish cuisine at Orient or eat-on-thego from one of many Food Carts dotted around the resort.

A series of beach bars, tea and shisha lounges and the Club House – an exclusive restaurant reserved for villa guests – complete the offering. Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island ensures every member of the family is catered for with a wide range of entertainment and facilities on offer as part of its All-Inclusive, All-Exclusive offering. The resort boasts a water park complete with wave pool for all ages and a children’s aqua park to keep the little ones happy. Nestled away within the resort’s verdant gardens, Rixos Saadiyat’s Spa is inspired by the age-old wellness customs of Turkey. The dramatic design reflects traditional Ottoman architecture to create a truly luxurious indoor and outdoor sanctuary where guests enjoy complimentary use of the facilities, which includes a steam room, sauna, a private outdoor pool, and ice room. A collection of luxury treatment rooms and a traditional Turkish hammam await PREMIUM LUXURY Left, the Mermaid Restaurant Terrace overlooking the beach; right a premium Room Pool access king bed and below right, the view of the hotel from Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

“we can’t wait to mark a new chapter in our expansion and welcome guests to Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island”

those who wish to book a pampering spa treatment, with expert therapists on hand to restore balance for mind, body and soul. A state-of-the-art gym and Rixy Kids Club, plus a wide range of in-resort activities – from sunset paddle boarding to yoga on the sand – will keep every guest happy, from adrenaline junkies to budding sports fans, irrespective if golf is your passion or you merely have a passing interest in the game. “We are thrilled to be expanding Rixos Hotels into Abu Dhabi, showcasing our first all-inclusive, all-exclusive resort in the capital,” said Fettah Tamince, Founder and Chairman of Rixos Hotels. “We hope to show visitors from around the world how to create a fully integrated resort that delivers ultra-luxury, innovation in cuisine and the highest standards of service. “We are extremely proud of our new resort and of the team, we can’t wait to mark a new chapter in our expansion

and welcome guests to Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island.” Offering second-to-none services all day every day, Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island is redefining exclusivity and luxury for its guests by enhancing and upgrading its amenities and facilities. Guests staying in the hotel can enjoy unlimited access to the following, as part of their Ultra All Inclusive experience... All-Inclusive Dine Around options to satiate your cravings all in one place, with four bars including a beach and two pool bars, four a la carte restaurants opened for dinner including Japanese & Teppanyaki, Turkish, Italian and seafood - all boasting revamped menus - as well as service. Club House, an exclusive venue for villa and suite guests, coupled with theme nights in the All Day Dining restaurant Turquoise, in addition to a popular Friday Turkish Brunch. An unlimited selection of ultrapremium alcohol beverages and sig-

nature refreshments to choose from (including over 262 world-class international brands, together with a dedicated Personal Lifestyle Manager (for suites guests) and a private Butler (for Villa guests). If that wasn’t enough, an all year-round calendar of incredible themed entertainment including live performances, exclusive shows, and different concept nights with a variety of talented entertainers and artists awaits, and for fitness lovers, there are numerous sport activities to choose from including private gym sessions, Aqua Fitmat, paddle boarding, tennis and of course, golf, while Villa guests can book exclusive VIP Personal Trainer services. And to top it all of, the Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island has the biggest spa on Saadiyat Island – the Anjana Spa – which is also big on premium experiences, specialising in traditional hammam treatments and boasting the only snow room in Abu Dhabi. GMé | 31


hunter industries

“It was great to win the contract because everybody wanted it and we weren’t the cheapest tender”

Hunter Built to Last at Österåker Relationships are built on trust, and as Scott MacCallum writes, the contract to award Hunter Industries the irrigation project at Österåker was forged between Mark Ganning of Hunter, and course manager Magnus Ljungman. WATER WORKS An example of a G885D sprinkler head in action, and above, construction work underway

32 | GMé January 2020

In recent times the number of topclass golf venues in development has reduced considerably so when one does emerge becoming a part of it is increasingly important. When it was announced that European Ryder Cup star Henrik Stenson was to design a golf course just north of Stockholm, in his native Sweden, a host of construction companies, machinery manufacturers and the suppliers of irrigation all started preparing tenders and brushing up on their presentation skills. Österåker Golf Club was originally built in the early 1990s as the inspiration of ice hockey legend, Sven Tumba, but the club members decided that a major revamp of facilities was required and Stenson – through his company Henrik Stenson Golf Design, and working with Christian Lundin – was brought in to create two new 18 hole courses, a nine hole par-3 course and a state-of-the-art practice facility. It is destined to become one of the finest golf clubs in northern Europe, so when Hunter Industries clinched the contract for supplying the irrigation, one man was particularly pleased. “It was great to win the contract because everybody wanted it and we

weren’t the cheapest tender,” said Mark Ganning, Hunter Industries’ Northern Europe Area manager. “I smiled to myself for the best part of a week!” But having won the contract the next step, was probably the more difficult, as it was a project which was anything but conventional. “It was one thing to win it, but it’s another thing to deliver it. We’ve managed to do that so it’s great,” said Ganning, with the sense of satisfaction and relief apparent in his voice in equal measure. “It was a very flat site with the new holes being constructed from imported material, As it arrived a hole was built and the irrigation installed at the same time,” explained Ganning, who, with a lifetime in the industry was a real support to course manager Magnus Ljungman, who project managed course construction and who was responsible for signing off on the irrigation contract. “Because irrigation is seen as a 20 to 30-year relationship, it was important that the person who would be using the irrigation was happy with it. Magnus and I worked closely to ensure that what we delivered was exactly what he wanted for the golf course.”

WATER ON TAP Course manager at Österåker, Magnus Ljungman remotely testing the Hunter irrigation system

What was produced for Österåker was something beyond the normal for a northern European irrigation system. “There were three-to-four rows of irrigation sprinklers heads everywhere – designed by Giles Wardle of Irriplan – and this was important because the site is sand-capped. “Some might think that because the site is in Sweden irrigation isn’t so important, but they have long daylight hours in the summer and temperatures are often higher than ours in the UK,” explained Ganning, who was a regular visitor to the site to ensure that, along with the local distributer, Ostrops, work was being carried out to the highest specification. The working format was that a hole would be shaped, irrigation pipes installed, flushed, pop-up sprinklers installed, wiring completed, modules coded, tested diagnostically and a sequential automatic program run to visually inspect operation of each sprinkler one by one. A single sprinkler model was used throughout system – G885D – and there were only three different size nozzles used, which greatly reduces inventory and simplifies future system management.

“Totally Top Serviceable features of the G885 rotor assist when resolving any issues which do emerge when installing systems – TTS it just makes it so much easier,” added Ganning. “Throughout the course there are just over 1,250 individually controlled G885D sprinkler heads! “Magnus would walk through the hole, from tee to fairway, to surround and green and when everything was working correctly he would say ‘drop the seed’,” explained Ganning, adding that the methodology was dictated by the volume of soil required and the speed at which that material could be brought to the site. The project required great flexibility on the part of all the interested parties, none more so than Ljungman himself. “It was a housing project which was paying for the golf course as the club had sold off land to build it and it meant that we could only build one section of the course at a time,” Ljungman explained as he settled down for the long Swedish winter, his work done for the year. “The one thing which was more important to me than anything else when awarding the contact was after sales, and

my belief was that Hunter industries are on the way up and has a very good product. I could see myself getting very good aftersales service from the company and that was the main factor to me. Not the cost.” His relationship with Ganning, built up over the time that the two worked together, was also extremely important. “I am delighted with the final outcome. It is definitely a reliable product, we have not had any breakdowns and working with Mark has been great. It was fun to have such a big challenge,” added Ljungman. Phase two is pending but the wonderful result of the first course makes the prospect of the second course even more enticing. “The course has been built to be able to host the Scandinavian Masters and we were actually approached and asked if we would stage it next year but had to decline as we are not ready for it yet,” revealed Ljungman. It demonstrates just how highly regarded Österåker Golf Club has already become, and what can be achieved when working with a set of contractors who display the necessary flexibility and desire to succeed. GMé | 33



jed moore

“Funders of the game are becoming more vocal on seeing less tangible results for their businesses”

In conversation with Jed Moore One of the founding partners of Performance54, Jed Moore shares his thoughts on the business of golf, and how he believes the industry will evolve in the years ahead.

FOUNDERS The founding partners of Performance54, (L-R) Matt Selby, Jed Moore and Gary Davidson

GMé You attended university in St Andrews, so is that where your passion for golf first began? JM Golf was introduced as an option at school on a Friday afternoon when I was around 12 years old. A few of us, including one of my current business partners Matt Selby, gave it a try, and from there we became competitive with one another and began playing regularly. My time at St Andrews was more competitive, competing for the first team and trying to become as good a player as possible. GMé Shortly after graduating with a BSc in business and marketing, in 2007 you joined Professional Sports Group (PSG) as an account manager, so what attracted you to the sports industry? JM I tried to play full time for a while and went to play in Asia for a stint postgraduation. However, like so many, I quickly realised how good you need to be to get to the top and came to a swift realisation that there wasn’t much of a

34 | GMé January 2020

future for me on-course – but I gave it a good try. I therefore started looking to make the transition onto another path and make up for lost ground from time spent on the fairways. Working in the business of a sport, in particular golf, felt like the most natural progression and was something I felt equipped to talk knowledgeably about. GMé After progressing to general manager at PSG, in 2015 you left to form your own agency, so what prompted the move, and why Performance54? JM It was just the right time. I felt I had equipped myself reasonably well, learnt from some strong professionals and had an ambition to branch out. It wasn’t an easy move, as anyone who has started their own business will tell you, but we stayed patient and have made some reasonable progress so far. As for the name, I didn’t want to get too carried away over-thinking it. The business was created to positively impact our client’s performance and the

PROMOTING SAUDI In February 2019 Performance54 helped to launch Golf Saudi at the first ever Saudi International powered by SBIA

‘54’ was a brand mark I felt would stand out and reinforce a culture of striving for perfection (as a reference to the perfect round of golf). GMé What separates Performance54 from the other golf marketing agencies, and who are your key accounts? JM I think there are some great agencies out there that provide a good range of services. All we have tried to do is commit to amassing a talent pool that has the experience we feel is relevant for the business and will provide the most comprehensive and dynamic service for our clients. One line we do use regularly is that our teams have seen the business from every angle; consulting on developments, business modelling, brand development, talent management, production, advertising and promotions, event management, infrastructure activation and digital transformation. That’s probably one of the areas I am most proud of; uniting a service scope that touches every part of the value chain. It’s that which gives us the insights and intel that, when combined with experience, provides a value for money proposition for our clients, all of who we would class as key!

GMé In terms of future development, where do you believe the next big growth area for the game will be? JM A change at the top of the pyramid is looming large. The advancement of the game as we see it through TV needs to evolve and do more for the investment that it attracts. Funders of the game are becoming more vocal on seeing less tangible results for their businesses which, given the current socio-economic trend, means golf needs to evolve and rid itself from some of the unnecessary governance that results in a weaker product being put out week in, week out. I also think the economics of golf development will progress. Innovation is driving other industries and whilst golf appears to have access to new ways of working, it hasn’t mobilised as well as it could have. An area for us that has become the central artery of the business is access to primary data sources that fuel evidencebased decision making. The industry has relied for too long on gut-feeling as opposed to transparent data sources; a trend albeit that is changing, but in my mind a real shortcoming for the industry at large, and one we will continue to champion.

GMé Golf Tourism will always be an important sector, but with the climate emergency, and flying becoming more socially sensitive, are the days of longhaul golf tourism numbered? JM At a macro level you have to believe that advancements in this space will materialise and put this vital sector on a more positive trajectory. In time it is hard to anticipate how much of a downturn it may experience if social pressures mount, but the more pressing issue for destinations is to attract golf holiday makers today to justify the investment. It’s a competitive marketplace and groups are trying to drive top-line revenues without enough attention to yielding visitation. We work hard with our clients on building cumulative attraction models, unifying stakeholders to provide trade and consumers the best experience. GMé With most social media companies reporting a decline in users, is the era of the ‘social influencer’ coming to an end? JM My personal opinion is that it all relates to the quality and relevance of the content to ensure a positive user experience. | 35



jed moore

INFLUENCER Rick Shiels is a partner of Performance54

If you look at Rick Shiels as perhaps the best case-in-point; his ‘subscriber’ base grew to over 1.1 million in 2019, yet the regularity with which he posts content has reduced and still resulted in an industry-leading amount of views and hours watched that peaked at over 15 million views a month, and totalled over 500 million minutes of watch time across the year. This is a product of how Rick manages his channels and provides viewers that impartial viewpoint that adds value to their golfing lives. For me, social platforms won’t dissipate, the market will just correct itself and allow the cream to rise to the top. This will continue and hopefully constantly evolve to bring fresh new content and colour to the consumer. GMé With the BBC losing the rights to live coverage of The Masters, 2020 will be the first year that live golf will not be shown free-to-air TV in the UK. As a marketeer, what’s your view on this? JM Many will point to this as the common thread when discussing the challenge of participation. No doubt losing the April impact on the BBC won’t garnish any positives for golf but it is a sign of the times and a cornerstone in the debate of how the game stays relevant. I would also tend to argue the game has to focus on avid participants as the benchmark for how the industry performs. Last year in the UK – the fourth largest market in the world – the number of competitive rounds rose ten per cent year-on-year.

36 | GMé January 2020

Granted weather plays a part, but those passionate about the sport continue to play. It is more about correction of the economics in my view, as opposed to any demise and fluctuation in the transient level of play; which being candid, isn’t the base by which the industry has been built, nor the substance on why developers build golf courses. You must also consider that in the last 20-years, when the sport has welcomed arguably its greatest ever talent and a character that has truly transcended world sports; it hasn’t grown. Consider what it looks like when that is gone, and the sport no longer has someone of that stature flying the flag for the sport? In my opinion, parts of the industry got ahead of itself and believed its own hype, without relying on accurate, primary data sources to make the most informed decisions. Self-serving commercial gains outstripped checks and balances, which has presented us with a somewhat false-economy for the game. GMé What’s the one thing about the golf industry you would like to change? JM Any time I speak at a conference I ask if there is anyone in the delegation under the age of 30. The smattering of hands is always relatively consistent and for me a problem. We need young fresh blood attracted to the industry, so new ideas flow more freely and are uninterrupted by what has gone before. Equal to this is the equality movement through the sport and what positive change that can bring. GMé

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italian golf

“around 400 golfers have started to play golf here before becoming regular members of traditional clubs”

The Italian Job... Planning post 2022 With the 2022 Ryder Cup in Italy less than three years away, Stefano Boni takes an in-depth look at golf in his country, and the foundations that are being put in place to ensure a lasting legacy for the sport. NEW FACES Tommaso Franceschi (above) and new golfers attend an introductory session at Parco di Firenze

38 | GMé January 2020

As we enter the beginning of a new decade, the first thing that comes to my mind is that we are entering… the ‘Roaring Twenties’! This is particularly significant for every passionate Italian golfer, because it means that in less than three years, we will host the biggest golfing event – and one of the biggest sporting events – of our history in the most historical town in the world: the 2022 Rome Ryder Cup. This event is going to be significant outside the golf circle as well from an economical point of view, and according to a study carried out by KPMG, the estimated impact of this event is going to be €500 million until the 2027. Since the assignment of the Ryder Cup, there has been a significant increase in international press and media coverage surrounding Italian golf, and the effect was multiplied in 2018 when the status of the Italian Open was elevated to a Rolex Series event. A survey conducted by SMS Inc. stated that 31 per cent of British golfers; 56 per cent of French golfers; 71 per cent of Swedish golfers and 76 per cent of German golfers are likely to take into consideration Italy as a golfing destination in the next five years.

The Ryder Cup effect is evident also in terms of volunteering participation, with the number of international volunteers at the Italian Open increasing year-onyear. One of the biggest expectations around the Ryder Cup is to use this event as catalyst for the promotion of golf at national level and increase the number of Italian golfers. However, until now, golf participation in Italy can be defined as stable. According to the latest survey by KPMG, there has been only a slight increase in the number of players from 2017 to 2018, with the Italian Golf Federation launching several initiatives to promote golf at all levels. Among the most recent initiatives were ‘Golf a Scuola’ (Golf at School), a fouryear project that involves 32 institutes and 102 classes with three-hours of golf lessons per week; ‘Golf è Donna’ (Golf is Woman) and ‘Golf4Autism’, addressed at autistic children aged from 6 to 12 years of age. A ‘Beginner’s Golf Card’ costing €10 has also been introduced, together with the creation of a special section ‘How to begin to Play Golf’ on the Federation’s website with contents, videos and links

italian golf


coupled with a digital campaign for a free trial of golf. But the most ambitious project, and also the one which could have the biggest impact on the growth of golf in Italy is the project ‘Ryder City Golf’. The project has been launched on the basis of the positive experiences connected to the already existing urban compact golf courses, that have demonstrated their role as golfer’s hotbeds, and is addressing the two more crucial key factors that in these days are affecting the social behaviour in terms of leisure: money and time. The intention is to create more ‘light’ urban golf facilities where a citizen can approach the game of golf at an affordable rate; can reach the course in a short time and can practise also if they have limited time at their disposal. The creation of a compact golf facility can allow urban regeneration, and to date, three projects of this kind have been built. La Romita Golf Club, a short nine-hole project in the suburbs of Terni, lies on a former quarry site and has engaged hundreds of players in an area where

the closest course was more than 45 minutes away. Another short nine-hole course in Florence, Parco di Firenze, has been built on a landfill site – it may be difficult to imagine that in this green oasis where golfers can play in their lunch break was once a pile of rubble. Parco di Firenze has been also one of the first clubs in Italy to use Bermuda grass on its fairways in order to save water. The club’s president Giuliano Bagnoli stated: “To date we have created 1,200 new golfers, to the total benefit of the neighbouring clubs whose competitions are filled by our members weekafter-week. Moreover, around 400 golfers have started to play golf here before becoming regular members of traditional clubs.” The latest urban compact project, Golf Club Livorno, has also been built on a landfill site as well, but with a characteristic that make this story a bit different. The site was entrusted directly to the Italian Golf Federation by the local municipality, who understood the potential and benefits of golf as a way in which to regenerate areas.

The Federation then assigned the site to a pool of investors that have developed the project and are now running the club. Grassed entirely in warm season grasses (Bermuda grass Patriot for tee and fairways, Miniverde for putting surfaces) this short course made of one par four, and eight par three’s offers nice views over Livorno’s seaside promenade, and has been designed by Tommaso and Umberto Franceschi with the purpose of creating a layout that will engage new golfers but also challenge existing players of all levels. “The design of a par three series can be a true trap for an architect,” said Tommaso Franceschi, “as the risk of falling into banality can be really high. “Here, every par three has a different length so as a different iron must be used on each hole. The small greens, well protected by bunkers positioned in a strategic way, are a good test also for the single digit players.” According to Tommaso, this club is acting as an ‘assembly line’ for new golfers: “For the latest golf rules course we have had 30 beginners as participants. | 39



italian golf

SEA VIEWS A panoramic view of Golf Livorno

“The small functional clubhouse also hosts several cultural and musical events throughout the year and its restaurant, which is open to everybody, is becoming a popular destination among the locals,” he added. The project has also applied to achieve the BioGolf Label – born from an idea of golf expert Dr Paolo Croce and delivered in partnership with Golf Environment Organization – together with the main Italian environmentalist associations. With the purpose to replicate this format, the Italian Golf Federation has launched the above mentioned ‘Ryder City Golf’ and has designated a specific National Committee made up of five people that has several functions. First of all, the National Committee has defined the key characteristics of the areas and the projects: a minimum of five Ha of land, located inside the urban fabric or in the immediate proximity; a flat or slight undulated orography, in order to limit the earth movements; the availability of at least 150 cubic meters/ day of groundwater and an already established road system. The minimum requirements for the projects include a roofed driving range facility, a short game area (putting green, pitching green, practice bunker) and three holes. The National Committee, with the help of Regional Committees that will act under this umbrella, also has the task to engage the local administrations that can identify potential sites to be destined to this project and report back. The further step will be carried out by the Regional Committees that will assess

40 | GMé January 2020

the suitability of the areas and will scout potential investors. Once a suitable area and the investors are identified, the Regional Committees will assist the projects with a free Feasibility Study that will include a Technical Report, a Master Plan and a Business Plan. The National Committee will review the whole project and will submit all the documentation to the Italian Golf Federation for the approval, whilst the next stage is the concession of the site from the local municipality to the Italian Golf Federation. The Federation will then assign the property to an SSD (Amateur Sport Society) who will undertake the realisation process and the management. For the financial aspects the project will be assisted at preferential rates by Credito Sportivo, a public bank that since 1957 has been committed to supporting the development of the sport in Italy, and which has financed 75 per cent of the existing sports facilities. An important part of the whole project will also be the sustainability commitments, in line with the national trend that has seen, year-by-year, the number of clubs that are GEOCertified increased, or have been awarded with an ‘Impegnati nel Verde’ (‘Committed to Green’) Certificate. Each City Golf will be requested to subscribe to the OnCourse program and to achieve in a three-year period GEO Certification. Moreover, the National Committee will encourage these facilities to move forward their environmental commitment toward the achievement of the BioGolf Label. GMé


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EcoBunker and the ‘Holy Grail’ of bunkers Golf course architect, Harley Kruse echoes iconic Australian bunkering despite unfavourable conditions with a little help from EcoBunker. Words by Aidan Patrick. The famous courses of the Melbourne Sandbelt – notably Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath – are distinctive for many reasons, but one of the most important is the characteristic sand faced bunker style created by Dr Alister MacKenzie and his collaborators Alex Russell and Mick Morcom. Sandbelt bunkers are characterised by their size, and by their swooping shape, which has been enormously influential around the world of golf. Gil Hanse’s Olympic course in Rio de Janeiro and Tiger Woods’ first American design, Bluejack National in Texas, are two in a long list of courses said by their designers to be influenced by the Sandbelt look. But replicating those trademark Melburnian bunkers is hard. The soil on the Melbourne courses, though sandy, contains a lot of fine particles and grey organic matter that mean it binds together to create a hard surface. Coarser sand – and even more so, clay soil – does not bind the same way, and creating that hard, vertical lip so characteristic of Melbourne is basically impossible; the soil gets wet and crumbles away. The recent President’s Cup at Royal Melbourne showed very well how the Sandbelt bunkers work. As well as the clean edge, the sand packs down so hard that Melbourne clubs do not rake their bunker faces, rather using a ‘flat rake’ to create extremely firm conditions on the bunker faces, ensuring that all balls that enter the bunker run down to the prepared base, removing the problem of plugged lies.

42 | GMé January 2020

So, the look and style of Sandbelt bunkers can be highly desirable, but they depend completely on the particular conditions on the Sandbelt to make them possible. Sydney-based golf course architect Harley Kruse – founder of KruseGolf and current president of the Australian Society of Golf Course Architects – has been doing this style of bunkering for a couple of decades now in Australia and Asia. “The challenge with sand faced bunkers if built properly has not been bunker sand wash in rain events – as we solved this issue long ago when working on high rainfall Asian sites – but getting a stable near vertical edges of varying depth,” said Kruse. “These edges create a shadow line and are an important part of the striking visual character.” Invariably on heavy soil or clay based sites the exposed soil of the edges would shrink and crack or expand and eventually crumble with risk of sand contamination and fines blocking drainage. Kruse has tired various solutions over the years, including mixing cement with the soil and one project using a fibrous flexible board. Neither were long-term solutions but Kruse, along with a few other forward thinking golf industry professionals, has found the EcoBunker system as a solution to this problem. At Killara Golf Club, in the lower north shore of Sydney, Kruse was hired to reconstruct all 18 greens, reverse two holes, rebuild some fairway bunkers and eliminate one par three while bringing a spare hole into the normal rotation.

“This style of bunker has long been something of a ‘holy grail’ for a lot of golf courses that simply haven’t been able to implement it because of their soil conditions”

TOP OF THE CLOCK The 12th hole at Killara

BARE LIE A bunker under construction

TEN OUT OF TEN Bunkering on the 10th

Kruse and the club wanted sandbeltinspired bunkers, but the clay soil at Killara meant that was going to be difficult. However, Kruse knew that EcoBunker had been successfully used on several courses ranked in the world’s Top 100 including many of Australia’s best courses. “A long drive with Killara GC’s general manager David Gazzoli and course superintendent Ryan Fury to see an active full course EcoBunker renovation project was all that we needed to do,” recalls Kruse. “We were sold, and the solution was right there.” There are 47 bunkers on the new Killara layout, all lined with Capillary Concrete, and featuring a variable depth lip up to 40cm high constructed using EcoBunker Advanced patented synthetic bunker edging system. The carefully selected sand is then flashed up the EcoBunker wall which is

held in place by the Capillary Concrete, and the bunker surrounds can be mowed short right to the edge, because of the strength the EcoBunker and Capillary Concrete underpinnings provide. “EcoBunker was designed from the outset to give architects the maximum freedom to create the bunker shapes they wanted,” commented EcoBunker inventor and CEO Richard Allen. “The work that Harley has done at Killara is a classic example of that. When I first went to Melbourne last year, the principal reason was to see the Sandbelt bunkers up close; the fact that our product has allowed a great architect to create similar bunkers on unsuitable soil is fantastic. “This style of bunker has long been something of a ‘holy grail’ for a lot of golf courses that simply haven’t been able to implement it because of their soil conditions.

“Now, they can see a proven solution that will allow them to do so and I hope we start to see bunker styling like this more commonly in Europe,” concluded Allen. “Killara GC is the first 18 hole project in Australia to finish all bunkers with this construction method. We have been able to create wonderful shapes and varying dimensions of bunker lip depth with the EcoBunker and Capillary Concrete combination,” says Kruse. “It is the closest way of achieving a stylised sandbelt style of bunker in heavy soils that is storm proof and structurally bullet proof for many years to come. It will save many hours and dollars of bunker maintenance allowing staff to importantly focus on delivering quality turf surfaces. “Getting that stable lip in clay soils is very difficult to achieve. But EcoBunker allows us to do it,” adds Krause. GMé | 43



kevin carpenter

FOCUS Eyes on the finishing line

ON YER BIKE Performing at Gleneagles

KC in training for a Marathon hat-trick Leading golf trick shot performer, Kevin Carpenter, has snapped-up a London Marathon charity place to support disabled children, as Mark Bushell explains. Kevin Carpenter, one of the UK’s leading golf trick shot performers, has snapped up a charity place for the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon. The 45-year-old golf professional, who lives in Copford, near Colchester, ran the London Marathon in 2012 and 2014 but he was desperate to complete a hat-trick of races at the 2020 London Marathon. Unfortunately, he was one of the many runners who were left disappointed after the ballot for places were drawn in October. But thanks to a tip-off from Nell McAndrew, the model, television presenter, and accomplished amateur athlete, he’s secured a charity place with Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families. 44 | GMé January 2020

“I met Nell a number of years ago at a golf day at Stoke Park Golf Club in Buckinghamshire,” reflected Carpenter. “We’d both recently completed the London Marathon and we chatted about our times and how we’d found the event. “Since then we’ve kept in touch on social media and when I posted a picture of the cover of my Unlucky you’ve not been successful magazine recently she got in touch with me to tell me about Caudwell Children’s charity places, where she’s an ambassador. “I did a bit of research on the charity and when I discovered that they provide funds to allow disabled children to access a range of services, and specialist equipment, that helps them to lead happy, active, and independent lives I immediately knew that I had to run for them.

ON TOUR Performing at the Qatar Masters

“Luckily they still had a small number of places available and I was really happy to secure one for a registration fee of just £100.” Carpenter, an ardent West Ham United supporter, says that his parents always encouraged him and his brother to be active in sport. “Both Paul and I, who’s also a professional golfer, took the traditional football route into sport,” said Carpenter. “We played for Stanway Villa FC in Colchester and we played to a reasonable standard. Paul actually had trials with West Ham but unfortunately didn’t quite make the grade.” At the age of 14 Carpenter was introduced to golf by a friend who, along with his father, were members of Colchester Golf Club.

“It was a bit old school back then,” rued Carpenter. “You had to be introduced to the club and you even had to be interviewed if you wanted membership. “But I managed to get in, despite not having any background in the sport; my parents didn’t play the game at all but I loved it from day one.” Carpenter started working weekends in the pro shop at Colchester Golf Club before going on to do a leisure and recreation course at Colchester Institute. Not unsurprisingly he gave up football at the age of 16. At the age of 20 Carpenter began his PGA training at Chelmsford Golf Club, where he studied for three years covering business studies, the rules of golf and sports science.

“After completing my PGA training at Gleneagles, having secured an assistant pro position there, I moved to Bahrain for two years,” added Carpenter. “Gleneagles had opened a new venture in the country and I had a fantastic time there as a professional. “As I’ve grown older and had my own children – I have one boy and two girls – I’ve started to realise how important sport is and how a number of sporting individuals inspired me. “I remember watching the great Nick Faldo, at Woburn Golf Club as a child, and it made me want to do what I do today.” When Carpenter found out that Caudwell Children also provide funding support for specially adapted sports equipment he was delighted. | 45



kevin carpenter

BALANCING ACT Teeing it up on the range

“This has made me even more determined to smash my target of £2,500,” enthused Carpenter. “Every child should have the opportunity to play sport, whatever their ability. “I’ve been told that it can cost up to 100 times more to participate in sport if you have a disability and Caudwell Children are going some way to addressing that by eliminating the financial barrier.” To boost his charity coffers Kevin intends to be more pro-active on his social media platforms with regular updates about his fundraising. With over 4,000 followers on Instagram, and almost 3,000 on twitter, he has a great platform to engage with friends, family, colleagues and followers. He’s also enlisting support from the members of Hintlesham Golf Club, in Suffolk, where he is the club professional, who recently raised over £500 at a recent Texas Scramble event. But it is in his job as a golf trick shot performer that he hopes to raise even more money and awareness of the charity’s cause. As he explained: “I was head professional at The Celtic Manor Golf Resort in 2005 when the first ever World Trick Shot Championships took place at the course. “I was so impressed with what some of the competitors were doing that I wanted to give it a go. I thought that I could develop my own show, drawing on my golfing ability and personality, and 14 years later I’m travelling the 46 | GMé January 2020

world, visiting many fabulous locations, performing The KC Golf Show.” Through the winter months and into 2020 Carpenter will be travelling with Golf’s European Tour, performing his show at the Race to Dubai, HSBC Abu Dhabi, and Oman Open. Along with other tournaments in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the competitions will give Carpenter the perfect opportunity to spread the word. “I’m lucky in that I have got to know some of the leading players in the world and I count them as my friends,” said Carpenter. “They will be keen to support me in completing the marathon and will undoubtedly donate to the charity. “I’m determined to raise as much as I can for Caudwell Children as their work is invaluable!” Kerrie Davies, associate director of events at Caudwell Children is delighted that Carpenter will be running for the charity. As she explained: “For Kevin to take the time out from his busy schedule to raise money for Caudwell Children in this way is amazing. “He is one of the most sought after golf trick shot performers in the UK, and is in demand around the world. “Having Kevin, and the elite of the golfing fraternity, supporting Caudwell Children will undoubtedly raise awareness of the charity and the work that we do.” Readers of GMé can donate at and help Carpenter reach his target of £2,500. GMé

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Topturf Irrigation is a family-run company that has become one of the leading irrigation companies in the UK and Europe. A design, supply and installation service is available for all new irrigation systems; in addition we offer bespoke services to all clients with new and existing systems for private gardens, recreational facilities, golf course and sports stadia. Topturf have now expanded to designing, building, supplying and installing single or multi-pump pump sets. Topturf are the leading agents for the supply and installation of Otterbine Barebo decorative and industrial aerators, providing quality aeration for the water management of all lakes and ponds. | 47


sunningdale heath NEW DIRECTION (L-R) Kristian Baker and Tom Reid of Sunningdale Heath Golf Club

New Owners for Sunningdale Heath As Andy Hiseman writes, two enterprising PGA professionals have led a consortium to purchase Sunningdale Heath, and are set to transform the 120-year-old venue. The new owners at Sunningdale Heath Golf Club have pledged to revitalise one of golf’s most intriguing and historic venues. And their plans are designed to attract younger golfers from both sexes to a club which, for nearly 100 years, only admitted female members. Sunningdale Heath Golf Club, just off the A30 in Sunningdale, has changed hands after a consortium led by PGA professionals Kristian Baker and Tom Reid put a takeover proposal to the members – and won a landslide victory in the subsequent vote. The new owners have immediately set about implementing their plans, including a new all-inclusive family membership and more focus on the social side of life at the club. The club’s new head chef, Greg Lewis – who has worked at multiple 3 Michelin Star restaurants – aims to turn the club into a popular destination for fine dining as well as for golf, matching the new owners’ drive to provide a more premium-quality experience. The club features, at its heart, one of the golfing world’s true hidden gems: an 18-hole golf course like no other, designed by Harry Colt, one of the sport’s most illustrious course architects. Laid out on picturesque Surrey heathland, Sunningdale Heath’s 14 par threes and four par fours form a short but memorable test of accuracy for all golfers. Despite its compact size the course is acknowledged as being a true test of golf.

48 | GMé January 2020

No hole is shorter than 138 yards, and – unusually in golf – both men and women play from the same tees. Its non-intimidating length also makes Sunningdale Heath the perfect starter golf course for beginners and children – as well as offering one of the quickestpossible 18-hole rounds of golf for people in a hurry, which is a key factor for companies having a golf day. Architects have already visited the club to discuss plans for upgrading the golf course, and an agronomist starts work this month to assist head greenkeeper Peter Tedder and his team in their goal to produce the club’s best-ever playing surfaces by summer 2020. The club also plans to create an international-class outdoor golf academy with a special focus on junior golf. The new facility will complement the club’s luxurious Ultimate Golf Studio indoor golf academy. Reid and Baker are a formidable team, recognised as two of the sport’s most celebrated coaches. Kristian Baker is a published author on the golf swing and frequent contributor to the UK’s top golf magazines, with his pupils earning over €6 million on Tour. Tom Reid is recognised as one of world’s top 50 junior golf coaches, and has trained under golf instruction superstar David Leadbetter. He hosts a golf radio show and is part of Sky Sports’ golf coaching team. They met while working at The Wentworth Club, where both were based for many years.

“As we improve Sunningdale Heath Golf Club we also plan to carry on leading the charge for women’s golf”

“Our target is to become known as the epitome of how golf clubs need to be in the future, with the best short golf course in the world,” said Reid, who was senior teaching professional at Stoke Park immediately prior to his arrival at Sunningdale Heath. “But we also aim to carve a reputation as being one of golf’s most inclusive places, as well as being known for our amazing training facilities,” he said. “People can play here whether or not they are a member, and as soon as we took over we lost no time in taking steps to boost the number of youngsters who play here. Sunningdale Heath is already well-established as one of the UK’s key venues for schools golf.” Co-owner Kristian Baker said: “Because of the nature of our golf course, you can

start a company golf day at Sunningdale Heath at 4pm, have a full event, and still be home by 10pm. You can still do a day’s work, and have a golf day too. “We are the only true 18-hole venue in the UK which can say that.” The club began as Sunningdale Ladies in 1902, when the Captain of neighbouring Sunningdale Golf Club created a short course for lady golfers – his wife amongst them – on the heathland adjacent to the world-famous 36-hole club. At first, only lady members’ husbands could join, and in 1932 the Queen Mother became the third female member of the royal family to become Captain of the club. After World War Two the club relaxed its rules a little, allowing men to join as Associate Members before admitting them as Full Members in 2010.

Although nowadays Sunningdale Heath is as popular amongst men as it is with women, the club is still proud to have one of the UK’s strongest female memberships. “As we improve Sunningdale Heath Golf Club we also plan to carry on leading the charge for women’s golf, which is enjoying rapid growth across the world,” said Reid. On the golf course’s relative lack of length, Baker said: “People are always against the clock these days, so our unique golf course means that Sunningdale Heath becomes more relevant as each year goes by. “In fact, even though we are approaching our 120th anniversary, I would say that we are unusually well-placed to cater for how people live today.” GMé | 49



signing off

“The next time I thin a chip I will think of Clarky, who has unwittingly made me realise that everything else is unimportant”

Neil Clarkson. A Big Man; A Big Loss I have a reputation for being something of a curmudgeon – and it’s not wholly unwarranted. But, sometimes something happens which makes you really appreciate what you have. In my case, life. In December, I was horrified to learn that a friend of mine had just collapsed and died. He was 47. Some of you may have known him. His name was Neil Clarkson. He was a PGA professional who had dedicated his adult life to golf. As a youngster he’d represented England Schoolboys and his home county of Yorkshire at every level. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, in Charlotte, and turning pro a year later in 1994, he worked at Hartford, Vale Royal Abbey, Alderley Edge, and Louth golf clubs, having completed his PGA training under former European Tour player Peter Tupling, at Sand Moor GC, in Leeds. He regularly hosted winter golf schools in Portugal, USA and Morocco, and his teaching philosophy was seen by a wider audience in a television series shown on the Golf Channel. Unfortunately for me, I only got to know him over the last five or six years, but we hit if off immediately. He was the resident PGA pro at the HowDidiDo matchplay championship and I met up with him annually at the UK finals and the grand final abroad. On the course, where he acted as starter, referee and, quite often, marshal, he was the consummate professional, not standing for anybody trying to bend the rules, while remaining sensitive to issues common to amateur golfers.

50 | GMé January 2020

A TRUE GENT Neil Clarkson, left, on HowDidiDo Matchplay duty in 2015

He knew that playing in these events was the closest many golfers would get to a Tour competition. And they liked him for it. He was immensely popular with the competitors and was quick to know each of them by name, even if their acquaintance was fleeting. At the end of the day’s play he and I would enjoy a good ‘nosebag’ and a few beers and fling quotes from Hancock’s Half Hour at each other – our love of which being just one of the things we had in common. We kept promising to meet up outside of that event to have a round together. He knew I was a dreadful golfer and he was really relishing the opportunity to have a good laugh. We knew that would happen, because that’s what always happened when our paths crossed.

Now, he’ll never laugh again at my reticence to eat vegetables or drink wine. Nor will he spend his retirement with his wife, Cally, to whom he was devoted. The next time I thin a chip I will think of Clarky, who has unwittingly made me realise that everything else is unimportant; it’s life and its enjoyment to the full which is what matters. I miss you big man. GMé

David Bowers

QualitY oF cut,

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*Category 2 three-point, 540 PTO and universal skid steer mount style. **Trailer weight, when equipped with trailer brakes.

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